In case you were unaware, this week is National Breastfeeding Week. Breastfeeding is a sore subject for me. I hate to talk about it because I am so passionate about it and 1) I'm afraid I'm going to deeply offend someone and 2) it seriously hurts to talk about.
When I found out I was pregnant with Henry, I wanted so much to breastfeed. I had this wonderful vision of spending quiet time alone with my baby, bonding as I did the one thing that no one else could do for him. I thought of breastfeeding as the most natural thing in this world, and in fact, the sole reason that God gave me these huge breasts to lug around all the time. I was actually excited to breastfeed.
Then Henry was born and we were overjoyed and exhausted and so excited to start this new adventure of parenthood. When it came to feeding him that very first time, I took him into my arms and was just thrilled to tuck him close to my body and experience this new and perfect thing that we would now include in our daily lives.
But it didn't happen. He wouldn't latch.
The nurses assured me that he would, that he was probably just a bit behind since he was born early. They called in the consultants and had me pump in the meantime so that he could still have mother's milk for those first meals.
We tried and tried, and I pumped and pumped. Anytime Henry was due for a feed, I had to pump first - which took forever, sometimes an hour. The consultants kept acting like I was doing something wrong, that I just needed to be patient and try harder, but it just wasn't happening. They sent me home with formula and told me that if I really wanted to keep trying, I could, but they didn't encourage the breastfeeding anymore.
I was devastated, heartbroken and on the verge of tears every single time it came to feeding. I would try and try until we were both a frustrated mess; me exhausted and Henry starving. I continued to pump. I pumped and pumped and pumped. I was home for 3 months and then when I went back to work, I came home on my lunches to pump some more. Every feed, I pumped. My life consisted of feedings and pumping.
I froze everything that I could, and gradually, I quit producing milk. I tried supplements, pumping every hour, every half-hour, eating and drinking certain foods, anything that I could to keep my milk coming, but it didn't. Eventually it stopped and I knew that this phase was over for us. Eventually the frozen supply ran out and Henry finished his first year on formula.
I hated it. I hated myself for it. I felt like it was my fault and that I had done something completely wrong. I felt like I hadn't given my son everything he deserved and that my body was revolting against everything that I felt was natural.
We came to find later that Henry was lip-tied which was the cause of him being unable to latch, but it still hurts to think about. When I see new moms choose to feed their babies formula over breast-milk, I hate to say it, but they immediately anger me. I feel like they're taking the choice that I didn't have and throwing it out the window (usually) because of some selfish reason. I typically overcome that feeling quickly, knowing that there is no right or wrong way of parenting. But I can't help that initial reaction when I think about how hard I tried and how much I would have given in order to have the choice myself.
My hope and prayer is that when we have another precious baby, I'll be able to breastfeed the way that I so dreamed with Henry. And if not, I'm going to try not to beat myself up about it as much as I did the first time around. I know that you have to do what works for you, your baby and your body, but I couldn't help but fight back tooth and nail when it came to breastfeeding.
Did you breastfeed or use formula? What made you decide to go the route that you did?