Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In which I talk about my

Breasts....Well Breastfeeding anyway, or my body's unwillingness to, or my baby's unwillingness to, or any combination thereof.  It Sucks that is all I can really say to sum up my breastfeeding expereiences with both Abby and Jackson.

Abby's experience was tainted from the start, between being unable to even begin breastfeeding till she was almost a week old, the fast flow bottles in the NICU because she was so sick and they just needed to get nourishment in her after her feeding tube was removed, and my extremely fast let down which nearly choked her, we were all but doomed.  I gave it the old college try though and I spent days and nights crying because she wouldn't latch or crying because my baby was screaming because she was so hungry, and then feeling like a failure because this is all so natural it should just work right?!?...WRONG! so in an effort to continue to do what was best for my baby I pumped for seven LONG Months. 

It was a prison sentence of sorts, 8 times a day 20 minutes at a time, constantly worrying about whether I was producing enough, toting my pump to and from work, making sure I made enough time in my work day to pump, racing home everyday to pump before my boobs felt like they would explode ad not running to kiss my baby the second I walked through the door, but rather stripping down to my nursing bra to relieve the pressure of my rather engorged chest.  7 months of planning our days around when I needed to pump, making sure we were back in time from wherever we were going so I could make sure I pumped enough times so my supply didn't dip.  7 months of Pumpng in the car...yes the CAR! on our way to events, on our way home from events, to the park, to the lakehouse, all in the name of what was best for my child.  At about 7 months my body begin to tell me that it was done so I weaned from the pump and we gave Abby formula once my freezer stock ran out. 

What I failed to realize at the time was that what was best for Abby may not have been what was best for our family, I resented pumping, don't get me wrong I did it because I wanted to give Abby everything I could to give her the best start in life and to me that meant breastmilk, pumped or otherwise, and when otherwise, ie. Nursing didn't work I strapped on my milking machine and became Bessie.  It was so mechanical, so cold, yet I pumped on and knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, my goal was one year or when my body quit.  Sadly, I didn't realize how much it was a hinderance to our life until I was done, I was so much happier without constantly having to plan our lives round that blasted machine.

When I found I was pregnant with Jackson I vowed that I would only pump when I was away from him, I googled, I read books, I did everyhing I thought I needed to do in order to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience for both me and my baby.

He was born and I told the nurses that it was of the utmost importance to me to be able to breastfeed right away, I read that would help, so I did, and he latched right on, perfectly might I add, and the thundercloud over my breastfeeding days lifted...or so I thought, at about 2 days old he got very jaundiced and was unable to latch because he was so tired so I pumped and we gave him bottles,but I made sure they were the slowest flow, most natural bottle we could find.  Then he got thrush, and when a baby gets thrush usually so does mommy, we tried to treat it for weeks but it wouldn't go away, all the while I was nursing though, through cracks and bleeds, crying while he would latch on, even with a nipple shield the pain was right up there with labor.  So I started pumping again, and the prison sentence began again, I pumped to see if I could get my thrush to clear up and was hoping it would help his clear up as well.  Oh was I wrong, I remember pumping one night not really paying attention to what I was doing and looking over and seeing this horrified look on Donnies' face, I looked down and my left side bottle as full of BLOOD.  I can handle a lot and I have seen a lot but when you see blood spurting from your nipple...well nothing can ever prepare you for that!  I got the bleeding to stop and called the doctor, who couldn't see me till Monday.  On Saturday I developed a high fevr and the shakes, I thought I was getting the flu till I got in the shower and noticed a large mass in my breast with red streaking all around it...Mastitis.  I massaged and iced and massged and iced, took tylenol, hot baths, anything I could to get rid of the horrible abcess that was forming.  I finally got into the Doctor and I was diagnosed with a resistant case of thrush that had turned into staph, and entered my breast tissue.  About 3 days later I was feeling better but my supply had dipped so low I was barely getting anything out while pumping, and since I had to dump anyway, I decided that it was time to wean. 

No without guilt though, I had guilt because Jackson was colicky, I had guilt because he had thrush, and the list goes on and on, I blamed myself for everything, and when the time came to wean, I was in hysterics.  I felt horrible, I only was able to give him Breastmilk for 4 months, what kind of mom was I if didn't keep going, what kind of mom was I if I didn't give my second born all the benefits that I had given Abby by pumping for seven months. 

Then I took a step back and looked at what type of mom all of this was causing me to be, I was losing time with my toddler by constantly having to pump, I was crying all the time, because of the pain, the guilt, the frustration, and the list goes on and on.  I finally said to myself what kind of Mom am I now, I am certainly not at my best, I am certainly not enjoying my children and all in the name of "Breast is best"...so I came to my own conclusion, that statement does not apply to all women, and it for damn sure did not apply to me.

Now if and when Donnie and I decide to have a third baby, I will give breast feeding the old college try again, and if it goes well I will continue to do it, because I truly do feel that in the right situations it can be the most amazing gift you can give your child, well other than life that is.  I have not yet had that expereince and I would love to, in fact I crave to have a great breastfeeding experience, but if it isn't in the cards then so be it, and I will stop, and know that I am doing what is best for my family and children by being the best mom I can be for them. A mom that is attentive and playful, a mom that is more worried about when they get to the park then when they need to leave so I can stop the throbbing in my chest.

All in all I think Breastfeeding is a beautiful and amazing experience, and while I have not had one such case yet, I am hopeful that I will someday, but if I don't get that I know my babies will be ok, they are far better off with a happy mommy than one who is all consumed with how I will feed them.  So to the ladies at Target who needed to make it a point to loudly talk over and over again about how their daughters breastfeed ALL of their Children until were 2, all while staring me down as I fed my baby the apparent "poison" that was in his bottle, please kindly step off and judge someone else, especially when you have no clue what I have been through.

1 comment:

Laura @ The Things I Said I'd Never Do said...

Oh Christie you are so not alone in your experience. I spent so many hours crying hysterically because breastfeeding didn't work. I was constantly anxious about the next feeding, not pumping much, making sure I ate foods that didn't make Max fussy, ect, ect. Finally when I went back to work I realized I couldn't take it any more and starting strictly formula feeding. While I felt overwhelmingly guilty, I also felt a deep sense of relief. I also learned that dozens of my friends and family had near identical experiences. You are not alone and you are totally supported.

Jackson and Abby need a happy, sane mother more than they ever needed breastmilk.

I wish you peace and hope that when it's time for the next baby, you find what works best for your entire family.

And those mom's in Target? They can suck it.