In a parenting forum I’m a member of, there was a huge discussion that went on about a supposed “breastfeeding” hater who’s a mom herself and who was said to be very discouraging and negative about breastfeeding. The one who wrote about the hater is a mom who’s currently breastfeeding. It was a hot topic and moms made sure their thoughts were known. I joined the discussion but I kept my email brief and told the concerned mom that just as breastfeeding moms want to be understood so do moms who don’t (or who can’t) and that probably her “friend” is going through a rough time and is just projecting all that negative energy, unfortunately on her. I then told the group that I for one am the biggest cheerleader for my friends who are still nursing their babies.
What I didn’t say is that I cheer because I live vicariously (breastfeed vicariously?) through my friends who do. You see, I NEVER BREASTFED DW. There I said it. WOW. I’ve said this couple of times in the forum and whenever people ask when they find out I’m a mom (yes, it’s a common icebreaker between moms I quickly realized). I’ve always muttered this statement though with a hint of regret or shame. Because no one really sets out to not breastfeed except maybe for those who decide from the get go that breastfeeding is not for them. But for the majority of moms, you can’t deny that one of the things we are excited about is nursing our kid. “It’s the most natural thing in the world” they say but I still read up and studied on the how’s and the why’s. In my baby shower alone I got two manuals on breastfeeding. One was a medical instruction manual created by a breastfeeding expert in Singapore. I also saw my mom nurse my two younger brothers and I thought that it would just be as “easy”. There were nursing groups and support groups but I didn’t attend any classes because it’s natural right? Surely when the milk comes I’ll be ready…right?
Well when DW was born, three days after we brought him back to the hospital, I still had no milk. I pumped until I was sore but I only got a few drops and the colostrum. I had to stop pumping too because whenever I pumped my episiotomy would throb and it was painful and heavy.
And DW was always hungry and so we gave him formula. The guilt I felt was immense. “I don’t want to be a failure” I thought. But we never latched.
That feeling coupled with being so overwhelmed with a new baby led me to a month of the baby blues. Whenever I’d feed DW using a bottle, I would always, ALWAYS CRY. Whenever I’d pump I would feel so pressured to produce more but my body could only give so much. It did not help that DW developed an allergy with the first formula his pediatrician prescribed and that that formula was hard to find in any supermarket! You could only imagine the thoughts running in my head that time.
I had to snap out of the funk I was in though when I realized that the person that I’ve become in that last month was not me and that I should be bonding with my son instead of being so self-absorbed in my own pity party. But for this to happen, I had to forgive myself first. I had to accept what BDW, my titas and my mom were telling me – that everything will be alright.
And so I pumped so DW could get breastmilk but he also drank Nan-HW. I pumped until my third month. I stopped pumping when an hour of pumping each breast would only produce 3-4 ozs of milk. Whenever I’d feed DW, I would talk to him, stroke his cheek, tell him about my day, what we’d do when he’s walking already, etc. Sometimes I’ll be watching TV while I feeding him and I’ll tell him what’s going on in the big world he’s now a part of. BDW was also able to join and feed DW. BDW loved doing it because he was also able to bond with DW and participate in something so nourishing, literally and figuratively.
I’ve gone past that stage of the what ifs and what should have beens because DW right now is just fine. He’s not sickly, he went through his vaccinations without ever having a fever and he’s developing fast (too fast). He’s speaking in phrases now and is just a blabber mouth (I guess I overtalked to him?!).
When a guy friend of mine asked me where he could buy his wife a nursing bib, I told him about the stores I knew. He also asked if any of those stores sold plain nursing covers because his wife did not want to attract attention. To each his own I know but at the back of my head, I thought, “why would I hide the fact that I am nursing?!”
Looking back, the greatest lesson I learned from not being able to breastfeed DW is that it’s not the end of the world. If we ever do have another baby though, I will try again for sure and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll move on.
Happy breastfeeding week everyone!