Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time to let go...

I've been wanting to talk about my breastfeeding experience for a while now. When I was pregnant, I had all these plans and ideas about the kind of mom I wanted to be, like the whole natural birth, breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, cloth diapering, etc. I already talked about my birth experience and that very stressful week at the nicu. So a very, still emotional topic for me, is breastfeeding. 

A lot of this is going to sound like excuses, but this is how it went for us. I imagined breastfeeding as this bonding experience, where my baby would lovingly stare at me while gulping down mommies milk. Instead, I felt mad, resentful, frustrated and of course, so very exhausted. And yes, I saw a lactation consultant everyday while I was in the hospital, and then another one when I was out.

I had to wake him up every 2 hrs to eat those first weeks. Well I tried at least, but he would fall back asleep. I tried so hard to keep him awake and nothing worked. I would put him down to sleep (I couldn't figure out how to feed him laying on my side, my back would hurt so much), and a few minutes later, he would wake up crying. I would then feed again, more falling asleep on the boob, more trying my best to keep him awake, more crying after a while of being asleep and that whole never ending cycle all night long! I was getting no sleep at all and was seriously loosing my mind. Lots of tears from frustration and exhaustion those days.

Then I started pumping, since he seemed to stay more awake for bottle feedings. We were still on a schedule, waking up every 2 hrs during the night. While I pumped, Mike would feed him. I wasn't producing enough milk so we started supplementing. At this point, we already had doctor appts 2-3 times a week. He would cry in the car seat or get hungry, so we would have to stop the car, breastfeed, again he would fall asleep, we would drive a little bit, then more crying and stopping. 

We started missing appointments because of this, so we started bottle feeding in the car and we were finally making his appts on time. He got used to the bottle and didn't want to breastfeed anymore. He would latch on and suck a few times, then he would cry and I would end up bottle feeding. Then came the harness, where I was afraid of hurting his hip while holding him. Then the spica cast, where I couldn't even figure out how to hold him. 

I pumped for 7 months. Those last weeks I barely produced 4 oz in a day (I tried the pills and the tea). I kept pumping for that long becuase it was the only thing that helped ease the guilt... at least a little.  I finally stopped pumping a few days after his last hip surgery, I needed to be with him, holding my baby while he was in pain, instead of pumping a few drops of milk.

So now he is 100% formula fed. I still feel guilty, like I could have tried harder, but honestly, sometimes it seemed like the least of our worries. I'm finally starting to not feel guitly, although I do feel self consious when I'm out in public and have to make him a bottle, I feel like I want people to know that I tried and that I know breastmilk is the best, but it just didnt work out for us. So that was my breastfeeding experience, and it feels good to finally let it all out.


Christina said...

I can relate in a sense. I had thoughts for how I wanted things to go and they didn't! Breastfeeding issues too. I pumped for 2 months only. I felt guilty around friends who successfully breastfed for a year or more, or felt judged for making a bottle for my son. It's such a weird world at times. The most important thing is loving and taking care of our babies. Don't feel guilty!! You did GREAT!!!!

Lora said...

Nancy, only you know what's best for your own family. Any breast milk he received was a good thing! Keep following your heart, you're a terrific mom!

Rachel Marshall said...

You did great! You had so much other stuff going on, it's amazing you made it to 7 months. Feel good about what you did instead of feeling bad about what you didn't do.