Monday, November 24, 2014

When You Can't Breastfeed

It was Halloween.  We went to the mall to go trick or treating because I was still recovering from birth and food poisoning and Posy was having problems as well.  We just couldn't go to our usual All Saints Party.  It was a big disappointment but we tried to make the best of it.  I hadn't been out much since the baby was born, after all Posy was only a couple weeks old.

She was starting to fuss, so Rose and I sat down on a bench and I felt fear rise up.  I was going to have to feed her, right here in the middle of the mall with a multitude of trick or treaters walking past.  Would they glare at me?  Judge me?

I  prepared to feed Posy.  I felt such shame, such horrible guilt.

What made me so afraid and guilt-ridden?  A simple everyday bottle.

I hated that bottle with every ounce of formula it contained.  But it was beyond my control.  And I felt like a horrible mother for resorting to giving my baby not only a bottle but a bottle that contained, are you ready for it... formula.

It was not my plan in any way shape or form that I would end up bottle feeding Posy.  I have given formula to some of my babies for a wide variety of reasons, but honestly breastfeeding was my preferred choice.  It is my preferred choice.

Tiger was a dream to nurse.  He nursed well and weaned himself at about 18 months.  It was so easy to nurse him.  I was able to sleep through the night while he nursed.  In fact, he made it so easy he didn't start solids till pretty late!

So why would I ever dream that I would not be able to nurse Posy?  I have nursed many babies and nursed them well.  But when I was in so much pain and Posy was nursing for hours straight I knew something was wrong... I needed help.  When the lactation consultant told me that I was going to have to supplement, I knew that could not be good.  Posy mouth was too small.  She couldn't latch on and it was causing me pain.  Worst of all, she was nursing so much and so long that any calories she was getting in she burned because she couldn't get enough milk.

When I left the lactation consultant's office with an order for a breast pump and the name of a bottle she recommended, all I could do was cry.  Ok, "cry" is not what I did.  I wept.  I cried so hard and so long that I went straight home so that Tony could drive me to Target so I could buy those stupid *!@!$ bottles.

I walked into the WIC office with my breast pump papers and was being stared at by everyone because I looked like something between a zombie and a water fountain.

I just couldn't stop crying.  And I didn't stop for about a week.  I pumped and pumped, but still had to give her formula.  And while sitting there in the middle of the night weeping because I was a failure and a horrible mother, I saw on Facebook (of course) a post about how formula is poison and then I felt like an even worse mother.

So I tried nursing her again and it was terrible.  I was crying, she was crying, and the other kids were running around like they had never had a moment of adult supervision in their lives.  Everyone kept asking me, "Are you ok?"  "Are you ok?"  "Are you ok?"

"Just tired."


I was a big fat liar.  I was so discouraged and felt like I was such a terrible, horrible mother.  I was ashamed and embarrassed to feed my baby a bottle in public.

Funny, isn't it?  How all you ever see is how we need to support breastfeeding and people should be able to do it anywhere without embarrassment and shame.  Amen! I completely and totally agree!  But I think, somewhere along the way the pendulum swung a bit too far.  There are countless reasons that some parents end up having to bottle feed their babies and there should be no shaming involved.  No mom is a better mom because she breastfeeds or doesn't.  There should be no one making a mom feel bad because she has to formula feed her baby and that includes herself.

So, yes, I eventually stopped crying.  It took the pediatrician telling me all those things I just told you.  That I was a good mom, a great mom.  And it didn't mea that  loved my child any less because I give her a bottle.  Oh, and a D added to my nightly vitamin regimen helped too.  It is silly, but I still feel a little bit weird breaking out that bottle in public.  But I am getting over it.  I love m baby and I am doing the very best thing I can for her!  I try not to think too much on the missed opportunity to breastfeed and focus on how well Posy is growing and how happy she is.

So if you are that mom, too, the one who wanted to breastfeed their baby but can't, don't beat yourself up.  You are a great mom because you are doing what you have to to make sure your baby is strong and healthy.  Don' let the naysayers tell you otherwise.  There are good things about bottle feeding.  You can still bond.  You can co-sleep!  You can carry your baby! You can do all those lovely things that will help you bond with your precious baby.

And take delight every time you give your baby a bottle that you are doing what you have to to make sure your baby is strong and healthy. Accept that your plans are not God's plans and trust Him.  But most importantly, you are a good mom!

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