My Not So Perfect Breastfeeding Journey
My breastfeeding journey did not go as planned, as I am sure many moms can relate to. It actually caused a ridiculous amount of stress and anxiety, leading me to go see my therapist and just cry about feeding my baby on multiple occasions. When I got pregnant with Olivia, I never thought twice about breastfeeding. I planned to just do it, and pump when I go back to work. Just like a mom is “suppose to do”.
After my c-section, they put Olivia directly on my chest, and she latched. They said it was perfect and I thought to myself, duh. Of course, my baby was going to breastfeed perfectly. Then we had two days to recover in the hospital and with each feeding, I thought omg this is the worst thing I have ever had to do. Nurse after nurse would help me with holding her, trying to find the perfect position and the right amount of pillows to properly support her and I. They started having me pump to try to get a jumpstart on my supply.
Then They Sent Me Home
I remember sitting on the rocking chair trying to get her to feed. It hurt so bad. I was bleeding, she was hysterically crying. My husband and I would call the advice nurse multiple times throughout the night. Finally, we ended up giving her a bottle of formula. She sucked it down and stopped crying. The poor thing was starving and could not get anything from me. From there I began pumping, trying a variety of things and visited a lactation nurse. It took two nurses and myself to get Olivia to latch and feed. We were literally all holding her to me, practically forcing her to feed. Then they said, okay! Go home and you try. Eh…. if it took 3 adults to do it here, (2 being professionals), how the hell am I going to do it at home??
From there, I decided to pump exclusively. I couldn’t keep up with her demand so we were supplementing with formula. I would be pumping every 2-3 hours. In the middle of the night, I would be sitting on her bedroom floor pumping while my baby was laying in a boppy happily chugging her bottle while I was frantically scrolling through kellymom.com to figure out how to be better at feeding my child. We were not magically bonding. She was eating and I was frantically trying to figure out how to feed her the so-called “right” way.
A few weeks went by and I was so miserable. I was just praying my husband would come in and say enough! Stop doing this to yourself. But that never happened. He clearly had no idea what I was going through. I felt so much guilt and wanted to desperately stop it all. I suffered through one round of masteis, and slowly my supply started to drop. I am sure somehow I could have saved my supply, but mentally and physically I was done. The rest of the first year of her life I felt that guilt. With every formula purchase and every bottle I made. I was counting down the days until she turned one, sadly wishing those formula days away.
After coming to terms with my breastfeeding journey with Olivia, I promised myself I would NEVER do this to myself again with our next child. I worried so much for something heavily out of my control. I wasn’t enjoying the moments of feeding my child because of the pain and guilt I carried. Fed is best. I knew this, but for some reason found it difficult to apply it to my own life.
Less than 2 years later, Nolan arrived. I was terrified of nursing him. I made it clear to everyone at the hospital my struggles with Olivia and this time had to be different. But…the same damn thing happened. While I still felt the guilt, pain, and uncertainty of choosing formula over excruciating pain, I knew I needed to do what was best for me. Let me tell you, I was able to bond with my baby 10 times better with a bottle vs cringing and crying through the pain of a breastfeeding session.
Fed Is Best
Why I am telling you all of this I don’t know, since it has been over 2 years since my last breastfeeding experience. Perhaps I wish for more “fed is best” going around vs judgment of when/how you are feeding your child. But let me tell you this; if you have given it a strong effort and it isn’t right, that is okay. Even if you haven’t given it a strong effort but it just isnt for you, that is okay too. The love and health of your child is not dependent on breastfeeding. And you know what? My daughter was breech and I didn’t try to get her to move and had a c-section. My son? Was positioned correctly and I chose to have a c-section. My kids only received breast milk for a few weeks of their lives. And guess what… they are extremely healthy, happy, loving, thriving kids!
If you are out there struggling with guilt on how your kids were born, how they are fed, how much screen time they get, etc… Just know, the love you have for them and quality time spent will always outweigh society’s guidelines to what makes a healthy, happy, smart child.
Hang in there. You are doing a great job.