I’ve been meaning to share this post for a while but ya know…mothering, workin, exercising… they’re eatin up my weeks lately. Anyway sorry for my lapses in writing.
I’ve mentioned once before that I gave up breastfeeding early. Six weeks to be exact. I wanted to share a bit more on the topic because of how many women have reached out since this admission, mentioning they were so happy to hear about another woman facing challenges in the breast department. Here goes..
From the moment I got pregnant, my doctor, friends, mother, strangers…all asked “do you plan to breastfeed?” The majority of the askers seemed to want the answer “yes”. So each time I was asked I immediately stammered… “yes!” Every baby center type site screams “breast is best” at you and constantly repeats itself adding “do it for 6 months to fortify the baby’s immune system.” Silently adding…there is no other option. Even the formula booklets include an intro about breast being best. It was incredible.
Being on the bandwagon, I got prepared. Read books, articles, bought boppy pillows, something called a nipple shield", got a good glider. I was “ready”… or as ready as someone could be. To me… it felt really scary though. I realize that’s normal and okay to feel scared. As communicative as we are as a gender… we don’t share a lot on this topic. It’s f’ing scary stuff….preparing to be a mom. Anyway, I had my mind made up on the breast, and I was certainly going to give my baby the BEST. I mean… who could decide not to with the breast campaign being waged all over the universe (or so it seems).
After she was born, amidst all the chaos in the hospital, I was furiously pumping and trying to learn my new craft. I had NICU nurses standing by with helpful (sometimes hands-on) tips on how to perfect it. The position, the angle. It was SO hard for us though. Bug wasn’t into it. I used the shield (it doesn’t make you a super hero btw) and she was slightly more into it. And off we went…with all the apparatuses they make… we were trying.
So…weeks later… what happens when it isn’t working out? What happens when your milk is drying up, you have latching issues, and your baby doesn’t gain weight? I’ll tell you. You feel like a failure. You cry…or actually sob… when your baby is weighed and she hasn’t gained a single ounce in two weeks. SOB. In public on a busy 57th Street at lunchtime.
Because your world has told you that it should be natural, an amazing bonding experience, and BEST for your baby… when you cannot do this function… you feel awful. You actually feel like you are failing this tiny thing who is counting on you. It sucks.
I am not here to say I disagree with anyone or any group promoting breast feeding. I AM here to say that it is okay if you cannot. You are a great mother and your baby is going to be just as happy and healthy and well adjusted. I am proof of this. Upon leaving my pediatrician where I learned that bug had not gained any weight, and also breast feeding for a lactation consultant, I lost it. I came completely unglued from this stress piled on top of all of our newly-learned-TCS stress. Bo staged an intervention. Some portion of my stress had to go. Breastfeeding was causing me such mental anguish. He suggested that we try supplementing.
The idea of choosing a formula and how and when to add it in was confusing. I called friends who hadn’t been able to breastfeed, including my own mom. What I learned saved me. I wasn’t alone. I mean…you know you’re not b/c obviously formula is sold in vast quantities in the world… but you feel alone. My mom didn’t breastfeed me and she just kept reminding me of the fact that I was a very healthy baby. I turned out well in her humble opinion. My dear friend Kathleen made me feel like a good mom again. She made me feel confident again. I could regain some control over my life by making this decision and giving myself a break in all this new confusing mess of a whirlwind I felt my life had become.
So I stopped. And almost instantly, the heaviest of weight was lifted off my shoulders. I could eat and drink what I wanted. I felt adjusted and smiled all the time and genuinely enjoyed feeding time. I could run or exercise without three sports bras. And MOST importantly, the bug gained weight. She started to really grow. She is healthy and happy and growing up so much now and truly thriving. My husband can feed her anytime and all the time if he wants :). Life for us got easier after that decision. But it was excruciating to make. I wish there was something out there for me to read at the time telling me we’d be okay. That I wasn’t alone. This is why I write this tonight.
Again, my beliefs are just that… only mine. I hope no one who is a firm lover of breastfeeding is offended. But, we women who could not breastfeed have really no voice. We don’t talk about it. We’re ashamed of it sometimes. That’s awful. We should be celebrated for being mothers. Period. End of story. We are amazing no matter what path we choose for feeding our littles.
Okay, enough of my rant. Happy night y’all.