My breastfeeding got off to a good start: Aiden latched immediately and well and maintained his weight in the hospital. However, though my colostrum was ample, my milk failed to come in. By day 3, we were asked to go on formula by our doctor (whether we should have or not). Oh, that was emotional. I cried. A lot. Sure, that was partly baby blues, but giving Aiden the bottle made me feel like I’d failed. That something was “wrong” preventing me from doing something my body should know how to do – something so “natural.”
I became obsessed with breastfeeding. I looked up everything I could. Was obsessed with trying every single way to boost my supply – drinking lots of water, eating oats, using a double pump, taking Fenugreek, taking Dom Peridone, switch nursing, frequent nursing, etc etc. I questioned my every move, wondering what I had “done” wrong in those first few days or what more I could do now.
I realize now that part of this was my post-pardum anxiety talking. But breastfeeding is a truly emotional experience. I read online somewhere that breastfeeding problems cause a mother to go through a grieving process – a process of grieving for what “should have” been. That thought actually helped me a lot.
But, this isn’t a sad story. It’s something that got better. Though Aiden started at 300mL of formula per day (something I kept track of in a notebook each day), we dropped that to 200mL then, all of a sudden, he started refusing bottles. That was at about 8 weeks old. By this time, we were co-sleeping, and I credit that with helping my milk supply. It was just slightly more rest.
At about 11 weeks, we were down to just sometimes giving that last bottle at night. Because Aiden had colic, getting him down at night was really rough. It could take hours of breastfeeding and, of course, I didn’t have that kind of milk. Sometimes the bottle would help. It wasn’t a matter of him being hungry, but it became a crutch to settle him down.
It was a couple weeks before Aiden was 4 months that I was able to exclusively breastfeed (when colic started to get better). At 4 months, though, I had my very first feeling of milk “coming in” – it wasn’t, really, but that’s what I should have felt earlier. Because I was feeding Aiden nearly constantly all day and night, I never felt when my supply went up. So, after that first night of sleep training at 4 months, I nearly exploded. SO painful. But joyous! I had SO much milk!
Since then, my breastfeeding has been a pure pleasure. I love every second of it. I always have a lot of milk for Aiden. Sometimes I’m still plagued by worries about my supply, but quite needlessly. I wonder if solids will decrease my supply, if I’ve had enough water, if my cold is affecting him, etc etc. It’s hard to stop doubting yourself after such a rocky start.
My breastfeeding story is also a story about bottles. I hear from mothers all the time about how “freeing” the bottle is to them. How it lets them miss a feed or go out. How nice it is. Well, I’m not like that. To me, the bottle represented “failure” and disappointment. I don’t want to give Aiden a bottle, even of pumped milk.
I fought hard to get to where I am now with my breastfeeding and I don’t want to miss a single second of it. I used to think that I would only breastfeed until my child was a year old, but now I don’t know. Now, the thought of losing this amazing experience makes me sad. Breastfeeding has been a journey for me – one that I dread someday coming to an end.