When you are preparing for motherhood there are alot of important decisions to be made. Do you continue working? Will you use cloth or disposable diapers? Will you be needing daycare? And yes, are you going to breastfeed? Because I only wanted what was best for my daughter, I decided I was going to breastfeed for the first few months of her life. I must admit I felt a bit icky about the whole concept, but if this was what was best for my child, I was going to commit to it. As simple as that. I figured it would be a completely natural and easy thing to do and I didn't even bother researching it. You just put a baby on your boob and voilá! You're breastfeeding! It didn't even occur to me once that breastfeeding might not be for everyone, and that sometimes it might just not work out as well as you expected it to.
As soon as my daughter was born, I learned that breastfeeding wasn't as self evident as I thought it would be. My daughter was born without a sucking reflex. This sometimes happens with babies that are born prematurely or have a lower birth weight. It isn't unusal, but it does mean you can't start breastfeeding right a way. The baby has to develop a reflex and is being fed with a cup the first few hours or days of life. I also didn't get to see her much right after she was born. She was taken away almost immediately for further examination and was then placed in medium care.
When it was time to really start breastfeeding we came across the second problem. My daughter wasn't able to latch on. We had to start using a nipple shield or nipple hat. Thay might sounds quite festive, but I can assure you it's far from it. It doesn't have tassels or anything. It's just a piece of sillicone with a few holes in it. My daughter still didn't have much sucking power and I didn't produce much milk because of the fact I hadn't been breastfeeding yet.This meant I had to start pumping milk and we had to place a tube with pumped milk under the nipple hat to get my daughter to latch on. Things got loose, things fell off...It wasn't a pretty sight. My daughter got frustrated, I got frustrated.
It was also very time-consuming. When I wasn't trying to feed my daughter, I was pumping milk. Because my daughter needed to be fed every three hours and milk production was so incredibly slow, I simply didn't get any sleep at all. I was up for 48 hours straight and the pumping made me feel so disgusting. I don't know how woman do it, It's so inhumane! You're already confronted with an imploded saggy eve-costume after giving birth, and now I felt like a cow as well. Throw in some sleep deprivation and some raging hormones and you're ready to sucker punch anyone who dares to tell you to enjoy this precious time with your newborn.
Now if this all wasn't worse enough, I got released from the hospital...on my own. I coudn't bring my daughter home yet because she was still hooked up to an IV. All of a sudden, we were miles apart. We did get hooked up to a babycam so that we could see her when we were at home, but this simply wasn't enough for my boobage. The tiny bit of milk that I was able to produce decreased. It had been such a difficult experience, and I knew right there that things weren't going to be getting better anytime soon. They were getting worse. I was tired, I was frustrated and I was crying. This wasn't at all how I expected my maternity leave to be. I knew i was going back to work full-time, so I really wanted to make the most of it. If I kept going like this, that simply wouldn't be the case. I would end up resenting my child, and I was pretty sure she was going to resent me. So i made the decision to throw the towel in the ring. I gave up.
I felt horrible when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding. What was wrong with me? Why wasn't I able to do what was best for my child? I felt like a complete and utter failure. If I couldn't even get this right, how was I ever going to be fit mom? It wasn't till I openly started talking about my failed attempt at breastfeeding others decided to share their not so positive stories with me as well. Apperantly I wasn't alone. There were even several women in my immediate environment who had struggled with simulair issues.
I really wish those stories would have reached me sooner. I wouldn't have felt like such a poor excuse of a mom. I wouldn't have felt so alone in my struggle. So now I sort of consider it my mission to spread the word. Sometimes breastfeeding just isn't for you. And you know what? That's OKAY!