Here I stand just three days postpartum, enjoying the sight of my full, perky, 20-something year old looking breast! HOLY SMOKES!!!! I’ve NEVER had breast this full and firm, not even when I was in my 20’s… *sigh*
Finally!!!! At 35, I have them, move over you 20-something, perky breast, women, I’m coming for you! Ha! Not really! Engorged breasts, are the gift and the curse that nature has graced some women’s bodies with after delivery. It’s amazing what the human body can do, especially that of a woman. (Scientist have said that the pain of a woman giving birth is compared to that of breaking 20 bones at one time) … YIKES!
*Sorry I went for a walk on the wild side*
Not only am I excited because at the present moment, my breast are what I had prayed and wished for at the onset of puberty and all throughout my twenties but it never happened, (I guess God had other plans), but I’m excited because I get to breastfeed my newborn. There’s a bit of history as to why I am excited, you see 10 years ago, I had my first daughter and I so badly wanted to breastfeed. However, my odds were against me for several reasons 1) my daughter wouldn’t latch, 2) I for some reason pumped, pumped, and pumped some more and my milk just would not letdown 3)I wasn’t as informed then as I am now (10 years later) about the benefits of breastfeeding; with the odds being against me, I began to get depressed and started to feel like half of a woman, and most certainly less than a mother because I couldn’t provide nutrients to my daughter, the way mother nature intended for me to.
Now, I know some of you mamas may say why didn’t I try supplements, etc. I had no idea about any of them and God knows, I had no idea what a lactation consultant was, nor can I remember if I was even told about one. I mean that was a decade ago, so much has changed! Thank the powers that be for change. Once depression set in, it took MAJOR work and PRAYER for me to dig myself out of that slump.
Fast forward 10 years later and I get to give breastfeeding a try!! How exciting is that, what once seemed like failure in the motherhood department, had found me 10 years later to offer me another chance! Even though I was graced with another chance, that part of me from a decade ago that was wounded by the failed act of breastfeeding had begun to creep to the forefront of my mind.
Looking at my newborn baby, I am now scared, excited, nervous, and driving myself nuts trying to answer all the “what-ifs” that are running through my mind (something I do quite often). “What if my milk doesn’t letdown?” “What if she doesn’t latch, like her sister?” “What if I am engorged and nothing happens?”
OH WELL! Give it a try, I say as I pump myself up, to do what I had been longing to do approximately 10 years ago. As I prepare to nurse my daughter, a familiar passage of scripture runs through my mind, The Lord’s Supper, where Jesus tells the disciples “Take eat, this is my body….” I look at her and I say a “spin-off” version of that passage of scripture to her: “Take, eat, this is my body…….which is for you my daughter!” Now, I don’t mean this in the literally sense, SHEESH! I mean for her to take and eat what my body has created for her for nourishment, so save yourself, there’s no cannibalism going on here; just a mother trying to nurse her child!
To my surprise she latches, I am so totally amazed what little people who have never been here before are capable of knowing and doing. Once she latches I become overjoyed at the fact she is doing what I never thought would be possible.
That was short lived, later that evening, I fell sick with the stomach flu. I began vomiting out of nowhere, how on earth did that just happen? I literally had just been discharged from the hospital a few hours ago! This began a seven day stretch of me not being able to eat, drink, walk, or get out of bed (I was that weak). I had become physically exhausted, confined to my bed unable to care for either one of my children for seven days, and dehydrated (all of us mothers know the number one rule to breastfeeding is to stay hydrated).
I began to slip back into those feelings of depression, worry, doubt, uncertainty, that I had 10 years ago when I was unable to breastfeed her sister. Some moms may say oh no big deal, just formula feed and I agree with you. However, I wanted to at least be able to do something that our bodies are naturally designed to do, for at least one of my babies.
It had been seven days, “SEVEN whole days” (in Toni Braxton’s voice) ……….since I have been able to keep any fluids or solids down. I get up to eat (applesauce) and drink fluids, I try to hold my baby, and I find that I have a little strength. Now, for the hard part, I go to nurse and Kennedi won’t latch. *bummer* I begin to panic and worry that my worst nightmare has come true, so I decide to pump to see if anything comes out. NOPE! NADA! Dry as a desert!
I stand in front of my mirror and I began to slip back to the mental state I was in 10 years ago when I was unsuccessful at nursing. I began to get down on myself. I criticize the way my once engorged breast now look; like saggy deflated water balloons. I can now look back on this day (which wasn’t that long ago) and laugh about it. I gather up what is left of my emotions and I begin to prepare a bottle with formula in it to give to my newborn.
As I place the bottle in her mouth I say: “Take, eat, this is my body, which is now broken for you” and I sob uncontrollably. In the midst of my sobbing, I am reminded of a conversation that I had with another mother whose baby wouldn’t latch and she too wasn’t as successful as she hoped to be at breastfeeding. In the midst of our conversation she encouraged me just by sharing her story, this helped me to realize that it is not the end of the world, there are other solutions to this problem I was having. I could pump and feed her via a bottle, only problem is my milk dried up. 88% of breast milk is comprised of water (that is why your fluid intake is so important when nursing), and for seven days, I was unable to intake fluids mixed with her not latching, equals empty breast.
Now, that I have gotten myself together, both mentally and physically, I hope to offer some words of comfort and advice to other moms who are struggling. To nurse, or not to nurse? Either way, it is not the end all be all.
If you find yourself unable to breastfeed mama, you my friend are not less than. You are not half of a woman, you are WHOLE in all of your being. You are the BEST MOTHER ever. Don’t let the public, friends, family, or foes, mom shame you for not being able to breastfeed. HECK! for those who can breastfeed, don’t allow anyone to mom shame you either.
I know that it’s said “Breast is best”, however in this case FED is best! As long as both you and your baby are healthy and nourished, the method in how they are fed: breast, bottle, or formula doesn’t matter.
Healthy baby + Healthy mom= A JOB WELL DONE!
As I close, I want to know, how do you remind yourself of your value? What mantra do you have? Encourage yourself ladies, as well as others! Lastly, what you haven’t read here are: the countless conversations I had with other breastfeeding moms, number of times I cried and prayed, the number of times I discouraged and encouraged my own-self, or the amount of money I spent on supplements to help my milk supply come in (some helped but others didn’t). After reading that you probably wonder why I went with solely formula feeding? Here’s why! I know what it takes for me to be in a great place mentally and to keep trying to breastfeed or pump, only to produce 1 oz. at a time, was torture to me. I couldn’t keep torturing myself, because society says we should breastfeed. I had to make a choice that was best for both my newborn and myself. If I am not healthy and whole, I can not pour out love and all that she needs to thrive from an empty vessel. Thus my choice to formula feed, she’s healthy and happy (take a look at my gallery and you will see).
♥ Girl Mom ♥