When my first child came along, I was sure I was going to breastfeed him. Like many moms, I figured it was the most natural thing to do, so it’d be easy, right? Wrong. I had no idea what I was doing, after two months of cluster feeding, waking up with wet clothes, and not being able to get on a schedule, I was so sick of breastfeeding that I gave up on it entirely. From then on, he was exclusively formula-fed. Feeding my son formula made some things about my life easier. For starters, I'm a military spouse, so I was able to leave my son with my mother-in-law to go back to work during my husband’s deployment to Afghanistan. But it was annoying to pack bottles and formula, and to make sure I had water the right temperature, but it became our norm.
When I had my second child, however, I was determined to breastfeed her, mostly because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I gave myself short goals: I'd do it for six weeks, then three months, then six months, then one year. Although I struggled with several rounds of mastitis (one of which left me hospitalized) and a lack of sleep, I could literally leave the house with no food prepared and be totally fine. I was living in Germany at the time, and I breastfed that baby all over the country.
By the time number three came along, I knew the easier option was to breastfeed. We’ve been going strong for eight months, and I probably won’t seriously consider weaning until at least one year. But to put it bluntly, I'm sick of breastfeeding, and I wish I felt like I could give it up sooner.
I've thought about it a lot, and I think that I've reached the point where I’m only staying with breastfeeding because I’m lazy. The alternative requires more money, time, and effort. I'm a busy mom of three kids. I’m lucky if I can remember to shower every day and pick up the kids from school. Remembering to buy formula and wash bottles? No, thanks.
But I am tired of breastfeeding. I’m tired of pumping when I know I’m going to be away, or looking for that one bottle in the entire house so someone can feed him formula. I’m tired of wearing stupid, boring, uncomfortable nursing bras. Why, oh why, won't someone make a cute, affordable nursing bra? Getting used to your postpartum body is hard, and wearing boring, expensive, uncomfortable bras really don’t help your self-image.
I’m tired of being the only one who can feed my son, the only one who can comfort him.
I'm tired of wearing nursing tanks. Can we talk about those for a second? While everyone else is wearing cute and trendy dresses and long, flowy tops, I’m still layering with a nursing tank and a shirt that will stretch enough to accommodate feeding my baby. How am I supposed to feel good about myself and my postpartum body if I can’t wear cute clothes? And I’m tired of being the only one who can feed my son, the only one who can comfort him. Because as much as my husband tries, sometimes my baby just wants the nipple. The other night, I came home and the baby was drinking a bottle. I walked in the door and he was clearly done with that. He just wanted to breastfeed.
But most of all, I'm tired of being tired. Breastfeeding makes me feel so exhausted all the time. I can't wait to sleep all night long instead of getting up every few hours whenever my son wants to nurse.
Still, whenever I consider stopping breastfeeding, I can't help but wonder: would it actually make much of a difference? If I stopped now, would my fashion sense magically change, or would my son start to sleep through the night? The answer to both of those questions is probably not. But even if my son did start sleeping through the night, would it be worth giving up something I've been doing with my son every night since he was born?
I love that I can comfort him when no one else can. I love that he lights up when he sees me after I’ve been gone a few hours.
When I really think about it, I'm not sure it would be worth it. Even if I gave up breastfeeding and got a solid eight hours of sleep every night, I love how breastfeeding gives me bonding time with my son every single day. I love that I can comfort him when no one else can. I love that he lights up when he sees me after I’ve been gone a few hours.
At this point, I've been breastfeeding for so long that I don't feel any outside pressure to continue. Even my very pro-breastfeeding husband would understand if I decided to stop. It would be my decision, and my decision alone.
But when I think about it, I truly believe that breastfeeding is the best decision for me and my baby. And let's be honest: no matter how tired I am while I'm nursing my son, I think I'd be just as tired if I had to get up and make a bottle in the middle of the night.