February 18, 2011

more thoughts on breastfeeding

I've been thinking a lot, again, about my brief breastfeeding experience. You can read about my breastfeeding struggles here. Still, almost a year later, I still struggle. I still have so many "what if's", questions, and reflections about the whole situation. 


Sometimes I feel weak. I feel like I didn't do enough to overcome my problems. Sometimes I feel guilty. Like I was being selfish for not doing more to continue breastfeeding for the boys, or at least pumping to keep up my supply until I had my problems worked out. 

And then I remember back to the day before I quit. I hadn't eaten much of anything in a couple days. I didn't want to see or talk to anyone and really just wanted to be left alone with my babies. I didn't really want any visitors, at times not even my mom, and it got worse when Chikezie's mom came and stayed for two weeks. I didn't want anyone around me. I was feeling intense anxiety, like there was a 10lb weight on my chest making it hard to breathe. I loved my babies and felt connected to them but I dreaded when feeding would roll around every couple hours. The day before I decided to quit I balled most of the day. At everything. Even while my brother-in-law and his girlfriend were visiting that night I just started balling. This was a couple weeks after I'd had the boys. And I know everyone felt really awkward. My mom was really worried about me. Even when I talked to her about this again just a couple of days ago when we talk about that time I hear the worry in her voice. 

I honestly think I was experiencing Postpartum Depression. I know every woman goes through some hormonal stuff after their baby is born but even after I decided to stop breastfeeding, although my anxiety lessened and I got my appetite back, there were still many symptoms I was experiencing for the following weeks to come. 

The day I made the decision to stop, I'd been falling asleep pumping at 3am the night before. My boobs were burning. My nipples burned when the boys ate and even when they weren't. The doctors were telling me I needed to supplement with formula. I didn't know how much per day or when not to or when I could stop. I wish I could have just breastfed and not pumped or supplemented or anything. Looking back, I probably could have. Or at least fed them without supplementing. By the time they were 2 weeks they were drinking pretty much 100% breast milk, mostly pumped. But that was when I started to experience my symptoms the worst. And we were moving. I was stressed about finding a place to live, about fitting everyone and all of our visitors into our tiny studio apartment. 

Sometimes I feel like these are all excuses. That I should have done more. I made a couple calls to the local lactation consultant but kept forgetting to follow up or just didn't feel like it or was just so overwhelmed with what was going on I just didn't even want to talk to someone. And when I look back it makes me feel selfish. That I should have done everything possible to keep going. To remember what I'd originally wanted and what was nutritionally best for the boys.

I can't change the past. Who knows why everything happened the way it did. I think I will always struggle with what happened. I'm proud of myself for giving it a shot. I'm mad at myself I didn't fight longer. I feel bad for that mama who was dealing with so much at the time she was so overwhelmed she felt alone and confused. 

The dudes are almost a year old now and we're slowly weaning off of formula. I have love/hate relationship with formula. I love that it fed my boys. I hate that I used it. I hate it. I hate it so much. It wasn't what was best for them. BUT, I look back on those first two weeks and I hate that it was so miserable. All I can think of when I go back to those two weeks was how shitty it all was. The boys aren't the focus of my memories. Their first couple weeks of life were robbed. And I think it was robbed by PPD. I know there was no doctor to diagnose me, and I know maybe it's all an excuse. But it's really the only comfort I have from the whole situation. That the regular Mandey would have fought. But that wasn't the normal Mandey. 

I guess my main reason for posting all of this is to share my story. That despite all good intentions and the strongest will, not everything works out as you plan. That it's ok to struggle with it. It's the only way we learn and grow.


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