In 2003, I was a first time mom with Bianca and I was excited to breastfeed. It seemed simple: pop boob out, feed baby. Was I wrong. I was traumatized, to put it mildly. No one told me that you just sat there with a child hanging on to you—needy and hungry, all the time. I was stunned by the boredom of waiting for the baby to finish. I sound like a mom-from hell, but I think it was because I was unprepared and clueless. I was never well informed during my first pregnancy because I was too lazy to read parenting magazines or even the Breastfeeding for Dummies book my mom-in-law gave me. I figured it would be like a baby powder commercial—I would wake up and life would look (and smell) fabulous being with baby.
Apparently, Bianca didn’t latch on properly and I was too frustrated, so I chucked it and went full-on formula feeding at five months. I smugly comforted myself by saying it just didn’t work for me. By the time I gave birth to Kate in 2005, I had actually read the books and was more informed, and realized—no more excuses (which I definitely was full off the first time around)—I must breastfeed Kate exclusively, and I did until she was eighteen months. I learned that breastfeeding was all about proper latching and that if there is demand, there is supply. A frequently emptied boob equals demand. So it’s important to keep emptying them (frequent demand) to ensure supply. And since nothing can effectively empty a breast out other than the child, it’s imperative that they feed directly from Mom. Your body knows when it’s a breast pump and not the baby, so it isn’t a good idea to just use the pump. And what a difference it was! Formula is costlier but it gave me more freedom—I could leave Bianca with my in-laws the whole weekend and not worry. With Kate, there were more logistics involved. It was a lot cheaper (since breast milk is free) but she was with me everywhere. Whenever she fed off one boob, my breast pump was on the other one. By doing this, I had about 40 bags of breast milk labeled and lined up in the freezer. So it became really easy for me to run around town and leave her if I had to. I decided to go differently with Kate when I realized I had failed the first time around due to my own ignorance. And after learning that it really was the best option for my (and any) child, how could I do otherwise?