Sometimes Breast Isn't Best

Oh, how I wanted to quit breastfeeding. I wanted nothing more than to throw that little nipple shield into the garbage and tear open a fresh can of Enfamil and be done with it. But every time I tried to back away from nursing, I was seized with powerful, all-consuming guilt. I knew I was supposed to breastfeed. I felt selfish for wanting my body back, for wanting to be able to comfort my child with something other than my boobs. And everywhere I looked, it seemed formula was practically equated with poison. Even formula cans taunted me with "Breast is best!" splashed across their fronts.

I felt like quitting was letting everyone down—my child, yes, but also my husband. It was my body, but it was also his child. I felt like it was also his decision and I suspected that his vote would be for me to continue. And so I wallowed and I cried and I suffered and I never told anyone how I was feeling. I think they knew, but I refused to let them know just how bad it was, how paralyzing.

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The crying and the sadness took a toll on my family. I remember sitting in the rocking chair one evening, sobbing, as I tried to explain what it felt like to know I should be doing one thing and wanting so desperately to do the opposite. And I was listening to my husband saying, "Then don't be ridiculous; just quit," and me saying, "But it isn't that easy!" Because it wasn't that easy. It meant walking away from the ideal and accepting a substitute. It meant we'd be stretching our already-tight budget to accommodate powdered food in a can. And I was afraid it meant that I hadn't done a very good job as a mother.

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