In a world where this topic is extremely judgmental, I decided to put it all out there and say It's okay to hate breastfeeding, It's okay to feel guilty and It's okay if you're not supermom.
I wanted to share my breastfeeding experience in hopes to help someone who is struggling with their journey and decision as well.
Before my first son Lyric was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed and had my mind set on making it a solid year of doing it exclusively. I've always heard breast milk was the best thing you could give your baby and I was determined to give him just that. As a new mama to-be I just assumed it would be easy; they would latch, get milk and be done when they were full. Boy oh boy was I wrong.
August 25th 2017 I gave birth to the most handsome baby I've ever laid my eyes on. Shortly after giving birth we started our breastfeeding journey together. After a long and extremely painful birth, my emotions were running wild especially once I started breastfeeding. It hurt so incredibly bad. I thought to myself "How do people call this beautiful?" "How can you bond with your baby in this much pain?" But I was promised it would get better with time. So... I pumped when I could and applied cold jelly pads to my nipples every chance I could get.
Once we left the hospital and my milk supply really started to come in, I quickly realized I didn't produce the typical amount of milk the average person does. Instead, I produced SO much more (around 8oz each session and pumping about every hour). You may be thinking, "Wow that's great! I would love to produce a lot of milk for my baby!" Well...be careful what you wish for.
I found myself getting lost in the world of balancing my emotions as a new mom, healing from my 4th degree tear and taking care of myself as well as my baby. I spent the majority of my day with my baby latched onto my boob and the second he was done, I was attached to the pump. I couldn't get more then 30 minutes of sleep without my boobs forming a hard rock- like feeling that hurt to the touch. I couldn't go out with my husband unless I brought my pump, a cooler and wipes. The thought of my husband even touching me made me cringe, because I was in so much pain 24/7. The milk never stopped and I could feel myself drifting farther away from my happiness. You may be thinking "Well don't pump as much and you won't get an over supply". Easier said than done. I actually took this advice and ended up with clogged ducts and what I thought was Mastitis. You can't just skip pumping when your boobs are so engorged you can't even move your upper body.
A little over a month into breastfeeding + pumping and my health was starting to go down the drain, mentally, emotionally and physically. I lost so much weight so fast because I didn't have the time to cook or make myself anything. I was so caught up in feedings, pumping sessions, diaper changes, baths, laundry and house work that I lost track of time. I still wasn't healing from my 4th degree tear due to lack of nutrition and estrogen, because the baby was taking everything from me. I had multiple procedures and my doctor even put me on estrogen to help my healing process. At this point I was advised to look into other feeding options to give myself a proper healing ground in all departments of life. I refused. Everything ran through my mind "Breastfed babies are so healthy" "Breastfeeding is the best thing for babies" "If my baby gets sick my breastmilk will produce antibodies and help him" "my breast milk can clear up scratches and rashes". There was just too many benefits to just stop because it was hard work.
Four months into breastfeeding... I'm still not healed and at this point my body is drained of everything. I look at my peaceful sleeping baby and don't see unconditional love. Instead I see work, I see pain and I see regret. I found myself sitting on the couch just crying asking why? Why don't I have that unconditional love that everyone talks about? Why do I look at my baby and wish everything was different? Why do I wake up wishing I could crawl up in a ball and go back to sleep?
My husband tried everything he could to cheer me up and lift my spirits. He would make me coffee every morning, leave me cute notes around the house and constantly support any decision I was comfortable with making. But that still didn't stop me from hating him too. He just didn't understand how hard it was for me to do everything on my own. The middle of the night wake-ups, lack of sleep from pumping all night and the constant pain I was in from my unhealed surgery. He wanted to help. He wanted to understand. But my pride of being a supermom who had it all together stood in the way.
I finally decided to talk to my doctor and told him I feel so depressed, unhealthy and drained. He told me to stop breastfeeding because my body never had the opportunity to fully heal. I was producing so much milk ALL THE TIME, that my body didn't have a chance to catch up and replenish the nutrients for myself. I cried. and cried. and cried. I felt like a failure because I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't give my baby the one thing I knew provided the best for him. I struggled with this decision so much...
I called my mom so upset because I just didn't know what to do. I didn't know what the right decision was and I was so scared to make the wrong one. Something she told me stuck in my head and made me feel at peace with my next decision. She told me that my baby needed my love, my unconditional love. He needed to have a healthy and happy mother in order for him to be happy and healthy. She was so right. I wasn't happy at all. So, I decided to stop breastfeeding.
Right around the same time I decided to stop breastfeeding, I also decided to have a second major surgery to repair my tear.
THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE.
I was alive; I was happy and I actually felt like myself again. I promised myself if I ever had another baby I wouldn't fall down that hole again. Well, here I am with baby number two and feeling those same emotions all over again. The moment I felt my milk come in at the hospital an overwhelming emotion came over me as I started to cry. I knew what road was ahead of me and the though of it made me sick and regretful already, but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking "I have to try and give it my all until I cant anymore". I was sitting in the hospital bed in so much pain from my c-section, feeding my baby and leaking everywhere in so much pain. I immediately asked the nurse if there was something she could give me to dry a little of my milk up, because I knew if I didn't now I would be attached to the pump. She told me she could get me some ice packs. I quickly agreed. She seemed extremely hesitant and continued to direct me towards pumping and donating it. At that moment I just broke down. I didn't want to pump for my own baby let alone donation. I just wanted to be happy and not consumed by this hardship. I know she didn't mean anything by it, but as a second time mom who went through so much the first time around... I just wanted someone to be supportive and not judgmental that I was throwing away this gift I was given.
I spent the first 3 weeks home attached to my baby and the pump. I had to constantly put cabbage leaves and ice packs on my boobs so I could go longer then 30 minutes without pumping or being in pain. I quickly decided I wasn't going to feel depressed with my new baby. Instead I was going to enjoy every precious moment, every outing and finally be pain free.
I'M SO HAPPY WITH MY DECISION, even the second time around. I'm not writing this blog to bash breastfeeding; I'm writing this post in hopes to lift up another mama struggling with their decision or their struggles. To let them know you're not alone and we all have felt the hardships one way or another. And I'm here to spread a message to the ones who are so quick to judge a mother and her decision to not breastfeed to just stop. We're all going through things internally as well externally and no mother should ever feel judged in her decision to provide the best for her baby and most importantly herself. There is no healthy baby without a healthy mama and I will stand by that statement forever.
If you're providing for your baby, you're superwomen. END OF STORY!