So, it’s July and I’m not sure if I can believe it’s been 18 weeks since I gave birth. The day will be etched into my memory for eternity. The moment she was heaved out of my battered and tired body and unceremoniously plonked upon my chest will be my favourite memory of her because she was finally here. At last we could say hello to our little warrior princess, and what a warrior she was. Screaming her beautiful purple head off, she was letting the world know that she had arrived. I was instantly in love with her. I couldn’t contain my happiness and burst into tears of pure elation (with a pinch of exhaustion). I watched as her daddy cut the cord. There is not much in the world that will make you fall in love with your husband all over again than watching him in that tiny moment. As he looks at you, and he looks at her and you can see that his love is, and will always be as powerful as yours.
I ushered daddy off to look after baby while I ‘birthed’ the placenta and was sown back up like a shirt that had been torn in bloody battle. I was asked if I was going to breast feed to which I promptly exclaimed ‘Of course I am’. The first time she latched on I was mesmerised by her. I watched as she effortlessly found my nipple and began to suckle away at her first meal. I was hypnotised by the unbreakable bond that was being strengthened by this most natural of motherly duties. I was adamant that I would breastfeed exclusively as I imagine many new mothers do. I had done my research and I was sold. There was no way I was giving her formula. As some of you may know, that was about as good as it got.
Every mother makes a choice before their baby is born. Each mothers decision is her own and based on her own personal circumstance and I will respect that but for me it was only ever going to be breast. After a week in hospital exclusively breast feeding, I was finding things difficult but I was not going to give up. We encountered all kinds of issues. Firstly, Zosia has a tongue tie but we’re lucky enough that it doesn’t cause her any problems feeding. Secondly, it f*****g hurt! Nobody ever explains how much pain you experience when you first start breastfeeding. Everyone pushes it because it’s best for baby etc. but they fail to mention the excruciating pain you get until your nipples toughen up. I never even knew I would need ‘tough nipples’. So when my nipples began to bleed and crack I was so scared (there definitely needs to more support and information available to first time mums). Luckily my hospital was right next to a high-street baby shop so hubby popped over to get some nipple cream. Now, if you are an expectant first time mother who is planning on breastfeeding I would highly recommend that you should pack some in your hospital bag ASAP!
As I had done my research, I was fully aware that my milk might take a while to come in but we pushed on. She was feeding little and often but she wasn’t crying or complaining so we assumed she was getting enough from me. It wasn’t until we had gone home and had our first midwife visit that we realised things weren’t right. She had an infection.
NOTE: this part is a little difficult to discuss at the moment but I will come back to it one day. I did however find that reading another mums recent blog post about how she dealt with her son being in hospital helped a great deal. She was able to put into words a lot of the thoughts I felt at the time but am not ready to process just yet. You can find her blog post here – http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=5744541781&blog=13526577&frame_type=feed I hope that you may find it as helpful as I did.
Whilst at the hospital, I was made aware that I would need to top up with formula milk. Of course I was asked if I was okay with this but I didn’t really have a choice. I’m sure you can image just how bitterly disappointed I was when I realised that I wasn’t able to make enough milk for her. At this point my beautiful baby girl was stuck in a plastic box with wires everywhere and machines beeping constantly. She needed more than I could provide her.
The feeling of self loathing was hard to deal with. Whilst Zosia was in NICU I cried almost every day. I was really struggling with how much of a failure I felt. I had failed my little girl at the one thing I was made to do. Even when my milk finally game through properly, it still wasn’t enough for her. As time went by, topping her up after breastfeeding became the opposite. Before I knew it I was the appetiser to the main course of formula. I will always find this incredibly difficult to deal with. When we have another child I will now know that I may need to include formula. Not knowing that to begin with made the first few weeks of her life some of the hardest we have ever experienced.
Now as my supply has steadily diminished as the weeks have flown by, I have to deal with those feelings of being a failure again. The supply is practically non-existent. Each time I try to feed her I’m almost in tears. Dealing with this feeling of inadequacy several times a day, takes a toll on your mental health. I feel like I have let her down. It doesn’t matter how many people try to convince me otherwise, I will continue to feel this way. Today, as I write this, I have not breast fed her at all. It feels strange, like the bond is weakened somewhat. I have to remind myself that this is silly. I’m not sure if I am imagining this but there is a sense that she had picked up on this and seems more needy lately. In the last few days she has demanded more cuddles and in the morning she wont self sooth herself to sleep, she wants snuggles to help her drift off. What I do know though, is that when she grows up she will not care how she was fed. I know she will not blame me or accuse me of not trying. She will still be my perfect little darling. She is such a happy little girl and will always know how much I love her. I must remind myself that I tried my best and I should be proud of what I have achieved so far, but to save my sanity, it is now time to retire the boobs.
If, for whatever reasons you too are thinking about retiring the boob, the NHS does provide information to help you make an informed decision either way.
Thanks for reading. If you have been through something similar please feel free to drop me a comment. I enjoy reading about other peoples stories and knowing that I am not alone in this.