Big Boob

For the last 18 weeks I have breastfeed my daughter with varying levels of success. It’s been a very challenging experience to say the least.

Today I made the decision to stop completely and give over to formula.

The fact that it is breastfeeding awareness week makes my decision all the more a slap in the face. The irony of this is not lost on me.

Breastfeeding, the most natural thing in the world, the thing I most wanted to do with my first child, has been pretty much disastrous for me.

I have mixed emotions. Sadness and frustration as well as upset and grief as well as relief.

We started off with latching issues. The videos and diagrams make breastfeeding look simple. It was FAR from simple. A hungry baby on virgin nipples hurts. After 3 days of struggling to latch, I was too scared to put her back to the breast and opted for expressing and feeding via syringe.

After 3 days I picked up the courage to put her back on the breast, and we struggled to perfect her latch and my positioning.

Then we both got Thrush. That was horrid. It made feeding unbearable. So for a few days I opted to express. It cleared up pretty quickly thank god.

Finally we were getting somewhere, then after 5 weeks, I ended up in the hospital, with suspected appendicitis. 3 days in the hospital where I was away from her. With no way to express. I had no pump, the maternity unit was in another building across the hospital compound and hand expressing was a disaster which wielded nothing. My milk ducts became clogged and my boobs were sore and swollen and lumpy.

After 3 days in hospital, I was discharged and we started to try again. The first thing I did when I got home was put Emma on the breast.

Then 3 weeks later, I came down with Bells Palsy and had to take medication which meant that I could not breastfeed, instead I had to express and discard my milk. For 10 days. It was difficult. My baby was on formula, no breast milk at all. Despite regular pumping my supply dwindled.

I cried on so many occasions. Not being able to feed my baby was heart wrenching, of course she had milk, but it wasn’t my milk. I felt like a freak, my face distorted and uneven. I sounded like a drunk. I spent most of my days in tears. I suspect the stress of it all didn’t help me reaffirm my supply.

Since then we have struggled. No matter how much I expressed with my breast pumps, I couldn’t produce more than an ounce of milk. Putting Emma on my breast and she nursed but I never felt my let down, and despite an hour of nursing she would come off the breast and cry for milk.

When she was hungry I would offer the breast and eventually she would just scream at me, refusing to latch. It was stressful and saddening for me. I often felt like a failure. The Husband was there, a shoulder to cry on, supportive, told me I could give up if I wanted to or I could carry on. I wanted to carry on. I wanted to succeed.

Instead she only ever nursed successfully in the middle of the night if she woke or very early in the morning.

Eventually she stopped nursing then also. She would latch, but only nurse for comfort or she would just laugh and not nurse at all, instead she’d just play around with my nipple.

I spent the whole day yesterday, every hour putting her to the breast, and it didn’t go well. She screamed, she laughed, she refused to latch.

I really wanted to be successful.
I really wanted to be able to feed my daughter.
I wanted to breastfeed for more than 18 weeks.

I wanted to have more times like this.

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I remember the moment in the hospital, on day 4 when I decided to brave the breast again. The Husband was sat cuddling Emma, and I was say on the bed expressing. I asked him to bring her over so I could try again and he said to me “are you sure?” And I said “yes, I want to do this”

I positioned a pillow on my lap and got her into position and I put her to the breast, we worked on getting her latched and when she did, and I felt my letdown, I said to The Husband, “look! I’m doing it!” And I asked him to take a picture.

I am incredibly sad that I haven’t been very successful.

I feel incredibly disappointed in myself, and guilty. Although I shouldn’t. I overcame a lot of obstacles and continuing trying when others would have stopped.

I feel jealousy towards other mothers who can and are breastfeeding their babies.

I feel relief too, which in turn makes me feel guilty, but relief because I’m going back to work in 10 days and whilst my company is pro-breastfeeding, the logistics of it in my line of work are not really compatible.

I work in more that one location, sometimes in places where there isn’t a lot of facilities. I get a 20 minute break, which is barely long enough to eat something much less express milk, and then there’s the situation of where would I express. Somewhere clean and safe. You can forget the bathrooms. Then there’s storage. So I feel relief that I won’t have to worry about these things, immediately followed by guilt because its a shitty thing to feel relieved about.

I feel hopeful that for future babies I can try again.

I feel glad that I was at least able to breastfeed for a short while, because I know that there are mothers out there who cannot breastfeed their babies at all. I’m happy that I at least got that chance.

I feel anger that there is constant debates about breastfeeding vs formula feeding.

I feel overwhelmed by all of these emotions.

I feel thankful that my daughter has me. She has a mother who loves her so much that is hurts. It’s a constant stream of love and adoration.

I feel appreciative for a very supportive and loving husband. I feel lucky that I’ve chosen an amazing man to be the father of my child.

It’s breastfeeding awareness week and I made the decision to stop breastfeeding.

As the song goes, Isn’t It ironic, Don’t Ya Think?

Foothold

I’ve the last year I have really struggled with my mental health. Having a mental health illness like depression is hard work. It’s a silent illness and only those who have had it can really and truly understand how difficult it is.

When I became pregnant with Emma, I was on a high. I’d been telling The Husband that I wanted to have a baby for about 2 years. Eventually he agreed and well, 4 months later the blue lines appeared, well it was a digital “pregnant” that appeared, but you get the picture. A positive pregnancy test!

We made a doctors appointment, got a referral to the community midwives and away we went on our new adventure.
I remember the exact day I stopped taking my antidepressants. It was July 18th 2012. Having a baby on the way made me fiercely determined to beat my depression in submission and lock it away. (Note : depression never really goes away, it’s always creeping around trying to get a foothold back into your mind)

There were days that I struggled and days that I didn’t. I think my protectiveness over my unborn baby helped that.

Because of my medical history I had to be reviewed and my pregnancy managed by a team of consultant obstetricians AND the community mental health team. Having a history of depression means that I am more likely to relapse into a depressive episode during or after the pregnancy. This pushed me to fight even harder. I did not want to rely on tablets and monthly doctor visits when I had a baby to look after.

I don’t want my child to grow up with a mother that was constantly pill-popping or spending days in bed.

Emma is my world, my antidepressant. She is one of my sole reasons for waving the flaming torches at the blackness of depression, warning it away. The Husband is the other. The two most important people in my life.

I am struggling today. I struggled yesterday. I have Bells Palsy. The right side of my face is paralysed. I feel awful and I look awful, then I feel depression gleefully clapping its hands and looking for a way in.

It’s becoming harder.

This morning one of my twitter friends said to me “you’re allowed to be pissed”

She is right. I am allowed to be pissed.

Since Emma’s birth it has been hard. Even just before it. I caught a virus and my sciatica was so bad that I had to start my maternity leave 4 weeks earlier than I wanted. We were hospitalised, we had breastfeeding issues, I had suspected appendicitis and now this.

However I am not pissed. I am upset and disappointed.

Bells Palsy is temporary. Looking at myself in the mirror is fine if I have straight face, it’s barely noticeable. However the moment I make any facial movement only the left side reacts and I look freakish.

I can’t smile.
When I talk for a short period of time I begin to sound slurred. I can’t pronounce certain words. I sound like a drunk.
It’s very hard to eat and drink.
I have to express my breast milk and throw it away. The person who coined the phrase “there’s no point crying over spilt milk” has clearly beer had to throw away their own breast milk!

The actual palsy isn’t an issue. I know it will resolve over the next few months. I’m hoping it will resolve without any complications.

The psychological factor IS an issue.

I cry because I cannot smile at Emma. She however finds my lopsided smiles funny and when I try to smile at her she responds with gummy grins. They make my day but they also make me sad. It is a horrible feeling not being able to fully smile at your new baby.

I cry because I’m disappointed in myself. I feel like a freak and I look like one. The lady with the freakish face. I cannot bear to leave the house because I am worried that people will stare at me. Having been someone who is never bothered by what a person looks like and has never bothered about how I look (within reason of course) I am now painfully aware of my hypocrisy. How noticeable my shallowness is, that I am more concerned about how I look to others when really I shouldn’t be. I am now questioning myself.

I cry because the medication I have to take for the next 10 days means I have to express my breast milk and throw it away. This is the 4th time I’ve had issues with breastfeeding. I am determined to do it, but at what cost? Where do I draw the line?

I am afraid that depression is sat at my feet trying to claw it’s way up my legs.

Thankfully The Husband, being one on my beacons helps me stave off depression.

I am ever thankful for him and my daughter.

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The Cupboard

Flump is due in about 2 weeks time. (Sooner I am hoping)

We’re practically ready, although we still need to buy the cot mattress and bedding, yeah procrastinating at its best! We have pretty much everything else we need though.

The plan once Flump arrives is to breastfeed. The plan has always been to breastfeed and express my breast milk so The Husband can help with feeds. With that in mind my mother got us a bottle and sterilising kit by Tommee Tippee.

It comes with an electric steriliser, a single bottle microwave steriliser, an electric bottle warmer, 2 bottle insulators, formula mixers (??) a bottle brush, tongs, a dummy (soother) and 8 bottles.

Tonight we set it all up. It looks pretty awesome, if a little overwhelming.

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Breast feeding : strictly over 18s only!!

On Tuesday we went to our antenatal class, run by our midwives. The talk turned to breast feeding your new baby and she told us about this lovely video on YouTube where a newborn baby, about an hour old shuffles over to its mothers breast to feed. On its own. (Minimal help from mama)

Her point was that new babies aren’t as helpless as people believe. Put them on your chest and within 35 – 60 minutes they will have located your boob and start to try to get to it so they can feed.

The video is sweet and around the 3 minute mark I did laugh, little grunty sounds from babies are cute!!

So I sent it to a pregnant friend of mine using WhatsApp. She is due about 10 days before I am. Quite pleased with myself for sharing, I was a bit stunned when she responded with “what dodgy video have you sent me to watch?! Lol”

Dodgy?!

I quickly typed back “it’s a Breast feeding video my MW told me about!”

It turns out that YouTube gives you this warning when you try to view the video on a mobile device.

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Say what YouTube?!? Are you for real?!

(Spoilers)

It’s a one hour old baby and a nipple. Baby moves to nipple and begins to latch on and feed! Why do you have to be over 18 to watch it?!

Breast feeding is natural. It is not sexual, it is not some kind of pornography. It’s a mother feeding her baby!

Whilst I appreciate not everyone is on the Breast feeding “bandwagon”, I actively searched for this link to watch it, so I know roughly what to expect. I didn’t expect to be told I had to confirm I was over 18!

(I did get this notice, but I just clicked passed it without paying any attention to it…..oops!)

YouTube, it’s not like I searched “skinny man banging a big boobied lady”, that I could understand carrying an Over 18 warning label. Besides, doesn’t your T&Cs prohibit videos of a sexual nature?! So I’d not expect to find sexually explicit videos on your site. (Not that I’m looking mind you!)

To those who flagged this as “inappropriate” – SHAME ON YOU!

But a Breast feeding baby? Come on now!!

Here’s the video