So, like all newborn moms… I have almost no time to blog… it’s also summer and that means no school for PMG, and so with my husband also having time off- we’ve been doing a lot of “spring cleaning” that didn’t get done in the spring… I am a hard taskmaster!!! lol I also have had a really hard time writing this post- it’s fraught with angst and shit… I had to really examine my own feelings and come to terms with a lot of guilt in order to allow me to get this out there. But, after an experience this week, I realized that through adversity comes strength and maybe my downfall can help another through a difficult situation… so here goes…
I used to be a breastfeeding N@zi. I was a rabid card-carrying member of the “breastfeed or ELSE!!” club. I honestly, truly was one of those women who, while not likening formula to poison, felt that moms who didn’t even TRY to breastfeed their babies might as well be child abusers. Obviously, my opinion has changed. I have aged, grown more tolerant. I have also had a breast reduction.
And for the first time in my life, I actually regret that decision.
It was not a decision I made lightly. I did my research. I knew it could affect breastfeeding, which is why I questioned my surgeon on the ability to breastfeed after surgery, even though, at the time I was a single mother with NO intention whatsoever to have more children. I was given the answer of having an 80% chance of successful breasfeeding after my reduction surgery, barring complications. I didn’t hesitate in the least- I had wanted this surgery since I was 16!! My surgery was booked for the day of my 23rd birthday. I saw it as the best birthday present I could ever give myself. And it was!! It was such a relief to have people NOT comment on how huge my chest was. It was a whole new world for me actually being able to look people in the EYE and not have them stare at my chest (and women are just as bad as men when confronted with a ginormous rack). I could wear button-up shirts for the first time since hitting puberty- and buy bras that DIDN’T cost an arm and a leg and look like something your grandmother wouldn’t even be caught dead in. I could wear a strapless!!! omg!!
Fast forward to today and I am broken-hearted. The 80% success rate for breastfeeding- didn’t include me. I’m sure I could have tried harder to build my supply- I could have gotten the prescription for Domper.idone. I could have pumped after night feedings. I could have spent more time and energy trying to convince my sleepy, jaundiced baby that latching onto a flat nipple is not that hard. I could have, should have…. But didn’t.
I read the BFAR book, I visited the website. I spoke to a LaLeche League consultant. I had an at-breast supplementing system. And I still failed. I failed myself, and I feel, my baby.
Was it because I had difficulties with supply due to not only my reduction, but PCOS? It’s very likely. Because I wasn’t able to even ATTEMPT breastfeeding in the first 24 hours due to the shitheads in the NICU? almost definitely. Flat nipples and breasts that, despite reduction, are ridiculously large are also huge contributing factors. Not to mention the fact that I capitulated on the supplementing with bottles far more easily than I likely would have if I’d been given any other option for getting my girl home.
And so, I formula feed.
Does my baby care? Nope- not one bit. She still gazes at me adoringly as if I am the alpha and omega and the be-all-and-end-all of her existence. She prefers mama cuddles to everything else. Does my husband care? Only so far as it was painful for him to watch me frustratingly and exhaustingly struggle to get our baby to latch, only to have to supplement with the bottle anyway and then painstakingly spend the better part of an hour pumping for a mere ounce of breastmilk. And to repeat this grueling process every 3 hours… all the while with the thought hanging over my head that if my girl did not feed effectively- I would have to take her back to The SUCK-U.
The only person who seems to care is me. I long for the closeness of having my child at my breast. I have memories still, of PMG, sleepily suckling until sated at my breast, snuggled into me. The intimacy of mother and child bonding, me feeding her in the way only I could. I admit, I am mildly jealous that I am not the only one who can feed PMB. I purposely let my husband sleep through night feedings so that I can have her all to myself the way I did with her big sister. I long to go back in time and change things so that I wouldn’t feel the guilt that comes with not being able to breastfeed. And there’s the REAL crux- the feeling of guilt. Of feeling that I have done something wrong.
Is there anyone out there who knows this feeling? Who has tried and failed at something so important to them? How did you cope?