Accepting Breastfeeding Failure
“…despite the fact that I loved breastfeeding and found it a magically bonding and spiritual time, my milk slowly dwindled against my will. Finally, four months, a bottle of fenugreek pills, and two boxes of nursing tea into it, I sat on the floor one night crying with a breast pump attached on high speed, full suction (which, for those who haven’t felt it, is like a Hoover vac on crack) for forty-five minutes until, sore boobed and sobbing, I looked down to the empty bottles and proclaimed the battle was over and I had sadly lost.” Kelle Hampton, Bloom
The battle. The battle. That’s what my breastfeeding experience has been. A war. World War III. I fought a bad latch. I fought through bleeding nipples. I fought through horrifying nipple shields full of blood. I fought through a lip tie discovery. I fought through Evelyn losing over a pound. I fought through supply issues. I swallowed an entire bottle of fenugreek. I fought through painful feedings trying to wean off of the nipple shield to up my supply. I fought. And just like Kelle, I finally came to the realization with my third bout of bloody nipples & the ugly cry in full effect, that breastfeeding isn’t working for us. Which made me sad, because the few times, yes I can count them on one hand, that were painless & everything was good, I loved breastfeeding. I, too, found it magical & spiritual.
I have had an amazing support system. My close friend, Nicole, was there through my 3AM texts about blood in my shield & with endless advice & supportive words. My cousin, Debbie, was there when I worried about my supply issues & texted her random photos of my nipples. My sister was there with awesome support for those first newborn days helping with her latch & at midnight when I texted her in all caps that THERE IS BLOOD, EVELYN SWALLOWED BLOOD IS SHE GOING TO DIE. All of these ladies cheering me on & supporting me. It almost felt like I had failed them also.
Maybe it seems silly, but I grieved over the fact that I could no longer breastfeed Evelyn. I grieved & I felt guilty. But honestly, I know I shouldn’t have felt guilty. That’s not me. That’s other Moms & society making me feel that way. Pressuring me & putting expectations in my head of what makes a good Mom.
This was the best decision for myself & Evelyn. In the end, she was dealing with an angry & frustrated Mama who wasn’t providing the nutrition she needed & wasn’t, in fact, bonding with her baby like breastfeeding is supposed to help create. With few exceptions, every single time we tried to feed was a nightmare. Not only for Evie & myself, but for my entire family. I’d end feedings angry with myself while Evie was screaming for something…anything. I’d supplement with a bottle of (organic) formula & grow angry. And my anger would be misplaced on my husband or I’d ignore Collin’s pleas to play with him. I’d scold myself & my breasts for not getting this thing figured out. “Some mother you are,” I’d mutter to myself. None of this was healthy.
I’ve come to a place of acceptance. Sure, I still get a bit wistful, but it is okay. I’m okay. I am okay. And most importantly, Evelyn is okay. Not being able to breastfeed doesn’t make me a bad Mom. And it doesn’t mean that Evelyn will slowly waste away or that she is doomed to be unhealthy for the rest of her life. It just means we couldn’t do it. That is all. And we are both okay with that.