Breast Feeding changed my life .... turned me into a woman, made me feel natural , lush , wholesome and beautiful
but the journey to get to that point wasn't easy .....
Erik was a very good baby, quiet , slept lots, easily soothed .... but he took some time to take to the breast ..... and nothing makes a mother feel more like a failure than when she cant breast feed .. something that is meant to be so natural and instinctive, but that for so many women, isn't !
Erik just wasn't interested in boobs ... or food
at just 15 Min's old the midwifes forcefully grabbed my already tender breasts and shoved them into my delicate little baby's face ... again and again, like a toddler with a jigsaw piece that would not fit !
Erik just wasn't interested , but being a first time mum I didn't know any better....
so we continued the boob/face shove tactic ... with no success .....
we were at a "breast is best" hospital, so every 4 hours over the next few days the midwifes would come in and try to help me breast feed .... Erik would just scream and scream pushing his head back to get away from this terrifying nipple that kept getting shoved in his face .... it felt like we were torturing him !
I was also expressing with an electric pump, it would take about 40 minutes expressing to get about 5-10 mls of colostrum .. which we would then give to Erik threw a syringe
this exhausting routine continued .... breast feed attempt( fail) , express for 40 Min's, try to get 30 Min's sleep ... wake up and try it all over again
finally we were given the all clear to take him home, he had lost alot of weight so the doctor told us to supplement feed with formula but to still keep trying to breast feed and expressing regularly to encourage my milk to come in .....
by this point I am that physically and emotionally exhausted I am almost delirious .... laughing and crying ... with absolutely no idea how to be a mum and so far feeling like an epic failure !
once we are home things don't get much better .... I am still an epic failure at breast feeding..... but I am being an amazing wife .... house clean , guests entertained, tea on the table, floors swept and mopped washing done ( in hindsight i should have stopped, and asked for help, )
the torture routine continues , breast feed attempt(fail) formula feed, express milk , rest .... start all over again !
Rosie the community midwife is really helpfully and gives me lots of tips about swaddling, burping etc but ignores my feeling about breastfeeding and says keep trying
by now every time I even think about breast feeding I burst into tears ...... I am so disappointed in myself that I cant provide what my baby needs ... and I don't know if i can keep going on like this, so exhausted, so upset ... and Erik still isn't gaining weight ....
taken the day of my breakdown !
Aaron and I talk .... well I mostly blubber words threw tears and he cuddles me and kisses my hair ....
" its not worth it babe ... breast feeding is not worth making you this miserable .... it doesn't matter if we bottle feed Erik , as long as you are both happy and healthy "
I finally see he has a point .... you cant tell the difference of a bottle fed baby and a breast fed baby when they walk down the street and its not worth beating myself up over something that's making me so miserable .....
My baby needs a happy mummy, who has energy to give him what he needs.... and if he needs a bottle , than that's what ill give him ....
its like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, I don't feel like a failure, i feel like a responsible mum, because I am going to do whats right for my baby and I don't care what any midwife or relative is going to say .....
Aaron and I decide to bottle feed Erik, with formula and expressed milk ( colostrum is all I have at this stage still )
I email my friend Marissa who bottle fed both her kids by choice and did and amazing job, she gives me the down low on bottles, formula, dispensers warmers etc ...
and of course and amazing pep talk that has me in tears but that also makes me feel empowered and less alone...
i will never be able to thank her enough for what she said to me that day :) be strong, don't apologise for anything, you are doing an amazing job, do it your way and stuff everyone else opinions !!
I feel a million times better, I start to smile again , and when I give Erik his bottle that night before bed I just look at him the whole time etching every perfect little detail of him into my memory !
that night I get Erik up for a feed about 2 am, I am holding him close to my chest as I shake the bottle to make sure the formula is dissolved... when I notice that my baby is frustratedly sucking on my t-shirt right where my nipple would be .....
hmmm .... I wonder ? does he want to feed ?
one last try wont hurt,
I decide as I put down my nursing bra I
hold him close to my chest and sure enough he starts searching, moving his head back and forth .... looking for a nipple
he finds it and instantly latches on ... perfectly ... and starts sucking ..... OMG I'm in shock
sucking sucking .... I start crying, tears of pure joy and relief as my baby boy snuggles against my breast sucking powerfully for the first time , 1 little fist clenching my t-shirt the other holding my thumb
then I feel the tingling in my breasts , the let down .... my toes curl and the uncomfortable prickling sensation ripples through my body .... but I am too deliriously happy to notice .....and in that moment I am so unbelievable proud of myself of my body !
I sit there watching him suckle with silent tears running down my cheeky and a ridiculous smile on my face until Erik falls asleep again .... I put him back in his bassinet covered in kisses ... and I fall asleep with a little smile on my face ... I did it !
after that first feed , my little boy who wasn't interested suddenly became the biggest greedy guts ever ...
he had a huge feed every 2 hours, often having both sides and resulting in the excess flowing out his nose as he drank ... he put all the weight he had lost back on within the first 2 days of breastfeeding !
I was so excited to tell Rosie the midwife I was feeding Erik , she said she was so proud of me and gave me a big hug ... I will never forget !
my boobs grew huge , absolutely huge ... and rock hard most of the time ... I loved them
I remember soaking my material breast pads in water and putting them in the fridge to use for relief overnight when my boobs would get so big and sore.... and using copious amounts of lanisoh cream as my nipples were turned in to a bleeding sand papery mess ....
but it was all worth it , every painfully toe curling minute of it .... I felt amazing, it just felt so good to know my little boy got everything he needed from me, my body , my amazing body !
I loved breast feeding ,
I felt, empowered,
I felt special .... I felt like a success , as a woman and as a mother !
I stopped feeling like a failure ! I stopped feeling hopeless ..... I started feeling happy !
of course I was tired, drained, exhausted from all the extra milk and feeding .... and I was even having migraines from the force of my strong let down reflex .... but it was so worth it !
I breast fed Erik for 8 months .... I would have liked to feed longer but he cut his first two teeth ... he started biting ... and lets just say it didn't end pretty !
the main point of this post is ... do what works for you ...
but I also wanted to give a honest insight in to my breastfeeding struggle for first time mums, its not always as easy as the books say ... and sometimes what works for the next person might not work for you .... you are NOT alone !
I had people everywhere telling me what to do , try this, try that, but I was so overwhelmed and exhausted nothing was going to work .... when I finally gave up and removed the stress ... it just happened...
I don't wish to start a breast vs bottle debate ... as you can see I did both breast and bottle and as long as your baby is happy and healthy and YOU are happy with your decision that is all that should matter ...
I know a mum who decided at 20 weeks pregnant to bottle feed her son , I know a mum who's daughter breast fed perfectly from 5 minutes old and I also know a mum who persisted trying to breast feed for 3 months before her son finally got the hang of it .... all of these mums are amazing .... and their kids are perfectly happy and healthy !
bottle or breast .... you are doing a great job, you are amazing !
xxx Free Range Mumma xxx