My Truth On Breastfeeding
Grey's Dedication party this past Sunday was the first time that some of my family members got a chance to meet the little guy. During a conversation I was asked if I was still breast feeding him, to which my answer was "no". This was the first time I'd answered that question without guilt...because man...I struggled with guilt. Every time that I'd been asked about the subject in the past, I'd cringe at answering the question in fear of judgement. Though I'm not one who has ever cared about what others think of me, as a new mom I was starting a new journey where I could only learn as a went along. I was particularly insecure in this area as I'll soon explain. I had an idea of what kind of parent I wanted to be, but quickly learned that most of that goes out the window when you're placed in unexpected situations. Nothing can truly prepare one for motherhood. No matter how many classes, videos you watch, or how many kids you've baby sat in your life time - it's a totally different ball game when become a mother. I mean, I had the basics down from experience like diaper changing and things like that, but not the hard hitting stuff that happens when you hand a child back to their parents. I kept going back on whether to post this or not because breast feeding is such a hot button topic, but I pride myself on keeping "Love, Loss & Lacquer" as an honest account of my life...so here goes nothing...
I'd originally planned on breast feeding Grey for the entire first year of his life. I went to several classes and felt prepared for the task, confident really. When the time came however, it was a completely different story. Apparently my left boob is more for play than function (ha), causing me to always put him on the right one which quickly became inflamed, cracked and ridiculously tender. Tender meaning that I couldn't wear a bra because it hurt so bad and just a brush of my shirts fabric against it left me in pain. Whenever he'd latch I'd scream in agony and began dreading feeding time. I tried everything, several lactation specialists, nipple shields...everything. I felt as though my baby was starving and I couldn't feed him...within 24 hours of giving birth, I felt like a huge failure. I also feared that I wasn't bonding enough with him because I was struggling so much. I was told that both baby and I were doing the right things, but with only one side functioning properly, it was excruciating! Eventually I started pumping the left side so that I could rotate feeding him with the bottle, but between the lack of sleep, wacky hormones, and just always feeling as though my baby was starving, I started having the Baby Blues. I felt as though I was under so much pressure. Between feedings every two hours, trying to pump afterwards and then clean up of the breast pump - it got to be too much. Often times, it was taking away from the time that I should have spent with him, it certainly didn't allow me to get any sleep. I was exhausted and not even producing enough milk on my own.
I cried the first time that fed Grey formula. We all know that breast milk is best and with society drilling that down your throat, you're made to feel less than if your baby is formula fed. I felt less than. In my mind, that fact that I couldn't breast feed him made me a bad mom. My poor husband just could not understand why I was so sad, "Just give him the formula. he's fine". Grey was healthy, happy and content on formula, he didn't share the guilt that I carried around. One day I came across a Baby Center thread about a mom who felt guilt over not being able to breast feed. In the thread other mothers open up about their breast feeding issues as well and for the first time I didn't feel like I was alone. With everyone talking about the goodness of breast feeding, it just seemed as though I was the only one on the planet who couldn't do it. I see formula on the shelves on supermarkets, but no one talks about the women who purchases the stuff and/or why. I guess we don't exist. Where is the support for those moms?
I know there are people reading this post at the moment judging me - thinking that I've failed, believing that I gave up too early or hold their self to a higher regard because they don't (or have never) struggled with breast feeding. However, I'm now content with formula feeding my child and he's perfect. I was not breast fed as a baby because my mom had complications which resulted in her having to have surgery, yet I was able to always maintain high grades throughout my academic career, never struggled with weight as a child and barely got sick...pretty much all the things that they tell you are impossible unless you breast feed. I tried to remember this on the days when I became sad as I prepared bottles for my baby.
Not to be deterred however, I will attempt to breast feed my next baby.
Through this experience, I've learned to be more open in my beliefs as a mother and that not everything will be by the book. Of course there are things that I absolutely will not stand for, but I now realize that certain things will be out of my control. In these short few weeks I've become less of a control freak in other aspects of my life as well which has made my existence a less stressful one already. I'm quickly accepting that I can't be perfect at every little thing, especially motherhood...but it's ok.
Please Note // I do not think mothers who formula feed are bad people, nor do I dislike breast feeding advocates or moms who can breast feed with ease - I'm simply sharing the madness that went through my mind during my personal learning experience
4/17/13 edit: I have to tell you guys how appreciative I am in reference to your responses to "My Truth On Breastfeeding" post. Since hitting the publish button a week ago today, you've reached out to me in comments, emails and facebook messages showing your support and sharing your own struggles. I have to tell you that this is my favorite part of blogging - the personal connections that I've made with you and the real life friendships that have blossomed from this little space. On days where I have writers block, the days when I think I share too much, or days when I just don't see the point of my blog this, is what motivates me.