I'm the kind of person who doesn't like being told what to do. I like to do things my way, in my own time. I also like to beat people's expectations. If someone said I couldn't do something, I would do it, just to prove them wrong. Unless, of course, I got the feeling that they were challenging me just to get me to do the opposite. At the same time, I hate giving up. I don't like thinking that something beat me.
Taking all of these traits together, it isn't difficult to imagine the internal connundrum I experienced when breastfeeding wasn't working. What was worse was that, shortly after my milk came in, the supply was suddenly much reduced. I panicked. Both my first and second choice for feeding my daughter seemed to be denied to me. I was angry. I wanted to stubborn my way through, but there wasn't much I could do if my body wouldn't cooperate.
One night, after a long pumping session resulted in little milk, I was done. My hormones were raging and I was sobbing. I didn't want to have to feed my child formula, but I was short on sleep and the pumping wasn't going any better than the breastfeeding. In my exhaustion, I went to Phil and asked if we could talk about our options. I explained that I didn't want to do formula, but the pumping made feedings take twice as long and wasn't producing much for all the effort. Phil looked at me and gave me the best answer. He said it was up to me. He would support me if I wanted to keep trying, or he would support switching to formula. He gave me permission to quit.
Once I had received permission to quit, I wanted to try harder to make it work. And, as previously noted, pumping ended up working quite well. But, what I discovered is that granting permission can be an amazing thing. It makes it easier to do what you know you should, but don't want to. It's like when I would diet. If I thought I couldn't have something, it was all I wanted--even if it was something I wouldn't want regularly. Being allowed to do something made it easier not to do it. Much like the child who only wants the toy that is being played with by someone else, it is that which we are told we can't have or can't do that motivates us. Receiving permission can allow us to sit back and evaluate if that is something we really want, or if we were just pushing against being told "no."
I hope to remember this as I raise my daughter, particularly since she already appears to have inherited my stubborn and doesn't like being forced to do anything. Perhaps a little permission can go a long way. It certainly works for me.