Disclaimer: this is probably going to be a bit controversial and may ruffle some feathers but to be honest, this is my blog and this was my experience, so read this with an open mind. Also as this is about breastfeeding, prepare yourself with a lot of TMI stuff!!!
This post is to continue with the series I started called “Wish I knew this…”.
I`m not sure how many post I will do in these series yet so we`ll just have to see.
Let`s start then!
I think, one thing that I have learned by now is not to expect anything from yourself before doing anything new, because these expectations might lead to disappointment.
In my case, once again, it was something to do with becoming a mum.
Ever since I can remember, the main thing I heard about becoming a mother was breastfeeding.
You know, breast is best and all that stuff.
So automatically I decided that I would breastfeed my children until they are about a year old, because, you know, I just want what`s best for my child, and all I ever knew, was breastfeeding is the only way forward.
Even when I got pregnant and it came closer to actually give birth, I was so excited to breastfeed my baby girl and give her all the best.
As one of our baby shower gifts, I got a breast pump, a good one as well, so I thought I`ll try stimulate my nipples to get used to the sensation as I had heard that you should do this.
And while I was preparing myself, I actually started to get quite a bit of colostrum (liquid that you produce, before your actual milk comes in).
I was really pleased with myself and even thought, that I am a natural at this, everything is going to go so smooth.
I was so, so wrong!
It went really, really well at the beginning.
As soon as Cece was born, she latched on and had some milk.
Then all the while we were at the hospital, which wasn`t that long, she was latching on really well, feeding really well, I thought this would be a piece of cake.
Then we got home.
For some reason, she was finding it harder to latch on.
When we got the midwives and health visitors to help it would be fine while these people were here but as soon as they left, she started having problems again.
Cece is also a very hungry baby, so while she was feeding on one boob, I was pumping the other, then switching and finally finish her off with the pumped milk which she just downed so quick.
Understandably, I was starting to get really upset.
As first time parents, maybe even if this would have been our second or third, it was frustrating.
It totally did not help that whenever she cried, I would be the only one who could help as I am the milk machine.
My husband felt useless at times and guilty as well, as he could not do anything to help.
Also, very TMI, but I got really bad piles and if you have ever had them, you know that sitting is quite difficult.
So imagine, you have been woken up by the third time in the night, you can barely sit because of a grape sizes blood vessel sticking out of your bum, then you need to make your baby latch and find a comfortable position to feed your baby, as well as try and keep yourself awake.
I got cracked nipples, I got bloody nipples, I got sore boobs, the works.
After a couple of days of feeling so down about this, our health visitor suggested I take a little break, see what happens, still pump but give formula as a top up.
It was great, my husband felt like he could do more to help and we decided to take nights in shifts(WORST IDEA EVER).
So how this worked was, one of us would stay up later with our baby while the other one got an early night, so then they can get up early and let the other one sleep in.
In theory, it sounded really good, but how it actually was: you are on your own, trying not to fall asleep, keep the baby happy, so you don`t disturb your partner.
It still doesn`t sound that bad, but it did really take a toll on us as we work so much better together, as a team.
Going back to what our health visitor suggested, we tried that for a couple of days and I started to feel better and my milk supply increased( or so we thought), so I decided to give breastfeeding another go.
This time I was going in with an open mind, trying different positions so it wouldn`t hurt, still pumped my milk as well and thought, everyone says once you get over your first month you`ll be fine, and I mean, if so many women are doing this, I can as well, right?
Cece is a very hungry baby, so after breastfeeding her and giving her pumped milk, she was still hungry and needed a formula top up.
It was like, what is the point of going through all of this pain if she still is not getting enough from me.
I felt like a failure, what was wrong with my body???
Well, um, I had just given birth after growing a baby inside of me for 9 months?
Long story short, I was tired, my body was tired and you could tell.
Again, after a few days of going through tears and pain, it was my time to be on the night shift and that night Cece was feeling especially hungry.
I remember, sitting on the sofa, it must have been around 2 in the morning, feeding her on one boob, expressing from the other, then switching, she would fall asleep, I would continue to pump as much as I could, then she would wake up not even an hour later, I would give her the expressed milk, she would want more and as I breastfed her for the last time, I was sobbing over her as I was in so much pain but also because I felt like a horrible mother.
That is when I started thinking of permanently stopping with breastfeeding.
I made Cece a bottle of formula, she gulped it down, then around 4 AM, we both went upstairs to bed, I put her in the moses basket, crawled into bed and sobbed in my husband arms as I told him about what I was thinking about.
I told him that I feel like a failure, like I am a horrible mother, I shouldn`t even be one if I can`t feed my child, I apologised so many times to him, that I am not giving our child what she needs.
The only thing my husband said is that if it wasn`t for me he would never have such a beautiful baby, he wouldn`t have the family that he always wanted.
He also reminded me that I need to think about me as well.
Happy mummy=happy baby.
If I`m not taking care of myself, mind, body and soul, then how would I take care of our baby?
I am as important as Cece and as long as she is fed, she is going to be fine.
It was hard.
Hearing how loving my husband is, but also fighting with myself, because I could not agree with anything that he had said.
That morning, as I slept in, my husband fed our baby girl formula multiple times, she was as happy as they come and he felt good, that he can bond with his baby on another level.
I woke up, puffy faced from all of the crying, covered in milk and with very sore boobs.
As I made my way downstairs I still didn`t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that something had to change, because I had come to not even wanting to hold my baby, because I knew that it meant feeding time.
Me and my husband, we talked for hours and came to the point that it would be better if I stopped breastfeeding.
But how? I am not going to be a mother then.
I was given this milk for a reason and I should try and try until I have enough milk to feed my baby what she needs.
This moment was one of the few, when I actually listened to my husband and went with what he had said.
After we had decided this, I started the very painful process or drying out my milk.
Which basically meant that my breast would swell up even more, went hard, felt like they were burning because of all of the milk “stuck” inside.
I would put cabbage leaves in my bra, to cool my breast down and also get the milk out, I would take baths to let the milk flow out.
It was hard and painful not only physically but also mentally as this meant, giving up on breastfeeding.
I felt horrible and ashamed.
But then one day, while I was sitting in my cabbage bra, we had a visit from a midwife and as soon as she saw me, she knew what I was doing and WAS SO SUPPORTIVE!
All the while I was feeling like people would judge me for not breastfeeding, for being selfish and not trying harder.
This woman, not knowing, started to help me heal.
After that, I stared reading more about non-successful breastfeeding stories like mine, I started talking to friends and family and I was surprised how many of my fellow mums either chose not to breastfeed from the very beginning or stopped after a little bit.
It did make me feel so much better.
Something that helped as well, was seeing my baby daughter thriving and being so happy.
She is a healthy, happy, chunky, clever little girl, who still amazes me everyday.
In the end I know that I made the right choice and I wish I could tell you that I don`t regret not trying harder, but I can`t, because not a day goes by without me doubting myself. But I am trying and I know it will get better.
So for all the non breastfeeding mums out there, listen to your body and listen to yourself, because only you know what is the best for you and your family.