My blog started as a way to get out everything I was feeling after the miscarriage, and it definitely did that but I never wanted that to be the only thing I ever talked about. Life is a journey and while that was a huge part of my journey, there are so many other parts. Obviously my struggle with my weight is another big part of my journey and honestly that was more difficult to talk about than anything else….especially posting those pictures! But if I want to be honest and share every part of my journey, I have to post the good, the bad and the ugly….those ‘before’ pictures definitely fall into the latter category! My goal is to do monthly updates on my weight loss journey so stay tuned for that. This post however is going to be about the issues I had after the birth of my son.
I remember a lot of people asking me about my birth plan when I was pregnant…what plan? I plan on getting an epidural because I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else but beyond that, what kind of plan am I supposed to have? My doctor never talked to me about a plan, although my doctor did not really talk to me about much of anything at all which is probably why I didn’t have a plan. It definitely was not part of my plan to never progress past one and a wiggle…..what is a wiggle anyway?!
While my birth plan was unclear, one thing I was sure of was how I was going to feed my baby. Of course I was going to breastfeed, it is what is best for my baby then it is what I will do! No question! Everyone I knew had breastfed their children without issue so I never considered the possibility that I would not be able to do it too. During my pregnancy, while my belly (and most of the rest of my body got bigger) my breasts never changed. In the back of my mind I thought that might be a problem but like I said, my doctor was not the best communicator and I had never heard of anyone else not being able to breastfeed so I just pushed all those negative thoughts out of my head. Turns out, maybe I should have looked into that a little more.
When the nurses asked if I would like the lactation specialist, the answer was obvious. I obviously was not an expert and would welcome the help. When she came in, the first thing she said to me was, “well I have certainly seen women with breasts that small still be successful with nursing.” Thanks lady, that just has me brimming with confidence. But I listened to everything she said, I tried all the different ways of holding him until we found one that seemed to work. And then I turned into a human pacifier. It seemed like he wanted to nurse constantly…it was never enough but he was close to 10lbs, I figured that was normal for a baby his size.
By what I can only assume is divine intervention, the pediatrician we picked for him was also a lactation consultant. I took him in for his first visit and he had dropped weight, a lot of weight, he was not getting enough to eat and I felt like a failure. I had one job…one job…feeding my child, and I could not do it. My body had failed me and as a result, I had failed him. Every free second I had after I found out I was not producing enough milk for him, was spent researching ways to increase my supply. My wonderful, supportive friend made me special lactation cookies, I was taking fenugreek tablets religiously, I was power pumping, I even tried drinking beer and I cannot stand the taste of beer….I tried everything I could find that had worked for someone else and still it was not enough. And to make matters worse, he refused to take a bottle of formula from me because he could smell my breastmilk and wanted that but it was never enough….those days often ended with both of us in tears until my husband walked through the door and could take over bottle duty. I was a wreck! And a failure! And I felt alone because no one I knew that had a baby ever said anything about it being hard to breastfeed or not producing enough milk.
As if I was not already making myself feel bad enough for being such a failure, then came the comments from others. People were very quick to give their opinion on my giving my son a bottle with formula in it….with their reaction, you would have thought I said there was poison in the bottle. And while I expect to hear opinions on my parenting from friends and family, not always opinions I want but will get nonetheless, it was the strangers that felt bold enough to say something that really got to me. I was sitting in the expo center at the Wisconsin State Fair when my son was about 3 months old about to give him his bottle full of formula. A woman, a stranger, walked up to me and said, “I certainly hope there is breastmilk in that bottle!” I sat there in stunned silence unable to come up with a quick retort and once again feeling all the shame….
From all of that, this is what I learned…my child is just as smart (if not smarter in my very biased opinion) than the kids that only got breastmilk. Turns out his brain developed just fine getting mostly formula. While I am sure I missed out on some of the natural bonding that happens, he still tells me I am his best friend forever and even more (thank you Doc McStuffins) so we managed to bond anyway. And I also learned, after I started talking about my own issues with it, turns out a lot of people have issues with breastfeeding and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make me any less of an awesome Mom.