Hey Mama Bears!
Since August is breastfeeding awareness month, I wanted to share my experience on the subject with you all.
My son just turned two years old and I feel like I just blinked and and he’s an actual little person now! I’ve been reflecting a lot on my pregnancy, those crazy first few months postpartum as a first time mom and the emotional and physical challenges I had to face. From the get go, I had my heart set on breast-feeding but despite trying my very best and working with lactation consultants, with a heavy heart I gave up. Deci couldn’t get a good latch, he was frustrated…. I was frustrated, tired and healing from my c-section and I just simply didn’t have enough milk. I gave up on the actual mechanism of breast-feeding but I was adamant about giving my son my milk. So I did what I had to do and pumped for the next 10.5 months several times per day. In the beginning I pumped 8-10 times per day (grueling) and finally when I got a little of my life back I was down to 4x per day when Deci was around 7 months old.
My pump literally became like a ball and chain controlling my life. It controlled when I could go out to get some fresh air, how far I could go and for how long… It became a part of me. I was a pumping mom and for those 10.5 months, it sort of defined me. And I’m sure I suffered from pumping schizophrenia…I swear I could hear my pump even when it was off!
Would I do it all over again? YOU BET!
I will admit that I felt like a failure especially for the first two months. I had just had a c-section after wanting so badly a natural birth and now I couldn’t provide enough nourishment for my son. I felt like there was something wrong with my body and that it was failing me and that somehow these challenges made me less of a “woman”. I had to supplement 4oz a day with formula while I tried everything except pharmaceuticals to increase my supply. It took me exactly 2 months to produce enough milk for my boy. By month 3, I had surplus and I was able to start freezing it and boy was I a H-A-P-P-Y camper! I was not only happy, I was also very proud of myself. I finally felt “whole” because I was giving my baby what he needed and my boobs weren’t broken.
My challenges didn’t make me less of a woman, they helped make me the woman I am today and helped define the type of mom I wanted to be…one who is willing to make sacrifices for the well being of her child no matter what. Yes, having the life sucked out of your boobs by a machine several times a day can really suck but for me personally, denying my baby my milk would have sucked 1000x more.
Breast-feeding is a personal choice and although I strongly believe that babies should receive mama’s milk I understand why women give up. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come “naturally.” And sadly, we live in a cultural where little girls have not grown up seeing women breastfeed for a few decades. I know I never saw the women in family breastfeed while I was growing up. We live in a culture where formula feeding is the norm and breaking away from social norms can be challenge in of itself.
Whether you choose to breast-feed or you choose to formula feed, that doesn’t define who you are as a mom. We all do what is right for us. For me, the right thing was to pump. I didn’t even do it for a full year, which was what I initially wanted but then my supply ran dry after 10.5 months. A part of me felt liberated and another part of me grieved a little, I even shed a few tears but emotionally, it was the right time for me to stop.
If you ever felt like a failure for not being able to breast feed, know that you’re not alone and that you’re a totally awesome mama bear anyway!
I will always be a breast-feeding advocate but each mom has to do what she feels is right for her.
To my breast-feeding moms, you guys rock! To my formula-feeding moms, you guys rock! To my pumping moms, you guys totally rock!
We all have a different story and come from different walks of life. We’re all in this together so lets put the battle of the boobs and bottles to rest and encourage each other to raise awesome human beings! After all, our kids are not going to walk around someday arguing with each other over who was breast-fed the longest!
Until next time Mama Bears, be well!