This pic represented my usual night time routine with my firstborn. She would have 4 bottles between 10pm and 6am. It was exhausting. But it saved my sanity and helped me stop resenting my child. Here’s why:
I was so determined to exclusively breastfeed when I was pregnant with A. I think back and want to cringe at how naïve I was. Formula wasn’t even on my radar. We got Dr Browns bottles as gifts that I was going to use to store breastmilk so that my husband could feed the baby too. I knew from research that it would be difficult at first but hey, how hard could this natural biological function be right? Ha! Really fucking hard!!!!!! That’s how hard!
It all started well with baby latching on nicely after my c-section and having a good feed or two before she was taken back to the nursery in the evening. J left at about 9pm and I fell asleep only to be woken by a nurse 30min later to say that baby needed a feed. I was exhausted and still numb with a catheter keeping me immobile. I was given this 6 hour old baby to feed then the nurse left after changing my drip. I felt high on happy hormones so I whipped out a boob and started to feed her. But she just cried. So I changed my hold. Still crying. So I swopped sides. Still crying. I was starting to panic. Then the room started to spin. The nurse had given me more pain meds in my drip without knowing that it made me nauseous. I reached for the call button only to have it slip out of reach. I was terrified of throwing up while holding this delicate howling baby so I screamed for a nurse. Luckily one came quickly and injected something into the drip that stopped the dizziness but I still felt sick to my stomach. I had to ask her to take the baby away because I was scared I would drop her. 20min later she was back with my hungry child. It was a terrible first night as a new mum. Baby eventually fell asleep, probably from exhaustion as opposed to a full tummy. I didn’t sleep a wink and my confidence was crumbling.
Day 2 was pretty much the same until one nurse took pity and asked if I wanted to give baby some formula. I said yes immediately because in my mind this child was starving. 20ml of Similac and one burp later and A was fast asleep. Needless to say we bought a tin to take home (just in case) until my milk came in.
I’m not sure if my tolerance was lower because of dealing with a major op as well as a newborn but I hated breastfeeding by day 5. I couldn’t stand the constant and prolonged feeding. I didn’t like having my boobs out for the world to see (just my husband and mum). I was frustrated that baby kept falling asleep while drinking so never had a full feed then woke up hungry again. I hated the leaking and the uncontrolled spraying of the milk letting down. I didn’t like the constant touching of this tiny, needy being who wouldn’t stop crying which made me cry even more.
I started pumping to get some personal space which helped but I couldn’t keep up. It was exhausting. I was miserable and not feeling that bond that a mother is supposed to feel with her child. I regretted even having a baby and upsetting the good life we had going. I wonder now if I wasn’t depressed. I only lasted one and a half months of exclusive breastfeeding before calling it quits. My husband was my rock through all this. I felt as if I was drowning and he was the only thing keeping me sane. I felt like such a failure when I stopped breastfeeding even though I hated it with a passion.
Then I started actually ‘seeing’ my child. I looked in her eyes as I fed her the bottle. I held her little hand as she sucked away contentedly. I started enjoying being with her. Her crying didn’t feel like a recrimination of my inadequacy but more an alert to a need. I started to love her.
I’m determined to breastfeed this new baby but now I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. I know what is in store so I’m trying to be as prepared as I can be. I am getting an electric pump, a breastfeeding pillow, milk freezer bags, a bottle warmer, nursing bras and a comfy chair. All things I didn’t think I would need the first time around. Now I’m not taking any chances. I’m also not going to beat myself up if we supplement with formula to make sure she’s full. It’s the biggest hurdle for me baby wise and the only thing I’m actually scared off. But I’m older and wiser now. I think I can do it. I hope I can.