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Archive for August, 2010

Those of you whom I’ve chatted with over the course of the past three months will not be surprised in the least by the subject of this new post – my trials and tribulations with breastfeeding.  I’m hoping I’m not the only woman out there who was very taken aback by how challenging breastfeeding was.  After all, wasn’t it always implied that this was a very natural and instinctual process?  Wouldn’t you just know how to do so?  Wasn’t there supposed to be this magical moment right after delivery where the baby would be put onto your chest and he/she would suckle just like that? 

Well, it turns out that none of the above actually worked for me.  Clearly, the process has not been very natural or instinctual.  I definitely didn’t know how to properly do so and there wasn’t a magical moment right after delivery where Julian was put onto my chest for feeding.  For some reason, unbeknownst to me now, he didn’t nurse until a couple hours after delivery.  Maybe this has something to do with the disconnect between Julian and I, but I’m guessing there’s a lot more to it than that.  

Nevertheless my challenge with breastfeeding started right at the hospital.  Either Julian or I or both of us didn’t really have the breastfeeding thing down pat to begin with.  Nurse after nurse would instruct me how to properly latch and nurse him.  Wouldn’t you know that each nurse would recommend a different hold or a different way to latch Julian?  Soon after it was discovered that Julian developed jaundice, so he would need to be supplemented, and out came the lactation aid and formula.  Now, for anyone who’s familiar with the friendly lactation aid, you would know that this poses even more of a challenge for someone who’s having a difficult time breastfeeding, because the baby needs to be properly latched in order for the lactation aid to work well.  Somewhere along the line, I was encouraged to fingerfeed Julian as well, but no matter what, he always seemed fussy at the breast.  Perhaps he wasn’t been fed quickly enough, or he wasn’t getting enough.  I didn’t know which.  In any event, we somehow made it through those first couple of days and I was much more comfortable with the latch.  The doctor and nurse gave us the okay to leave and we made our way home.  I foolishly thought that I was now prepared for the breastfeeding road ahead. 

Hours later, something strange began to happen in my breasts.  They were sore and heavy.  Little did I know that my milk was starting to come in.  They became so engorged and Julian wasn’t emptying them well enough or fast enough that I could no longer get him latched.  Here we go again, I thought.  

Fast forward to today; I eventually got over my engorgement and re-learned how to latch Julian and was able to toss out the lactation aid (and the nipple cream).   Lo and behold though, I have now begun having a lot of difficulty with keeping him at the breast.  He seems to latch just fine but soon after begins to howl as though he is being harmed in some way.  So I try him at the other breast and the process simple repeats.  Latch, suck, swallow, suck, swallow, and scream bloody murder.  

What to do now? Yes, I’ve consulted the oracles of the Net.  Many have their assessments to share.  He may be displeased about flow changes.  He may be going through a growth spurt.  It may simply be a phase, etc. etc.  Till now I have been clinging to my one hope – the fact that Julian was nursing really well through the night.  (I couldn’t say the same about the daytime, but at least we had that one amazing feed at 3 or 4 in the morning.)  Now that that seems to be hanging in the balance as well, I don’t have anything else to keep me going.  

Ultimately, it feels as though I have failed at being a mom.  Yes, I know many amazing mothers (even my own), who haven’t breasted fed their children, and haven’t been less of a mother for not having breast fed their children.  But why must I feel so inadequate because I can’t do so?  Why do I feel this inherent pressure to carry on trying and in turn making myself feel worse and worse?  Is it simply thanks to the fairytales I’ve come to believe?  Or is it thanks to the many women I’ve heard who’ve said just how simple it’s been for them?  Maybe it’s thanks to the woman I bumped into at the breastfeeding clinic (where I went not once, not twice, but three times) who told me to stick with it because it’s been so wonderful for her and she even continues to this day to nurse her FOUR-year old in the morning and at night.  (I know you must be wondering how that even works.  She informed me that he hops up onto her lap in the morning and before bed…….)  Is it thanks to the many voices (my husband’s included) who boast about how breastmilk is the best for babies (fill-in-blanks with: and anything else just won’t be good enough)? Or is it thanks to my own need to prove that I can learn to do this, despite the other nagging voice in my head saying, well, if you haven’t got it down yet, what makes you think you still can? 

Where do I go from here?  Do I keep trudging along in the hopes that I’ll get it…finally?  (While I continue to beat myself up emotionally…) Or do I give up and just try and deal with the guilt of not being a good enough mother for Julian? 

Who knows….but thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next episode entitled “Breastfeeding, U.F.O.s and How Do They Get the Caramilk in the Caramilk Bar”.

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