I’m less than a day away from calling it on the whole breastfeeding thing, honestly unable to recall why it mattered so much for my son, though I can come up with plenty of reasons I want to continue for myself. This post is a plea for help, perspective, commiseration and advice.
A quick history:
By day three, the kid and I had a pretty good rhythm going. I went so far as to brag about how quickly we could latch given the challenges that come with flat n*pples (dumb, tempting fate like that, I know). It wasn’t fun but it was rewarding in an “only the mama can” kind of way.
Then things started to go downhill on day three, right on schedule: my milk hadn’t come in and dude was hungry! Latching took longer and longer, and Babycakes got more and more frustrated. Despite our jokes about this changing someday, he was not a fan of having a b**b shoved in his mouth when he was trying to express his anger.
By that night, getting him to latch was taking an hour plus.
The next morning we got discharged and he ate for a full hour just prior. With a quiet room and some cheerleading from mama, latching didn’t take an eternity. At home, though, our problems continued. By that night, the whole family was in tears at feeding time – dogs, cats, dads, moms, grandmas. At 1 in the morning, with many tears, I decided we’d give him a bottle.
So we did. Oh, the relief. He was full and happy and we were relieved and happy to get some sleep, more than we’d ever gotten on a breastfeeding schedule. He had another bottle in the middle of the night, we all slept more than an hour at a time, and all was well.
Except it wasn’t, not for me. That was two days ago and every feeding time has been a struggle, either physically when I try to breastfeed or existentially as I mix a bottle. On Monday we saw two lactation consultants, one of whom was really great with a practical pep talk and another who sat and watched us try to feed and then recommended a breast shield. That night he fed a few times with the breast shield and all seemed well.
Now? He won’t latch, even with the breast shield. He cries in frustration, chews on the silicone, writhes in anger and eventually pain as his belly fills with air from the effort of making his hunger known.
And I don’t have the heart to take 30 minutes to get the kid fed. I just don’t. I sit and cry and try to remember why breastfeeding seemed so important, but any reason I come up with pales in comparison to the crying of my child who just wants to be fed.
My reasons for breastfeeding:
- I liked how awesome I felt when I knew we could breastfeed.
- I enjoyed the quiet “mama-only” time with my son.
- Only I am capable of breastfeeding him and it was my huge and unarguable contribution to this parenting partnership.
- I do believe we can’t replicate the systems and functioning of the human body, no matter how hard we try or close we get.
- Theoretically, breast milk is cheaper, more readily available, and more convenient than formula. It’s also tailor-made to the baby’s nutritional needs, I think.
- My body will recover from being pregnant more quickly if I’m breastfeeding.
- The endorphin rush is cool.
BUT. My son goes from happy to hungry in the blink of an eye, a tendency he gets from his parents. When frustrated he won’t latch, I get stressed, and even if he sucks his little heart out, he doesn’t get much payoff. The kid just wants to eat, and who can argue with that? He handles formula well, so although we hear his tummy rumbling as he digests, he’s not uncomfortable. Other than some spitting up – which never happened when breastfed – there don’t seem to be any downsides to giving him formula.
Yesterday was a bad one, filled with dread as mealtimes approached and guilt as I ended up mixing a bottle. My kid is a really great kid, happy and content unless he has a reason not to be. He cries when he’s hungry, soiled, or… well, that’s it. Hungry or a dirty diaper, he communicates his need. The rest of the time he’s awesome.
This morning he wouldn’t latch even with the breast shield. I’d pumped so I gave him that via bottle, but if I don’t quickly recommit to breastfeeding, I’ll lose the ability.
I know the rule of thumb is that it takes six weeks to get breastfeeding established, but how does that work? Do you really spend six weeks dealing with a crying, frustrated baby and emotional, upset mama? Why is breastfeeding so important, again? AND WHY CAN EVERYONE ELSE SEEM TO DO THIS BUT I CAN’T?