Reposted from Mismikado Down the Sidewalk
You are in a busy but quiet restaurant
It's 105° outside because it's June in Texas
Try as they might the air conditioners just can't quite keep up
You try to maintain some level of modesty by wearing a poncho style cover
Your child is screaming under it
Sweat is pooling in your cleavage and on your sons brow
He thrashes his head back and forth
Pulling the nipple shield he refuses to eat without with him
You struggle to get everything back in place although it's difficult with the cover and the heat
His crying intensifies because of the hunger
You feel heads turning your way
Hear whispers pointed in your direction
You try to stay calm to help soothe him and get a successful latch
It's not working
Finally you ask your companion to mix up the emergency bottle you have in the emergency diaper bag
The second that bottle nipple his your child's lips his crying stops and he peacefully eats
This is our new daily norm albeit not always in public. From the beginning breastfeeding has been a struggle for us. I have sat down to write about it so many times but each time I'm ready to post, our situation has changed and my words are outdated.
From the beginning we did not have an easy go. Minion refused to latch and eat for the first two days before my milk came in resulting in a 10.5% weight loss. Once my milk did come in, he would latch but I had a lot of issues with my right side. After bleeding repeatedly, I broke down and started using a nipple shield and lanolin.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I was feeling exhausted from the round the clock every 1.5-2 hour feedings that were lasting for 45 mins to an hour each. But I was feeling like we finally had the whole latch thing down and I was healed enough to wean off the shield.
But minion would have none of it. He would absolutely refuse to nurse without it, to the point of throwing epic tantrums until I'd put the shield back on. At some point the same started to happen with nursing in general. He would scream and push away until finally we'd just give him a bottle. But the confusing part is that it wasn't a complete nursing strike because when the next feeding would roll around he would nurse perfectly fine.
Meanwhile his colic picked up and we couldn't figure it why. I started an elimination diet and we deduced he had issues with diary, beans, broccoli, and onions. Combined with my own food issues, this meant my diet had to drastically change and I was pretty well miserable.
When we introduced his first soy formula bottle and he greedily gobbles up every last drop without any fussing, I only felt relief.
Around 3.5 months it got to a routine of bottle feedings during the day and nursing at night. Since pumping had always bothered me and caused cracking more than once, my supply began to dry. My goal was to at least maintain a morning and night feeding.
We tried more skin-to-skin with the nuroo top at night and it helped for a few days. But he's gotten too big to wear it comfortably and its too hot for it in Texas in July. As of this writing, it stands that Minion has refused to nurse for 28 straight hours (It ended up being a 41 hour strike). He just cries and pushes away. I still don't know why and at the cusp of 4 months, I'm ready to throw in the towel.
I know that le leche leaguers and militant bf'ers can sit here and write a laundry list of everything I've done wrong and haven't tried. I know I should never have started the shield, or offered him a bottle or even a pacifier. I shouldn't have introduced formula and if I was a "real" mom, I would have started on supply boosters and pumped around the clock. I would have laid around topless 24/7 with my breasts available. I would have done skin-to-skin 90% off the time. I should have done so much different and its entirely "my fault".
But the thing is I'm done feeling guilty. I'm done feeling exhausted. I've never loved my feeding relationship with my son. In fact I resent it and feel my body tense every time another meal rolls around. Outside of a few peaceful moments that have been far overshadowed by the bad, I've never felt that blissfulness of sustaining my child with my own body. Maybe that makes me a bad mother in some women's (and men's) eyes. Maybe I'm just being selfish. But I feel like my relationship with my son should be so much better and could be if we didn't have this point of contention between us. If I just let him eat the way that keeps him happy and not in the way that I "know is best for him". Because it doesn't feel like what's best anymore. I don't know if we are done with nursing for forever, or if things will change again tomorrow. But I do know that I'm not going to feel guilty if this is the end. In fact I think I'll only feel relieved.