Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.
Wow. After my plea for entries last week, I got a slew of incredible stories delivered to my inbox. (In related news: You guys ROCK.) One of these amazing submissions was Chelsea Allen’s. I always appreciate hearing stories about the psychological impediments to breastfeeding, because these are as real and valid as the physical ones – and seldom understood. Body-image issues, anxiety disorders, PPD… all of these things can be that proverbial straw that breaks the breastfeeding camel’s back (a breastfeeding camel. Now THAT would be a cool sight…). The more these stories are shared, the less alone the next mother who is suffering through something similar will feel. I’m humbled by Chelsea’s willingness to share her very raw feelings with me, and with all of us.
Happy Friday, fearless ones.
– The FFF
I have two little boys. With my oldest, I never tried to breastfeed him because I had huge fears of nursing him in public because of my weight and breast size. I had some major self esteem issues going on with my body and just didn’t want to torture myself. When I got pregnant with my second born, I decided I would try to get over those fears and breastfeed him because well…breast is best right? I educated myself very thoroughly. Went to classes about breastfeeding, read and read about it, how to latch the baby properly etc etc. When it finally came time to nurse my baby, I demanded he be brought to me immediately so I could have the skin to skin contact that was so important and try to latch him. He flat out refused! So I tried again a little bit later and finally I got him on with the help of the nurses. He nursed for a good 20 minutes, which the nurses said was wonderful. However, I was a nervous wreck! I suffer from extreme anxiety anyways but when he was nursing I was having a hard time breathing, I became covered in sweat, my heart started racing and I just…I dunno I was shaking very badly. I pushed it aside though and tried to continue nursing him. While I was in the hospital, I had the nurses in there every time it was feeding time to help support and encourage me because I literally had these anxiety attacks every time it was horrible!
When we got home the anxiety attacks only got stronger. I was by myself without the nurses and had an older child the required attention at well. My anxiety was through the roof, even when I wasn’t nursing him. What didn’t help was that he was literally wanting to nurse every half hour, for a good 25 minutes each time. Getting comfortable was also impossible, which stressed me out even more and because I was stressed, my son was too. He cried and screamed and would get so upset he wouldn’t latch for the longest time. I went through five days of this and it was turning me into a monster, towards my significant other and other little one. I began to resent my baby, didn’t feel like I was bonding with him at all. My significant other finally was like, Chelsea, you need to just give him the bottle. Put him on formula, he said. I felt like the biggest failure. Yet, the moment when I gave him that bottle it was like…a whole new world for us. It felt like the sun was finally shining. After having anxiety attacks like I was, I was finally able to relax and just enjoy my baby. I suffered from a bad case of PPD though and it was a struggle for me to get back on my feet, and still to this day I struggle with it (although its under control).
If I ever have baby number three, I will never ever try to breastfeed again. It was one of the worst experiences of my life and I will never put myself or my baby through that again. When I tell people my story, they have a hard time believing it. Saying awful things like “You should have just dealt with it instead of giving up.” Yea maybe I should but I had another child to worry about and losing my sanity was not something I could afford to lose. And resenting my baby was also the worse feeling ever. I wanted to love and bond with him, not look at him with disgust and resentment.
It’s taken me several months to get over my failure and now I don’t let those people get me down. I made the best choice for my baby and myself.
Inspired to share your story? Good, then. Send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org.