Breastfeeding is really, really hard - in case you missed that memo, which I did, each time I gave birth apparently.
All joking aside, my battle with breastfeeding has been a bitter rivalry over the years. It's something I avoid talking about with people at all cost because I feel like an absolute failure when it comes to being able to physically provide nourishment for my children.
|Pearyn at one month old|
The other part is because I'm a perfectionist. I'm hard on myself, sometimes when there's not even a need to be. So when I made my mind up about breast being best (for my kids anyway) I didn't bother to think about the ups and downs we might come across on the way.
I didn't plan for what might happen if breastfeeding DIDN'T work out. (Thankfully, other moms do, which is why milk banks have become a much more viable option than simply switching to formula).
Disclaimer: It's true. There are very few reasons why breastfeeding doesn't truly work out (speaking in physical terms). Many women who blame it on a low milk supply or the child not latching right probably didn't investigate every last avenue they could to make breastfeeding a success. To some of the die-hard breastfeeding moms and lactation consultants out there it means these moms didn't try hard enough, didn't want to put forth the effort to make breastfeeding work.
To these people, I say "big whoopie."
Sometimes, it's not a positive experience. And while motherhood certainly isn't sunshine and rainbows all the time, feeding your baby shouldn't be a constant battle to not fall into a depression. Sometimes, it's 3 a.m. and you're nursing your monster baby for the third cluster feeding in a row, your nipples aren't just sore, but cracked and bleeding and your back aches from cradling a child and holding them to your breast (not to mention holding up said breasts).
Sometimes, breastfeeding just doesn't work.
Sometimes, it's the difference between baby blues and full-blown momma trauma.
That doesn't make them any less human, any less a mother or any less a woman.
In my eyes, it makes them rational.
To be honest, if it weren't for our vegan lifestyle, I can't say I would be as hard on myself about breastfeeding as I am. Because breastfeeding is the one real option for vegan moms it can make it more of a chore, more ominous than just an "option" for other mothers. (And don't even start arguing with me about humans being mammals and breastmilk not being vegan. Human breastmilk is designed for human babies like cows milk is designed for calves. Period. End story).
After months of watching our daughter struggle to poop, struggle to put on more weight, struggle to be even remotely happy, we learned she had an issue digesting the lactose my body produced. I put her through months of uncomfortable eating and feedings because I allowed myself to be so convinced "breast was best" that it overshadowed my motherly instincts.
It was one of the hardest things I occurred in early motherhood; knowing not only that I had been making my daughter sick, but that I continued to do so despite a nagging sensation in my gut that something wasn't right. Eventually we found a schedule and routine that worked for us, one that she flourished on. But it took us a longer time to get there because I refused to compromise my thoughts on what was supposed to be the best thing for our daughter.
It frustrates the hell out of me. How can something that is touted as being so natural, so wonderful, so good for baby and such a fabulous bonding session often leave me ready to pull my hair out? What are we supposed to bond over? Our desire to BOTH scream because he has to fart and I'm just a walking disaster? Not the kind of bonding I'm looking for this early on.
Does anyone else find it ironic that throughout all this evolution garbage we've basically grown out of the need for our appendix, wisdom teeth and extra ear muscles, but in 2013 we STILL can't give birth to a baby that can digest freaking milk from it's mom?
Face palm, face palm, face palm.
Braeburn is a nursing champ. His latch is strong and fast, like my friend Sharon said "he took to the boob like a man." He gains weight, he snuffed jaundice concerns in two days and in just a week is almost back to his birth weight (quite the accomplishment for a baby of his hefty size).
But he screams. He rives in pain some nights, wailing as he passes gas.
I'm assured that this is normal. That his system needs time to adjust and we shouldn't start panicking just yet. But I can't stop the worry. I can't stop the feeling that it's my fault he's in pain. I can't help but start to feel as lost and as helpless as I did when first going through this with Pearyn.
We're going to wait it out.
And until the day his system "matures," I'm going to be gritting my teeth along with my little guy. And in the event that day doesn't come and we have to explore other avenues, I'm not going to beat myself up this time. Instead, I'm going to recognize that I'm being the best mother I can, even if that means my breast isn't best.