“Breast is BEST!” I know this, the doctors know this, the world know this. But what the world doesn’t know, is that it is easier said then done….
I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby long before he was even a thought. Everything about it was everything I ever wanted. The bond, the health benefits, the savings. I was going to be one of those mama’s who didn’t give a crap about what people thought, and would whip those bad boys out whenever my baby wanted them.
True life. Things don’t always go as planned.
I may have been prepared for an early delivery, but I wasn’t prepared for the work that breastfeeding entails. I didn’t know that my body wouldn’t be able to produce enough milk for him && how much work it would be just to make 15ml. I didn’t know that I would have to wake up every two hours in the hospital to pump, to produce literally nothing. I had no idea that it would be so physically, mentally and emotionally draining.
Because Clayton was in the NICU for his sugar levels, they had to give him formula to help regulate his numbers. The very first hour after Clayton was born, he latched on, and he latched on so well. I was excited about it. They said preemies tend to have a hard time latching on, and that could lead to bottle feeding only. BUT in that moment, I was hopeful. He was able to pull the good stuff out, but it still wasn’t enough to keep his levels up. So they took him from me, in order to continue with the bottle feeding.
In the beginning, I would pump for 20 minutes at a time, and get NOTHING! NOTHING! They said it was because he was early and my body doesn’t know yet. They said it’s because I’m stressed. They said it’s because the baby does a better job. Over and over they said it was okay, that it was coming. By the third day, I was engorged. I don’t even know how, because I wasn’t producing anything. I swear the poor lactation lady lived with me. I was in so much pain, but she insisted it was good, it meant my milk was coming. So we massaged, we iced, we heated, we pumped, we let little man latch on. BUT still I would only make 20ml.
When we got home, I was so worried about his sugar levels dropping that we continued to breast feed && supplement with formula. A week later (so two weeks after delivery), I still wasn’t producing. I tried everything; lactation cookies, taking shots of Brewers Yeast, Mother’s tea, drinking all the water in the world. BUT surprise, surprise, I wasn’t flowing with the goods. I was able to get myself to produce max 40ml, but that was only once a day. So I continued to see a lactation specialist, who helped me stay hopeful, but also continued to make me feel like poop.
I found myself getting so emotionally raped (pardon my language) by the whole ordeal. Anytime people offered advice, or wanted to talk about it, I would just cry. Cry because I felt like I was failing my baby. Cry because I felt like an incompatible mother. Cry because nothing was going the way I expected it to go. Cry because I hated the way the world was judging me. Cry because the doctor would look at me like I was a disgraceful mother. Cry because I needed to. It was the only way to deal with the situation. There wasn’t an answer, a fix all. But every time I feel like giving up, I am reminded that something is better than nothing.
And just when I thought I had come to some kind of terms with the situation, Clayton began to have tummy troubles. And the whirlwind of emotions started again. Would he be having these issues if we could just exclusively breast feed? It’s my fault he is in pain. And as I sit here and type this, I can’t help but cry again. It is a hard pill to swallow. Something you wanted so badly, just doesn’t work, no matter how hard you try and how much work you put into it. But this time, it ins’t just about you, it’s about another life. A life that is looking to you for the answers.
Now that we seem to have his issues under control, I sit here and wonder if it is time to stop pumping, stop trying, stop stressing, and just give in to the situation. Is it giving up or just giving in? I am not a quitter, and dislike the sound of giving up, but I am also so done with being so emotionally invested into something that just isn’t changing.
I am so torn. I don’t want to cry about it anymore. BUT I just can’t seem to close the book to this chapter. ❤