Greetings to anyone who is still hovering around my blog despite my protracted absence…! How are you all?
My little toddler was singing to herself in her cot as I was reading this article. I was getting ready to give up on the idea of her napping today, when she unexpectedly fell asleep….so I though I’d write a little bit of a response to the article – a little peek into what I went through in the early days of unintentionally abandoning this blog space. I know I never set strict confines for the subject matter of this blog, and this is a personal post. However, I’m aware that many of you may not find the topic relevant or interesting. Please feel free to move swiftly onto something else if so, but I hope you are still doing well in your corner of the world, wherever you are passing by from!
I miss you all! <3
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My, now very healthy, greedy little toddler, struggled to feed in the early days and was quite severely jaundiced at birth. The doctors could not tell whether her difficulties with feeding caused the jaundice, or the jaundice affected her desire to feed.. either way, it was a very stressful few months at the beginning as she also suffered from reflux and cried a lot needing to be held and refusing to settle to sleep on her own. Looking back, I now recognise the myriad of mistakes I made in terms of attempting to breastfeed, not helped by the seemingly thousands of different changing suggestions and instructions from different health professionals and concerned family members or friends during my most vulnerable time after having given birth.
She is now almost 18 months old and I am able to read about breastfeeding without suffering pangs of regret all the time. I am currently looking back to look forward…..
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After many weeks of struggling with pain, doubt and expressions of concern all around, I finally managed to achieve a couple of days of exclusive breastfeeding – still with some pain, but my baby was starting to really gain weight and seemed to be doing a lot better.
I will never forget the single incident that completely shattered my confidence, which was of course very fragile at the time… I had been banking on an endorsement from my GP to help give assurance to those around, who were concerned for the effects of my struggle to breastfeed on the health of my baby. We were due a weigh-in and check up… I arrived in his office and sat down, triumphantly announced that I was now 100% breastfeeding:
He had been very supportive of my efforts up to that point, but had thoroughly endorsed mixed feeding. His own sister, in his words “supplemented formula with breast milk” – she struggled to breastfeed exclusively and managed to get around it by giving baby some formula first, and then nursing at the breast. My GP could not understand why I wanted to put myself through the struggle to exclusively breastfeed and became concerned I would not manage it.
The grief and remorse I felt at eventually having to give up breastfeeding at 10 weeks has subsided very gradually over the past 15 months or so. I finally had to stop, because in spite of attending every breastfeeding clinic and cafe I could find, the pain was just inexplicable and became physically and mentally unbearable.
By the dawn of 2016, I am hoping that I will have been given another chance to try again. Apart from the fact that not having to sterilise bottles seemingly incessantly has always been a great incentive, I’ve always wanted to breastfeed because it is just the most natural instinct for me as a mother. I know not all women feel the same, and I personally don’t feel the need to preach to those around me that “breast is best” because in my social circles at least, there is enough information out there being promoted by health professionals and so on. Some mothers I know have their own pragmatic reasons for not breastfeeding and enough have struggled and have been unable to overcome difficulties with breastfeeding without everyone reminding them of how they “failed”.
But I hope that, given my previous experience, I will at least be armed with more confidence and have a clearer idea of what not to do next time. And this time, I’ve also put my foot down and refused any visitors in the first few weeks who I know will not be supportive. It’s not easy, but it’s what I have to do to give us a fighting chance. Although I don’t intend it to be a fight… I hope it will not have to be….