As I watched my stomach grow large enough to become its own city-state, I knew that there was going to be a massive pile of things to worry about as my due date crept closer; money, my health, the baby’s health, moving homes, my job, etc. There were many thoughts going through my head. How do I angle the crib? Is the sun going to be hitting the baby’s eyes? Will the baby even be in the crib or in my bed? What if I squish it?
I spent many hours being told “to get off my feet and rest” which for me is torture. So, since I worked at a library at the time, I took out a lot of books and DVDs on pregnancy, what to expect, and of course your precious first weeks with your baby.
My fiancé came home to see me crying in bed one day, which at that time was not alarming 😉 I had watched a DVD and it had a long section about breast feeding. I had never imagined myself a mother period, but the idea of breast feeding had always made me uneasy. A friend of mine started breastfeeding her two year old in front of me after we went out for pizza and I almost fainted. It’s not that I knock anyone who does it, but the idea to me just has never set well. This is not something I usually bring up because of course you’re automatically a terrible woman if you don’t want to give your child their nutrition by breast and have the type of bonding only them suckling on you can provide; but since we’re being honest, it’s just not something I ever wanted to do. I told my fiancé I couldn’t picture myself doing that and that I felt like a terrible mother already. I was never breast fed so maybe that’s why I had such distaste for the idea but either way I felt almost forced into trying to like the idea.
As my due date came closer, we were fortunate to be able to move to a much safer area and rented a townhouse. It was quieter, bigger, and just more homey. I thought the move would really push me into the “okay you’re a mom now and you have a family” mindset. Well, it didn’t.
I continued to read up on breastfeeding because the thought of it was seriously scaring me. The more I tried to not think about it the more it was shoved in my face. It was probably the third question I was asked on a regular basis; right behind “what color is the nursery?” and “what is the name?”
My due date came and went. My daughter was just all snuggled up in my tilted uterus. I will tell you I did not have an easy pregnancy by any means nor was it as terrible as I have heard others are. I sometimes felt the glow, and then I sometimes felt like there was this alien creature inside of me that needed to get evicted. Sometimes seeing her move in my stomach was invigorating, sometimes terrifying. I really can’t say honestly that I was a good pregnant woman or a bad one. However, I started having painful contractions for weeks before I was finally induced so by the end I was more than ready to get her out of me.
After two full days of labor I finally got to see my baby girl. I can’t describe the joy, fear, and overwhelming urge to cry that came over me. It really wasn’t until then I actually felt like the whole mother thing was real. I was hemorrhaging and vomiting so when I was asked to hold her the first time I said no. I was honestly too terrified to. She was so small, so delicate, so untarnished. I’ve seen many newborns and I have never considered them what some would call “cute”. But she was a beautiful baby.
After passing out for about two hours I was awoken for the moment I had feared since I first glanced at that DVD. The nurse spoke low, as to not wake the father passed out next me on a hard patterned chair. She placed my daughter in my arms and pulled my gown down without even asking. All that was said was, “it’s time to eat”.
She latched after several minutes of trying. I was not expecting the pain that followed. The contractions were pretty severe but I tried to do what you’re supposed to the whole time. The one thing that I found was that when watching her I didn’t feel that special connection that’s supposed to come. I was hoping once she was in my arms and I was the only thing in the world providing her sustenance that I would get this overwhelming sigh of relief like, “oh, that’s not bad at all it’s amazing”. I will say that the freaked out feeling I had did subside some but it just never clicked as an enjoyable moment.
Three days in the hospital and my daughter would not latch for more than a minute or two at a time. She had already shown signs of colic and when we got home we found out she had severe acid reflux. On top of that, it was like the prohibition in my bra. My milk production was very low. Just like her mommy, when she was hungry and not getting enough food she would start biting (well gumming but it still hurts), clawing, kicking, and I didn’t know what to do.
I will say that pumping was something I could manage. I didn’t feel nearly as stressed or nervous while pumping. There wasn’t a time limit, my daughter wasn’t getting frustrated with me, and I could stock up because it seemed that some times of the day produced more milk than others. Again, the pain was an issue but that’s something I just dealt with as best I could.
My daughter tore through all the milk I was able to pump while in the hospital and was still screaming for more. I had nothing left in me so my fiancé went to the store to get formula. I was convinced she was going to wilt away to nothing right in my arms because I was unable to provide milk fast enough. She took the formula right away but threw up violently only a short while later.
The same thing kept happening with the breast milk. Vomitting, all the time. It would take hours to get enough for one bottle and she would drink, and then puke. We were supplementing with formula because we had to. I went to the doctor for the first week checkup and of course they always make the joke that you look tired (because it’s so hilarious at that point). He asked about breastfeeding and I told him my struggles. We continued doing what we were doing but he said he wouldn’t be surprised if I went all to formula before the month was out due to her reflux.
Well I kept trying, not one to give up easily. It got to the point where I would lay in bed pumping and just crying from the pain and frustration of it all. I did continue to try and breast feed the “normal way” but always with the same aggravated little girl looking up at me. What made us decide 100% to stop was the acid reflux. She had to go on special formula to help keep it down. It smelled like death and looked even worse but what a difference it made! After that she actually started to gain weight, would sleep for more than an hour or two at a time, and although the colic didn’t go away for several months I know that going to formula was the best option for us.
Everyone is different and I have come to learn that there’s no right or wrong way to start your family (except total neglect obviously). I think there’s too much out for mothers to judge each other on and breast feeding is definitely one of them!