Now this picture of my middle child with the breast pump may seem silly, but to me it is a sad reminder of my new reality. When my eldest was this age and I was nursing her sister (my kids are all 18mo apart), she would put her baby doll to her chest and sign “milk.” Now that baby is a big sibling and using the pump because that is how she see’s me feeding her brother. 🙁
First, I need to apologize. I judged some mothers wrongly in the past. Whenever I heard a new mom (or any mom) say, “I tried to breastfeed, he/she wouldn’t latch” etc. etc I rolled my eyes. Yeah.. right. Usually this “trying” only lasted a week or so. This made me believe that said mother didn’t work hard enough to make it happen. It always happens if you give it a little time and effort. Right…..
Turn back the clock to three weeks ago. My labor was long and I barely had any sleep from the night before when my water broke. (Birth story coming soon!) I only pushed 18 minutes, but being 5’1” and birthing a 9# 9oz baby with no drugs on very little sleep was pretty exhausting. I remember a few minutes after he was born my midwife put him on my breast to eat. Little dude was happy, yet didn’t latch. Not then or not even when we got home from the birth center a few hours later.
My milk came in on day 3 and I thought for sure that when that happened he would jump on the milk train and we would be good to go! Nada. After a day or so of frustration my husband said we should just try a bottle because we were both at a loss. And tired. Chasing a 3 year old and 18 month old is hard enough. Add a newborn and we were officially entering crazy town around here! Did I mention we were tired? I would try at the beginning of each feeding to get him latched and we would always end up resorting to the bottle. He would scream and cry every time I would put him to the breast. He would get so angry he would turn purple and pull his hair out. We now call him Mr. Intensity.
Every time I saw him drink a bottle I would secretly go to my room and cry. I would never touch the bottle. To me I felt as if something was my fault. I am his mother and I can’t feed my child. I know how to do this. I have done this for over a year with both of my girls. Guilt set in and tears flowed, frequently. My poor husband didn’t (and doesn’t) know what to do. It is never something I can really explain to him either.
Through these last three weeks I have had a friend of my midwife who is a NICU nurse come over to help with positions, a lactation consultant has come over twice and we had a lip tie revision done last week thinking that was the cause of my son’s inability to latch. Today we saw his pediatrician to have him checked. He saw nothing alarming that would cause him not to latch. The consensus is that he has some muscle soreness from birth and it is making his upper body tight. This in turn may be causing him not to be able to relax his body and fully extend his tongue. Crazy really. I had no idea this was a thing. Breastfeeding really is hard and each child is different. I am now realizing that I was extremely lucky with my girls.
The message I want to convey with this post is how sorry I am. I should never have assumed that any mom who said they have tried to breastfeeding.. either a day or many months, was any less of a mom because they couldn’t nurse their babies. This stuff is hard and there should be absolutely NO mommy guilt for how you feed your child. Formula, boob, pumping. Feed the baby, give it love, end of story.
Side note: Moms who pump are ROCK STARS! I barely pumped with the girls and hated it whenever I did it. Now being an exclusive pumper for three weeks, it has given me an even bigger understanding of how amazing these moms are. And why aren’t they praised more for all that they do? Nursing a baby is easy. Baby is hungry, put on boob and done. When you are a pumping mama you have to get the necessary pump paraphernalia ready, pump, freeze or put milk in fridge or bottle, feed the baby and then wash all of the junk to do it once again two hours later. All of that ends up being almost an hour, so you end up only having an hour before you are getting ready for the next feeding. IT SUCKS! So moms that pump, you deserve a gold star and a high five. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.
My story doesn’t end here with breastfeeding. I don’t have an “end date” yet for when I will stop trying. I still want to try a few more chiropractor appointments and go to an occupational therapist to see if some exercises can help him. Call me crazy, but I want to make sure I have exhausted all of my tools before I throw in the towel. Otherwise I know I will regret it.
One of my favorite things in our master bedroom is these precious blocks that an amazing photographer, Kay Harmon did for us. They are my nursing blocks. I actually look at them often as they take me back to those special moments I spent nursing my girls. The baby snuggles, the hair twirling, the kissing of little fingers, unforgettable moments. To think I won’t have those moments with my son breaks my heart, but you better believe I am going to give it 110% to make it happen!