Dear Breastfeeding, I think we should see other people.

We went to Sesame Street live this weekend! It was AMAZING. Not one tear from Thomas and only four tears from Michéal (jk, he was a trooper). These pictures have absolutely ZERO to do with this blog post topic, but because my experience with breastfeeding was so tramatizing, I don’t have any photos to document that time of my life so this is what you get haha. Also, it was this topic or a detailed review on Elmo & Cookie Monster IRL. Not sure which is more painful. Here we go.

I started this post with the intention of talking about how everyone only really warns you about how horrible labor is, but that nobody ever tells you that going home is the real hard part. I had planned on talking about all of the horrible things that happen to your body that you get to experience at home, alone, without an epidural or a nurse call-button to fix it, but when I started typing, all I could get out was how hard my experience with breastfeeding was. Don’t get me wrong — the rest of it also sucked. But clearly my breastfeeding trauma is overtaking the other postpartum joys.

If you survived breastfeeding – go you. If you didn’t, also go you. I learned the hard way that “fed is best”. I was SO set on breastfeeding exclusively that I ignored the serious Postpartum Depressions signs that I contribute 100% to my breastfeeding journey. I made it (barely) exactly one month and then I switched to formula. I cried that entire month and the weeks that followed the switch. I was a walking (also barely), weeping, zombie that hated myself, my husband, and everyone around me.

Cue the tears.

I spent the first month of Thomas’ life in a daze. I was a mess. Michéal was back at work, my mom was at work, and I had no freaking idea what I was doing. My sister would come over in the mornings and help me (possibly the only reason I lived to tell the tale), but even with her help I was still mean and horrible and SO tired. I would call her crying and upset that she was late… at 5:45 AM. I was delusional. Michéal would try to take over when he got home but no matter who helped me and how hard they tried, I couldn’t shake the overwhelming dread that consumed me. Dark times people. This is NOT how you envisioned your first few weeks with your beautiful baby is it? Yeah, me neither.

In my defense we did have a rough start. Thomas had a tongue tie which nobody noticed until two weeks after he was born, so I spent the first 14 days with an improperly latching newborn, bloody nipples, and some serious resentment for my new baby. I remember going to the doctor for one of his first checkups and telling her, ” Oh yeah, its going great! I really love him, except for when he is hungry. I only hate him when he is hungry.”  OH YEAH THATS NORMAL – you hate your baby? Cool Sam. She politely told me that I needed to go and see MY doctor and that that maybe breastfeeding was not for me.

More tears.

By the time that I finally made an appointment to see my doctor, the damage to my sad boobs had been done. After weeks of trying nipple shields and creams and ice packs – it just wasn’t working and I was miserable. Miserable because it hurt, miserable because I was “a shitty mom who couldn’t even feed her baby the right way”, but mostly miserable because I had failed my plan. I used to judge women that chose not to breastfeed. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t put their kids first and give them the nutrients that they needed to thrive? Why were they so selfish? Boy, karma was coming for me for all that shit I talked about those ‘selfish moms’. It took exactly one month of nonstop sobbing and resentment before I finally broke.

We had gotten some formula samples in the mail that I had put aside to donate (I did NOT sign up for these, how did they know that I was going to crack?!) and I swear they were staring at me on this particularly shitty day. I called Micheal and asked him to pick up some of the “special nursery water” (first time mom haha) because I just couldn’t take it any more. He arrived home at the same time that my friend, her husband, and their two kids showed up to visit the new baby and I just handed her the Similac container, the gallon of water, and a baby — “Please do this”. She poured it, shook it, and gave him his first serving of good ol’ powdered formula. And guess what? He drank it. He liked it. He was fine. Then he finished it, and she made some more. He survived. And slowly, as the days went on I became a human being again. One who learned to actually enjoy her child. I was free.

I still feel guilty sometimes. Every single time that he gets a cold I can’t help but wonder if he would have been able to skip it if I had been able to breastfeed longer. He had 5 ear infections his first year — my fault? Maybe, maybe not. I also wish I had known that it didn’t have to be exclusively one or the other. I could have pumped while I fed him formula and been able to give him both — but I didn’t know. I was so consumed with trying to do what I thought was best but really I was making things worse – I completely lost myself and I missed out on that entire first month with my kid.

In the end, it’s true that “fed is best” and it’s even more true that a happy mom = a happy baby. My biggest regret is not formula vs. breastfeeding. It’s that that I wish I had been easier on myself, and made myself more of a priority during that first month instead of panicking about ‘sticking to a plan’. I learned that the only “right way” is however you are doing it. You are the mom – only YOU know what is best for you and your baby.

Here are some other photos from our weekend!

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