This is #6 of the “10 Pitfalls to Breastfeeding Enjoyment.”
Have you ever heard the expression “how you do anything is how you do everything”? Meaning, for example, that the way you are with money, you are that same way with cleaning, eating, and working.
Let’s use me as an example, because I have no issues telling you everything personal about me (and I am like that in every aspect of my life–get it?).
So, I am a control freak. I like things done my way. I believe my way is the best way and the only way. I am really bad at delegating because I tend to nitpick and sometimes redo whatever task I have delegated, defeating the purpose of delegating. So, knowing that I am a control freak, I will tell you how this plays out in every aspect of my life:
1. At work, for a long time I was the only Lactation Consultant. I had difficulty finding a suitable replacement for myself, so when I went on vacation, I didn’t have someone covering my mamas while I was away. This wasn’t fair to my mamas, but I couldn’t seem to release that control.
2. When I ask my husband Joe to pack Lucy’s lunch, I ask him five times what he put in the lunch. I tell him to substitute a Mandarin orange cup for fresh grapes. Sometimes I open the lunch box after he has packed it to check it. Because I am so annoying, he now rarely packs her lunch.
3. On a regular basis, when I ask Joe to do something for me, he says “Why? I’m not going to do it the way you want anyway,” which infuriates me because it is true.
4. As a new mom, this manifested itself as serious postpartum anxiety for me. I was an attachment parenting mom to the point that if Lucy wasn’t physically attached to me, I felt panicky that she was in danger.
Here are a few examples of my crazy:
- My mom was pushing Lucy in a stroller when she was about three months old and I swore someone might come up and spit on her, so I picked her up and put her back in the sling.
- When she was five months old we went to a Christmas party and Joe literally pried her out of my arms so he could hold her and show her to family. I spent the rest of the night in a paranoid fog feeling as if I was missing a vital part of my body.
- I didn’t give Joe the opportunity to learn how to be her father before I went back to work. She never took a bottle for him and I ended up quitting my job because I was the only one who could take care of her (said my crazy brain).
So, that is just one facet of my messed up psyche. How about you? Which of your many wonderful personality traits rear their ugly heads now that you are breastfeeding?
For Jayna, it is her Type A personality:
“A Day in the life of a SUPER Type A Personality”
So I pretty much walked out of the womb responsible, opinionated, and a general pain in the ass. I see things my way, in black and white, and feel very uncomfortable in that foggy gray area. As a teenager, I was never grounded for sneaking out or living life on the “wild side.” I never missed curfew, I got straight A’s, and I was the favorite amongst my friend’s parents. “Why can’t you be more like Jayna?” they would say. This has carried over into pretty much all I do. I am good at things. I have to be good at things. And if I’m not, then I see it as a complete failure and I am my own worst enemy. Everything has its place; it should be done a certain way (my way), yadda, yadda, yadda.
When I was pregnant I took all the classes. I read all the books. I even watched videos. I was prepared. I had this. I wanted to breastfeed so badly; failure was never an option or even remotely a possibility in my overachieving mind… And then I had the baby.
My daughter was jaundiced. She slept for the first week of her life and was a lovely shade of yellow. She slept under lights and in special lighted blankets. This meant no breastfeeding. My little lethargic angel had to be woken up with ice cubes on her feet in order to eat from a bottle, so directly nursing her was never an option. And I was heartbroken. I was pumping every two hours consistently for two weeks and only going through the motions of nursing my sleepy baby. I was doomed. I was a failure. I was bad at this…. And then I met Katie.
Charli joined the land of the living and started to cry, scream, refuse to latch, etc. I came to Katie, holding the tears back, looking for the Boob Jedi to help us. And she did! I was a joyous mommy when I left Katie’s office that first time. I was super excited to nurse Charli… and then I went home. Charli didn’t like the position. Charli wouldn’t latch. Charli would get bombarded by my heavy flow and my pretty aggressive let down. Charli would latch, drink, unlatch, scream, latch, drink, scream, unlatch, and scream while drinking… It was exhausting. I was bad at this. If Charli and I weren’t emulating that perfect couplet–a smiling mommy, a happy suckling baby–we were failures in my mind. I would cry, she would cry. She would probably sense my frustration and then she would get frustrated. I was second guessing and doubting every second of every day. Is she getting enough? Is she gaining enough weight? …And then there is everyone else.
I am not used to people questioning me. My strong personality is not an invitation for comments, suggestions, or judgments for my choices. But now that I’m a Mom–and a breastfeeding Mom, at that–everyone has an opinion… And my self-righteous thick skin went right out the window.
Should I only pump and bottle feed so I know what she’s getting? Should I stop bottle feeding and only nurse so others don’t destroy our nursing relationship with 1950s opinions on childcare? Do I give her a pacifier? Did the pacifier they gave her in the hospital doom us FOREVER?! Sound familiar? If you are anything like me, I am sorry for you. I exhaust myself and after reading what I just wrote, I am sad for me. But this was the reality of my first months of breastfeeding. I wanted to love it. I wanted to bask in the bonding, but the shadow of failure was looming over me and sucking all the joy that I did feel and destroying any confidence I may have built up. Setbacks? FAILURE. Bad Days? FAILURE.
Today–I am happy to say I enjoy breastfeeding–most of the time.
I miss sleep and I miss my boobs being the same size, but I wouldn’t trade it. I know that I am doing the very best thing I can for my daughter and we’ve grown and changed together. My daughter is just like me. She is loud, she is opinionated, and she knows what she likes and doesn’t like. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand that this little person who came out of me was just like me. Babies have personalities?! Who knew?!
Finally, I would love to think that these words I have written will help any new mommies that can relate to my personality type. Please use this as a sounding board when you are facing your own demons. Or if anything, say to yourself, “At least I’m not crazy like Jayna!”
If you are local to the Wilmington, DE area, I would love to meet you at an upcoming Breastfeeding Basics class.
Too far to travel? No time for live classes? Check out comprehensive online program: The Pregnant Mama’s Guide to Breastfeeding Success
Come see me or one of my fabulous colleagues at The Birth Center in Wilmington, DE. Let us take the time to teach you about your own unique baby and breastfeeding relationship during a one on one consultation.