//Momesty Corner / Breastfeeding, Mom Guilt + the Newborn Bubble

With my daughter being almost 3 months old (I know, what?!?), I'm nearly officially out of that newborn bubble. This leads me to evaluate some of the experiences I've already been through---namely, breastfeeding. Oh, what a rollercoaster that was. By my use of past tense, you have probably already figured out that I am no longer breastfeeding my child. I actually stopped entirely just shy of her one-month milestone, and that includes pumping. It was a really difficult decision but it was ultimately the right one for me.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew immediately that I planned to breastfeed. However, knowing some moms who gave birth in the preceding couple of years and their hardships with nursing, I set realistic expectations for myself. Fast forward to Hazel's birth and, if you read her birth story here, you'll remember that she was taken to the nursery for 5 hours after she was born, so I didn't get the opportunity to immediately breastfeed her. When I finally got a chance to, it went like a dream. The sensation was different but not entirely painful, and I was in bliss watching my little one. The nurses even called me the "Colostrum Queen" because I was able to nurse so much right away.

Then, on the second day, it all started going downhill. I won't go into the whole rollercoaster, but just know that there were times when it went AMAZINGLY. The bad times, though, were pretty bad and the whole experience contributed greatly to my postpartum depression. It was BAD. I started to resent my precious little baby and I was in pain all. the. time. I met with a lactation consultant many, many times and overall, it seemed to go well. Then I'd go home and things were a mess.

At four weeks, we determined that Hazel had a posterior tongue tie that was most likely impacting her ability to nurse "properly." It wasn't really considered before because her latch was perfect and she was taking in enough milk and gaining weight well. But I was still in so much pain. So we did a tongue tie release and for a short time, things were okay. Hazel had to relearn how to nurse with her "new" tongue and maybe if we had done the procedure sooner, there would have been a different outcome. Instead, I just couldn't handle the pain anymore. The cracked, bleeding nipples and the shooting pains in my breasts that wouldn't go away. It was a nightmare.

I had a huge breakdown at the pediatrician's office where the lactation consultant was also present. I felt SO SUPREMELY GUILTY for not breastfeeding my daughter. I kept thinking to myself, "Maybe this time it'll be fine and I can continue to nurse." And then it would end in tears--for me and the baby. They essentially gave me permission to be okay with the decision to formula-feed Hazel and I hadn't realized how much I needed that until I had it.

My theory is that breastfeeding is so freaking pushed on women that you're made to feel like an absolute failure if you can't or won't do it. I'm all for doing what's best for the baby, but there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to this. There just can't. It's not fair to condemn women who are not breastfeeding their children because there are a multitude of reasons for not doing so. It's an intensely personal decision and not one that some women have any choice in making.

I am here to tell you that if you are a woman considering opting out of breastfeeding, it's absolutely 100% okay. You are not poisoning your child. You are not going to screw them up. You are taking care of your baby, and that's your end goal anyway, right? Do not listen to any negative bullshit that someone tries to throw at you. If that negativity is coming from your doctor, it's time to find a new doctor. If that shit's coming from a "friend," find new friends. Trust me on this. I go to a hospital where breastfeeding is a number one priority and even they were incredibly sympathetic to my situation. There is no reason for you to put up with this crap.

Most of all, do not let other moms make you feel bad for your choices. You know your baby. You want to do right by your baby. If that means formula-feeding so that you have some semblance of sanity, that is the best thing you can do. A happy mom means a happy baby, and in my case that turned out to be 100% accurate.

When you are in this "newborn bubble," it is so easy for you to feel beaten down. The monotony of the endless feedings and crying and trying to get the baby to sleep, all while you are sleep deprived and isolated, can feel incredibly alienating. Talk to someone, even if it's through text messages. Talk to your partner, your mother, your best friend, or even a journal. I promise you, it will get better. Hazel cried incessantly for the first 4 weeks of life if she wasn't sleeping or eating. It was a nightmare. It has improved greatly and I am telling you it will get better for you, too.

Oh and P.S., it turns out Hazel has a milk protein allergy, so she is on soy formula. This worked out for everyone because I was not about to give up cheese.

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