I never had any intentions of breastfeeding my children. When I was pregnant with my first, I was very young, and the idea of it honestly kind of freaked me out. I mean, who wants sore, cracked, bleeding nipples? I was somewhat relieved when my Dr told me I should not attempt it due to the fact that I lost so much blood during birth that I nearly died. Additionally, I was so severely malnourished that I needed all of my calories for me.
Along came the twins, and the thought never even crossed my mind. How could I breastfeed 2 babies, all while working full time? Plus, Avery was happy and healthy on formula and the twins would be too.
When I got pregnant with Maren, I always assumed I would bottle feed. I just honestly didn't have the desire to breastfeed and found all of the "lactivists" to be very annoying. But on the day of my scheduled C-section, a nurse (Susan) came into my room. She told me that she was responsible for coordinating "skin to skin" time after birth, and she asked me if I intended to breastfeed. I knew that she would silently judge me if I said no, so I (perhaps a little too enthusiastically) exclaimed "YES!" The look on my husbands face was priceless. He was absolutely shocked, since all we had talked about was formula. Hell, I had already stocked up on it! When Susan left the room I told him that I had only said it out of fear of judgement, and that formula feeding was still my true intention.
After my c-section, I was able to snuggle my little lady close to me while they sewed me up. Later, in the recovery room, the moment of truth came. It was time to put my baby to the breast. Susan was there to guide me and exclaimed excitedly "She has the perfect latch!!" I thought, sure lady, you tell everyone that. Tomorrow I will be rubbed raw and crying... But I wasn't. Not the next day, or the day after that, or even 2 weeks later! She really did have the perfect latch! I was astounded. 5 months later and I haven't had a moment of pain, nor has my baby had a drop of formula.
I can't say that my bond is any stronger with Maren (don't believe the hype) but I can say that I love not having to wash bottles! I also love having a free hand during feedings so that I can stroke her face or allow her to grip my thumb (so she doesn't scratch the crap out of me).
Never did I think that I would be bold enough to nurse in public, either. But I have surprised myself by whipping it out any and everywhere without a second thought... I've breastfeed in front of just about everyone I know as well as complete strangers in grocery stores, restaurants, and even walking around the Farmer's Market! Suddenly it doesn't feel so strange anymore.
I'm far from a lactivist though. I'm a firm believer that as long as you feed your child you are doing great! And my experience hasn't been completely without struggle--we've had some weight gain issues and, more recently, some supply issues. I'm not stressing out about whether I will make it to 6 months or a year or whatever other arbitrary number is out there. I will simply continue to breastfeed as long as it feels "right". Who knows how long that will be?
I can't say that I would go back and change anything with my other children, because I wouldn't. Formula feeding worked for us and I don't feel like I screwed them up or missed out on anything. But I AM glad that I gave it a shot with Maren. It has been a great experience and I certainly wouldn't have changed it.
If you are struggling with the decision of whether or not to breastfeed, all I can say is to do what feels right for you and your family. You really can't make the wrong choice.