FFF Friday: “Losing my sanity was not something I could afford…”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

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 formulafeeders@gmail.com.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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8 thoughts on “FFF Friday: “Losing my sanity was not something I could afford…”

  1. It's interesting to read someone else had these fears about breastsize and “public exposure” and I'm sick being told to grow-up and “breastfeeding isn't sexual”. For me, I was not comfortable exposing my 42H (+) breasts in public. I didn't even like exposing myself in the hospital and at home – especially as I had a premature baby and even held directly in front of my breast there was still an enormous amount of breast could be seen. When you see photos in the media and on the internet, there are these beautifully serene pictures of a baby covering mummy's chest area or they say “just gently lift your t-shirt up”. Wtf? I was just a fat woman with her breasts out – I'd have needed triplets to not feel sexually vulnerable and exposed.

  2. That's a really powerful story, Chelsea /hug.

    The whole “Oh, it's just this evil society of ours making breasts sexual, people need to get over it, breasts are meant to feed babies!” riles me up. Yes, one of the functions of the breasts is to feed a child. However, they are also designed to be attractive to our partners. They are also erogenous zones. And more to the point, if someone feels uncomfortable about breastfeeding (for whatever reason) why is it ok to invalidate their feelings by telling them that they have been “duped” by society into thinking that breasts are sexual?

  3. A non stressed out mom is much more important than breast milk. You did a good thing in making sure that you were healthy for your children. It is hard to juggle the needs of an infant and other children especially at first and especially if you are having issues with breastfeeding.

  4. Do you think your anxiety during nursing fits the definition of dysphoric milk ejection reflex? http://d-mer.org/ I try to share info about this, because it is something that is not widely known about. Those wonderful breastfeeding hormones aren't wonderful for all women.

  5. Congratulations on making the best decision for your family! I truly believe that people who have never experienced anxiety attacks just can't understand how absolutely debilitating and terrifying they can be.

    I am a PPD survivor too… on some days it is still extremely difficult, but on others I can see the sun through the clouds. So glad to hear you are recovering!

  6. I know exactly what it is like to resent your new baby because of bf problems- that was me too! It's horrible. I also know what it is like when bottle feeding finally gives you the relief you need to love and bond with your newborn. That is wonderful. Thanks for your story – I can really relate.

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