Or mostly my attachment to things that aren’t happening sucks.
~~Part of my breast-feeding story~~
Breastfeeding is SO hard. And the hardest thing is that I want to do it.
Little Miss hated breastfeeding for the first few days – if not first few weeks. I imagine that she wasn’t impressed about having to work for food for literally the first time in her life. For her first day she’d scream when it was time to latch. But we persisted.
We persisted through the cracked nipples and the festering blockages. And more blockages. And more pain.
And we kept going.
The contradictory advice from every.single.person was a brutal. How to latch. How long to feed on each boob. How long to feed during the feed altogether. How long to try and push out between feeds. Everything was contradicted !!
– I saw three different lactation consultants with three very different opinions, on top of the three different opinion holding midwives I was working with postpartum – on top of the three different midwives from the hospital. With advice ranging from 10 minutes each side and swap to 30 minutes each side and swap to multiple feeds on the one side and no swap. And every variation in between.
We were ‘on-demand’ feeding. Meaning when Little Miss was hungry, she was fed. This included a stretch of 40 hours of cluster feeding in which there was roughly 8 to 20 minutes between the ending of one feed to the start of another. Not fun. Then there was a pattern of afternoon cluster feeding for about a 6 to 8 hour stretch of time, each day. For about 3 weeks.
What we didn’t realise in this time was that she was not getting enough.
Despite everything, all the time attached to the boob, all the pain, focus, efforts and incredible lack of sleep, she was starving. She had put on less than 10 grams a day, and that could have just been if she had done a wee or not.
And then she became dehydrated. Two lots of 12 hour blocks without a single wee.
She wasn’t a screamer. We had no idea she was hungry. She was so hungry that she’d sleep. Effectively too weak to feed properly.
I tear up just writing this. I hate that I didn’t know.
The logical part of me is asking how was I supposed to know?! and other such questions. But that is a small part.
The emotional part of me is angry that no-one would look at all the data we were collecting and recording (on an app) – why didn’t someone who knew about these things pick up that there was a problem until it was almost a very serious problem. Why was everyone so un-worried about her behaviour, and so quick to judge and almost attack the nurse that did raise concerns (at 3 weeks old).
The hormonal part of me is devastated that I didn’t know better or do better. I wish I could go back in time right now, and start again, with all the knowledge I have gained since then. And I would feed my daughter until she was full.
So the idea that all I have to do is put my child on the boob – clearly didn’t work for me. And I feel cheated. I was doing what I was supposed to. Why wasn’t this working? Why was my body failing me (again)?!
I hate that my self worth and value is tied up in what my body is doing. Even now that I understand more, and have an action plan in place… I can be ecstatic or depressive, depending on how much milk I have expressed. A matter of millilitres.
I hate that I want to do this. Like, really want to do this. I really want to breastfeed my child. Even today (!! OMG AGAIN!!) I just kept putting her on the boob. Intent that past problems has corrected themselves magically and it’s all changed. It wasn’t until my husband got home and my daughter and I were both in tears that he made up some formula (in my weak defence I had put all the bottles in the dishwasher… rookie mistake, shitty excuse). And she was fed. Fully, properly and completely fed.
Why do I keep doing this? And where do we go from here?
We are supplementing with formula. And it is a massive hit to my mummy-esteem. Self esteem tied to my perception of my mummy abilities. I am hyper sensitive about it, so much so I warn friends before they come over, or I launch in to the whole story (see above, argh!) just to justify my choices. I listen and fester over every passing comment. Every “really?!” plays on my mind for
days weeks, as if you don’t believe I have really struggled and am trying really hard at this boob thing.
Part of me understands that no-one really would say to me “you should starve your child rather than supplement with formula” but with all the mummy-shaming it sometimes feels like that. ALL THE SUGGESTIONS! Have you tried eating / drinking / consuming / doing etc etc etc. And I have, and I am… except when I forget or sleep through or other such things and then the mummy guilt just magnifies.
We have recently gone to a baby chiropractor. At over $120 a week – because she needs it. But does she need it? Will this help? Will anything help? And when do I call it quits? When is enough enough? And why hasn’t the chiropractor or kinesiologist or boogie-biscuits/ tea / dinner created miracles? Why are there no miracles? And why is this not resolved yet? And where on earth do I go from here?