Everyone wants you to breast feed. The internet wants you to. Other moms want you to. Hubby wants you to. The hospital really, really wants you to. It’s a constant ringing chorus of reasons (healthy for the baby, healthy for Mom, cheaper than formula). Sometimes, there are so many reasons that it’s hard to believe that they are actually true. It seems like breast feeding is the answer to everything, the fountain of youth, the miracle cure.
So for the first days of LM’s life, my job was solely to feed him. In the hospital there was a rotation of nurses helping me to get him latched on and there was a lactation expert who I didn’t see until my second afternoon there. It seemed like my boobs were always out and there was always someone trying to coax my baby onto them and coax some nourishment out of them. The first time I pumped, the lactation expert was unable to get LM to latch and suggested we try it. I had been trying to breastfeed for an hour. I pumped for 30 minutes and then she suggested we try breastfeeding again. We tried for another 30 minutes. I was tired and sore and frustrated. I was told not to rely on pumping because then he would never go for the boob and when I mentioned that I would be going back to work in two months, the lactation expert looked at me like I was a terrible human being. Early the following morning I pumped again at a nurse’s suggestion after another grueling hour of trying to get him to latch. When the nurses changed shifts I was told that the new nurse “probably wasn’t okay with feeding him what was pumped”. Luckily she did because I was at my wit’s end and began sobbing from exhaustion.
There was one nurse at the hospital who was really good. I liked her so much. She was very understanding and had a sense of humor and was able to get him to latch a couple of times. I appreciated her so much.
But my last morning at the hospital was the end of it. Every time that I got LM to latch, someone would barge into my room and he would pull off. When we got home, he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. We tried and tried. Finally, at night, Hubby ran to the store for a syringe to feed him with. I spent the whole time he was gone sobbing. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t this working? My baby was hungry. He was hungry and his eyes looked bruised and he was crying so pathetically. Our whole relationship up to that point had been fighting. Fighting to get him to latch. Him fighting not to latch. We were both frustrated and unhappy. He took to Hubby in a way he didn’t take to me and I couldn’t help but think that it was because I was always fighting with him. I wasn’t getting to enjoy my baby.
The next day we took LM for his first doctor’s appointment. The doctor, a family doctor we had just started seeing ourselves, assured me that LM was doing okay but seeing that I was barely holding in my tears also assured me that it was fine to pump and bottle feed and that it was fine to go to formula even. On the drive home, Hubby and I talked about it and decided to try pumping and feeding. We sanitized the bottles we had stored away and I got comfortable with where I would pump and I started to read up on when and how long and how much.
It’s not as convenient as being able to just pull out my boob and pop a baby on it but I am not fighting with LM anymore. It takes time and it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world but I know that he is being fed and we are both a lot happier. I get to enjoy my baby now. As I write, he’s propped up in his boppy with a soothing pacifier, freshly fed and changed. I read to him. I cuddle him. I know that we are bonding now in a way that we weren’t bonding before.
This works for us. It may not work for us forever. I may end up switching to formula when I go back to work. Who knows? But I know that we have to do what is best for us and I know that there is nothing wrong with me because I couldn’t breast feed. There is no deprivation here.