This is a note that I wrote on my phone via voice text when I was 3 weeks postpartum. I remember that I was sitting on the couch in the den feeding Jude, just crying. I remember being so frustrated, tired, achy, and overwhelmed with breastfeeding. I knew that as miserable as I was, I wanted to document the moment and what I was experiencing, because before I knew it, it would just be an old memory.
To all of you mamas out there that hate breast-feeding, just know you aren’t alone. I think breastfeeding is an amazing way that our bodies can provide for our babies, but it doesn’t mean that I like it. I do it because I know that it’s the best food I can be giving them, and it’s free, but again, I don’t like it. There is this worldwide phenomenon going on to normalize breastfeeding and to show how wonderful of a thing is, which I’m all for, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make me feel bad that I don’t love it. There’ve been many nights I have been awake in my bed at night crying because of how hard it is. I don’t know if it is my breast shape, or just my babies, but with both children I’ve had a really hard time, and it always has made me wonder what is wrong with me. Why is it that so many people love this and it’s so easy for them, and it’s so hard for us? It is a constant struggle, latching and relaxing, squirmy baby pulling off, and it’s always a two handed affair. It definitely has never been this relaxing bonding time with my baby, and I’ve had to learn to be OK with that. I don’t say any of this to make anyone feel bad for me, or get any tips, because I have talked to lactation consultant’s and Dr’s, but more just to say that if you are another mom out there that breast-feeds out of pure necessity you’re not alone. And you’re a good mom. How we feed our children does not determine our worth as a mother.
I have had a hard time breastfeeding both of my children. With Shiloh we had a really hard time with latching, holds, tongue ties, and even thrush. I felt like every time I had to feed her I basically had to get naked, and I envied those women who so elegantly breastfed anywhere they went with just a blanket draped over their shoulder. Around 6 months I started losing my supply and we had to supplement, and by 10 months I was completely dry.
This time around with Jude I was convinced it was going to be different. I assumed that I really just didn’t enjoy it because it was so hard, and this time maybe I would have that picturesque “bonding” time with my son. I couldn’t have been more wrong. By about 2 weeks I started noticing a significant drop in my supply, and realized how hard I was going to have to work to be able to breastfeed him. He also hated feeding on my left side, therefore the supply was extremely low because he fed very inefficiently, and I had to try different holds. About 2 1/2 weeks in I developed mastitis due to him not fully draining my breast during feedings. After eating all the foods and pumping as well as breast feeding, I started to finally see an improvement. I then came down with food poisoning and couldn’t keep any solids or liquids down for about 24 hours, and since then I’ve been struggling to make it through the day with enough milk for him.
For the past 2 weeks we have been having to supplement at least one bottle a day, and sometimes 2, no matter what I do. It hasn’t been easy to say the least.
However, despite the struggles and challenges that have faced me throughout this journey, I have begun to realize a little more each day that, for me as a mother, this is not something that is worth stressing about. There are way too many things as a mother that keep you awake at night, and this shouldn’t have to be one of those. Your milk supply or even whether or not you breastfeed does not define you as a mother. It has nothing to do with how much you love your child, and has to be different for each mother, child, and family.
There is enough mom guilt out there, that we have got to let this one go. Yes, motherhood and breastfeeding can be such a beautiful thing because it is natural and amazing. But, it doesn’t make you less than of a mother if you don’t or do and don’t enjoy it. We all have to do things differently, and there should be no shame in that.
You are not alone, and I want to challenge you to share this if you have felt this way before. It’s time to normalize these struggles and feel united in them.
Photography by Samantha Brooks Photography