Before I had June, I hadn’t considered breastfeeding being a problem. It’s what people do, it’s what they’ve always done. I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom, I took a breastfeeding class eve, that’s what I’ll do.
Well, when June was born, we had a little struggle with feeding while in the hospital. I had shallow nipples, she couldn’t latch well, when she did she wouldn’t stay on very long at all, it was just a struggle. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and hurt so bad. I dreaded when she needed to eat. The lactation consultant helped us out, and she was eating better by the time we left the hospital. When we were home, it was still kind of a struggle. I had prescription ointment, but they still hurt so bad. The hardest part though was that she would fall asleep whenever I would try to feed her, so she would wake up like 30 minutes later hungry. We did all the tips they tell you to keep the baby awake, but none of it worked. We even resorted to getting her face wet – she didn’t wake up.
I was getting so frustrated. Breastfeeding is supposed to be this great bonding experience, breast is best, yada yada yada. Because she could never stay awake to eat, I wasn’t getting any sleep. I was so exhausted, and when she would be hungry, I just wanted to cry. I was constantly having to leave everyone to go feed her, unsuccessfully. I hated that I was the only one that could do this miserable job. Reeve was a good support and would always be there for me, but there’s just not much he could do.
I started to pump bottles for night time so I wouldn’t have to go through everything to feed her constantly at night. That seemed to work pretty well. I feel so blessed that June takes a bottle. And luckily, she stayed awake better while drinking a bottle – maybe because it was less work? I don’t know, but I was so relieved.
Once she was eating better at night, I didn’t mind feeding her during the day so much, but it still was a struggle, and I felt like I wasn’t able to do anything with my day. My days were spent feeding her, changing diapers, and trying to get any rest possible. That didn’t work too well for my personality. I felt like my days were such a waste – sure I was raising a child, but absolutely nothing else was getting done.
My other thought that seriously made me want to cry every time I thought about it was I can’t do anything on my own anymore. I literally can’t be away from her for more than a couple hours, and that’s even risky. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing all independence, so I started to pump more during the day also. That way if I ever needed to run some errands or take a nap or something, or spend an hour with just Reeve, I could leave her with Reeve’s mom, and she would have food. That was a total game changer! Don’t get me wrong – I love June to death, but I also need some time on my own to stay sane!
Pretty soon I was only giving her pumped bottles. I worried about the bond, but I felt so much better personally. I could tell that overall this was a better fit for us. I still am the one to feed her the majority of the time, and we do have a strong bond. She knows who I am, and I can tell she loves me, so that made it easier for me to not feel guilty about not actually breastfeeding. The only struggle then was what others thought. I would get self conscious of people seeing me feed June a bottle – not because I wasn’t actually breastfeeding, but because they probably assume it’s formula, and everyone says “breast is best.” The thing is, I know it is breast milk, and if others judge without actually talking to me and knowing the truth, why should I care? It’s hard to not worry about what others think, but when we let that go, it’s liberating really.
Now that we’ve finally figured out what works best for both me and June, I am so much happier. She is happier. She’s healthy and growing great. We’re really doing great now.