Motherhood Does Not Equal Martyrdom

A year-end breastfeeding reflection.

I Told the Moon
The Mom Experience

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Photo by Marie Elizabeth Photography

We made it. One full year of breastfeeding — my goal. I should be proud, right. I faced more challenges than I ever expected and still made it through the other side. Now that I’ve finally reached the end, I reflect back and think:

Was it worth it? Were the challenges I faced worth the breastfeeding relationship we had?

The answer: No — it was not worth it.

My breastfeeding journey should have ended at 2 weeks. The first day I went to my breastfeeding support group, I knew I wanted to quit. I am confident I took the wrong path, and I am not proud of this past year.

Sure, my first son — we had a great breastfeeding experience. Were the challenges I went through with him worth the breastfeeding experience? — Yes. But the emotional, physical, diet, and stress sacrifices I went through for my second son was beyond the bounds of what I should be willing to give as a mother.

What was wrong with me? Why did I stay and suffer? I wasn’t trapped. I could have quit at any time. Breastfeeding goals are not contracts. Let me say that again. Breastfeeding goals are not contracts….I wish someone told me that before.

There were a few things that kept me from quitting.

They were not good reasons.

Pride

I am not a quitter. Nobody else would care if I continued or not. But I set a goal, and I would know I quit. And that’s enough for me to feel shame.

Equality

If I can do it for firstborn, I should do it for my second born. Even if the challenges faced are completely different.

Martyr Complex

I’d be a “bad mom” if I weren’t trying everything I could to provide what was “best” for my son. I had a great supply, so any other challenges I should face were within my control. I should always try to provide everything I can for my children.

Laziness

Didn’t want to go through the hoops and fear of more hormones to wean and make formula bottles. So I kept the status quo even if I was miserable because it was easier than facing another set of unknown challenges ahead.

I know saying it out loud, all of these are terrible reasons to do anything. I see that now. Breastfeeding or not, I will need to work on these things to become a better mother. But I didn’t have that clarity while I was going through it. Instead, I endured the stress, pain, constant hunger, anger, and resentment about breastfeeding. Sure some days, I felt like a superwoman, but not every day.

They say never quit on a bad day. But maybe we should stop calling it quitting. You are not a failure if you have chosen to discontinue. I sacrificed too much of myself, my sanity, my diet, my health, and my happiness all for my son. I may not have “failed at my goal,” but certainly did not come out a winner.

Moving forward, I will try and remember that:

My needs are just as important as his.

We are in a relationship — a partnership. And with all relationships, it is a multivariate function with equal parts weight on his health and happiness along with my own health and happiness. I will need to remind myself motherhood does not equal sacrifice.

And because of that lesson… maybe, in the end, breastfeeding for a year was worth it. A year of sacrifice to learn that hard lesson. An important one to apply to all aspects of motherhood moving forward.

Motherhood does not equal martyrdom.

I encourage everyone to write their end journey recap. No matter the length or outcome of your journey.

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I Told the Moon
The Mom Experience

Even if no one listened. Even if no one heard me at all. At least I’ll have told the moon. — itoldthemoon.com