Breastfeeding: To the mom who couldn’t
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that people have judged you before they even knew you. I’m sorry that you have had to hear the spiel from every doctor, nurse, and friend that “breast is best!” You know this. You wish you could have had this special bond with your child, but you couldn’t.
Maybe your baby was born prematurely, and your milk didn’t come in. You tried. You pumped. You couldn’t nurse because your fragile infant was just too small to even hold. The pump wasn’t enough to do the job. The stress from having your baby too soon didn’t help, either. Your baby was fed someone else’s milk, and you felt so guilty. In your head you’re telling yourself that you’re a terrible mother. “How could I not produce the one thing my baby needs from me? What is wrong with me?”
Or maybe your milk did come in, but it wasn’t enough. You tried every herb, supplement, and old wives’ tale you could find. You ate oatmeal every morning, you took fenugreek 4 times a day. You drank a disgusting tea. You nursed, and then pumped. You engulfed your whole life trying to create a supply for your precious baby. It consumed you. You were both so tired. Your baby didn’t get the attention she needed because you were so infatuated with breastfeeding. Your marriage suffered. You felt like such a failure.
Or maybe you adopted a beautiful child from someone who was unable to care for him. You couldn’t have children yourself, so you have waited years for this moment. Of course you can’t breastfeed. But you are still his momma and he is so lucky to have you!
Or maybe, you’re like me. Your milk came in. You tried to nurse for weeks, but the pain never subsided. You and your baby we’re both diagnosed with thrush. You switched to the pump, tripling the time it would take to feed your child. You battled with this for 2 months, until it was finally cleared. Thank goodness! Except, when you tried to go back to breastfeeding, your baby was not having it. Finally, you were both comfortable, at least. Then, you get sick. Mastitis takes over, and the meds require you to “pump and dump” for days, depleting the supply in the freezer that you worked SO hard to acquire. You were tired. You were ready to give up.
I hope that you know you are not alone. Your child will take formula for a little over a year, maybe. Then, they will be eating the same thing as everyone else. (Honestly, it’s no one’s business but your own what your child is being fed!) You have fought hard, and should have no guilt. You are no less of a mother.
We are all mothers. We all do what we have to do for our children. Don’t judge, don’t assume, don’t ridicule what you don’t know about someone.
You are not alone.