Dear Rabbi Shmuley,
I am currently breastfeeding my three month old son. I hate it passionately, but I realized that somewhere along the lines, if I could give him what is best for him (and it is, have no doubt), I would do so. For a finite time. As parents who willingly brought a child into the world, we are not allowed to behave as selfishly as we might want to do, which is simply put, part of being a parent, like it or not. Had we not been prepared to put our children’s needs before our own, at least most of the time, we would have either prevented the pregnancy or terminated it.
There is nothing in the world I love more than my children, except for my husband. I might even go out on a limb here to mention that I do actually love him more. Unlike my children, I was allowed to choose exactly who he is before I committed to him. Maintaining my marriage is an extremely high priority for me, as I am aware that my children may or may not remember some instance in which I messed up in one way or another as their mother, my husband will. In 20-odd years, my children will likely abandon me for their wives regardless of what I do, whereas my husband (let’s hope) will not.
I’ve been lucky enough to have children with two different men (OOOOOOOO!! And one was not my husband!!! OOOOOOOO!) who were both very interested in watching our children born. As I am totally aware, having seen any number of births, it’s a messy process, and it is not for everyone. Which is why I would never have requested/required that either man watch it. Both chose to do so, and neither experienced any diminished sexual interest in me. In fact, I would venture to guess that both of these men were aware that this is what the vagina was designed for and were able to separate the birthing vagina from the sexual vagina.
Normal mothers do not breastfeed for the sexual feelings, nor do they deliberately use their children as a shield to not engage in sexual behavior and if they do either of these things, there are significant other issues that require addressing. I actually like sex. New mothers and fathers are likely to avoid sexual intercourse not because breastfeeding can get in the way of it (unsure how, but this is a point you make), but because they are simply too tired to enjoy it. Personally, as someone who was at one point getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night in 15 minute increments, a 20 minute nap was far more appealing than a roll in the sack. Plus, as someone who ripped hole-to-hole with my first born, my privates were a bit tender for longer than the six week recovery I had expected.
Let’s be clear with one thing here, Rabbi, my body is property of no one else. Perhaps they didn’t teach you that at Rabbi school, but here in WASP country, we women are not property of our men or our children. We occasionally share our body with others, but this is our prerogative when and where we do so. My breasts and vagina are mine to use as I see fit and not how someone else would like. I can choose to breastfeed and I can choose to have sex. I can even do both (altho not at the same time; that’s sick), when I want to.
I have mentioned choices over and over again here, and that is what this boils down to: a choice. I can choose to put my relationship with my children above and beyond my relationship with my husband or I can choose not to. While breastfeeding or in other ways. And I refuse to apologize to anyone about my choices to do what comes most naturally to my body and the choices I make regarding who and what can use it when.
P.S. I really liked your show until I realized how antiquated you are.
I used to tell people that I wanted three children. Having had Alex now for almost 10 weeks, I’ve decided that I don’t ever want any more children. Which would be funny, except that it’s not.
You see, Internet, I’ve been lying to you: I’m not doing so well over here.
I gave birth to a child who on his best days could be described as difficult, and on his worst, hell-sent after a pregnancy that pretty much zapped my will to live. And now I am a prisoner in my home, chained to this baby who refuses to quiet for anyone but me. He rarely sleeps. Breastfeeding has turned from a ‘Hey, wow, this is cheap and we’re bonding and stuff’ to a virtual noose around my neck, tightening with each successive thing that I have to pass up because I cannot leave the baby for more than 2 hours.
I sit around day after day, surfing the Internets and watching shitty daytime TV while Alex alternately shrieks or breastfeeds, often simultaneously. For hours. I have no mommy-friends close, and my other friends live real big-girl lives that don’t involve diaper duty and cracked nipples. I’m so tired that I can no longer do simple math (let’s be clear here: I used to be able to do it) and I have no end or relief in sight.
There are even days that I question my choice to have had him at all. Of course, seconds later Mommy Guilt kicks in and I cannot believe that I could think that way. Alex doesn’t MEAN to be such an asshole, and being loved so wholeheartedly is somewhat flattering. But sometimes I wake up (or am still awake at 3am, so anxious that I cannot sleep) and look around and say ‘is this REALLY the life that I chose for myself, each day the same as the rest?’ and I wonder how other people do it.
I love him so overwhelmingly and I hate that I feel this way. It will get better; I know it will. My first was no walk in the park (he may have actually been worse as he was totally inconsolable) and I distinctly remember the day that life with him in it didn’t seem to be quite so long. However, in the here and now, I’m honestly picturing breastfeeding him through college. THAT’S how much he loves the boob and how trapped I feel right now.
Like an addict, I’m going to have to just take this one day at a time and hope for a better tomorrow, because losing my marbles just isn’t an option. And I am going to try like hell not to resume smoking, which is all that I can think about these days.
Mental note: going tanning in the super bed after a year long tanning exile is VERY not wise.
Burned nipples + teething (i.e. biting) baby = pure stabby badness.
Let’s just say it’s suicide for me…