I got a call from my mom while at work today. She was telling me how the baby, who is now fifteen months, was refusing to eat lunch. She explained how she tried everything and it wasn’t until she handed over the spoon and allowed him to feed himself that mealtime resumed and he devoured his lunch.
Smiling I ended the conversation with my mom and an overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me. This feeling is not new to me. I have experienced it many times before. It comes during moments when I realize that my babies are growing up and I’m running out of time to be the mommy that I dreamt of being for them.
You see, Gavin is my third child and this time around I wanted to get it right. I’m older now and my ideas about parenting and my body have changed so much since I had my first baby. There were many things I wanted to do differently, and one of those things was breastfeeding.
During the last weeks of my pregnancy I read books, blogs, forums, anything I could find about breastfeeding and how to succeed. I thought I was prepared. I felt empowered being surrounded (both in my personal life and in online communities) by mommies, mine included, who did succeed. I was excited and ready to meet my new bundle of joy and dreamt of our nursing time together.
Now looking back I understand the many medical reasons as to why my body did not perform as it normally would: I did not go into labor on my own (it was a scheduled c-section), it was my third c-section, I lost a lot of blood, the baby was not able to nurse right away, etc.. Yet all of this didn’t stop me from trying. For weeks I pumped around the clock, took supplements, visited a lactation consultant, rented a hospital grade pump, and drove myself to exhaustion. And although I know that I gave it my all, even as the chips were stacked against me, every time I see nursing mothers I feel like a failure. I had one chance to get this right – a chance that I will never have again – and I somehow screwed it up.
I realize that as time passes the guilt becomes more manageable. I hope that someday it is gone all together. For now, I try to remind myself that I did nurse and although I did not produce enough to sustain him, we did connect in ways I never could have imagined. I remind myself that my determination was not in vain, that I am human, and that there will be many more opportunities in his life – and the life of my other children – to get it right.
How was your breastfeeding journey?