Motherhood Does Not Equal Martyrdom

A year-end breastfeeding reflection.

I Told the Moon
Sep 19, 2020 · 3 min read
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.

The Mom Experience

The Mother of All Publications

I Told the Moon

Written by

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

The Mom Experience

Moms have stories to share

I Told the Moon

Written by

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

The Mom Experience

Moms have stories to share

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store