When I was pregnant, many moms told me that breastfeeding was hard, and of course I would nod and think I understood.
I had no idea.
I thought I was prepared: I had read books (ok, so I mostly Googled, but there were illustrations and videos and everything!), but there is no Google in my womb, so when munchkin came out, we found ourselves fumbling along to a dance we only kinda knew the steps to.
I was optimistic; after all, people warned me about this. And after a few tries and with the help of a lactation consultant, he was on the boob and doing his thing.
Then the problems began. The munchkin’s blood sugar level started to plummet and the doctors suspected that he was not getting enough food (I should mention that he was a 10 pounder at birth…I know, labour was fun). He was put on an IV, kept in the NICU for observation, and by the second day I was presented with two options: keep him in the NICU for at least a week until my milk supply was established, or supplement with formula and be able to take him home in two days. So I agreed to supplement.
In the days that followed I ran through a seemingly endless cycle: the munchkin wasn’t latching on reliably anymore so I would spend an hour or so stubbornly trying to get him to nurse, after which I would give him a bottle (he was downing a 2 oz bottle in 10 minutes…crazy!) then pump for half an hour. And of course this was repeated every 3 hours, 24 hours a day.
It’s no wonder that I was a wreck by the time we saw our family doctor for his one week checkup. He asked how I was and I burst into tears.
“Sure, breast is best, but no baby has ever died from drinking formula,” he said as I sobbed (embarrassingly) uncontrollably.
Hello common sense. Between the sleep deprivation and the raging hormones, I had missed the obvious – he was going to be okay no matter what. It sounds ridiculous now, but I had bought into the idea that I was a failure and that if I gave up on breastfeeding it was somehow going to hurt him. I was afraid we wouldn’t bond (although shoving my boob in his face while he screamed and cried hardly seemed to be bonding). And I was afraid of being judged, because lets face it – other moms can be harsh (I could write a whole post just on this alone…and I probably will!).
So with strict orders to cut out pumping so I could get some sleep, I decided I would let whatever was going to happen happen. And wouldn’t you know it, at 3 am that night, as I picked him up out of his crib, did the little bugger not nestle into my chest, mouth open, and latch on all by himself.
So while I have never been able to fully “catch up” to his appetite, I’ve continued to nurse him (6 months and counting). Some people may judge me for continuing to supplement, but we’re both happy (and sane), so who can argue with that.