I planned to breastfeed my baby even before I got pregnant. It is only natural wanting to breastfeed your own child and the benefits of breastfeeding outweighs everything else. I told Andrew you better pray hard that I can breastfeed successfully because it is going to save us a lot of money from buying formula milk. I guess he did not pray hard enough.
I know breastfeeding is not going to be easy. However, neither did I think it would be so tough. I guess I overestimated myself. Being confident is one thing, being over-confident is another. I also blame it on the non-breastfeeding friendly hospital. They did not offer me good breastfeeding advice, I will say they didn’t even teach me.
The first night after I gave birth, the nurse just came and shove baby’s mouth to my breast. She did not teach me the correct position, the correct latch, how it looks like, how it should feel. When baby took my breast, I felt the suckle and milk did flow and that’s it. I thought that was it.
Second night after I went home, I continued to breastfeed. However, later that night, baby kept crying. Andrew and his mom said that baby did not have enough milk and they wanted to top up formula. Andrew went out to buy formula milk. I was so sad because I know I had milk and baby was crying not because of milk, they just didn’t trust my mother instinct.
Baby liked to sleep, partly because she had jaundice. No matter what we did (seriously we tried everything) to wake her up, she would stay asleep. I’ve never seen such a sleepy baby! Without baby suckling, I started to have engorgement. I resorted to breast pump to help empty the milk. I did not know that the flange of the breast pump was too small for me and it caused me to have sore nipples.
The following days, I always felt pain whenever baby suckle. On the 6th day, baby got admitted to hospital because of her jaundice and needed photo-therapy. That day, she wanted to be fed every 1 to 2 hour! That night, it was so painful that I cried when she suckled and Andrew told me to stop. I went back to pumping again.
I felt the pain constantly. I have friends came to visit me to see if I got the right latch, we even went to see a lactation consultant and they all said it’s the right latch. But I still felt the pain! Some said the pain was normal, some said it was not. I was so confused and frustrated and sad. There were nights the pain was constant and I couldn’t sleep. It was like someone who scrape your nipples with broken glasses!
The breast pump couldn’t empty my breasts efficiently, I ended up in hand-expressing. I managed to feed my baby breast milk through bottle. But I wasn’t contented. I wanted the bonding of direct latching. Some days I would try latching her again and she refused, some days she would take it but the pain was still unbearable. My sore nipples never healed. It is a mystery to this day why they did not heal even after I stopped direct latching.
Finally, I developed early signs of mastitis. Fever, shiver, cold, aches…… A kind friend who is also a lactation consultant offered help. She said I had blocked ducts and she could help me cleared them and I could breastfeed again. I went. I was happy and confident that I could breastfeed again. However, the pain never went away. My friend told me I just had to bear with it. Later that night, it was so painful that I was crying out loud while baby suckled. I went through it only to find out the nipple cracked and the pain was so intense. That night, Andrew told me it’s time to give up and he didn’t want to see me suffer anymore. He said I wasn’t happy for the past one month, and if I fell sick, how am I supposed to take care of the baby? I’ve been struggling with the whole breastfeeding experience for more than a month.
I listened to him and I stopped.
I regret my decision. But I can’t blame him because I know he hates to see his wife suffers.
All I could blame is I did not get as much help as I could. And the timing. If I wasn’t going back to Johor that week, I would have stayed with my friend for a few days and probably, just probably, that I would be able to breastfeed till today.
Until today, I still can’t help but feel guilty. I will comfort myself that at least she has gotten 1 and a half months of breast milk, better than nothing. But I know I could have given her more.
All the articles on the internet promoting breastfeeding aren’t helping with my guilt. Sometimes I got so pissed at these people, have they not thought of people who really can’t breastfeed? There are people who really can’t breastfeed due to medical reason and physical constraint. What are they going to do if not offering formula milk? Oh yes, you will say almond milk and so many other alternatives. But they’re not easily available.
Anyway, I am happy to see Lucy is thriving.
Now I just have to focus on taking good care of her, make sure she’s happy. Happy baby, happy mommy.
P.S.: I lost that breastfeeding bond, I make sure I bond with her more in other ways. I cradle her to sleep, I sing to her whenever possible, I talk to her, I carry her whenever I like, I massage her…… I don’t care if people are telling me that I’m spoiling her. I am spoiling her, with my love. If you have an issue with that, talk to my palm, go raise your own children.