I have debated writing this story since Ada was born because breastfeeding is such a touchy subject for parents. There is so much shaming and opinion when it comes to parenting; especially when it comes to breastfeeding. And I am already the type of person that is hard on myself, so I don’t need additional criticism in my life. But then I thought, what if someone out there has had the same experience as me? What if there is a mom out there who needs some encouragement? So hear it goes.
Before Ada was born, I had this idea in my head that breastfeeding Ada was going to be easy. I mean, I knew at first it wouldn’t be; but everyone told me that it would improve in time. You just have to keep working at it. Well, let me tell you, that is not how it worked for me.
Breastfeeding at first was hard; very hard. The first three weeks I felt like I was going crazy. Getting up every hour or two and then having a baby tugging and pulling at my very sore, bleeding nipples was not what I had imagine breastfeeding would be like. Not only did it hurt and make me bleed, but breastfeeding also made me extremely nasuous. I had to keep a bag close at hand every time Ada latched on, just in case.
But I kept at it. At week three, I developed flu like systems and could barely get out of bed. Not to mention, that my breasts were killing me. I am pretty sure I had mastitis, even though a doctor told me I didn’t. At this point, I had to resort to pumping because I couldn’t handle the pain any longer. I was about to quit then and there, but others encouraged me that it would get better. Not to mention, that every medical professional was pressuring me to keep breastfeeding, so that is what I did. I kept working on it.
Things improved a little bit, but not that much. To be honest, at this point, I was just glad that the nausea had mostly dissipated. Ada and I would have good days and bad days when it came to her latching. After six weeks of breastfeeding and still having discomfort, the pediatrician suggested taking Ada to a specialist to see if her tongue tie needed to be cut. When the specialist could not give me a direct yes or no answer, we decided against it. I wasn’t going to cut her tongue tie, just so I would feel comfortable breastfeeding.
I was getting rather discouraged, at this point, because every medical professional I went to was pressuring me to continue breastfeeding. They would rather I cut my daughter’s tongue tie, that may or may not needed to be done, with no guarantee that it would improve her latch. I felt like these doctors and specialists were not helping, but in fact making me feel more stress. I visited lactation consultants, talked to my mom friends, talked to my doctor, and talked to our pediatrician – but breastfeeding never got easy for me.
For me breastfeeding was a cycle. We would have a good week or two, then Ada would start latching badly again and I would have to resort to pumping. More than once when I pumped, I had so much blood in the milk it looked like strawberry quick! It was disgusting and painful. I think now my nipples are just calloused, but still get sore and bleed to this day. Not only did breastfeeding continue to hurt, but it was a constant battle for me to keep producing enough milk. I ate all the homemade lactation cookies, pumped between feedings, and drank the tea. But improving my supply was always something I had to work at.
After nine months of crying, feeling nauseated, bleeding, exhaustion, and feeling more worry then joy – my breastfeeding days are coming to an end. I am grateful that I have been able to stick it out and breastfeed my baby for this long. It is what is best for her, and breastfeeding really did give us sweet moments together. But to be honest, I am relieved that it is almost over. I sometimes feel guilty for feeling this relief, but after nine months of pain and stress, I am ready to move on.
I am not sure if this was a very helpful or insightful post for anyone, but this has been my breastfeeding journey. I have done the best I could for Ada. She was mostly breastfed but I did have to supplement with formula often, especially now. But you know what? Ada is healthy, happy, and she is a wonderful eater. So to you moms out there who are struggling with breastfeeding or to those who cannot, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing a great job and you know what is best for your baby. To all moms, let’s not be so hard on each other and don’t be so quick to judge one another. Instead; listen, encourage, and respect one another as we embark on this wonderful journey of motherhood.