Friday, March 22, 2013

My Struggle

My daughter was born last week on March 14th, which is why I haven't posted anything in more than a week.


With every baby, I have struggled to breastfeed.  I am a perfectionist.  I am an avid reader.  I know all the facts about how nutritious breastfeeding is and how it's so good for both baby and mom.  I know it's supposed to be the best way to feed your baby.

But I hate it.


It's painful.  It's stressful.  It gives me anxiety.  I worry about how much they're getting because they seem to always be hungry.  It takes all my effort and energy.  I don't have time to eat or sleep or even use the restroom.  I'm in such terrible pain that I can't stand having my other kids within two feet of me.  I'm a grouch and I hate my life. 

Yet because I'm a perfectionist, I feel like a massive failure if I don't breastfeed.

My baby is one week and one day old.  On day five, I was a total wreck.  I was experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage.  The breastfeeding was not going well.  I was in terrible pain.  I had to go back to the hospital and spent the day in the ER, trying to nurse my baby with an i.v. in the crook of my elbow.  It was complete misery.  In between feedings, which only lasts about forty-five minutes to an hour, I was pumping because the engorgement was so painful.

After sobbing to my husband for about an hour that night, in the middle of the night, I decided that I just can't do it.  It's too hard.

So now I'm pumping every few feedings and giving formula when there isn't breastmilk to give.  My milk supply is diminishing.  I am going to bottlefeed and my baby is only one week old.  I feel like a bad mom.

But at the same time, I feel relief.  I am not as stressed out.  I am not dealing with massive anxiety and panic attacks.  I am in less pain.  I even feel somewhat happy.

I wish I could find a way to bottlefeed without feeling guilty, without feeling like a bad mom, without feeling like others are judging me.  I did try.  Probably not as hard as I should have.  Probably not as hard as others do.  But I had to weigh the pros and cons. 

I want to enjoy my baby, not loathe her.  She will be okay.  I have bottle fed five other babies after trying breastfeeding for various lengths of time, from two weeks to four months, and they have all turned out healthy and smart.  I know it's not the end of the world.

Yet somehow, it feels like it is in some ways. 

This is my struggle. 

9 comments:

Joree jemmsplace said...

Before I had Jaeli I used to preach breast feeding. Once I had her I realized just how hard it is. My mothering motto after that was, "the best thing I can do for my baby is to be happy, healthy, and sane!" I'm a health educator and encourage breast feeding, but I only lasted 6 months. I was such a hormonal wreck for most of that time, I have no clue if I'll do it again. I think I'll try, it sounds like that's what you did, but being there and loving your baby (and the rest of your kids) is the most important thing! What good is breast feeding if you're not as good of a mom while doing it? Don't beat yourself up! As long as your kids are healthy and taken care of, you're doing your job!

Becky said...

I have no milk and I tried three out of four times to breast feed. With Ainsley I didn't even bother because I wanted to enjoy her. I've never regretted it. I don't feel like a bad mom. I feel that mom's that can breast feed are lucky. But we are all blessed just to be a mom. Don't feel bad.

Tricia said...

When my third son was born, I tried breast feeding but gave it up when he was 6 weeks old. I'd successfully breast fed the first two but, for too many reasons to list, I couldn't manage it with him. The night I finally made the decision to quit, there was even a segment on a tv show about how breast fed babies are smarter. I felt like such a failure, but I also felt a huge sense of relief.

Almost 19 years later, this son is the tallest of all my boys. He had the best grades in high school and scored the highest on the ACT. Of all my kids, he is the least likely to get sick. (He's not the one who had asthma, or ear infections, or weight issues--those all belong to my kids who were breast fed. Although he did have some skin rashes as a kid.)

My advice: don't beat yourself up. And in 19 years you might have just such a story to share with other moms.

Jana Perkins said...

From all the comments here and on facebook I hope your feelings have changed. I had to give up breastfeeding too with everyone of my kids for various reasons between 4-6 months. It's taxing and hard. Don't feel bad at all to have those feeings. Your sweet little girl will have a great mom with a lot less anxiety now. You'll be able to concentrate other things. I enjoyed watching my older kids fed the newest with a bottle, and they enjoyed caring for them all by themselves. I think you made the right choice, all the way, because if mama ain't happy, aint nobody happy! *hugs*

LifeAsAConvert said...

Breastfeeding (and pumping) is hard work. 1 week is better than none tho! You did the best you could. Dont beat yourself up over it.

J. said...

Me and all my siblings were bottle fed. We all did just fine. Your baby is yours for a reason--bottles and all. Good luck!

Royalbird said...

Thank you all for your encouragement. It really means a lot to me.

Nancy said...

Just came over from mmb. Sometimes I think it is having experiences like this -- things we may even view as failures -- that help us learn better not to judge. I exclusively breastfed my first 3, I couldn't imagine anyone choosing not to. I viewed them as selfish. And yes, breastfeeding is better, but with my last three kids I had major issues with milk production. It was tremendously stressful and taxing on me trying to nurse, pump, and STILL have to supplement as I produced only about one or two ounces a feeding even when my babies were needing 6-8. I felt the same horrible guilt you mentioned, worrying my baby wouldn't be as healthy, wouldn't reach her full intellectual potential, etc, etc. It wasn't until my last two that I was able to finally give myself a break and realize I was a great mom, these spirits were lucky to come to our home, and nursing was only one factor among millions of influencing things in their lives. Life was so much calmer as a mother when I let myself just bottle feed without guilt. I now have no inclination to judge others over the issue, and it makes me check my life for other issues where I may self righteously be assuming others should do what I think is best. It has helped me develop more compassion.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

My first hated nursing, yet I forced her for six months because I wanted to be "a good mom".
It was pure torture.
With all my other kids, my milk simply dried up.
I nursed my second for 4.5 months, my third for 2 months, my fourth for 1 month, and my fifth for 4 months.
I've never liked nursing, ever. I don't mind at all that I simply can't do it.

I like to think that I'm still a good mom. Don't feel guilty. Feeling guilty is totally overrated when it comes to nursing. :)

Congrats bytheway. She's beautiful.

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