By now you've probably figured it out. Breastfeeding is suppose to be the "Holy Grail" of motherhood. If the motto "breast is best" isn't already engraved in your brain, give it time new mamas.
But this isn't about praising breastfeeding nor negating mamas who've made other choices for their babes. Rather, this a cautionary tale, a moment, perhaps to glean a little knowledge for your own personal journey.
Because, GRRRRR, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THIS STUFF!!!!
1. Exclusively Breastfeeding
Don't get me wrong, I think breastfeeding is awesome. If you are able and willing, here's me giving you a high five. However, don't be afraid or too lazytired (because nothing about being a new mama is lazy!!!) to pump and put that nutritious meal into a bottle once in awhile. Or dare I say supplement with some formula?
And by once in awhile, I mean AT LEAST ONCE A DAY. Do this until your baby understands and has established that the bottle is her friend.
Sure, it might seem like extra work, especially when what God gave ya merely requires the unbuttoning of a blouse.
Yes, you might have to do a little research on how long your breast milk stays fresh, along with figuring out a new feeding routine.
I hear you, sanitizing the bottles and heating up the frozen milk is more time consuming. As new moms we'd probably give our left breast for more hours in a day to use strictly for sleeping!
You're right, the entire feeding process--I can now sympathize with a common dairy cow, never expected that one--tends to be a bit overwhelming, especially when that precious little baby lip is quivering in hunger.
But, please, just use a bottle! The bottle is your friend (mantra that sh*t!).
I say this because my Arianna is now nine weeks old. Her amazing Daddy arranged our very first, post baby date. He even lined up a babysitter. But today we are having to cancel.
I have to admit this decision is just shy of devastating. Not that I don't LOVE being a stay-at-home Mommy, but Mommy is desperate for a brief stint in an exclusively adult world.
Sadly, our recent trial runs with the bottle this week have completely failed! That's right, Arie hates the bottle. Hate might be too strong a word, rather, she doesn't know what it is we're trying to accomplish. The foreign nipple is a mystery to her and her tiny tongue just can't comprehend how this device will give her the exact same thing she gets from Mommy.
Now, you might think as parents, we are complete idiots. At this point, I'm bound to agree with you. In our defense, we did give Arie a bottle in the past and she did manage to take it.
Our epic fail is simple. We didn't stick with it. We didn't make the bottle a routine and somehow along the way, Arianna forgot how to use it. Yay! We get to torture our daughter with bottle training. A training process that surely could have been avoided during the instinctive infant survival days.
2. Pacifier Prejudice
Let me guess, in your research on all things foreign i.e. motherhood, you've come across articles or overheard opinions about the pacifier. I welcome you to do your research. After all, mother nature gave us nine months... to prepare.
On the day of my delivery, the hospital was so gracious to supply us with an aqua "soothie" and I watched as a nurse casually slipped it into my newborn baby's mouth. I was amazed how intuitively Arie took the pacifier. In fact, she seemed quite pleased to have it in her mouth. Unfortunately, I was horrified.
Of course, as a brand new mom, I'd read somewhere that it wasn't wise to use a pacifier until my milk was well established and baby was set in her feeding routine. Some articles recommended waiting until my baby was at least six weeks old before introducing the pacifier. This sounded logical to me. Besides, maybe I didn't want Arie dependent on some man-made device invented for parents who weren't patient or capable of discovering their child's true reason for crying.
Oh yes, arrogant self, wrong again. Yep, it's completely obvious to me now that a baby's natural instinct is to suckle. Not only is this their means of survival, but it is a natural soothing instinct as well. During my ultra-sound, our little girl was constantly stuffing her hands and feet in her mouth while happily floating in my amniotic fluid. HELLO!
You'd also think I might have payed attention to my mother and mother-in-law who naturally asked for a pacifier when they rocked and played with Arianna. Yet, I was oblivious to all signs screaming the pacifier is your friend!!
Using the pacifier isn't bad parenting. It is actually smart and kind. Rocket science, I know.
Now, when Arianna is tired or fussy, I watch as she tries to shove her little fist in her month. She searches her tiny hand for a thumb. She wants to sooth herself. The pacifier could easily rescue her in those moments if only…why, why didn't I understand this? And if soothing isn't reason enough, I recently read that a pacifier might also rescue babies from SIDS. Who knew?
These days, Arie and I are working on learning how to use a pacifier. Sometimes she smiles and tries to understand what to do with it, other times she screams in resistance. Currently, her little tongue flicks the pacifier out of her month, and is followed by her failed search for the pacifier. I then place the pacifier back in her mouth for her, ad infinitum. Maybe this never ending process that might one day end with a success story... my cute little baby mimicking the infamous Maggie Simpson.
3. Nursing Babe To Sleep
It sounds innocent and unfortunately it's an easy habit to establish. Your little one is all cozy, cuddled up against your beating heart and that breast milk is like night-night juice. Sometimes, my Arianna appears drunk after a feeding. Her little body slumps in complete satisfaction, a numbness to the world thanks to a very full and happy belly. It's a natural instinct, let that baby slip into the land of dreams, then tiptoe out of the room praying you won't hear a peep. I mean it's way, way, way, too easy…but don't think you won't regret it. That is, unless you want your baby to always need your boob to fall asleep.
What happens when you're not around? My guess is that your baby is going to scream inconsolably. Why? Because she can't get to that place she so desperately wants to be (lala-land) without the comfort and aid only your boob can bring her. YES, sadly I have plenty of first hand experience with this blunder.
Despite all my failures, let me just say this, I really do love breastfeeding my baby. However, if there was a redo button I'd quickly push it and establish some better routines with Arianna. Like anything of value, parenthood takes practice, trial and error, and the wisdom of those who've traveled before us. Even with the best intentions, we're bound to discover something we could have done different or better. If you're like me you'll probably forge your own path, forget some advice or fall into some short-term easy fixes. Oh well, I'm saving all this knowledge for the next kid.