From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It didn’t take some nurse or doctor to convince me of the benefits, I knew in my heart breastfeeding was the right choice for my son and I. Fast forward 9 months… the time was finally here and after a very traumatic 33 hour labor which resulted in a c-section the last thing I wanted to do was try breastfeeding. I was so out of it from all the pain medicine I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know where my nipple was, but with assistance from my nurses I did it, of course there wasn’t much feeding going on because what they don’t tell you is your milk doesn’t come in right away.
I woke up on my hospital bed the next day to the most painful, engorged breasts ever… I couldn’t even put my arms down. No one told me about this, I wasn’t prepared at ALL. I was not ready mentally or physically… luckily I was in the right place. The nurses were not even kind of phased by my new “girls” they simply said, “oh you’re ready to go mama”. I was excited, mainly because long before my pregnancy and even during, when I mentioned breastfeeding those close to me always had jokes… “who you breastfeeding with those”? Was usually the typical reaction —- referring to my modest B cups. Thinking back I’m mad as hell I didn’t take a selfie of my new friends, because they would have ATE their words. Minus the excruciating pain I felt like a women who had just gotten implants, pleasantly surprised … slightly obsessed.
It was Day 2 in the hospital, I was in so much pain that I wished breathing was optional. Any movement hurt, but it was crucial for me to attempt to move and get myself back going after my C-Section. My hospital had daily breastfeeding classes for new moms and I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone, go for a walk, and learn something helpful during the class. Carter had been doing what he has done pretty much for the last 12 hours since he entered the world, sleeping — so I got myself together, left my son with his dad and made the short walk down the hall. After walking for what felt like forever, I finally made it! I’m almost 100% sure I uttered “Hallelujah” as I waddled to my seat . I looked around to the other new moms, envious as hell that they looked so nice and so fresh, with that new mom glow meanwhile I hadn’t been able to shower and my stomach had just been ripped open ( something I didn’t at all plan for). Another funny thing I noticed was, every single mom in that class had a baby with them except for me… the teacher’s focus shifted to me, “hello” she said, I replied, “hello” completely taken off guard with her singling me out. She then asked me, “where’s your baby”?
I thought to myself, “Damn, Ashley you’re already messing up”.
I made the long trip back around the corner, trying to keep myself motivated to actually make the trip back and return to the class, and I did with my baby in tow. Carter was a natural … with only one of my breasts, the other not so much. For some reason he as having trouble latching to the left side and that’s when I was introduced to my other partner in crime, the nipple shield. — a gift and a curse. About an hour later I made my way back to my room feeling empowered and ready to go !
The next week or so after we were finally discharged from our five day stay my days consisted of me getting used to being a human cow, and I mean that in the most endearing way. I had Carter’s dad helping me latch on my left side with and without the nipple shield most of the time, most say lucky … I thought failure. It was so damn frustrating every three hours here I am asking for help although he was more than willing meanwhile I’m the one who’s nipples were being used and abused. Lucky for me, I never experienced the pain associated with breastfeeding that many women complain about so the easy outweighed the hard. What they don’t tell you about postpartum care and breastfeeding is you still need to remind yourself that you are sustaining another human so taking care of you is the number one priority. Most people called it a “snap back” but the reality was I’d go the whole day without eating, I’d barely even drink anything. The demand of breastfeeding mixed with postpartum depression damn near took me out. It looked great on the outside but inside was all messed up.
I will never forget I was in month 4 of my breastfeeding stage, I reminded myself just 8 months to go sis. 12 months was my goal, don’t ask me why, it just was; I figured if I could make it 12 months with breastfeeding I’d be like … the sh**. I was at the beach with Carter I took him out regularly for walks and he was hungry so like any other time I discreetly pulled my breast out and began feeding him, when one side was empty, I switched him to the other side —- like normal. This time was a little different after feeding Carter all I had, he was still hungry. My heart broke, he was inconsolable, my baby was still hungry and I had no clue what to do. I packed him up as quick as I could knowing at least the car ride would knock him out. I called his dad immediately, frantically explaining what happened. Surprisingly calm he told me to meet him at the local Walgreens. I met him there we walked towards the formula aisle and my heart broke.—- I failed. He knew more about formula than me most likely from his other kids from a previous relationship, we picked out a box of Enfamil and made our way to the check out line. I was crying, I felt silly but sad… I was sad for my pockets (formula is expensive as hell) I was sad for myself (I began to blame myself for not being able to breastfeed as long as I intended) but most of all I was sad for Carter, I wanted him to have the advantages of all the other breastfed babies and in my head starting him on formula was taking that away.
After finally getting over the disappointment I tried to look on the bright side—- I poured a glass of wine and got over it. I was still pumping and storing as much milk as I could and switching between formula and breast milk. I didn’t want to admit it but I felt kind of free, exclusively breastfeeding was demanding, switching to formula gave me the opportunity to focus back on myself just a little bit and regain ME. Fast forward to present day, although my breastfeeding stint may not have lasted as long as the next moms, it damn sure looks like it. I call them “flapjacks” But it’s ok… because these flapjacks did just what they were supposed to do. Of course no mommi’s journey is the same and when the time comes for another baby I will be sure to give it my best shot, and I’ll be able to do so bearing in mind some of the bad habits that contributed to my previous journey’s abrupt end .
Thank you so much for reading