I have 2 children, Jude 26 months, Seraphina 5 months. Jude breastfed until just a few days before he turned 16 months. I had so many problems breastfeeding him in the first 6 months, looking back I’m amazed we kept going. Mastitis, very painful thrush for me, cracked, bleeding PAINFUL nipples. Nipple confusion too. I ended up using a nipple shield until he was about 4 months old, then he finally latched on and it was about 2 more months of pain before we settled into breastfeeding nicely. Through all of it, I cried, I was angry, I wanted to quit but I never did. I’m pretty stubborn when I want to be and I am glad I fought through it.
When Jude was 6 months old, we moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to be with my husband. The rare thing down there was to see a woman bottle feeding. It was impossible to go out and not see babies on boobies, no covers or anything. It was so freeing breastfeeding anywhere without a cover and not having to worry about some close minded, ignorant person freaking out!
When Jude was 13 months old, I got pregnant with his sister. He nursed through the 1st trimester, which was painful again due to sore 1st trimester boobs! I was planning to tandem nurse if that’s what Jude wanted to do, but he weaned himself when I was about 13 weeks pregnant. It was a pleasant, peaceful weaning because he wanted it. I was a little sad, but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a little relieved to have a break before his sister got here!
I was happy, and pregnant with Seraphina, and came back to the States with Jude when I was 26 weeks pregnant because we wanted her to be born here. My pregnancy was smooth and easy except for gaining 66 pounds and her being breech like her brother was, so she was born by C-section also. I was 40 weeks along and she was a fat and healthy 7 pounds 11 ounces.
After she was born and my Dr showed her to me over the screen, I remember being so relieved that she was out and OK. They brought her up to my head so I could meet her and the feelings I remember were relief and exhaustion. I looked at her and touched her face for a minute or two and then they had to take her to clean her up and all that stuff. They had a mommy cam set up over where they clean her up and they had a screen by my head so I could watch everything. I remember watching and feeling kind of disconnected and thinking it was like watching A Baby Story on TLC. I had a lot of scar tissue from my first C-section so I was in surgery for about an hour and a half. My mom held her up by my head the whole time I was being operated on. I held her as soon as I was in recovery, and a wonderful nurse helped me get her latched on the first time. Seraphina knew exactly what to do and was a wonderful nurser. I don’t remember feeling anything but exhaustion while she nursed the first time. I was just so tired I wanted to be left alone with my baby to sleep. I finally got to go to my room and sleep for a while. My family all showed up and brought Jude to meet his sister. He wanted nothing to do with her or me and it just broke my heart. I bribed him with some French fries and he finally came and sat with me though!
While in the hospital I pushed myself because I wanted to go home in 2 days instead of 3. I was up walking around that night, with help of course, but I really wanted to go home. While in the hospital I remember just being frustrated with breastfeeding and timing her so I could give her a binky because I didn’t want her comforting and pacifying at the breast.
I also remember feeling so disconnected from her and when people would say how cute she was, I felt like I couldn’t see it. I didn’t think she was ugly, I just felt like I was looking at her through the wrong side of binoculars or something.
We finally went home and I still was feeling disconnected and frustrated every time she nursed. I turned the TV on to distract myself and help me get through a session. 2 weeks in my nipples were hurting so bad and then we got thrush. I decided to just pump so that we could get rid of it. I was soooo relieved to be pumping even though exclusively pumping is a pain in the ass! The stress and worry of pumping was such a relief after the frustration, discomfort and emotional problems while nursing. I was able to exclusively pump for about 2 weeks then I had to start supplementing a couple of times a day and more and more until I couldn’t even pump an ounce. I was so relieved. She was around 12 weeks old and I was diagnosed with post partum depression. It explained so much. I’ve struggled with depression on and off since I was a teenager, but I have never gone to such a low, dark place like I did in the weeks after having my daughter. The way it made me feel towards my children, especially my daughter, it was just a whole new level of terrible. The guilt I felt was so heavy. The guilt for not breastfeeding. The guilt for being RELIEVED to not be breastfeeding. The guilt every time I made her a bottle. I was in such a deep, dark depression, I wanted to die, I thought about it all the time. I went as far as to write letters. When I got to that point I called my counselor I had when I was pregnant with my son. I went to see her, she sent me right to a therapist who prescribed me medicine and was thisclose to sending me to the hospital, but my dad came up and talked to her and we all made an agreement he would watch me closely. I still wanted to die, but I knew that there was a reason, and I could get better with the medication and therapy. Once I got on the Zoloft it was maybe 2 days and I was HAPPY…too happy. So I talked to my therapist about it and she said that if you are bipolar Zoloft will make you “too happy” or hypo manic, which isn’t as intense as full blown mania but it can lead to it. So along with PPD I have the lovely diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was about 21, and I did not agree with the doctor for a number of reasons. But I’m on mood stabilizers now, and they are really helping. I’m still struggling but nothing like I was in the weeks after I had my daughter.
I have a wonderful relationship with her, and I think she is the cutest baby girl in the entire universe, I want to hold her, kiss her, blow farts on her tummy and just spend time with her.. I look at pictures of her when she was first born and feel sad that I missed out on so much because I was in such a bad place. I never wanted to hold her, my mom held her almost all the time, and when I started pumping she fed her a lot too. I’m grateful where I am today and how happy I am with my babies.
As for not breastfeeding her. I still have some guilt. I know formula isn’t what is BEST for her, but it is what was best for US. It was so difficult emotionally to have her at the breast, I just couldn’t do it. But the relief and the bond I have felt while bottle feeding her is so great.
Here we are at 8 months, bottle feeding is an expensive pain, cleaning bottles suck, but I have a fat, happy and healthy daughter, and my kids have a mother on her way to being happy and healthy. And that is what is most important for my little family.