Monday, April 28, 2014

The missing piece of our journey

Before I had bub I didn't get too attached to the idea of breastfeeding. I didn't want to get my hopes up on yet another thing that could turn out to be beyond my control. I'd had too many disappointments on the road to having a baby in the first place, I didn't want to add another one. My mum had no trouble breastfeeding me, but my grandmother was unable to feed any of her children and I knew my pcos could have an affect on my milk production. But, I still had hope and remained open minded.

It turns out my daughter must've taken feeding lessons in the womb or something. While I had no idea what I was doing at first, she seemed to have it down pat. She didn't need any encouragement or help finding my breast. She knew what she wanted and she went straight for it. From the very first feed her attachment was perfect. The nurses kept telling me I was the luckiest mum on the maternity ward. Any doubts I had about our breastfeeding journey were instantly forgotten.




It's hard to describe the feeling of breastfeeding to those who've never experienced it. I could never really grasp what it would be like before I did it myself. For me it was the most incredible feeling. It was overpowering. We were truly connected and in sync with each other as much as two people can ever be. It was comforting, natural. The most intense emotional experience I've ever had. It very quickly became familiar and normal, like we'd both been doing it together for years. 

I loved feeding her because it was our time to focus solely on each other. It was a bond that only we could share. I looked forward to the night feeds. The snuggling. The rush of happy hormones. The feeling of complete contentment that washed over both of us. I felt so empowered that I was able to keep my baby nourished, content and thriving from my own body. I felt like I had a super power. It was the first thing in my journey to motherhood that had actually gone right and that was a refreshing change.

Unfortunately she didn't continue thriving for very long. After about 4 weeks she started getting very ill. That's when we found out about her cows milk protein allergy and that her body couldn't process my milk. It explained the continuous, often projectile, vomiting that followed each feed. The crying for hours on end. The rash that had started out as hives and become eczema that spread from her face to her nappy. It explained it all. It also meant the end of our precious breastfeeding journey. The quickest, and best, way to control her allergy, minimise her symptoms and eliminate her eczema was to change her to specialised formula. A decision that I knew was right at the time and in hindsight I still believe that, in fact even more-so than I did before.

There are moments though that I desperately miss breastfeeding. I miss the special, intense connection we had before. I try to put it out of my mind, but there are times I find myself longing for it. Times where for a few seconds I let myself wonder what it would be like if we had been able to continue our breastfeeding journey. Of course then the mummy guilt creeps in and the sadness washes over me. I know I did the best for her. I know she is thriving and a much happier baby now, but I can't help but miss it. 

Toni x


Linking up with EvaKirsty and Alicia

31 comments:

  1. Awww, such a tough decision to have to make :( I was in a similar position with my oldest, she was diagnosed with CMPA (among other things) at 9 months old and the traces of dairy in my breastmilk from my own diet were enough to cause her to develop bleeding in her gut. So she had two weeks in hospital switching to Neocate and waiting for her gut to heal and for her to gain weight. I watched those scales like a hawk as they weighed her every morning! The gremlins had CMPI and switched to Neocate at 3 months, I tried an elimination diet while I was feeding them but nothing seemed to help and it was too much trial and error. They too thrived on Neocate. Fortunately the next two have been completely allergy free and breastfeeding has been awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep we've been in hospital because of it too, but she seems to be thriving on Neocate finally. We tried AllerPro and Pepti Jnr but she was still having reactions to them. I'm hoping the next baby will be allergy free so I can do it for longer than 5 weeks next time :)

      Delete
    2. We tried Pepti Jnr too - foul stuff it is! But yeah, Maya reacted to it too. Neocate did the trick.

      Delete
  2. you did the right thing - you put your child's needs before your own wants and that's what makes the best mum of all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's tough alright but you have made the right decision for sure! Take care! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I just wish my hormones would understand that!

      Delete
  4. You moved me to tears with this post. Breastfeeding is a very special time but bottle feeding is too. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes bottle feeding is just as special x

      Delete
  5. You absolutely did the best thing for you and your baby, and that's what being a mum is all about. I didn't breastfeed Mr 4 but I loved the time we spent together while he was feeding. People often wondered why I wasn't teaching him to try and hold his own bottle, and the truth was that he could hold his own bottle if he wanted to, I just loved spending that closeness with him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it too :)
      Any chance for some extra snuggle time is ok with me.

      Delete
  6. Please don't feel guilty, you are a fab mum, I can tell by how much you care, and devote to making sure her allergies are under control. And if you look at it another way, it means dad can do some of the bonding that comes with bottle feeding. My youngest over the boob at 4 months, but middle boy 15 months. It doesn't define you as a mum, you rock!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep he does love that he can feed her too. I think he felt a little helpless and out of the loop when I was EBF.

      Delete
  7. There is no mummy guilt in doing what was right for your baby. I can understand that closeness of breastfeeding. I am so grateful I got the opportunity to do it twice with the girls, after bottle feeding my eldest.They say that mother/baby bond begins(out of the womb anyway) in the love of looking into each other eyes when feeding, breast or bottle xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She still stares in my eyes and I can't help but smile. I think I'm just always too hard on myself.

      Delete
  8. I love breastfeeding too. I breastfed all my babies as long as I could, which is all any mother does. Just some come at this point earlier then others. xS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think my issue with it is that it was somewhat out of my control even though I made the decision myself. You just gotta roll with the punches though.

      Delete
  9. Every mother knows when you need to stop. With my twins I was happy to last four weeks but then I ran out of milk and the boys grew so much on the formula. Thanks for sharing this precious memory with us :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She put on so much more weight once she went onto formula that she could actually digest so it was definitely the right thing for her health wise. She's a little chubba now :)

      Delete
  10. Breast feeding might be natural but it is far from easy. My milk never "came in" with Mr 19, and as a result he was going hungry and not gaining weight poor little man. In hindsight I think we never got the attachment thing right. So he went on to formula at 4 months. Things went a bit better with Miss 17, but by the time she was 4 or 5 months old I was very sick - breastfeeding took it out of me! I ended up in hospital and she ended up on a bottle. But I was glad I'd given it my best shot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I know Janet, so many of my friends struggled with it and I figured I would too. I think I missed it more because I knew I could do it (when I thought I wouldn't be able to). I also think there's probably a lot of pressure placed on mums to breastfeed which may have added to my guilt, however the nurse I had at the time was very supportive of my decision.

      Delete
  11. Breast feeding isn't for everyone and I think in the end you need to decide what's best for your baby and yourself. My youngest was ten weeks premmie and as much as I wanted to breast feed it wasn't the best thing. In the end I expressed for the first six months. It was exhausting. Especially with three kids under three. I honestly don't remember when I slept.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea when I slept the first few weeks either and yet I want to do it again. My niece was 6 weeks early and she had to be tube feed for two weeks so my SIL didn't breastfeed either because it just wasn't possible.

      Delete
  12. From my experience, if it feels right for you and you are doing what's best for your bub, then go for it. I breast fed Elliott for about 3 months. From the time he was born he just didn't take to the boob, he found it hard to suckle and always fell asleep. One feed took a loooonnngg time. Because of it, he was in special care for almost a week. I persisted at home, but it was hard both physically and mentally. My PND definitely didn't help. Like you, after I stopped I longed for it and wish I could have gone back to try again, sometimes out of the blue I think about it. But for the short time I did breastfeed him makes me happy and he got as much nutrients as I could give him. Maybe next time it will be easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was suffering from PND when I gave up feeding as well and it was also probably a good thing for my anxiety as I was very stressed that I was causing her to be sick because it was my milk that she couldn't tolerate. I wish things could've been different, but I'm also glad that she got as many antibodies and nutrients as she did. I'm hoping next time will be easier too.

      Delete
  13. Thanks for sharing your story so honestly. I was unable to breastfeed beyond three weeks and had so many people (including midwives) criticise me for not pushing more to try to feed. But at the end of the day, what is best for your baby is that they are fed, and well. And you have managed that successfully!
    I used to have a bath with my little girl to continue that special bonding and that was lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I find hardest is the judgement from strangers when I'm out and I'm preparing her bottles and they look me up and down and I can feel them judging me for formula feeding. All the people who are close to me and knew the situation were very supportive though which was wonderful.

      Delete
  14. The longest I was able to breastfeed was for 15 days, after 3 babies. I could never work it out, nor could my babes. With my youngest now 4 I haven't really thought about it for a long time but I wish I had have been able to be successful. I don't think they have been disadvantaged at all but it would have been nice to have had that time together. Lovely post Toni x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think she's been disadvantaged either, in fact I know shes been better off being formula fed. I think I just long for the emotional connection and closeness of feeding? It's probably just a hormonal thing.

      Delete
  15. Ahh Toni. What a heartbreaking, but necessary decision for you to make. I remember that rush of happy hormones you get from feeding too. I know you will hold those memories close to you forever. I remember my mum trying to tell me about those goosebumpy feelings you get when you're feeding and I thought she was balmy lol. I'm glad you were able to experience it, love. Treasure it forever x

    ReplyDelete
  16. Such a perfect description of how breastfeeding feels. I'm sorry that you had to make such a difficult decision, but I'm glad you also created some beautiful memories too.

    ReplyDelete