My very first failure as a now mother was that I only breast fed L for three weeks. She was born ready to breastfeed. She latched on minutes after she was clean and warm and wrapped like a little pink burrito. The problem was that I had no idea what to do. She latched on incorrectly and the damage was already apparent after the first night.
Every time she she woke to eat, I would call the nurse to come in and help me latch her on. The nurses I had were phenomenal. I loved them and they were very helpful, but it hurt so bad I didn't know what to do. On the second morning, our nurse came in and told me two things.
1. She ordered the lactation consultant to come in that day.
2. She was bringing me a nipple shield. (a what??)
When the lactation consultant arrived, I could tell by her demeanor that she and I were not going to get along. She was abrasive and rude. She took one look at my breasts and told me that I had done so much damage that I should not feed L for the rest of the day. I needed to give my body a break and some time to heal. This was at about 9 am. She said to wait until that evening to latch her on again.
All day we waited. At about 6 I called a nurse and asked her if she could send in the lactation lady so I could feed L. She seemed confused because the lactation consultants leave at 4. I couldn't believe it. By the time the nurse got to my room, I was in tears. She helped me feed L and got me through the night.
The next morning, the night nurse came in and told me that she was having a new lactation consultant come in that morning. She know the first lady and I were not a match. I was relieved when the new gal came in. She was nice, patient and helpful. She got the pump, helped my husband and I learn how to finger feed (L had jaundice so she was already being given formula to help with that) and explained how we could get L the formula she needed while breastfeeding her.
We left the hospital a mere 36 hours after L was born. I knew I wasn't ready, but I also knew my husband could not take one more night in there so home we went. I was so afraid to latch L on due to the pain that I only pumped for the first few days. We went to a breastfeeding support group when L was 4 days old. This was the first time I had latched her on since I left the hospital.
For two weeks, I went to every support class for breastfeeding. L still had jaundice so we were still supplementing her with formula. I was a wreck. I was tired, overwhelmed and really just a mess. I was so scared of breastfeeding that I would have my husband finger feed L while I pumped. It was a nightmare.
Slowly, her jaundice got better and I became more confident with the feedings. At two weeks, I stopped supplementing her with formula. I was going to breastfeeding support group three times a week. From Friday until Tuesday, I only breast fed her. I was so proud of myself! I felt great, until I got to support group. I let the consultant know that I had stopped supplementing and had only breastfed L for the past four days. Then they weighed her and she had not gained the one ounce per day that they wanted her to. She had only gained 3 oz instead of 4. I was crushed. They recommended adding another feeding into our day. WHAT???? It already took all I had to get her to stay awake for the feedings she already had, how was I going to get one more in?
I went home, defeated, devastated. I was so disappointed in myself. It was about this time that L developed a severe case of reflux. (I refer to it as severe, the upper GI only said it was minor. They were not in charge of feeding a screaming infant!) She would latch, eat for a minute, unlatch throw her head back, arch her body and scream. I had no idea what was going on. When she would do this, I would prepare a bottle because it was easier to feed her that way as I could keep the bottle in her mouth while she squirmed. It was terrible. Several trips to the doctor revealed that it was reflux. I began to pump only and feed her breast milk in a bottle. This lasted an entire week.
At four weeks of age, I had to make a decision. Keep pumping, start to breastfeed again, or pack up the pump and go with formula. I was still feeling so defeated over the entire breastfeeding situation. I packed up the pump and went the formula route. When I called the hospital to let them know that I would be bringing the pump back, Sally answered the phone. She was the first lactation consultant that I dealt with at the hospital. I panicked and lied to her. I told her that I had been given my own pump and would not need the hospital one any longer.
I cried for two months. I was failing my daughter, my husband, our families. How could I have not gotten the hang of breastfeeding? I didn't understand. Surely L would not get into college. She would of course loose IQ points. We would not bond the same way. TERRIBLE THINGS WERE GOING TO HAPPEN! Then I got a grip. Vowed to stop crying, forced myself to look forward and just be okay with my decision. L was thriving. She was growing, gaining weight, making all of the milestones she should. She was fine, better than fine, she was glorious.
The other day, I got an email from my girlfriend that she was beginning to wean her daughter. Without notice, all of my insecurities about not breastfeeding L came flooding back. I cried again as the wounds of my first failure as a mother opened again. I realize how silly it is, I know deep down that L will be just fine. That she will get into college if she chooses that path, that we are bonded as only a mother and daughter can be. I guess sometimes you just can't help crying over spilled milk.