It may be World Breastfeeding Week, but I’m not going to lie. I wish there was a dislike button for every post and picture I see.
I have two little babes myself. The problem with raising awareness for breastfeeding is that it kills me to see the posts.
It’s like a stab in my heart every time I see a woman happily (and easily) breastfeeding her babe.
I spent months trying to breastfeed my first. Endless crying, hours upon hours of fighting for a latch, hand expressing, and pumping. I did not leave the house for weeks. I did not sleep. Every minute that baby girl slept, I pumped. I hand expressed. I took vitamins and herbs and drank tea and ate lactation snacks.
Nothing worked. I could pump a half an ounce. I could keep babe awake on the boob for maybe 10 minutes if I was lucky. I was in tears every time she cried.
I should say I was hysterical. Why didn’t my body work?
The only thing I could think of was, my baby is not going to survive this way. If this were a hundred years ago, my baby would not live. I know it’s a little irrational to think that way, but I couldn’t help it.
I know a million people told me that formula is okay. Fed is best.
But when you’re trying everything in the books to make breastfeeding work, you can’t see anything else. You are determined. I needed my body to do this beyond anything else.
It became an obsession . It became postpartum depression, ultimately. Because I failed.
I failed my baby. I could not breastfeed.
Every time we prepared formula, I felt like a failure.
Every time my husband fed our child, I felt like a failure.
My body was incapable of doing the one thing it was meant to do. Feed my own child.
Fed is best, but being unable to breastfeed is beyond a blow to the self esteem.
Almost every other woman I know could and can breastfeed. What is wrong with me?
Then I got pregnant with baby girl number two.
“I’m going to breastfeed this one”, I decided. “It’s going to work because I’m going to be less anxious about it.”
Then when baby girl was born, we spent an extra night in the hospital because this babe wouldn’t, or couldn’t, feed either.
Again, I was hysterical. I was having fits of anger and frustration, complete with tears and anxiety and despair.
Around 2am, the nurse offered to take babe so I could sleep, and she would feed her some formula. The nurse could see I was already at a breaking point. On the verge of a mental breakdown; day two of “feeding” and already a basket case.
And then she wheeled her back to me a few hours later; a peaceful, happy, swaddled little bundle. Again, I knew I failed.
The next day I put on my happy face because we were able to leave the hospital. We decided on the formula that the hospital used. We went to the store and got settled at home.
Both of my girls are thriving, happy, beautiful children. Brinley is 8 months and growing like a weed and Keegan is the cutest, happiest, healthiest little two year old you ever did see.
But every time one of my friends brings home their brand new little one, I painfully ask how feeding is going. I try to offer encouragement if they say they’re struggling, but mostly, it comes naturally to all of them. Then I regret asking because I feel letdown.
I dutifully hit “like” on those breastfeeding pictures because ultimately I am happy for them, albeit incredibly jealous. It hurts me to see other babes getting what they need from their mama because mine never got that.
Happy world breastfeeding week, everyone. Try not to forget those little babes raised on bottles, too.