Monday, July 21, 2014
After taking Sunday off from the blogging world to grocery shop, relax, watch my Buccos sweep the Rockies, and watch my kid hate napping, let's return to our regularly scheduled blogging topic. My life and journey as a Tired, Happy Mama.
Breastfeeding is such a polarizing topic of conversation. No one is opinion-less. "If you don't breastfeed your baby, you are feeding it shards of glass in a bottle and they'll be sick their whole lives." "If you breastfeed your baby, the public will shun you in case you accidentally have a nipple slip." "People who use formula are obviously lazy, bad parents." "Women who breastfeed are clearly hippies."
I actually have gone back and forth on my opinion of breastfeeding over the years. Formula did always seem convenient, and I honestly didn't like the idea of my breasts producing the sole source of food for my child for at least half of his or her life for the first year. But once I got pregnant, and it wasn't a theoretical discussion any longer, I decided that I was going to be a breastfeeding mama. It's healthier, FREE, and seemed the right thing to do. It couldn't be that bad, right?
OH DEAR GOD WRONG.
Now I will preface this by saying that this is my story. I'm sure people already have their opinions of me and my choices, but so be it, I am here to share the good and the bad alike.
During my hospital stay, I did a decent job at nursing Sabrina. I asked for help from the nurses and they did what they could to help me. Unfortunately most of the time that was just positioning Sabrina's head and letting her suck. She was born Monday evening and I went home Thursday midday. I can honestly say that that first night home was the hardest night of my life. The hours passed so slowly. Sabrina wanted to eat constantly, my milk wasn't really in yet, and she and I were both miserable. Somehow on the trip home from the hospital, she had turned into a ravenous little vampire with ouchy pointy teeth, but instead of sucking my blood, she sucked breastmilk. Every time she wanted to eat, I would try to get her latched, and the pain of it was so excruciating that it made me cry. Every. Time. I dreaded every single feeding, because the pain was just too much to bear. I didn't have my pump yet so it was either suffer or do formula, and you'd have thought I signed a contract to breastfeed in blood the way I was acting. I wouldn't entertain the notion of a bottle. So from Thursday until Monday, the day Chris was supposed to go back to work, I suffered through feeding after feeding. I called a lactation consultant on Monday and begged for her to see me. Chris took the day off work because I was a mess, crying constantly, Sabrina was jaundiced and needed another heel prick and a doctor appointment, and life just kinda sucked.
We picked up my pump (which was on order but we didn't have it yet since Sabrina was 3 weeks early) and hightailed it over to the lactation consultant, who I fully credit with helping to get my sanity back. She looked in Sabrina's mouth and decided that she wasn't tongue tied (yay) and asked me to take off my shirt and bra and feed her so she could see her latch. When I took off my shirt, she made a small yet audible gasp. My nipples and breasts were in the worst shape she'd seen in a long time. So she told me I needed to pump and let myself heal. She showed me how to use my new pump, and I got a few ounces out... not bad for my first attempt she said. I was still hardcore into breastfeeding and hating on formula, so she told me to pump every 2-3 hours just like Sabrina's eating schedule, and just give her the milk in a bottle until I was healed. And then we'd work on correcting her latch once I was healed. Needless to say, never again did I breastfeed her.
Pumping turned out to be time consuming and fruitless. That very night, at around 2 in the morning, I only got about 1.5 ounces total from 30 minutes of pumping. Sabrina was eating 3 ounces at least, so that left me 1.5 ounces short. I woke Chris up and we made the decision to introduce formula. I continued to pump for another week or so, but finally gave up and went to strictly formula, because getting less than 2 ounces just wasn't worth the aggravation.
Would my supply have increased if I had stuck with it? Would her latch have been corrected if I had tried hard enough? These are questions that I ask myself all the time, 8 months after the fact. I still feel as though I have failed Sabrina. The part of my story that I haven't gotten into detail with yet is that I had fairly serious postpartum depression, which started to affect me around the same time that I came home from the hospital (3 days postpartum). I will share much more on that in the future, but it played a huge part into why I had to give up breastfeeding. Aside from the physical battle that I was fighting at the time, I was fighting a far harder battle inside, and something just had to give.
Recounting this story opens those wounds as if they were fresh. I still feel and always will feel that I failed Sabrina by not breastfeeding her. I still feel like I took the easy way out. The logical side of me knows it was the right thing to do, but the mommy inside me knows Sabrina deserved better. Tears are burning my eyes at this very moment. This is something I will struggle with for a very very long time.
So for those that choose to criticize moms who use formula for being "lazy" or for giving into convenience, stop for a moment and remember that you don't know the whole story. There is no criticism in the world that is worse than how I've criticized myself.
In closing, be kind to new mothers. Those early days are some of the hardest they will face, and every single one has their own unique struggles. They are Tired, and maybe less Happy Mamas, but the happiness will come with time.. and maybe a little sleep :)