There are a lot of things that are difficult about being a new, first time parent. The exhaustion. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed, especially in the first couple of weeks. Realizing that you are completely responsible for the life of a new person [and hoping you don't fuck it up too bad]. Figuring out how this new little person fits into your life.The extreme lack of sleep.
The list is endless.
It's no surprise that nothing about having a baby was easy for us, or for me. Between the miscarriage, infertility, a rough pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery, everything was challenging. I knew, because of my breast reduction two years ago, that breast feeding may also prove to be difficult when the time came. I made the choice and understood that as a result of the type of breast reduction I was having, that there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to produce ANYTHING. So, as I reached the end of my pregnancy and the topic of whether or not to breast feed came up, my mind was open to the possibilities. If I could, great!! If I couldn't because of my surgery, then no big deal and I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I thought I had a good mindset about the reality of the situation. Everybody I talked I told them this with a sort of nonchalant attitude. Everyone told me that I was in a good place with what I would be able to do.
So why do I feel like failure?
When I was in the hospital, we had no problem getting Lucas to latch on [well, with the help of a nipple shield. Thank you, very much, to my extremely large nips!] and he would nurse without a fight. At this point, they don't need much other than whatever colostrum I can give them to begin with, so it was a relatively easy process. After each nursing session, I would pump for a few minutes, just to make sure that my body knew I needed to produce more. A few days later, it was obvious when my milk came in and I was ecstatic that my plumbing was working!
Cut to two days later, with a hungry baby, and tears streaming down my face because suddenly nursing has become extremely difficult. Lucas would suddenly get fussy and angry with every session. One day, we spent an hour and a half trying to nurse, before I finally gave up and gave him his first formula bottle. It had been five hours since his last nursing session, and the kid needed to eat. Immediately after that, I called the lactation department at our local hospital, where I had given birth, and made an appointment to see the woman who had been helping me after delivery. Through a couple of nursing sessions and a fancy scale, we learned that Lucas was, essentially, not getting any boob juice from mama. I was, essentially, starving my child for a few days. He would latch, and he would nurse, but he was not eating. For a while, we thought maybe a SLIGHT tongue tie was to blame, but three different doctors said he had no problem and they would not cut his frenulum.
So, frustrated, I turned to pumping. The hope was that as he got a little older and a little stronger, his suck would get better. Our schedule was essentially nurse for 30 minutes, simply for the idea that he was keeping up with the practice & staying with it, give him a bottle [which takes about 15 minutes for him to take] and then pump for another 15-20 minutes. Since he was eating every two to three hours, you can imagine how much of a daunting & exhausting task this was. Unfortunately, what we also found out through pumping was that my supply was not that great. I was not [and still am not] producing enough for what his daily intake is, despite weeks of power pumps and herbs galore. So even if we could get him to latch AND eat, he would still need to be supplemented.
And that failure thing? This is where I feel it. Which, i do not know why. I went into this expecting NOTHING. I knew that there was a chance that if I produced even a drop, it was a miracle. So I should be happy with the fact that even though we are supplementing, he is still getting a substantial amount of boob juice every day (about half of what he takes in). But after four weeks of figuring out what to do, and what would work, calling my Lactation Consultant and telling her that I was throwing in the towel and focusing on pumping was difficult. I got caught up in an emotion that I wasn't expecting. The tears weren't expected.
I know this is my doing. I chose to have the surgery to make my situation better. Do I regret it? I don't know. It would have made things easier. Or it wouldn't. I'll never know. But it is what it is. Breast feeding is hard. And challenging. And emotional. Making that choice to quit nursing was hard, but I know that it's what is best FOR US. Although, I will admit that being tied to my pump, especially now when I am pumping every two to three hours, kind of sucks. But, some boob juice is better than nothing, and I have to keep telling myself that I am doing the best that I can, doing the best for my little man. I am still struggling with how to handle all of this, but we will get to a place. And every day that I keep pumping is one day better for Lucas. Right?