There are many positives when it comes to breastfeeding – breastmilk is undoubtedly an amazing, natural creation of Mother Nature. It works in wonderful ways, providing babies with exactly what they need, when they need it. Whether it be the colostrum that is so beneficial to a baby in their first few days of life, antibodies that fight colds and illnesses, or keeping your little one hydrated in hot weather…breastmilk can do it. Aside from this, breastfeeding is a lot cheaper and can be very practical and ‘easier’ that bottle feeding for some woman.
I, however, did not have the wonderful experience that I was expecting with breastfeeding. I had an image in my head of it being an amazing, beautiful time where me and my son could create this incredible bond and I would be proud of myself for being able to provide for him in every way possible. The reality was that I was miserable from start to finish during my time breastfeeding… I wish it hadn’t been this way for many reasons, but the experience makes me admire women who can breastfeed for months on end – and actually enjoy it!
From day one I found it difficult to get Archie to feed properly. In the hospital the few days after giving birth it didn’t seem so bad – there were people on hand every second to help me and I was in such an emotional whirlwind that I don’t even really remember what I was feeling at the time, but as soon as we got home and began to settle into life as a family, I began to really, really struggle. Archie wasn’t latching properly and so would either feed for a few minutes, come off and then scream because he was hungry – or he would be feeding for hours (literally, hours) when he was in the right position and was getting the milk he was so desperate for. I know cluster feeding is a totally normal, expected process with a newborn but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the exhaustion and just quite how difficult it was going to be. I still think that, had I been able to get him to latch properly during the day, I would have coped better and dealt with the constant night feeds a lot easier than I did. My problem was that when the midwives and health visitors came round, Archie was gaining weight and seemed to be feeding well…so I didn’t say anything. I regret this SO much now, because if I had just told them what was going on and how tough I was finding it, I might not have gotten myself to the place I am in now.
All I think about when I look back at the first month of being a Mumma is how upset, stressed and worn down I felt, both emotionally and physically. This is all pretty normal when you start the journey into Motherhood I’m sure, but it really affected me and I think I have to finally admit that I am still dealing with the emotions I felt then – even though I have moved on and made the decison to bottle feed Archie. Every day I wish I had enjoyed that first month of his life so much more, and it’s really difficult for me to think about the time that I wasted not taking in every little detail and every special moment I had with my brand new little family – because all I remember is the negative thoughts and feelings I had. I didn’t leave the house for the whole time I breastfed, simply because I wasn’t coping well with it and wasn’t confident enough to go out and feed my own son because I felt I ‘wasn’t doing a good enough job‘. I barely had visitors for the same reasons, and completely closed myself off from the world. Even now, I am struggling to deal with these same things and the consequences that came about after I began to shut down…and it’s wearing me down more and more every day. I regret so much about that first month of Archie’s life because all I want now is to be confident, to show off my son to the world and not have to constantly feel stressed, upset or secluded.
Archie, even now he is on the bottle, is difficult to feed and puts up a fight – even when he’s hungry. I wish so much that feeding my monkey could be calm, loving bonding experience between us, but I feel almost as if I have robbed my own son of this peaceful time because of how tough the first month was between us. I love him more than words will ever say, but there were moments in those four weeks where all I wanted to do was pass my little baby to Chris and just escape for a while. Because he didn’t feed well then, because I couldn’t do what Mothers are supposed to be able to do, he still isn’t happy when I try to feed him now – and I feel that I am to blame for that.
For me, breastfeeding caused so much negativity that I, without a doubt, wish I had never done it. I will always be disappointed in myself for not being able to make it work, but I am going to push away my emotions, muster up all my strength and courage and do everything in my power to give my child the upbringing that he deserves. These struggles and these feelings will all pass eventually – Archie won’t have a care in the world that these few months have been so tough, I will one day forget how crap I feel right now – and we will be the perfect little family that I know we can be.
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster becoming a parent, that’s for sure. I love Archie unconditionally, and would never in a million years want to go back to my life before him – but I will not sugar coat the experience and ignore the truth. I struggled to put this post together and express how I’m really feeling, but I think I got the gist of it across and hope that if anyone else is in the same position, they can read this and know that they’re not alone.