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.