This is the first of a series of posts detailing my journey with breastfeeding. I can promise you two things – I will talk about my personal experience and I will go into detail. If that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading now! Just hit “Home” and scroll up or down until you find a lighter topic :)
So here’s the story. Three months before Reid was born, I began researching everything to do with breastfeeding. Lactation consultants. Latches. Feeding positions. Help. I was bound and determined to breastfeed my baby-to-be.
His big brother Ryder did not enjoy the same privilege. Through a combination of innocence and ignorance, I simply didn’t prepare myself for the total and selfless commitment associated with putting the baby to the boob. Sure, I paid attention in prenatal classes. But learning about BF’ing ahead of time is like watching a cooking show at 2 a.m. Everything looks simple until the raw beef is in front of you (wow, even I think that’s a strange metaphor). But I’m sure you know what I mean – it’s only when you’re actually in the situation that you either sink or swim.
Here’s my list of excuses:
1. I was discharged from the hospital just 24 hours after Ryder was born, so there I was- a first time mother, who had no idea how to hold a baby, let alone take care of one. I was showed all of 4 times how to put the baby to the breast, and while it looked so simple in the hospital with the nurse guiding the baby, at home on my own was a different story. It hurt. He broke off and fell asleep more often than not. I couldn’t successfully latch him on the left breast. It sucked.
2. Speaking of the left breast, it was the bane of my existence. With a slightly larger areola and thicker texture than the right, Ryder simply slid off every time I tried to have him latch. After several fruitless attempts, he would cry in frustration. Then I would cry – and proceed to dump him back on the right. My left breast became engorged to the point that I leaned to the left when I walked (well, not really, but you get the point).
3. Ryder was born with a cephalhematoma, which is essentially a bump on the noggin. Although it didn’t occur to us at the time, he must have had one hell of a headache. And as such, he was more interested in sleeping than nursing. Wouldn’t you want to sleep off a hangover? So Ryder continued to lose weight, and I began to panic. The formula was in my house, I could give it to him. I could nourish him. I could feed him. So I did. Bye bye breast milk.
So that’s why Ryder was breastfeed for a total of four days, and I went on to experience postpartum guilt and depression for at least four months after. I felt like I had failed my son, and myself. There were resources available to me; I could have made it work. But I chose the right route for me at the time in order to keep my own sanity and make sure my baby was nourished.
Looking back, sure, I could have done things differently, but I no longer beat myself up over the decisions I made. Ryder is a healthy, active little boy with a tough-as-nails immune system (who despite warnings, has only been sick ONCE in two years with ONE ear infection, BF’ing Nazis be damned) and he’ll grow up knowing that his mommy did her best with what she was given.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t start all over again.
This time around, I was prepared. I all but demanded to see a lactation consultant while I was in the operating room (at which the nurse laughed at me, telling me to wait until they handed me my baby). Once I was wheeled to my room to recover, I refused to put Reid to my breast without a nurse present, because I wanted feedback on positioning, technique, etc. In short, I wanted to succeed. Was it easier this time? Hell no.
To be continued…