Yeah, that’s right I said it and I meant it. I don’t care what any of y’all have to say, if a mom doesn’t give their baby the vital nutrients that comes from breastfeeding, I think she’s trash! Straight up! The baby is gonna grow up pumped full of chemicals, with names you can’t even pronounce, and God only knows what else. And then you wonder why little girls have emotional outbursts and so many little boys grow up confused about their sexuality; it’s obviously because of all the estrogen they put in Similac. I mean seriously, they don’t say “Breast is Best” for nothing.
Now before jumping out of my seat and reaching across the room to slap the dog shit out of this woman I prayed out loud, counted to ten and tried to maintain my composure in this “Welcome to Motherhood” group. In keeping it cute, I ever so politely raised my hand and asked, “Well what about the mothers who can’t breastfeed or find it extremely difficult?” This woman had the nerve to look me straight in the eye and counter with, “can’t? Or won’t?”
By this point I was beyond pissed and it took every ounce of self control to keep me from pouncing on her, to this day I still get worked up just thinking about this discussion. So here’s the back story for those of you who don’t already know, I kind of had this “oops baby” by a man that I was madly in love with; we ended up getting married and that same day the doctor confirmed I was pregnant. I had a super rough pregnancy (for a multitude of reasons) and just a few weeks after giving birth I landed myself in this first-time moms’ class. Mind you, this group came “highly recommended” by the pediatrician because apparently, I wasn’t “adjusting” very well to having a newborn at home. So here I was with all these Lululemon wearing moms talking about the woes of motherhood. For the majority of the group sessions I just sat there and nodded, I mean anything to get out of the house was worth it at this point. That was until we tackled the topic of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has always been a very sensitive subject for me.
For starters, there was a delay in my milk production which resulted in my daughter losing two pounds in just a day. Of course, for any new mom who’s already experiencing high degrees of anxiety and self-doubt, the inability to produce milk is the absolute best news you could ever receive (I hope you caught the sarcasm dripping all through that statement). A million and one things began racing through my mind as to why I wasn’t able to produce milk, was it because of that damn epidural that everyone warned me not to get? Was it because I’m naturally flat chested? Or was it because I was too preoccupied giving birth that I forgot to order that Mother’s Milk Tea that everyone swears by? Whatever the reason was, that blasted colostrum was nowhere to be found. The lactation specialist looked at me sincerely and said, “don’t worry, its going to come, but in the meantime you may want to consider supplementing with formula so that the baby doesn’t lose any more weight. I can send you home with a few cans today.” With tears filled in my eyes, I begged and pleaded for her to keep working with me until something poured out. She kept massaging my breast and smothering the baby’s face on me, but nothing was happening. Reluctantly, I agreed to take the formula. On the drive home, I remember feeling so defeated; I felt like less than a woman and a failure as a mom (and it was only day two).
Men Don’t Get It…
As I cried the entire drive home, my daughter’s father was trying his absolute best to be empathetic and I’m sure if there was anything under the sun he could’ve done to fix the situation he would have. I tried explaining what I was feeling in a way that he would understand, “it’s like you not being able to produce sperm and the entire state of humanity rests on your ability to procreate and no matter how much you try, your swimmers just won’t work.” For whatever reason that analogy resonated with him. He dropped us off at home and said he’d be back. When he returned hours later, he had every breast milk production supplement on the shelf, four nursing books and three different types of breast pumps (even though we already received two high-end pumps from our registry). I guess he really thought the fate of humanity rested on me nursing this child, I mean no pressure right?
So Here Goes It…
Making my daughter’s first bottle of formula was hell. Emotionally, I was spent and although I consider myself an avid reader, the directions for scoops to water ratio was confusing. Two scoops to how many ounces?? What type of special water was I supposed to pick up? Who would’ve thought babies needed their own damn special water? All I kept thinking was great, I couldn’t feed my child naturally and now she’s gonna OD on formula all because I have no clue what I’m doing. I mean in all actuality, I had never made a bottle prior to this moment. Once I finally got it together, with the correct scoops, Fluoride Nursery water and shake shake shake, I was ready to give it to her. In all seriousness, this greedy bird sucked that bottle like her life depended on it (well I suppose by that point it did). We repeated this bottle making mania for what seemed like every hour on the hour. She would scream…we would jump..argue over who’s turn it was to make the bottle…watch her devour it..burp…nap (never sleep)…and then start the process all over again. This was life for the first week.
Let There Be Milk…
One day the baby was crying hysterically and my breast just came through drippin! I don’t know if I was more happy or her father, because of course this meant no more bottle duty for him (or so he thought). We immediately brought the baby to my breast and watched her suck. This lasted all of two seconds before she was right back screaming and hollering. Her father and I looked at each other in bewilderment, and then the brilliant idea came to me. I’ll just switch breast, I mean I do have two for a reason! Three seconds this time! We had absolutely no idea why this child would not stop screaming. After about a half hour of switching breasts and trying to calm her down, we broke down and gave her a bottle. Instantly, all was well in the world again. I rationalized in my mind that she just had to get use to me. I was determined not to give up on this breastfeeding thing no matter how painful it was, but every time the same thing would happen.
As the weeks went on, we continued trying to nurse before shoving formula down her throat. My body would literally clench up every time she cried. My nipples were raw and falling off. My back hurt, my neck hurt, my arms hurt and my spirit was broken. Why couldn’t I get this down? Just don’t give up, is what everyone kept saying and my favorite, “it’ll get easier.” During one of the wellness checks I burst into tears and explained to the pediatrician what was going on. He looked at me with this blank expression on his face and said, “yeah that’s what happens when babies start off on a bottle. They get use to the faster flow of the bottle’s nipple than your nipple. Why don’t you try pumping and putting your milk in the same bottle you were putting the formula in.” All I could do was look at him and say, “I’m sorry was I supposed to know that?” I guess looking back on it now, the concept wasn’t rocket science, but in my defense, this wasn’t anything covered in those boring maternity classes nor do I recall reading about it on any of those baby apps.
Let the Pumping Begin
When I say I pumped for hours on end, I’m not exaggerating. I did the right breast and then the left breast and then back to the right and so on and so forth all to get a measly ounce of breast milk. I drank the teas, I changed my diet, hell I would’ve stood on my head if someone told me it worked, but of course the milk didn’t come pouring out, it was more like drizzling out at best. This continued for quite sometime until one miraculous day, God showed mercy on me and allowed me to pump two whole ounces. This was my biggest accomplishment as a mother thus far. I think I called everyone in my phone just to gloat about my success. People were really interested (again sarcasm).
As soon as my daughter’s father walked through the front door, I ran to show him what I had already called him incessantly about. I had prepared my speech where I was thanking my Creator, my mother, and all those who assisted me in making it to where I was that day. Midway through my speech, he looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “so you’re not gonna give it to her?” “Oh that’s right? Well since you weren’t here to witness this magic, would you like to do the honors of preparing the bottle?” While rolling his eyes, he grabbed a clean bottle from the counter and as if he was moving in slow motion, he turned to grab something else… and that’s when it happened. All two ounces of my liquid gold splattered everywhere on the floor. My entire spirit was shattered as I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. He felt absolutely horrible. When I finally regained my composure, he apologized emphatically. “Is there anything I can get you?” I looked him straight in his eyes and said, “Wine, no skip that, Tequila.”
Sayonara To BreastFeeding
After that spill incident, we both knew my breastfeeding days were long over. I gave that mess the best three weeks I could possibly give. Once I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be nursing, I started focusing on the positives like how she was a happy, healthy baby and my contorted body was finally able to relax and enjoy being around her. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely felt guilty for not breastfeeding. I felt like an inadequate mom and like I had missed out on an experience that I could never regain. I’m certain that my inability (or decision not to breastfeed) is a huge part of the reason my daughter still sleeps with me six years later! It’s like I’m trying to compensate for the lack of closeness I missed out on by not nursing and so now I’m inadvertently creating this codependent dynamic of co-sleeping to make up for lost time, or so my therapist says…All I know is, I had every intention of breastfeeding, manly because of all the wonderful health benefits as well as the bonding time it creates; however I was unsuccessful.
To this day, I uncomfortably turn my head any time a mother nurses in front of me because of the subtle reminder of what I still deem as a failure. Would I have eventually been able to produce enough milk and master the whole nursing process? Who knows? I tried, got discouraged and gave up. To me, I just couldn’t do it, whereas others feel I selfishly chose not to. Regardless of the reason, a mother who does not nurse her child isn’t trash; nor are the moms who nurse their children well beyond what the reasonable person would say is the typical age to ween. Moral of the story, never assume any mother is trash because we, as mommies, all have our own experiences with breastfeeding and motherhood in general, which shouldn’t be shunned, judged scrutinized, criticized or looked down upon by anyone.
Thank you for taking the time to read all about my epic fail with breastfeeding. I’d love to hear all about your experiences. What were some of the crazy things you did for ounces of that liquid gold?