Sometime’s, when I see breastfeeding moms, a feeling of sadness washes over me. It almost feels a bit like a loss. I had a terrible time trying to breastfeed. In fact I look back on the whole ordeal and realize how traumatic it really was for both me and my tiny guy.
When Little was born, he was put on my breast like any other newborn, and struggled, like any other newborn. In the three days I was at the hospital, I would say about ten different nurses and lactation consultants tried to get him to latch on, each with their own methods. Three different breast pumps and a lot of hand expression. By the end of the third day, my nipples were so sore that I couldn’t wear even the softest shirt without flinching. Nipple pads, ice, and creams were a joke, they did nothing. Sadly, Little became jaundiced, and had some issues with breathing, so he was immediately taken to the NICU, just as I was being released. Thankfully, he was there for only three days, and we had to supplement with formula (which he ate like a champ), but once he was introduced to that free-flowing bottle, it was almost impossible to get him back on the breast again. We had two lactation consultants come to our home, in the hopes that we could make it work. We tried all kinds of positions, a little tube with breast milk taped to the breast, any kind of method possible, we tried it. It somewhat worked while the lactation consultant was with us, but as soon as she was gone, we were left feeling hopeless again. I continuously used my breast pump, but I was in so much pain that every time I had to pump, and put all the parts together, I would get really depressed. But that was the only way I could get breast milk to him, so I pushed forward.
The times where I attempted to breastfeed, it literally felt as though he was chewing on my breast. I’d cover my face with a pillow, because I didn’t want him to see the pain, and tears streaming down my face. And he would be screaming and crying because he wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding. Having Fibromyalgia didn’t help my case either. It hadn’t occurred to me that chronic muscle pain and skin sensitivity would be an issue in breastfeeding. I had regarded it as the most natural thing in the world. It would be a cinch.
But hey, It was not natural for me. It was awful. And after much deliberation, when Little turned a month old, I decided I would stop. I remember putting away the nursing cover that I never used, and all the other breastfeeding ‘tools’ that I no longer needed, and I couldn’t help feeling like a failure. Maybe I should have tried harder. Maybe I was doing something wrong. Maybe I was doing everything wrong. The worst part of it, was that I was actually producing the milk, I just couldn’t get it to my baby.
And it surprises me how judgmental some are on the topic. People would say things like, ‘Oh, you’re stopping after a month!? Wow, are you sure you should do that?’
‘Oh, you’re not breastfeeding anymore? Because you’re in pain? Oh, well my amazing, wonderful, magnificent daughter was in awful pain too, but she breastfed for two years! Isn’t she amazing?’
‘What!? You know breastmilk is like liquid gold, right?’
And my personal favorite, ‘shame on you.’
Listen friends, I get that people are very passionate on this subject… on a lot of subjects actually. And I get that breastfeeding mamas are very proud of their ability to nourish their kids the way they do. And that’s awesome that they can do that. But be sensitive. You have no idea what personal experience that non-breastfeeding mama went through, and the continual challenges she faces. Don’t assume. It’s hard enough recovering from the crazy emotional and physical changes of childbirth, let alone people expressing disappointment in you with something that’s beyond your control. Some may not understand this, but breastfeeding is made to be a big deal. It was a huge deal to me. I was lucky to have my hubby and family’s support, and constant reminders that I was a good mom, and doing the best that I could. But like I said, it feels like a loss. And it took me a long time to be ok with the decision I made.
To my struggling breast feeding mamas…it will be ok. Whatever you decide, everything will be quite alright. Doing the best you can, is all you can do. What’s better, to be screaming and crying with your infant while you’re getting super depressed because it’s not working out for you, or finding an alternative method that puts both you and your baby at peace and helps you enjoy each other? For the judgmental haters, it’s none of their business. And there’s nothing wrong with reminding them of that.
Our Little Man is hitting two and a half. He’s an active, healthy, happy, well-adjusted, ball of energy…..knock on wood. No attachment issues. No immunity problems. In fact, over the past couple of years, when observing Little’s demeanor, rosy cheeks, and chub chubness, several strangers have commented on how he must be a breast-fed baby. Go figure.
Baby steps, and milk (whatever kind you choose) mustaches,