Breastfeeding: Expectation vs. Reality
Things are never what you expect, especially anything related to a baby. Before having Avery, I had every intention of breastfeeding. It was all planned out - I’d breastfeed for at least a year and half and never have to use formula. I thought it was going to be the easiest thing I’d be doing as a new mom. Clearly, having expectations was my first mistake. What was so hard about it - breastfeeding was a natural maternal instinct for any new mom. Clearly, I was wrong.
I spent most of the first few days of being a mom, anxious and terrified that my child wasn’t eating/drinking because my milk hadn’t come in. I watched her blood sugar go from 75 to 30 and I was in a state of panic. I breastfed every 2 hours, 30 minutes on each side, and pumped the next hour before I had to do it all over again. By the third day, Avery already lost 17% of her body weight and the doctor suggested supplementing with formula. I said yes without missing a beat. I needed to make sure baby was healthy no matter how she drank/ate.
When we were discharged home I continued to do the process - breastfeed, formula feed, and pump. And every single step I felt defeated and a failure as a mom. I tried to validate myself by asking all my friends who breastfed and for how long, which didn’t help. I was so stressed out and hard on myself that my mom and Aaron had to talk to me and suggest that I quit breastfeeding all together for the sake of my sanity. I refused and kept going, every day, all day. In between Avery’s cluster feeds in the middle of the night, I’d sit in the dark pumping away. I convinced myself that there was no other option and I needed to do this to keep my baby healthy and provide her with immunity. I became so conditioned that every time I would start the process and put the breast shields on, I’d get the sick feeling in my stomach from anxiousness. Postpartum hormones didn’t help either.
I told myself I’d give it a month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months. Well, 4 months is here and I’ve finally accepted that it’s okay to stop and that I’ve given her as much as my body is capable of giving her. Looking back, I’d change a few things - not being so hard on myself, not accepting the pressures of what society thinks I should be doing, ignoring all judgments, and using a wireless breast pump from the very beginning - it made this last month bearable! I’m also here to share my story to let other moms experiencing the physical and emotional difficulties with breastfeeding that you are amazing and a superhero. We set unattainable high standards that we can’t live up to - but it doesn’t mean we’re bad moms or that we love our babies any less. You’re not alone and everything you’re doing is just fine. Baby is going to okay and so will you. You can only do what you can and whatever that is - is good enough for your family. So here’s to me saying so long nursing bra and au revoir breast pump!