SPOILER ALERT: This blog is gonna be personal. And I’ll warn ya now- there are pictures.
I’m certain that every mom on my page has read a million and a half other blogs, medical studies, books and How-Tos about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in public. Breastfeeding at family functions. Co-sleeping to breastfeed. Pumping for milk production- but never pumping too early! Latching and nipple soreness. To supplement or not to supplement with bottles. And don’t get me started on soothers!
I’m the kind of woman who likes to be informed. Prepared. I like to have a plan, to know what my options are in advance. To form opinions about how I want MY experience to be, and make choices based on that.
Let me tell you, having Olivia was a BIG wake-up call for me. She never read the blogs or the books. She didn’t get the memo. What we had here was a language barrier I simply could not plan my way past. I couldn’t get her on board with How Breastfeeding Is Going To Be For Me.
- she would do the breast crawl
- she would latch
- my body would know what to do- I am built for it!
- she would know what to do- she’s wired for it!
- she would exclusively breastfeed until at least 6 months old
- we would breastfeed until she was a year old
- we were induced 10 days early
- neither she nor I were ready yet
- we had a Csection so my milk was delayed
- she had a tongue tie and a lip tie so she could not latch well enough to stimulate my milk
- I had to start a bottle at 6 days because she was reacting to my breastmilk and ended up at emergency
- I had to start pumping right away to try and bring my milk in
- I started fenugreek, Blessed thistle and domperidone and STILL have to supplement with formula
- we hired a lactation consultant to give us advice- her advice was to take what we had accomplished and stop beating myself up.
THIS, AFTER ALL, WOULD BE OUR BREASTFEEDING RELATIONSHIP
I think the hardest part of all of this was the well-intentioned advice and opinions of the die hard “lactivists” and breastfeeding “specialists”. They insisted only 2-3% of women do not make enough milk and that after week 12, things would miraculously just get better. I heard from doulas that moms who bottle-fed should be pitied and that “breast is best” to the exclusion of anything else being good enough. By their definition, I would never be good enough. For a long time I bought into it. I was failing. I must not being trying everything. I must not be committed. Try the 24 hour cure. Ditch the pacifier. Refuse her the bottle. Pump more often. Pump less often.
I trust that these people weren’t trying to drive me crazy. Or break my heart. Or be bullies. But that is exactly how I experienced it. I barely remember my actual time with Olivia because it is all a blur of striving, crying and problem solving.
Somehow, in the push to breastfeed, I forgot the point.
To love and nurture my daughter. To show her my devotion, and give her a safe and loving platform on which to build herself up. To bond with her and open myself to the incredible wonder of being a mom to this new little human. I had the intention, I just let the pressure obscure the way to get there.
The breastfeeding community bemoans a lack of support as the reason breastfeeding mothers have dwindled in number. They blame society, media, big pharma, the government and fashion for the number of formula fed babies. They say they are here to help mothers reclaim their power and return us to an age where the beauty of the female form was enhanced by our ability to nurture life; however, what they have created is a divisive, blame-filled system that vilifies moms who struggle or who choose not to breastfeed; leaving new moms- who are already in danger of depression, anxiety and self-doubt- at risk for further alienation and pain.
This is not the answer we were looking for.
Be powerful mamas. Breastfeed. Or don’t. Pump. Or don’t. Love your babies and yourselves. Enjoy this time. Hold them close. Breathe their scent. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Allow that what you have is exactly what your baby needs from you.
Your journey is your journey and no two moms will have the same path. You are not failing. You are the mom your baby needs. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Yours, with love