Aug 14, 2012
Failing at Breastfeeding | When Things Just Don't Work Out
I was determined to be a good mother. No, not just good, the best! I had done my research and my heart had been tugged toward the direction of a natural, attachment sort of parenting. I was going to stay at home, follow an alternative vaccine schedule, co-sleep, burn all parenting books and, by gollie, there was just no way I was NOT going to breast feed.
All of those pictures of breastfeeding mamas and all the "breast is best" literature out there made me confident in my choice, there was absolutely no question. I was going to breastfeed and I was going to be great at it! Right? I mean, what could go wrong?
Fast forward to September 2009, we were blessed with our 9lb. 9 oz. little...er...slightly toddler sized little man. Naturally, this little guy had some body to keep up with and a metabolism to beat! He latched on right away and was happily drinking away.
We had done it. He was hungry and eager to drink...success! "I'm a good mom after all!" I told myself. That 9lb. 9oz. little man grew and he grew fast! I was nursing at least every hour and supply was barely keeping up with demand. He was always cranky and barely slept, the majority of his life was spend asking for and seeking out food. I was exhausted.
The obs and midwives asked if everything was okay. Well, yes, they were...I thought. Hes eating fine and often, hes growing...so things are all right. We were doing fine I assured myself.
Fast forward two months, I find myself doubled over in unending pain wandering why my insides are coming out. I end up in the hospital for an emergency gall bladder surgery and am away from my baby for 2 nights. Due to his incredible need for food, I had no back up milk in the freezer like all good breast feeding mamas do. I pumped at the hospital but it wasn't enough, he was hungry. My mom and dad were at my house caring for my screaming little one and I felt sorry for all of them. 3 a.m. breast milk runs were made by my dad and my husband to try to keep up, but it wasn't working.
The surgery had shocked my milk supply and I was left with my crumbled mama pride and an unhappy baby. The F word was introduced...formula.
It was official, I had failed my baby. I was not the best mama, I was not even a good one. How could I give him that stuff!
My son was totally oblivious to my distaste for this new liquid and consumed it happily. Eagerly. Satisfyingly. He was happy and for possibly the first time ever, he was full! I was still determined to breastfeed and only supplement with formula. I tried teas and treatment, anything I could to boost my still dwindling milk supply and possibly, hopefully, get back to a breast milk only diet. That was my idea, my son had another.
In his mind bottles were fabulous! They were easy and he could get his fill, they were the best thing he had ever had the pleasure of knowing! Soon, my son began to scream at me and push away whenever I tried to get him to latch on, he wanted nothing to do with that stuff. My only option was to pump and feed him in bottles. That worked for about a week until he caught on.
I talked again with my OB and other medical staff, they all said 4 months was plenty, that I had done my deed and that it was time to move on. He wanted to, I did not! I couldn't give up, this wasn't the plan and I didn't want to be a...gasp...formula mom!
We made it till he was 4 months old. One night while staying at family's house, after spending 30 minutes trying to convince him to drink some breast milk, I looked at my husband while tears ran down my face and loudly proclaimed that I could no longer do this. I was done! I cried because I felt like such a failure, gave my son a bottle to calm his distress and lay down beside him. My boobs were engorged and at the moment that they hit the bed, milk shot across the room at my husband.
I cried more.
This was supposed to be easier.
This was suppose to be the right thing to do for my son.
Why didn't he agree?
I never resumed and the milk factory has been closed for over two years now. Now I sit here, 18 weeks pregnant, hoping that this time I can be that "good" mom.
Hoping things will go well this time.
Hoping I don't have to fail at this again.
I know it was totally out of my control and that there was nothing more I could have done, but it doesn't always feel that way. In today's society there are two circles of mothers: those who do breastfeed and those who don't. Those who do are considered breastfeeding nazis, it the only way to go and any mother who feeds her baby formula is poisoning them. Those who don't are usually stamped with the lazy mom label and are seen as to consumed with themselves or misinformed to make a educated choice for their little one.
There's very little room for those of us who, for whatever reason, fell in the middle.
I can not count all the times where those self proclaiming good breastfeeding mamas told me I simply didn't try hard enough. I was looked down on because I simply didn't make the right choice, in there opinion. This angered me, they didn't know!
Still others asked me why I ever bothered to try, it was better that I taught my son how to be more independent now or it would come back to bit me later. This made me equally as angry.
While I DO consider myself a breastfeeding advocate I know that woman can be inconsiderate to those of us who have tried, tried hard and failed. I do hope to breastfeed this little one and I hope and pray it goes well. I want to have that slightly closer bonding time with my baby utilizing all of my body to provide for him or her.
But this time, if it doesn't, I wont beat myself up as much.
These things do happen and all I can do is give it my best effort. which I will do!
The moral of the story: be slow to judge how a mama feeds her little one, you most likely do not know the whole story.