Dec 13, 2011  •  In Aerin, Baby, Motherhood, Personal

The State of the Milk Factory

They say that it usually takes about six weeks to establish a good breastfeeding relationship.

Aerin turned six weeks old today. And aside from a couple of bottles of formula in the first week of her life, we have been exclusively breastfeeding her (about 60% straight from the boob, and the rest from pumped milk).

The verdict?

I still don’t like breastfeeding much. Sigh.

I really, really thought — and wanted to believe! — that I would love breastfeeding my child if it was working out well.

And it is going splendidly. Aerin is a great nurser. She latched on correctly from day one, has a strong suck, and does not suffer from nipple confusion.

So why don’t I love it? Why can’t I look to nursing sessions as sources of bliss and relaxation, as other moms do? Why do I not feel like they’re bonding sessions?

I wonder what this would taste like if it really existed.
(image source)

Instead, my breasts feel strangely detached from my body, as if they are just another object I use to take care of my baby.

And I honestly don’t feel like I bond with her any more when nursing, as opposed to feeding her from a bottle. In fact, I prefer the bottle because I can look into both of her eyes.

I also now have tremendous difficulty seeing my breasts as sexual objects. Yes, I know that women’s breasts are designed to feed and nourish the young, and any sexual uses should be considered secondary functions. But the sudden transition from years and years — from the moment I donned my first bra — of their being sexual objects to asexual tools that spend hours each day dangling from the mouth of a babe (or from the ends of a breast pump) is pretty brutal. Whenever my husband looks at them with *that look*, all I can think is, “These floppy things? Can we lay off of them because you’re only reminding me of the kids and that does little to turn me on.”

Yes, the boobies will be expelled from all sexual acts — by my request — until I can start disassociating them from my children.

Sorry for the TMI, and back to the subject…

Breastfeeding Claire (or my attempts to breastfeed her) was such a challenge that I had blamed it for my taking so long to bond with her. But now, I see that this was not the case at all. I am taking just as long to bond with Aerin, to love her and to really feel that she is my child.

Maybe I’m just missing that instinctual mommy gene. Most aspects of motherhood has been tremendously difficult for me because it just does not come naturally. Everything — including the love for my children — has been a learning process.

The good news is that I am still a firm believer in believing that nothing worth having comes easily.

And they’re totally worth it.

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16 Responses to “The State of the Milk Factory”

  1. Susan says:

    Great post.. also, I really appreciate how candid you are about the ups and downs of pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding, etc. I haven’t found many blogs that keep it real like that. 🙂

  2. This post is equal parts hilarity and sweetness! I do NOT think you are missing the Mommy Gene!

  3. nodakademic says:

    Thank you for this post. I have never seen the appeal of breastfeeding for the reasons you have said. Of course, I won’t know how I feel until the time comes, but posts like this are comforting in the sea of “I heart nursing, best thing ever!” posts I seem to see everywhere.

    • Sara D says:

      It really doesn’t have to be one or the other. I never feel blissed out, and it certainly isn’t relaxing. It mostly is vaguely uncomfortable sitting there for so long, as well as irritating to my nipples. I still love it, though – nursing has been one of my proudest accomplishments as a mother, so far. Knowing that my body provides everything she needs to grow is a pretty powerful thing. Like all things parenting, it isn’t easy, it isn’t the omg funnest thing 100% of the time, but it is wonderful and amazing. I might even call it the best thing ever.

      • That’s exactly what I don’t feel: that it’s wonderful and amazing. Yes, I know that in theory, it is, but I just attribute it to something that my body does naturally, so it doesn’t feel that powerful…does that make sense?

    • Sara D says:

      I also feel so sad when I hear about women feeling as though their breasts cannot feed their child and be sexual objects at the same time. I blame society, for that. You can have beautiful sexy boobs, but when it comes time to feed a child, you’d better hide them underneath a cover, if not in a bathroom. It infuriates me. I am lucky to have a husband who finds pregnancy and nursing to be beautiful and sexy, as well as family who considers these things natural and wonderful, and that really helped me to feel confident about them.

      • My husband too, finds pregnancy and nursing to be beautiful and sexy, and has never said or done anything to indicate otherwise. My family members have been very supportive as well, so I guess that it is society that has gotten me into this either/or mindset of my not equating my nursing breasts as sexual objects? Don’t get me wrong — I feel confident in my boobs either way. Just not in the same way.

      • Becky says:

        Couldn’t agree more Sara! Love your blog Geek in Heels!

  4. serena says:

    You’re hilarious – “Whenever my husband looks at them with *that look*, all I can think is, “These floppy things? Can we lay off of them because you’re only reminding me of the kids and that does little to turn me on.” That one made me LOL.

    And for the record, can I just applaud you for being so honest – even if that means being a negative nelly, sounding “ungrateful” or whatever else you said to describe yourself. Your kids will appreciate SO MUCH all of this writing one day – the details, the brutal honesty, the emotion, everything. And they will take so much from this blog when they read it years later – to know their mother as honestly as possible, her thoughts day to day, as you raised them. This is just a phase and things will change. But I love that you are capturing as accurately and openly as possible everything you’re going through now. I can only imagine how fascinating it’ll be for them to read these entries one day (if you decide to let them see all this!). I don’t know if I could say the same for those whose mothers constantly sound high on life (no offense to them).

    • Thank you for your kind words — I definitely want my daughters to read this years down the road (granted that they would want to read it, that is). It’s also a great record of these sleep-deprived years when my memory is at its worst. I still read some posts I wrote when Claire was younger and am grateful that I wrote them, because I had already forgotten!

  5. I love your honesty. Please know that nothing you write is ever TMI, because I would like for people to please give me a heads up on…things…and usually, people are too afraid/concerned/shy to do it. So, please woman, keep telling us what’s going on!

  6. JustAng says:

    I have a similar feeling about nursing, but have been somewhat ashamed to admit it. My daughter is 8 months old and she has been exclusively breastfed. We had A LOT of trouble in the beginning (latch probs, 2 rounds of mastitis, a nursing strike), but now it’s basically effortless (albeit time-consuming…she STILL nurses every hour, but for 10 mins or so.) I love her with all my heart, but I don’t usually feel that “bond” during nursing. I truly feel more connected when I feed her a bottle of pumped milk. I think you’re right. It’s because I can really look in her eyes and just relax with her. That being said, I do feel a HUGE sense of pride as I see her grow, knowing that my body helped do that!

  7. schmei says:

    My son is almost 8 weeks old, and I’ve had similar feelings of “when is this going to become blissful/easy/fabulous? Because it isn’t.” He’s a good nurser, too, but I’m still battling thrush (OMG keep eating yogurt… you don’t want thrush on top of everything else), which made those early weeks even more difficult (and PAINFUL) than they probably should have been. Now that I realize I have an infection and I’m not just a wuss (I really thought that when I would cry through nursing sessions), it’s getting better, but it ain’t bliss.

    And AMEN to the sexy time issues. DH thinks my new DD-size rack is hot, I think I’ll cry if he touches them. So yes, they’re not involved in our personal fun times for the time being. We’re working around that, but we were both pretty happy with “the girls” previously.

    All that is to say, this new mama sympathizes with you.

    • I had a really bad case of thrush with Claire, and it’s something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy! The pain was so bad that it literally felt like razor blades ripping through my breasts for up to 2 hours after each pumping session. And sterilizing everything that touched my breasts or the baby’s mouth was such a PITA! I went through practically all the treatments out there (including gentian violet) and nothing seemed to work. Recurring thrush, and mastitis, were the reasons I quit breastfeeding with my first. I hope your case of thrush isn’t as persistent as mine was, and that you get rid of it soon!

  8. kelsey says:

    I’ve thought about this a little bit. I think I’ll feel a lot like you–torn. I want to breastfeed, but I’ve had such a love/hate relationship with my breasts for so long (I was an early bloomer) that I don’t know if breastfeeding will tip me over into more love than hate or if it will do the opposite. It will be interesting to see. But, I love that you’re honest. It helps the rest of us tremendously.

  9. Jax says:

    I also no longer see my breasts as sexual objects, and it frustrates me to no end. It actually bothers me when my husband touches them. I’m still breastfeeding and I often wonder if it’s going to go back to normal (whatever that was) when I stop. I’ve also had recurring mastitis and to be quite honest if I have another bout of it I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue. I think motherhood and bonding takes time; it’s a journey not a one-time life-changing moment. I didn’t bond during nursing for many months with my son and although now we have an awesome nursing relationship, I think I would’ve felt exactly the same if I was bottle feeding. It’s hard to bond with a helpless total stranger but as you have seen with Claire, it does happen. I think your honesty is a testament to how nurturing you actually are. You’re aware of your feelings towards your daughters and their presence in your life and those feelings matter to you because you want to give them the best life possible. Isn’t that what being a mother is about?

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