This is Max’s blog, but it has also been a diary of my pregnancy, and now, of my life as a Mom. Sometimes you’ll arrive on this site and see adorable pictures of Max splashing in the bath tub. Sometimes you’ll read some rants and raves about life as a 30-something first-time Mom. This journey is (most of the time) thrilling and delightful, and (every so often) frustratingly insane.
This is one of those posts.
I am not able to breastfeed our son the way that I had hoped to. And I never thought that it would upset me so much. Nursing is supposed to be natural. It’s supposed to be instinctive. It’s supposed to work. I mean really, that’s why god made boobs, right? He sure didn’t make them to bring shitloads of money to the porn industry….I mean, that wasn’t his intent.
I knew the lies about nursing before I even tried. I knew that it hurt like hell at first. I knew that it actually wasn’t instinctive or easy. I knew that I would need things that I had never heard of before, like nipple cream and nursing bras and pads that protected my clothing if my boobs sprung a leak. I’m a shopper, people. I didn’t mind. I dutifully went out and found some pink tank tops with cute little clips that opened up the front of the tank so that Max could nurse. I made sure that I had a Boppy AND a My Brest Friend so that I didn’t get a back-ache while I nursed. Sean and I went to our $40 Breast Feeding class and learned “The Football Hold” and “The Crossover Hold”. I proselytized to anyone who would listen about how nursing promotes attachment, wrote it in my birth plan that I wanted him brought to me as soon as possible to start nursing, and scoffed at my hairdresser when she said that she was CHOOSING not to nurse.
And then my body didn’t work the way that it was supposed to. Things started to go wrong and those things toppled over one after another like dominoes. We went to two different lactation consultants, sometimes as often as every 2 or 3 days. We rented a hospital grade pump. Bought all of the accessories, and learned everything about storing and using expressed milk.
I pumped as often as I could. I nursed as often as I could. And I prayed and wished and hoped as often as I could that all of this would work.
I supplemented Max with bottles of formula. Every time I pumped I got some milk. Enough to give him a bottle or two of breastmilk each day, in addition to his formula. For the first month of his life.
Every time I went to the lactation consultant she said that it COULD get better. That I should take Fenugreek pills. I did. That I should use warm compresses. I did. That I should do a triple-feed (nurse, formula bottle, pump). I did. That I should use a supplemental nursing system tube that attached to my boob and gave him formula while I was nursing him. The formula tube squirted everywhere and it took four hands to hook the damn thing up, but I did. That I should KEEP. TRYING.
And then finally, after four weeks, Sean and I sat down and took an honest look at where we were. The point of pumping was to at some point be able to nurse exclusively. I was nowhere near that. If I wasn’t producing at this point, then I probably wouldn’t ever. I had missed the window of opportunity because of a comedy of errors that occurred in the hospital. I had tried and tried and tried. I was not a quitter. But at this point, we weren’t serving Max by being exhausted from the nurse/bottle/pump process. I was spending hours hooked up to a machine, when that was time that I could have been spending with him.
So I slowly stopped. And I cried huge tears over it. I felt like a failure. I was mad at the lactation consultants. I was mad at the hospital. I was mad at my doctor and mad at my c-section. I was mad at my body.
One afternoon I went and turned in my breast pump at the place that I had rented it from. I half expected them to ask me if it had worked. But there was no ceremony. No judgmental looks. As I fed Max his bottle that night I whispered in his ear that I had done the best I could. That I would have done anything, forever, if I thought that it would have worked. It was one of my first full-blown mommy guilt experiences.
Now, a few weeks later, I still look longingly at the mommies who can pull out a boob and feed their baby wherever they are. I curse at the bottles when the formula clumps and I can’t shake them enough. I get a pang of sadness when I get out of a warm shower and see a tiny white drop of milk coming out that somehow stuck around. I think “what if” and “maybe” and start to feel sad all over again.
BUT, when I am feeding a bottle to my beautiful son, and he is looking straight into my eyes with those big blue eyes of his, and his gaze is locked with mine, I know that however I am feeding him, it doesn’t matter. When he grabs my finger with his little hand as I’m holding the bottle. When I burp him on my shoulder and he nuzzles into my neck and his little lips move like a baby bird’s. It doesn’t matter how I feed him. He is my boy, and I am his mom, and I whisper in his ear that I will always love him, and always take care of him, and that I will always feed him.
Now everyone knows that I am not a drinker, by any means. So I honestly am not fazed by the fact that I haven’t been able to drink. In fact, I missed it about as much as I would have missed a sharp sliver in my finger. But when looking to find the positives in the breastfeeding debacle, I thought I’d toast to having tried my best. So here I am, having my first drink in 10 plus months. Oh…and it was during dinner with Jason and Rick, so I am also modeling my new shades for them.
And the bottle picture up top? That was taken by my dear friend Tori, who has an amazing eye for photography, and took some beautiful shots of Max just being himself.