Breastfeeding was probably one of the hardest things I did the first year of my son’s life. I never once gave breastfeeding a thought until I was pregnant. I didn’t seem to see people breastfeeding, nor bottle feeding, or pumping; anywhere. So, when I became pregnant everyone began asking, “You’re going to breastfeed?” That’s when I started putting the pressure on myself… to be a breastfeeding rock star.
When my chunky dunk boy (9 lbs. 5 oz.) arrived it seemed he was instantly starving. I don’t remember breastfeeding at all until maybe the 2nd day in the hospital, I’m sure I did I just don’t remember. All I DO remember was the anxiety beginning. The pressure I felt at the hospital after I saw the lactation consultant was that it had to be perfect, I had to do this to make sure my baby was healthy and happy.
I brought home my baby and breastfed around the clock. My little guy had bad silent reflux and so would eat often, literally all the time. When he wasn’t eating he was screaming. It was hard and so tiring. I struggled to get a good latch and after some suggestion went to the lactation consultant at St. Luke’s. That just made me feel worse. I thought I was doing everything right and I had this amazing life flow of breastmilk and I still had a refluxing baby who was never satisfied. There were many tears shed on my baby wondering was this the right thing to do. Finally Samuel was put on medicine for his reflux so his constant eating slowed down. Right around this time I returned to work, pump in hand.
The plan was to pump every few hours. Well, as we all know that never works out. I was devastated my milk was starting to wane and my bub was going to have to start formula. I felt embarrassed. My breasts were engorged and would get clogged ducts when I didn’t get to the pump or baby fast enough. Sam was born in September and by March I probably should have been done. I was producing so little, sending maybe one 4-5 oz bag to the sitter each day or every other day.
During this time as well, Sam was waking up every 45 minutes and sleeping in and out of our bed and his bed. It was just a hot, hot mess. After talking with my husband, we decided to begin sleep training Samuel with the guidance of St. Luke’s Pediatric Sleep Center. I was told I needed to decide if I was going to breast feed or bottle feed. After more tears I decided it was time to stop. I tried, I worked hard, and together me and my little guy put in a good fight. We ended our breastfeeding journey at 8 months, (May 2018) and started the bottle and never looked back.
When I look back now, I think it didn’t matter how I fed my baby, I just fed him. I think Breastfeeding Awareness Month is magical, and hooray for moms who want to breastfeed or can, but we as a society should remember that we are lucky and blessed to be able to offer a formula bottle with clean water in it to our babies. Let’s not judge or tear down other mamas over their various journeys. The questions can be hurtful to a mother who is trying her best to feed her baby the best way she can. Our babies need to eat, let’s feed them.
You do what’s best for you, mama!