Friday, August 9, 2013

A Mother's Guilt


I've mentioned my struggle with breastfeeding a bit before and how it still affects me very much. Well, apparently this week was breastfeeding week. My Instagram was full of proud mamas feeding their babies.. my Facebook news feed was full of "enter to win" all sorts of breastfeeding goodies from places like ErgoBaby and BabySteals. Pinterest was chock full of charts about the benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding gear, etc. Every time I turned on my computer this week it was another reminder that I failed at the one job I am supposed to be able to do as a mother.

I can't help but get upset about my situation when I see people breastfeeding their baby. I envy them. Their babies are getting the nutrition they're supposed to. Logan will be more likely to get sick than those babies will. It honestly makes me feel awful. Every day when I am preparing her bottles, I wish I was breastfeeding her instead.. or even giving her a bottle of breast milk. When I think about how we had to try five different formulas for her, and several different bottles, I feel guilty. I wish I could have provided her with what I was supposed to.

No one tells you how hard breastfeeding is. When I was pregnant I just assumed "it's nature, right? How hard can it be?" I bought the nursing tanks, the breast pads, the nursing pillows; I even sewed myself a Peter Pan nursing cover. I wasn't prepared for breastfeeding to not work out; I was oblivious to the possibility of it not. I didn't know a baby had to learn to latch on.. doesn't a baby just know? I also didn't know some women couldn't breastfeed because they really couldn't.. I always thought it was a choice. And I really couldn't do it.. the most I ever pumped was an eighth of an ounce. No one mentions how painful it is or the pumping and the massaging and the supplementing and the mothers' milk pills and the lactation consultants and the lanolin cream and the stress. No one tells you any of this. Breastfeeding is supposed to be this beautiful experience, this natural experience, a bonding experience; it saddens me that I missed out.

I saw a lactation consultant several times, spoke to one on the phone from UCLA, and even went to a breastfeeding support group. We tried supplementing with a syringe and a tube at the breast. I tried the pills. I tried the massaging. I tried the pumping with a hospital grade pump that cost eighty dollars to rent for a month. I tried to relax. It was the most upsetting and most difficult thing I've had to go through. Not being able to feed your baby is the worst feeling in the world and because of that it was impossible to not be stressing about it. My baby was starving for days and I didn't know it and there was nothing I could do to make it work. I honestly don't know if I'll ever stop feeling guilty about it.
Every time I feel guilty and cry at the Pampers commercial where the mother is breastfeeding her baby at the restaurant table, Rory says "look at her. She couldn't be any more perfect. You did your best." he's so amazing.. but the sadness is still there. My girl is healthy and thriving and absolutely perfect.. but the guilt is ever present. I really hope that breastfeeding will be a success for the next baby. There's just so much pressure on women to do it these days that I can't not hope for next time. I am hoping that it will be less stressful and less upsetting. I hope that I am able to be calm and let it happen.. and be calm if it doesn't happen.
... Yeah right.


xo
-Ali

What's your breastfeeding story?

8 comments :

  1. aww mama!! this made me sad reading this, but honestly don't get too down on yourself. however, i do know exactly how you feel. i was able to breastfeed with ava, until she was about eight months old and one day just refused me all day. that's when i knew she was done. with nolan, i tried, and tried, and tried, and although i was producing milk, he broke out in a terrrrrible body rash. literally from head to toe, that made for an extremely irritable, itchy, miserable little babe. we had no idea what was causing it until one day, in his fifth month, i decided i was going to stop bfeeding him to see if it was my milk. sure enough, he cleared up almost completely within 24 hours. we later found out that it could have been his reaction to my hormones. who knows?

    i still feel the guilt of giving him formula and not having that bond with him. i know how that part feels on a mama, but we did our research and found the most "pure" formula we could find. it costs us a pretty penny each month, but it's our sons vital nutrition and it's worth it.

    you're a great mama, and i can tell from reading your posts that you love that little babe with all your being! keep up the great work :)

    xo,
    jenna
    www.mamadazeblog.com

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  2. i just typed this huge ol thing to you and for some reason it didn't post. grrr!

    don't get too hard on yourself mama!! i totally understand from both sides though. i bfed ava until she was eight months old and decided one day she wanted nothing to do with me. that's when i knew she was finally done. with nolan, i tried, and tried and tried. i was producing enough to keep him satisfied, but he was broken out in a full blown body rash for months. i mean, head to toe. making for a very miserable, irritable, crying, itchy baby. finally, in his fifth month i decided to go cold turkey and stop bfeeding him to rule out what was going on. i had tried limiting my diet to almost nothing, i had tried all fragrance free soaps, cleaners, detergents. i had tried coconut oils, over the counter lotions to prescription. nothing. of course, within 24 hours of me giving him formula, he cleared up almost 100%. we later found out he was having a reaction to my hormones. who knows?

    it's a difficult process, that's for sure, but no matter what that babe is perfectly healthy! you're doing a great job mama! keep up the great work :)

    xo
    jenna
    www.mamadazeblog.com

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    Replies
    1. My blogger comments are weird! I have people tell me it doesn't even tell them "awaiting moderation". Maybe when I have money, I can hire you to give my blog a design overhaul!
      I did get both comments though:)

      Thank you for the support. Seriously, it's so hard to watch people breastfeed and I just loooong for it. Logan is over 8 months now, so I'm sure I'd be done.. or be close to being done.. but that still doesn't make me feel any better about it.

      And seriously.. formula is so expensive! We get hers through amazon and my amazon mom membership, but it still cost us about $120 a month. And when you're on a single income and your husband works in a paintball warehouse, it's expensive! I think that has a lot to do with my guilt too. Rory is working his butt off to support us and I feel like I let him down as well with not being about to give Logan free food.

      That's pretty crazy about Nolan! I am glad that everything worked out for him though and he's healthy.. I suppose that is what really matters. A healthy happy baby.

      xo

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  3. Those photos are just beautiful - especially the first one! How adorable is your girl?!
    I know exactly what you mean.... Well, sort of. I could breastfeed. I had an oversupply of milk, no mastitis, my babies both latched pretty well. Both of them dribbled the milk all down my front and pulled off during let-down so that it sprayed everywhere, but I was lucky that I had milk there. However, I really didn't enjoy it. I had to basically get my kit off every time it was time for a feed - I wasn't one of those super breastfeeders who can attach their kid discreetly in public. Getting soaked with milk down my front each time was a bit of a bummer too. I persevered for exactly six months with Sophie (she wanted to be permanently attached for the first six weeks) and then went straight to formula. With Dan, he fed perfectly until four weeks old when he started showing signs of reflux and pulling off. I just went "sod it" and quit then and there. I had the guilt for three days and then realised how much happier I was and how much more I was able to enjoy my baby, because I wasn't stressed about feeding.
    I feel guilty these days when he gets sick, because I wonder if perhaps his immune system isn't as strong as it could be because I didn't feed him as long as I should have.... But also, kids get colds!
    Just wanted to say that I understand the guilt and the perfect breastfeeding mother thing is pretty much a myth. We had only two women in our mothers group of twelve who found it a breeze! Everyone else struggled!

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    1. Aw thank you!
      I felt like the whole breastfeeding thing was skipped over in our maternity class. and my sister is the queen of breastfeeding so I was expecting to be as equally endowed.
      I know what you mean by just letting go and feeling happier. . Though I am still upset about not being able to do it, I'm glad I didn't stress myself out any longer. Logan didn't deserve a miserable mama.

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  4. You have such a beautiful baby. Even though you cannot breastfeed you give your baby so much more than a lot of parents can by staying home with her and giving her the attention she needs. I see your daughters pictures and I know she is completely happy ! Don't let the guilt bring you down! You're doing an amazing job!

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    1. thank you :)
      I am glad to be able to be at home with her. If I couldn't stay home with her on top of not being able to breastfeed, I might be a major wreck. haha

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