Thank god for FFF Friday, or this blog would be dying a slow and painful death. I promise I will get back to normal soon – book deadline is fast approaching and Fearlette’s been colicky, so my brain is atrophying due to stress and limited sleep. I assume the effects are only temporary, though!
Until then… great submissions like the following, from FFF Christina, should more than make up for my lack of eloquence. So keep ’em coming, folks. I’m still accepting guest posts, too, so if you have anything that isn’t quite fodder for a FFF Friday, still feel free to send it along.
Anyway. Enough whining from me. On to Christina’s story….
I had my first son in my hometown of El Paso, TX, a far cry from the “crunchy” culture I currently live in. When my son was born, I was intent on breastfeeding him; it just seemed like a no-brainier. The day after he was born, I nursed him all day. That night I was starting to feel sore, exhausted, and a little nervous. I knew virtually nothing about any method of infant feeding; where my feelings normal? Was he getting enough to eat? Was it going to be this hard for an entire year?
The hospital’s Lactation Consultant came to my room the next morning, I immediately alerted her to the pain that had slowly progressed and was only getting worse. She gave me some text book advice: hold the baby this way, if it hurts try A and B. Beyond that I didn’t get much else, like what to do if A or B failed. Hospital policy said I had to attend a 20 minture discharge seminar before I could go home. The same LC that had come to my room was “teaching” the seminar. The reason I use the word teaching in quotations is because it sounded like this woman had memorized some lines out of a book. It was almost word-for-word what she had told me.
When I started to nurse my son more frequently throughout the day, my pain got worse, and eventually I was the owner of cracked and bleeding nipples. Whenever my son latched I felt intense lighting-bolt pain. When we called the LC in to help me figure out if I was doing something wrong (I heard over and over if it hurt, something was wrong). The LC came in, my son latched, she watched him for maybe 30 seconds, then told me everything was fine, and that she had other patients to see. I was discharged, and pretty quickly turned to formula. Being young and naive to hotly debated topic of infant feeding, I was pretty comfortable with my choice.
Everything was dandy until I discovered the online mommy world. I spent more time than I care to admit on the Internet catching up on the war waging between breastfeeding moms and formula feeding moms. The guilt crept in and remained there for a long time.
When I got pregnant with my second son, I was determined. I convinced myself that my failure to breastfeed was my fault, I didn’t try hard enough, didn’t have enough support. By this time we had moved to our current city, Olympia, WA. I felt I had a much better chance at breastfeeding success now that I lived in such a liberal, green, health conscious place. I had two goals for this baby, the first was natural childbirth, the second was breastfeeding. My second son was born, and I accomplished my first goal (really this was only because I forced myself to stay home until it was too late for drugs). When it came time to feed him, he latched right away. It seemed too good to be true. We didn’t even need to see the LC. We went home and I expected everything to be fine.
Until it wasn’t.
My dear baby was up every 45 minutes wanting to nurse, even at night. My husband was overseas so I was alone, with my two other children (my older son and my stepson, who lives with us full time). My mom was due to visit, but by the time she got there the postpartum depression had set in. I sat there, day after day, watching my kids play outside while I sat on our couch feeding the baby. I questioned weather or not I was making the right decision every day, and every day I felt more miserable. I couldn’t even leave the house, as baby wanted to nurse every 30 to 45 minutes. The kicker was when my son came up to me and practically begged me to play with him. I cried for hours. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I marched down to the store, and bought a can of formula. I felt a huge rush of relief. Immediately the world started looking brighter, and I felt alive again. I know it may sound like such a minor thing to have such a strong reaction to, but the thought of playing with my toddler son again made me happier than I had been in a long time. Of course, my PPD wasn’t really gone, I was on an emotional roller coaster, alone with three small children and a husband in Iraq. I can only imagine how my feelings of isolation and depression would have flared had I continued to breastfeed.
When my midwife asked me how breastfeeding was going at my 6 week postpartum visit, I told her I wasn’t. She seemed surprised, only because we were doing so well in the hospital. When she asked why, I told her point blank, “It wasn’t right for us.” She was very understanding about it, but many people in my life couldn’t accept this as an acceptable answer. They want me to go into extensive detail about my long hard guilt ridden journey to formula, and my experience just wasn’t like this. I can appreciate woman who do struggle for long periods of time, but I am very lucky that I didn’t. To my extreme lactivist friends however, I am not lucky, I am lazy. But despite the judgment, I feel no guilt and no regret. I know that I made the right decision.
Submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll buy you a pony. Or at least a cup of coffee, should we ever meet in person.