Life's Like That

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If anyone still read this blog then this post is likely to get a lot of people up and riled and ready to brand me a bad and lazy mother. But what the hell, I'll just say what I have to say anyways. Oh and the male of the species and non moms might want to skip this post :)

My baby is 23 days old. Im not able to breastfeed much. Ive tried and Ive tried, but it looks like Im just not lactating enough. The baby is hungry and screaming and even after nursing for 2 hours she will drink 60 mls of formula like she was starving. This whole process of trying to feed her has been nothing short of traumatic, involving a lot of tears..mine and the baby's. But the worst part is not the mental and emotional trauma one undergoes as one realizes that one cant even feed ones baby. Watching her root around and suck pointlessly and pull away howling is horrible, but whats even worse is dealing with people. Ranging from pediatricians to the well meaning aunt next door to even your best friend, breastfeeding elicits some STRONG reactions.

Im told that there are some countries like France where society as a whole considers breastfeeding unnatural and discourage mothers from trying to nurse. Breastfeeding in public is a hotly debated issue in most modern societies. I have full sympathy for women who need to nurse in a public place and are subjected to ill treatment. I have every sympathy for women in France who want to breastfeed but are pressurized by society into choosing formula or women who are forced to nurse in public toilets because people object to them breastfeeding in public. I wish people would show people like me the same courtesy of trying to understand the situation instead of standing on their moral high ground and condemning us as lazy selfish women.

Everyone knows that breastmilk is the best option for ones baby. From the moment one discovers one is pregnant, one doesnt even consider the possibility of formula feeding. You visualise yourself nursing your baby, and if you are me, you even read up on breastfeeding and the various holds and latching on. Then reality hits you with a bang in the hospital hours after the baby is born when nurses and doctors and lactation consultants come and pinch your breasts and shake their heads and say "ah well it takes 3-4 days for the milk to come in but keep trying to feed her as the more she sucks the more you will lactate." You try to forget about your newborn baby's hysterical heartbreaking howls and keep at it in the hope that you will indeed be able to feed the child properly in a few days time.

Then a week goes by and though you realize that its still not happening. You sit for hours trying to nurse. Your nipples are sore and bleeding from where the baby has bitten you in frustration.You consult a lactation consultant, you call a doula, you take the powders prescribed by your doctor, you try every home remedy you ever heard of. And your baby still howls and readily takes the bottle immediately after a 2-3 hour nursing session. More weeks go by and nothing improves. You slowly come to realize that this is how it is and accept the fact that the baby will have to have formula in addition to your woeful supply.

Except that at every point there will be someone telling you that you probably havent tried hard enough, that you probably gave up too soon. They will tell you their own experiences of sitting for hours and nursing with cracked bleeding nipples but not giving up because they wanted nothing but the best for their baby. Then there are the men...usually pediatricians, who tell you rudely that you didnt try hard enough to feed the baby, that any and all problems she might be having..ranging from colic to constipation to spit up is because she is deprived of breastmilk and is being overfed formula. They will refuse to prescribe any medicine or remedy and tell you to go and just keep breastfeeding her. You will come home and keep trying and trying with absolutely no result...she will still try to nurse for hours and still cry with hunger till you give her a bottle. And you will still cry with frustration and a sense of abject and utter failure as a mother.

Why do people just assume that one is giving the baby formula out of choice? When did an innocuous tin of baby food become a symbol of a woman's laziness and selfishness? If Im respectful of the fact that you breastfeed your baby, can you not at least try to respect the fact that I might not have had a choice in deciding to not exclusively breastfeed mine? Im trying to channel some of the spirit shown by pre baby Ron...that Ron would have told the breastfeeding nazi to eff off and mind their own business..yes the doctors would have gotten some choice responses as well. But turns out that Ron where Aahana is concerned. What is takes her place is a stressed out, guilt ridden, frustrated Ron, very prone to tears. Pardon this excessively sappy weepy self pitying post...I just needed to vent, and crying at home stresses everyone out..including the baby.

16 Comments:

  • Congratulations on the baby :)
    And you know, I'm sure you did everything in your power and are doing so. Maybe it isn't supposed to happen, or it will later. Who knows. Irrespective though I am sure you will be a fantastic, fantastic mother =)

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 5:50 AM  

  • Ron - I am overwhelmed to hear your pain from your early days of motherhood. I wish I could help you ease the pain, but all I can say is you will be a great mom, no matter how judgemental the world around you is! And I know this too shall pass. Sending smiles to you and Aahana. Hugs

    By Anonymous Mandy, at 6:15 AM  

  • awww hun... u know better than to listen to people who are too ignorant to exist... you know your body best. What works will work, if not, move on to Plan B. I can only imagine what you are going thru.. hang in there...keep the vents happening coz u know we are here to support u :)

    By Blogger MPat, at 6:16 AM  

  • Oh Ron, hearty congratulations on your baby... and sorry to hear about the stressful time you are going through. I have no doubt that you would have tried everything possible in you control to feed the baby, and that's what matters. I am sure it would have been wonderful to be able to feed the baby, but it is what it is. The point is you tried or trying your best. Don't let free advices "of how you could have done more" bother you. Hope everything goes well.

    -Pramodini

    By Blogger Pramodini, at 12:04 PM  

  • Congratulations on the baby, Ron!
    I am not a medical expert but I am mom to a 3.5-yr-old and I can say – DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! I have had precisely the same experience when I was nursing my child. Later on I’ve found from a multitude of sources that formula is not as evil as they made it out to be. I barely breastfed my daughter for first 4.5 months (alternate feeds formula too) and from then on she was solely on formula. She’s a healthy child now, touch wood! So I don’t believe this ‘formula is crap’ school of thought.

    By OpenID gargimehra, at 3:09 AM  

  • This could'nt be more true !!!

    By Anonymous Roushni, at 3:09 AM  

  • Ron - first off CONGRATULATIONS. Aahana is a beautiful name - god bless the little angel.

    My wife and I went through the same trials and tribulations that you described - my wife went thought it much much much more than I did - and Saara is now two years old and in perfect condition if I may say so myself!
    We went through the same cycles of unsolicited and solicited advice, breast pumps, creams, lotions etc. etc. and at one point our pedia told us not to worry as this seems to be a normal thing these days ... very easy for me to say it now but was very different atmosphere 2 years ago ... even figuring out how much formula to feed was a challenge as Saara seemed to lap anything we gave her and then some more! We stuck to the adage that the baby's body knows best and just went with the motions.
    These are trying times so just hang in there, say eff off when you have to and go with the formula - absolutely perfect - and I say this from personal experience.

    Also - a bit of unsolicited advice ;) - as first time parents I tend to be overprotective and overcautious as expected - and I quickly discovered that kids are way way wayyyy tougher than we think they are ... they pretty much experience the pinnacle of pain when they are born - so everything else is relatively painless for them - it takes a few years for their scale of pain to readjust to normal.

    So bottomline - enjoy your time with Aahana - I can not remember how the last 28 months have flown by - seems like a dream now!

    By Blogger Venky, at 9:09 AM  

  • Thanks people. Really needed to hear words of support for a change. I dont know when breastfeeding became just a subject for mental torture. Is it good for the baby to be breastfed by a hysterical on the verge of losing her sanity mother? I find Im happier when bottle feeding Aahana and that makes for a calmer happier baby...shouldnt that matter at all!?Hate the breastfeeding nazis.

    By Blogger Ron, at 10:50 PM  

  • congrats on the baby!! wonderful news!

    By Blogger Abhishek Chatterjee, at 8:53 AM  

  • Hey Ron! Congratulations on the baby and Aahana is such a lovely name. Hope you are doing a lot better now. Trust me..no one knows the baby better than a mother does. I am a mother myself and please remember that a "Happy Mom" is the best for the Child. Just ask everyone to shut the eff up! Cheers..Keep posting! Following and enjoying your blog for a few years now and have been checking every couple of months for more. Hope to hear happy notes about the baby soon!
    Love - R

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 AM  

  • Congratulations on the birth of your daughter.
    I hope you are feeling better now, and less tormented by the well meaning and often unnecessary advice you have been subjected to.
    No kind of Nazis should be allowed near anyone, especially a brand new mum. Take care, and all the very best to you. Keep blogging when you can.

    By Blogger dipali, at 9:44 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger LAK, at 9:08 AM  

  • Congrats on the baby! Like everyone has said already, just relax, there's no need to succumb to those who are so judgmental---even pediatricians!. I went through something similar with my first child, and so was better prepared mentally and emotionally the next time. By now all that must be past---do write in more frequently, venting is welcome too! All the best!

    By Blogger LAK, at 9:20 AM  

  • congrats for your daughter birthday.

    By Anonymous DegeSMS, at 7:59 PM  

  • Hey Ron, its me again....just read your second piece and I cannot tell you how I relate to it! I ready 5 books, various websites and was sooo gung ho about breastfeeding that I think I drove myself insane, then when the milk didn't flow like it was supposed to, I ate and drank anything and everything that relatives, nurses, doctors, cooks everyone prescribed! So net net I was going bonkers, feeling low and horrible, I even remember crying bitterly while giving my baby her first bottle of milk!
    No one tells you that breastfeeding is probably the single most difficult thing that you can do and do successfully!

    Anyways, everything sorted itself out when I stopped fretting about it and fed my baby BM and Formula! and she is fine fine fine....so for others reading this, just go with the flow and don't listen to too many people!!

    Thanks for sharing....

    By Blogger ans, at 10:37 PM  

  • Thanks for such a great article

    By Anonymous Courier Company Karachi, at 7:00 AM  

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