The Breast Feeding Struggle - My Journey into Motherhood: Part 3

We all want that perfect pregnancy, followed by the perfect birth. We know the type of mother we are going to be, the decisions we are going to make, BEFORE we are actually mothers. That was my experience. Other than some unwanted weight gain due to a serious love affair with carbohydrates, my pregnancy was smooth sailing. My birth plan was in writing... WRITING. It was supposed to go a certain way. Even though I know the harm of expectations, I had them anyway. Still, my birth was pretty textbook. Longer than I'd hoped, and I did get an epidural. The rest was what I guess is close to normal. Then there are those expectations of the mother I was going to be. All those things I was and was not going to do. I had my reasons, and good ones at that. I still believe in my reasoning for making those decisions. So what was the problem with making those decisions before my boy arrived? I was dreadfully unqualified.

Areas in which I quickly failed:

I wasn't going to use a pacifier
I would never bed-share
I would eliminate chemicals where I could, lotions, soaps etc...
I would get him on a sleep schedule and practice "cry it out" if needed
I would exclusively breastfeed...

Oh the beloved breast from which magic life sustaining milk flows. My desire to breastfeed was great. My mother was unable to breastfeed me and she always spoke of how she had so badly wished she'd been able to. I was ready to do everything I could to ensure breastfeeding success. I had done my research, and research showed that an un-medicated birth helps increase early success. Skin to skin contact was a key component and with that my baby would be able make his own way to the breast and latch on. There is nothing more natural in the world, is there? Expectations breed failure, time and time again. I did get an epidural, I did not get to have more than a couple minutes of skin to skin contact. My baby boy did not find his way ever so gently to his source of nourishment. 

Breastfeeding was difficult, really really REALLY difficult for me. Believe me when I say I tried. It was awkward and uncomfortable. How in the world was I supposed to position myself in such a way that this baby could eat contently? With pillows stacked, stuffed and shoved under Waylon and myself I was feeling a little overwhelmed. After sometime it began to hurt, really badly. The hospital staff helped me over and over again. Each woman had a different way of doing it and her reason for not doing it the way the other had previously shown me. I even went back to the hospital a couple days after for help again. I was told his latch was great, that it just took time. I was bleeding and in excruciating pain. Waylon got stressed eating because I could not control my sobbing, so in turn he would pull away screaming.

After struggling for a few weeks I researched exclusive pumping and made the switch. For a few weeks I felt a little less stressed with the pain subsiding and Waylon bottle feeding like a champ. We were also supplementing with formula because I simply could not keep up. Waylon is a big kid and by 4 weeks he was drinking 4 ounces every 2 or 3 hours. I could only pump a total of 2 ounces every 2 hours. At two months we made the switch to formula.

I had made the decision I would do everything I could to breastfeed, and I really did give it my all. I never expected to actually dislike it! Everyone says how magical it is and how it is a bonding experience. That just was not the case for me. The only time it was pleasant was his first morning feed right after Justin would get up for work around 4am. I would bring Waylon in by me and feed him laying down, tummy to tummy. That was the only position and time of day where he could successfully and happily eat from the breast. I will admit, those mornings did feel magical. But, one successful feed in the day was not enough for me to feel able to continue. I felt so badly, like I had failed my child.

It was not my wish to feed Waylon formula, but I will say that it had a huge impact on my stress levels. I was able to breathe. Breastfeeding is not the be all end all of motherhood. I bond with my baby in so many other special ways. If you were blessed with ease in the breastfeeding department, that is wonderful! If you weren't blessed with ease, but continue to do it anyway, you are a go getter! If you are like me, and tried and "failed" or never tried at all because you simply didn't want to, well you are an amazing mom as well! All of our babies will end up fat and happy as long as they are fed- despite the source of nourishment.

If Justin and I have a second child I will give it my all again. Hopefully with some experience under my mommy belt I will have a little more to give. Yes, I will say it... breast is best.. breast milk is the best milk... and all that mambo-jumbo. It's true, formula cannot completely stand up to breast milk. I am happy that my babe was able to get that magic form of nourishment for a couple months. When it comes down to it, he is just as full and happy with formula. Breast feeding isn't for everyone. Waylon just wants his mommy to be happy. Now when I feed him, he gets smiles instead of tears.