Simply put…breast feeding broke my heart.
During my pregnancy I researched, went to classes, and bought all the”must haves” for breast feeding. I had big plans that this was going to work out, because why wouldn’t it. While in the hospital I was making colostrum for a few days. However, by day 4 my daughter stopped making wet and dirty diapers. A big clue that she was not getting milk from me. Her weight started to drop a lot too. She lost a little over a pound. I knew something was wrong and tried to pump to see if I could get anything out. I got a drop. As much as it hurt I knew I had to admit she wasn’t getting what she needed and I needed formula. I started supplementing to ensure she was getting the proper nourishment. This time of my life was hell on my head and heart.
I couldn’t get my baby out and now I could not feed her. Talk about feeling unequipped to be a Mother.
My heart was broken. I planned for this, I wanted to make this work for my daughter. My love for her is unbelievable and I knew giving her breast milk was doing “what was best for her.”
When I started supplementing I would first start by nursing her. Then I would feed her a bottle and then pump. I was spending so much time trying to give her food and make food for her. It was exhausting physically and emotionally. As I was nursing her I would bawl because after a little bit she would scream because she was not getting anything. Then I would have to feed her a bottle and I would continue to cry because I felt like such a failure. And then there was pumping… ugh is all I can say.
I cried a lot! Sometimes I was crying so hard that I would start to panic. My husband would take Claire from me as I tried to get myself together. He had no idea what to say to me, and I had no idea how to stop myself. On one particular bad day I called my sister bawling telling her , “I can’t feed my baby” and in a pure panic. I am so lucky to have her as she came over right away to help me figure it out. Between her and my husband, I survived that incredibly difficult day. I’ve had more days like it after that, but I made it through. I’m thankful for people to talk to that I can be brutally honest with and not feel judgement. My brain told me terrible things that I was not a good Mom and that maybe Kevin and Claire deserved someone much better than me. I even had thoughts that because we needed IVF maybe I forced something I wasn’t supposed to be blessed with and that was why my body could not do its job. As my sister told me, she could not imagine a God that did not want me to be a Mother and I am starting to believe that too. I’m starting to believe that all of this is completely unrelated and we just have a different story. I always wanted to live, I just wanted someone else to take care of them because I felt like I could not give them the best. One night I wanted to run, run anywhere, so badly to just get the sheer panic and adrenaline out of my body. I didn’t because running surely equals instant heart attack! Instead, I cried and cried while trying to feed my baby. My body has failed me in so many ways I felt.. as I forget that my body gave me the most amazing gift…my daughter.
This isn’t a way for anyone to live. I want to enjoy this time with my baby. I want my daughter to see a smile on my face as I feed her. I don’t want my stress to make her life feel stressful. I want to be be physically and emotionally present.
So I quit breastfeeding and I held my baby.
I fed her formula and she was okay and still is. I looked at her and smiled as she was eating, I talked to her, I held her close and kissed her head. I enjoyed my time with her. I didn’t worry if she was getting enough because I could see that she was. I didn’t spend time after nursing her and bottle feeding, with a pump attached me just so I could get half an ounce after 20 minutes of it. Instead, I held my baby longer. I smiled longer and felt like a Mom who had it somewhat together.
I still feel so much pain that this did not go the way I had planned. I wanted to give her the absolute best. I know she will be fine with formula but I wanted better than that for her. I was willing to give breastfeeding everything it takes but my body did not let me. I took every supplement, power pumped, nursed, used an SNS, met with lactation, etc and it still did not work out. I never really felt my milk come in. The only reason I knew I had some was because I was pumping but I only ever get about half an ounce total. Even now that I haven’t nursed or pumped in two days, I feel nothing. The only thing I was not willing to do was take prescription medication because the side effects include extreme depression, something I was already slightly suffering from. My baby needs me present emotionally more than she needs breast milk.
I gave breastfeeding 4 full weeks before deciding this was not something that was going to happen for us. During those 4 weeks I never saw a change in my milk production no matter what I tried. Some say it could have been because the extreme amount of fluid my body had taken on, the c-section, a long induction, etc. In other words…no one knows why it did not work out. I guess it does not really matter. I gave it everything I had, I worked really hard at it and now it is time for that to be in my past. Hopefully the sadness will continue to become less and less and I will spend more time holding and smiling with my baby. I know that I am not failing her, I am giving her everything I possibly can. It has been a difficult journey trying to adjust to motherhood, the loss of career (at least for now), and that nothing went even remotely as planned. My lactation lady said they really should have a support group for people who have unplanned c-sections because that in itself is difficult to deal with when you’ve planned something different. Someday I will fully accept that the things that went “wrong” were just not supposed to be apart of our journey. Until then I will keep trying and keep smiling because the greatest thing I’ve ever done has name and it is Claire.
I’m not sharing this sob story for sympathy or because I need advice… I am sharing to get it off my chest and so that if someone else feels this way they know they are not alone and you will survive it. In the end all that matters is you were there…a healthy and happy Mom who feeds her baby is what is best.