I breastfed my daughter exclusively for the first 7 months of her life. It was so natural when she latched and we never had any complications. I loved spending that one on one time with her and the bond that it gave us.
When I found out I was pregnant with our son I had every intention on breastfeeding him as well. After all, “breast is best”…
My son latched within minutes of being born. I was ecstatic! By the time we left the hospital I was in so much pain from his feedings that I requested a lactation consultant. After receiving a few tips and cooling pads, I was on my way home.
It was an emotional roller coaster from that moment on. On day 4 I looked down at him while feeding and noticed his mouth was full of blood. He had cracked my nipple. This wouldn’t be the first time, or the last. I decided to try pumping while trying to heal (where on multiple occasions there would also be blood). At his first check up they said he had a lip tie. The next day we had it corrected and I hired a lactation consultant. Neither of which made feedings any easier or less painful.
Feedings were so painful that I almost couldn’t handle it. I dreaded them. Pumping wasn’t much better and I never seemed to be able to fully heal regardless of all the attempts and products I tried: ointments, natural products, shields, guards, soft shells…you name it, I did it.
On top of all the stress of breastfeeding, we were also dealing with thrush, reflux and “colic.”
I cried. All the time.
I couldn’t understand why everything was so easy with my daughter and so hard with my son and how something that is supposed to be the one thing I should be able to provide for him (food) was so painful and so difficult.
The pain eventually led me to become a slave to the pump. I was supplementing with formula to keep up with his demand…at 2 months old he was drinking 6 ounces at every feeding. I was miserable. The mom guilt was endless. WHY CAN’T I FEED MY SON LIKE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO??? I was fortunate to have very supportive people in my life. Friends, family and especially my husband who were encouraging but also kept reminding me that fed is best and I should do what I felt was best. Those encouraging words were quickly lost when I would check out some mom groups and blogs where there were endless posts about fighting through it, breast is best, the pain will go away, just think about what you are providing for your baby!! I know the intentions were also to be supportive and encouraging (and a lot of times they are very helpful for a lot of moms-including myself) but I found them to be DIScouraging. I was already being so hard on myself and I felt like they were just screaming “Try harder! Don’t give up!” I did hours and hours of research on formulas when we had to supplement, I spent thousands of dollars trying to make this work, my toddler craved attention because what I was currently able to provide for her was lacking, but I still felt like I was constantly being judged even though people didn’t know what we were going through.
I felt like a failure.
Over what? Breastfeeding. The funny thing is that I’m not against using formula in any way, shape or form. We used it with my daughter when I was done breastfeeding. Tons of babies are formula babies and guess what? YOU CAN’T TELL. Most importantly they are still loved and cared for beyond words by their moms who are honestly, just doing the best they can.
I stopped pumping. Which led to the misery going away, which led to me being able to fully enjoy my baby, which led to me being a better mom to both of my kids.
I STOPPED MOM SHAMING MYSELF and I did what was best for my family.
Today, I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who is in the 90th percentile. I feel a little ashamed over the tears that were shed and definitely for the way I treated myself over something that now seems so small. I wanted to breastfeed but it didn’t work out. Sometimes there is more to a story than just simply not breastfeeding-and even if there isn’t, that’s perfectly ok too!