What happened when I just couldn't do it: A breastfeeding story
I walked in, explained every movement I've made, everything that's passed through my lips in the past 2 weeks. I explained my heavily researched diet, my over saturation of herbal teas and water, everything. I waited for her to tell me there was something I wasn't doing right, something I could do better, but she never did. There was nothing that could be done. For some reason, probably a million little reasons that have built up throughout the time I spent in my mother's womb, infancy, childhood and into my adult life, that has lead me to the place I was now. That lead me to the hard truth that I would never be able to fully nourish my child, and probably any other children I may have.
I remember the day like it was yesterday, sitting naked from the waist up in a cold lactation consultants office. She was nice enough, but I could tell took pity on me as she said, "It looks to me that you have IGT." Those words struck me like a ton of bricks. Why? I had already known this all along, there was no way that it wasn't true. After all I was unable to breastfeed my first child. I have compared myself to the other women online with the same condition and it was like looking in a mirror. Though I just chalked it up to a lack of self care, water, and knowledge the first time around. I thought for sure the second time I would be able to. I talked for months about the fact that I was more prepared this time around, I would drink gallons of water and herbal teas, take supplements and pump between feedings. I would talk with my midwife and my doula on the proper way to latch, and gain support from a strong breastfeeding community around me. THAT was the difference, THAT was going to create success.
And I did. I did it all and then some. It didn't stop the fact that my 6 lb 2 oz newborn dropped 18% of her body weight in a couple of weeks, when the average baby would only lose about 10% and be on the track to gaining it back by then. It didn't stop the sleepless nights, the constant painful feedings, the worried looks from family who needed reassurance that I was producing enough when I didn't even know if I was.
I remember breaking down in front of this woman, feeling as though everything that defined me as a mother was being taken from me. Feeling eminence guilt that I had put my baby through pain and starvation, and that I didn't turn to formula sooner. I felt like less of a woman because I had failed to produce what a woman was built to produce. However I firmly believe that God works all things for the better. Little did I know, but my breast feeding relationship didn't need to be any less wonderful as the next, nor did it need to stop. In fact we had a great bond through supplemental breastfeeding for the next 6 months.
The experience impacted me more as a person than I ever dreamed it would. I walked into my last midwife appointment, baby in tow, feeling defeated. I expressed interest in donor milk, as I knew that I didn't want my child to miss out on those precious nutrients only found in mothers milk. My midwife, coincidentally had a previous client that was looking to donate her surplus of milk! God works all things for good, I tell you! She connected us together and the moment that I met this woman and her sweet family, I was in love with them.
Ashley graciously donated well over 2,500 ounces of liquid gold to me and my precious baby girl and a few other little babies as well. I was so sad the day she told me she was moving out of state. I had just met her, but when you find a true friend, the bond is almost instant. I am proud and honored to know such a giving soul, and am thankful for Facebook in this instance so we are able to keep up communication.
No matter the way a mother chooses to feed her child, whether they choose formula right off the bat, or to breastfeed for the first few years of their child's life, she should be supported. That has to be on of the biggest thing that I have learned over the years, is to never judge a mother by the decisions she is making for her children. As long as they are decisions made out of a place of love, they are never wrong. I know how it feels to walk into a room of women all breastfeeding their little ones, and pull out a bottle of formula. To get glares, snickers, and eye rolls when I simply tell them that I was unable to exclusively breastfeed. To have them give me the "talk", about how that is almost never true and that I just didn't try hard enough. I'm here to tell you if you still experience these things, you are not alone, and I SUPPORT YOU. I'm here for you mama, and I understand your struggle.
If there's one thing that I have taken away from all of this, would be acceptance. Not only for others but for myself. I accept the fact that I cannot exclusively breastfeed, and I realize now that it doesn't make me any less of a mother or woman. And that, my friends, needs to be the tone we set with ourselves no matter what the issue is. In this life there will always be another obstacle, and it's our jobs as mothers to face them with love and acceptance for ourselves, our children, and other mothers.
I am desperately looking for the photo I have of my first daughter and I breastfeeding, however I will share the ones I do have of my second daughter and I. I am so glad that I have these, I believe my oldest actually took these! If you have any photos that you'd like to share with me I'd love to see them! You can share with me on my Facebook page, or email.