The insomnia seems to have passed and I've been getting good hours of sleep the last few nights. I'm feeling much more sane -- sane enough to finally write about this topic that I've been nervous to voice...
Breast feeding. And how it didn't work for Veda and I.
Since I got pregnant, I'd been picturing myself as this perfect kind of "Mothering Magazine", breast feeding super star mom -- whipping out a boob here and there and everywhere, whenever she was hungry, whenever she needed to be soothed. I pictured giving her nature's perfect food until she was at least a year old or until she self-weaned. I pictured it being the ultimate way for us to bond as new mother and new daughter. And I pictured it being an absolutely wonderful part of our lives.
Um, no. My vision quickly dissipated when faced with our reality. And that reality was that it wasn't working, and both Veda and I were crying constantly and completely miserable. Hating our new life and totally stressed out. It was a nightmare. (And I'm sure Colin was completely freaked out as a new dad with both his wife and baby daughter wailing all day and night. Sorry honey.)
When I first gave birth to Veda, she was a master nurser. As we recovered in the hospital she got the colostrum without any problems, had good latches and was doing stellar during those first few sleepy days. We met with the lactation consultant and the nurses who all agreed it was going great and we had nothing to worry about.
Days later when she started needing more milk more often, that changed. My milk came in as scheduled and she would nurse and drink it all. And was still hungry. We'd nurse all the time -- as frequently as she wanted -- to try to get more milk coming. Making sure every time that she got the hindmilk. And still it wasn't enough. She'd be hungry still and cry. And cry. And cry. And then I'd finally join her in frustration, sobbing and wondering why I wasn't producing enough for her. I was failing at this too!
I called in the troops... the lactation consultant, OB nurses, the doctor. I consulted friends and family, and they confirmed that everything was working fine -- I just wasn't producing enough milk. And I finally had to admit that this was just not working and I had to let it go (just like the birthing experience). I realized that a happy mom was going to be so much better for Veda than a miserable mom. And if we transitioned to bottled formula, she'd be able to eat as much as she wanted and finally feel full.
So that's what we did. Colin drove to the grocery and got some formula, and we mixed up a bottle. (I cried the whole time.) We laid Veda back in my arms and I put the bottle to her mouth and she drank happily. So happily that she finally, finally looked relaxed, and she fell right to sleep in my arms. Full and content for the first time in weeks. She didn't seem to care that the milk had come from the bottle and not from me.
And soon after that, life got a whole lot easier. Veda was a totally different baby... happy and content most of the time. And I was a different mom... capable and more centered. This was definitely the right choice for us.
But my god how I mourned not being able to breast feed. I still felt like I had failed -- felt guilty -- felt alone -- felt sorrow. And I felt judged. Like I was doing a huge disservice to my baby. I searched online for support, not finding much. Most forums and threads I read were really negative about bottle feeding. They all proclaimed the miracle of breast milk -- and that anything other was far inferior. I found some moms in my boat asking for advice or help, and other people responding saying "try the breast again" or "you can do it... just try harder". And that really surprised me. And hurt.
(Thank god for my supportive family and close friends who kept repeating: "This is ok." "This is ok.")
So I was scared to write about this here. Afraid I'd get more judgment or misunderstanding. But then I realized that there are moms out there who maybe can relate and need to hear my story. And I haven't shied away from writing about the good, bad or the ugly in the past. So here goes.
I've learned that there's nothing wrong with either way, and I'm letting that sink in. As my friend Kirsten said, "Veda will thrive either way."
If you're called to comment, please be gentle and know that there's still a lot of healing going on here. Ok?
Love to you all, penny