Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The girls and my little man

My journey was a round-about through the countryside and back again. When I discovered I was pregnant, I was certain I would not be able to nor want to breastfeed. The thought of being a food source freaked me out. A lot! I really could not imaging a baby suckling at my breast. In fact, I can barely type the word suckling without shivering. (Not my favorite word.)

Then, I learned how great it is for both mom and baby. I heard it is a beautiful and natural thing. I understood it would help the baby's immune system, brain growth. I also understood it would be a great way to take off the extra baby weight.

And, then, I tried it. We tried hard. Really hard. And failed. A lot. My son would not latch effectively. My nurses in the hospital were cruel and had a hard time understanding my resistance to formula. I really wanted to breastfeed my son. We did not flourish. It was my first taste of failure as a mother. I was only three days in!

We tried and tried. We started to get the hang of it, but not consistently. I used a shield and he did well with that. I even managed to feed him on demand at the doctor's office. I was so proud! The doctor them told me how inconvenient shields would be. So, I made the first of MANY mistakes and listened to the doctor despite proof to the contrary. I stopped using the shield. And guess what, we failed. I tried the shield again, but by this time, my little boy could not figure out the breast. I was devestated. He cried and wailed each time to tried to put him on my breast. He was failing to gain adequate weight after 10 days. We called a lactation consultant. She indicated that he had a lazy tongue and I would have to increase my supply and go back to shields. I would need to try to feed him and then pump for 15 minutes. He would be fed breastmilk and supplemented with formula. I promised to try this through the weekend and if he was unable to latch effectively, we would go to formula.

We went to formula. I cannot tell you how many tears I cried over this failure in my mind. However, within weeks, my son was thriving and I was recoving from my loss. My husband, always the trooper, was right there by my side. He encouraged me to do what I felt was best for all of us. He stated over and over that a happy mom is better for a baby than her breast. I suppose he is right, but, it was hard to swallow.

The sad thing is, I still feel judged when I pull out a bottle of formula to feed my son. Other moms are still breastfeeding and I feel like they think I am lazy or don't love my son. And then, I met a mom who said, what I wouldn't give to pull out a bottle and just feed him. I guess the grass is always greener.

Postcript to this post: I recently drove past a billboard that said "Babies are born to be breastfed" and it was sponsored by the government. This made me feel so bad about not being able to accomplish breastfeeding. I wish people would be more sensitive to mothers. We really do try to do the best we can.

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