Dear Baby, Breastfeeding You Was Not What I Thought, and I'm Done
To my sweet baby on the last day I breastfeed you,
As I cradle you in my arms and look down at your little face, I feel completely overwhelmed. You let out a cry, and I changed positions. I try "the football hold" this time. It doesn't make a difference. You are now screaming at the top of your lungs in hunger, and tears are rolling down my face. I feel worthless and embarrassed. I feel like I have failed as a mother — and as a woman.
Why is this so hard for us? Breastfeeding is natural, but it has not come naturally to us at all. When I was pregnant, I took Breastfeeding 101 and filled my mind with as much breastfeeding knowledge as I could. I had a Boppy nursing pillow, nursing bras, and breast pads — all ready to go for you. Family and friends, doctors, and the media told me over and over again that "breast is best," and I was ready to give you all the nourishment and comfort you required.
Today, I've had enough — enough frustration, enough pain, enough guilt. I'm sorry I forced breastfeeding on you for as long as I did.
When you were born, I was looking forward to having skin-on-skin contact with you and bonding as I breastfed you for the first time. It didn't happen. It never did. Countless nurses came into our room to help get you to latch, but none were successful. We met with lactation consultants who tried their best to help, but it still didn't work. The only thing that was helpful was a nipple shield one of the lactation consultants gave me. That annoying flimsy piece of plastic was the only useful tool that got you to latch, although it was for just a couple of minutes at a time. Breastfeeding was not how I envisioned it would be. It was downright torturous for both of us.
Today, I've had enough — enough frustration, enough pain, enough guilt. I'm sorry I forced breastfeeding on you for as long as I did. Clearly, it's just not our thing, and that's OK. We'll find another way. There's always another way. For the next six months, I will be exclusively pumping and bottle feeding you, supplementing with formula when my supply can't keep up. I promise to provide you with the nourishment you need, not just breast milk and formula during your first year of life, but love, caring, encouragement, and support for the rest of your life. I am your mother, and I am not a failure. I will not fail you.
All my love,