Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Suffering in Silence - My first "Mommy Guilt" moment

I try to stay out of the fray of the "Mommy Comparisons" or "Mommy Wars." Daycare vs Nanny (staying at home was never an option for us), Pacifier vs No Pacifier, Cry-It-Out vs Nurturing.... the list goes on and on. I have felt twinges of guilt along the way, but this one has, by far, been my biggest on. And what's worse? I am not in a place where I can talk it out with my fellow Mommy-friends.

I have made the decision to stop breastfeeding.

This boy loves when Daddy feeds him... straight to sleep.

I was immensely worried, all during my pregnancy, about breastfeeding. I was anticipating having trouble because I knew friends who had previously tried and been unsuccessful for various reasons. I had read the stories of the guilt and the postpartum depression that had accompanied that inability. I did so much research, took classes, registered for various aids ahead of little Wyatt's arrival. I felt like I had set myself up for success.

Tada.... we did it! I was successful in breastfeeding right away. That little guy just knew what to do, and my body did a good job producing exactly what it needed to produce. I was so afraid of the pain and clogging stories I had heard, but I felt so lucky that I didn't experience any of that.

Things were not all rosy though. During our bout with colic, for the first 6 weeks straight, the only way I could personally calm Wyatt at any point of the day or night was to breastfeed him. He never took a pacifier, the stupid 5 S's meant nothing to him, he just screamed at me until I put a boob in his mouth. There were evenings that the only way we could have peace during his "bitching" hour(s) was I had to just feed him for a couple hours (nonstop!). I obviously was his human pacifier but in my desperation, I didn't know what else to do.

Eventually, I needed a break from him and being the only one who could feed him. Looking back, I think this was the beginning of the end for our "natural bonding". As I prepared to go back to work, I started pumping. I wish I had started sooner to build up a supply, but I didn't. I was pumping every two hours, and only producing exactly how much he needed during the day. There was never excess to freeze. I was stressed out about him not having enough. I had to pump at work, which was easy to put off or delay. (Mostly because I have a glass wall with men all around me). I was dedicated to it, because I had no other option.

Not long after I returned to work, I decided that I wanted to cut off the physical breastfeeding. I only was with Wyatt for 1 or 2 feedings a day during the work week, so it was an easy transition since he was already on mostly bottles. Looking back, this was another wrinkle in the "plan". Although I didn't want to physically breastfeed, I did want him to stay on breast milk for a year.

Looking back I could have tried harder. I could have kept up the pace of breastfeeding even though he was sleeping through the night or going longer stretches between feedings during the day. I just let time slip away during my day and my body slowly started adjusting down to meet the reduced need. However, at that same time, Wyatt was eating more per serving and I was struggling to keep up. I took Fenugreek, I pumped for longer stretches and more frequently, but my body just couldn't recover.

In mid-December I was faced with the reality that my body just wasn't going to produce enough for me to meet Wyatt's needs. We found a formula that he would take on its own just fine, and I just stopped trying to pump the few drops that would come out in each session. I felt like I had given up, which I probably had, but I tried everything I knew to try.

Suffering in silence is hard. This is not something you go around explaining to people. My husband and I struggled with the decision. I wanted to give my son breast milk longer than 5 months, but it didn't work out that way. I love my friends but those who couldn't breastfeed at all would probably feel a twinge of resentment that I am complaining about this when at least I got the full 5 months. I have a wonderful friend now who is struggling to even get pregnant, and so I wrestle with talking to her because she just wants to badly to be a mom, no matter what her child eats. Then, I have others who are very successful in breastfeeding and have stock piled loads into their freezers to prolong their experiences even more. They don't understand how it just isn't coming out of me when its gushing out of them.

I have immense guilt because I feel like this was a burden I brought on myself for not trying harder. I feel guilt every time I have to stock up on formula at the store. I feel guilt when I hear how someone woke up engorged because there was just so much milk after their baby slept all night long. I feel guilt when I think of struggling with this when some women can't do it at all.

Unfortunately, Mommy-hood is riddled with guilt. Thankfully, I have a gorgeous, happy, red-headed little baby at home who make that fade away that the milk supply I once boasted.

Working on that model pose.

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