I knew, almost the moment I was pregnant but certainly even well before I decided I wanted to start a family, that having a baby was going to change my life in ways both big and small. Shouldering the burden of raising another human being is daunting and wonderful and stressful and amazing and, of course, disruptive. Your life isn't completely dismantled, but it certainly changes. Scheduling breastfeeding and pumping sessions facilitated one of those changes, and in a way that proved to really upheave and rearrange my life. I know I should feel bad about that... but I don't.
I didn't want, or allow, motherhood to completely overhaul my life. After I pushed a baby out of my body I was still the same person, who wanted the same things in her career, in her romantic relationship, in her friendships, and in her personal goals. I just had a tiny human being relying on me for all things. And the presence of that tiny human shifted my priorities and rearranged how I spent my time. That was especially true when I realized I wanted and was able to breastfeed. I became damn-near territorial over my scheduled nursing and pumping sessions. I knew that time was not only precious — time I would look back on and be thankful for when my child was over — but it was essential if I was going to meet my breastfeeding goals.
So, yeah, my life changed in a very big way when I started breastfeeding my newborn, and that life-change meant canceling plans and staying home and telling people to wait a few months before visiting. And even though some people didn't understand or thought I had a lobotomy or were just angry, I couldn't be sorry. Here's why:
Because It Helped Me Reach A Goal
Like any soon-to-be mom, I had a lot of grand plans and idealistic goals when I was pregnant. I had my idea of what motherhood was going to be... and then I became a mother and realized I had no damn clue.
But breastfeeding was one of those goals that I was adamant about, and if my body was going to allow me to reach that goal I was going to be unyielding in my pursuit. I didn't want to compromise an attainable parenting goal because it might have been inconvenient for other people. To me, that just didn't seem fair to me.
Because It Helped My Baby Reach A Goal
The goal of breastfeeding was a mutual goal, my friends. I mean, sure, my baby didn't tell me one day that he, too, wanted to breastfeed, but in the beginning he was learning how the whole nursing thing worked, too. I wanted to give him the time, space, and chance to figure it out with me. The reported benefits of breastfeeding were going to help him, so I figured I owed it to him to make sure I gave us enough time, together, to figure out how breastfeeding was going to work for us.
Because I'm Allowed To Be Selfish With My Time
I mean, I'm a grown-ass adult. There are very few people I absolutely owe my time to. I liked breastfeeding — it was soothing and comforting and it allowed me to just slow down and take a breath and focus on my baby and just my baby, and those moments proved to be invaluable when I was postpartum and struggling to adjust to live as a new mom. So yeah, I wanted that time to myself and my baby, and I wasn't willing to give it up for someone or something else.
Because My Comfort Matters
I mean, I know I just popped out a kid and suddenly that kid is the only person who matters... but hi! I am still here! What I want matters, too! How I want to spend my time as a new mom matters! If I had wanted to skip breastfeeding entirely and use formula to feed my kid that would've been my prerogative and I would've expected people to respect it. So if I wanted to block off huge chunks of time, rearrange schedules, and cancel plans because of breastfeeding, I expected people to respect that decision, too.
Because Breastfeeding Is A Lot Of Work...
Breastfeeding isn't easy, people. It isn't something we, as new moms, just innately know how to do. It takes a lot of time and patience and sore nipples and practice to get it down, and our babies usually have to learn how to breastfeed, too! If I was going to breastfeed for a year, at least, I was going to need to commit in a way that would set me and my baby up for success. And, yes, that meant planning my life around our nursing sessions until breastfeeding felt like second nature.
... & Breastfeeding Is Not — I Repeat, Not — Free
If you think breastfeeding is the "cheaper" option, then you clearly don't put any value on a new mom's time. My time isn't free, so the time I spend breastfeeding my baby isn't free, either. So when I schedule my life around breastfeeding I'm really scheduling my life around a job. It might not pay me in actual dollars or provide me with a 401K, but it does pay me and my baby with benefits that I believe have value.
Because I Didn't Owe Anyone An Explanation
I mean, at the end of the day I really don't owe anyone a run-down of why I do the things that I do, or why my days are structured the way they are. Not only would that kind of a conversation be boring as hell (because, let's face it, we love our babies but those first few newborn months can be so mundane), but it's one that I just don't really owe anyone. This is what works best for me and my baby at the moment and if/when it changes then my schedule and how I structure my life will change, too.
Because It Helped Me Feel In Control
For me, personally, one of the more difficult parts about being postpartum is feeling so out of control. Now that my baby is no longer inside my body I'm acutely aware that there are so many things that could impact him; things that are completely outside of my control. At the same time, I don't feel like I have control over my postpartum body, I don't feel like I have control over my raging hormones, and I don't feel like I have control over a life that is now altered in a very real, very big way.
So being able to say when and where and for how long I could stop and just feed my baby — just complete one little but very, very important task — gave me some semblance of control over my life. I wasn't willing to give that up for anything, including a friend's happy hour invitation or a visit from my mom.
Because I Was Never Going To Breastfeed Forever
Breastfeeding, like any other parenting phase, was never going to last forever. So why not be selfish with this time that I knew, sometimes painfully, was going to be fleeting?
Because My Parenting Decisions Are Mine & Mine Alone
In the end, my choices are my choices and if they work for me and my family and they're healthy and safe no one needs to know the why. I know my body best, I know my baby best, and I know my life best.