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What If I Don’t Want to Breastfeed?

When it comes to discussing why I didn't breastfeed my child, I will happily tell my story to anyone who will listen. In fact, I've written several articles about exclusively pumping, and I've loved all of the support and advice that I've received over the years.

This time I'm pregnant with my second child, and so many people who have known about my breastfeeding struggles have asked if I will attempt breastfeeding this time. My answer confuses them. I tell them, "I don't know."

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Their eyes bug out, and they're all, like, "Whaaaat?" I can see what they're thinking. They're wondering why I wouldn't give it a try again. How I could possibly be OK with perhaps exclusively pumping for a year again? Don't I know that, statistically, many women have better experiences nursing their second child than they did with their first? I get it.

But what if I don't want to try?

I'll never truly get over the fact that I wasn't able to nurse my first child. It's a sore reminder every time I so much as see an article about breastfeeding. It's everywhere. Friends on Facebook happily post pictures of their little ones nursing. Events, rallies and days are all held in honor of breastfeeding. This is just a bit depressing for a mama who has a sore history with breastfeeding.

Only those who have been through what I've been through can understand the sadness that I feel each time I see a mom nursing her baby or toddler. I don't smile and think fluffy thoughts. I'm bitter, jealous and frustrated that I couldn't do the same. I am angry at myself for not trying harder. I'm annoyed that I didn't seek more help. I'm pissed off that the few lactation consultants that did help me didn't try harder. Mama has issues surrounding that whole "breastfeeding" thing. Why would I want to put myself through that stress again? What if Baby No. 2 also struggles with nursing? Emotionally, I wouldn't be able to deal with that. Not again.

If by avoiding a sore spot for me means I can be more confident, why would I attempt breastfeeding?

But what I can deal with is attaching myself to a pump. I can pump overnight. I can pump in traffic. I can pump on planes, in conference rooms, at theme parks. I can even milk myself in just a few minutes should I need to. Not breastfeeding isn't the end of the world for me.

Breastfeeding moms don't understand this. Neither do moms who provide their babies with formula. I'm often alone in my "screw breastfeeding, just pump" thoughts because, between nursing directly and feeding my baby formula, I am willingly selecting the most difficult way to feed my baby. Am I crazy? As if having a newborn (ahem, and toddler) isn't hard enough? Why should I make it harder on myself?

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What seems like a mountain to you may be just a little hill to me. Motherhood is about feeling confident. A confident mother makes for a happy mother who will spread that happiness to her children, her home and everywhere she goes. If by avoiding a sore spot for me means I can be more confident, why would I attempt breastfeeding? Yep, it may work. Four months from now, I may look at this post and laugh with a baby attached to my boob.

Only time will tell, but my experience just goes to show that motherhood ain't exactly black and white. There many shades of gray and, personally, I'm OK with floating in those murky waters.

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