This is another one of those “I know I’m supposed to tell the happy truth, but I’m gonna tell you something else” posts. Well, that is, it doesn’t bother me and I think it’s interesting and informative and, I sincerely hope, reassuring to somebody. I’m posting this because I think that sometime, somebody somewhere will read it and feel better about her own situation.
I thought I was going to go through labor unmedicated and have a vaginal delivery. As you found out, I asked for an epidural at two centimeters (though I didn’t get it till eight) and ended up with a c-section under general anesthesia. Obviously, that part of my plan really didn’t go according to plan.
I also planned on exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) and started doing that in the hospital as soon as I was introduced to Amelia. Her latch was great and I got lots of help in the hospital. Unfortunately, breastfeeding hurt, and Amelia is a sleepy, cuddly baby who would nurse for anywhere from 30 to 75 minutes at a time before deciding she was done. For a newborn who wants to eat every 2-3 hours, that didn’t leave much time for me to do… well anything. I didn’t know it was going to be like that.
In the first three weeks of Amelia’s life, I had nine appointments with the lactation consultants at my hospital. In those three weeks, she barely regained her birth weight by two weeks old, and there were several appointments between which she didn’t gain weight at all. She had at least one growth spurt, that made her alternately nurse and scream all day without a break. Two weeks and two days into the breastfeeding adventure, I broke down and said I didn’t want to do it anymore.
My mom said it was okay. I had tried really hard, and Amelia would do better with something easier for her.
My husband said the same thing.
And so did my lactation consultant. When I said I’d decided to pump and give her the milk from a bottle, and to supplement with formula when needed, my lactation consultant said she was proud of me for making that decision. I had tried really, really hard and needed to be able to enjoy my daughter. Which is exactly how I felt.
Since then I have been pumping, but I have been losing the mojo for it. It’s hard to juggle it with taking care of her during the day. It’s hard to make myself do it in the middle of the night, when she’s sound asleep and I could be, too. I have decided that I will pump when I want to, and when my milk dries up, it dries up.
Then today I woke up with a low fever and a very painful breast. I have mastitis. I’ve been put on a ten-day course of antibiotics to clear it up. Ouch.
So EBF was another thing that just hasn’t gone according to plan. And I need to be okay with that, because Amelia has had some milk, at the most crucial time. It is important for her to have a relaxed and happy mother. I feel it’s important that I not be tied to a machine while she’s unhappy in her bouncy chair. And I am so, so sick of being in pain all the time. I just want my body back. And lots of kids have been raised on formula, and come out strong and smart.
I’m okay with it (almost), and if something similar has happened to you, it’s okay for you to be too. We all start out with best intentions, but if there is one thing parenthood teaches you, it’s that stuff just doesn’t go according to plan. If you’ve tried and decided to give up, I’m proud of you for making that brave choice. More power to you, girlfriend.