There I was, I had just had my fourth child and just arrived home from the hospital on a Monday night, in mid-June. My baby came 2 ½ weeks early and was smaller than her older siblings. The older three had all weighed-in at one ounce apart from each other at birth. Lauren was a pound smaller.
And then there was the breastfeeding issue.
I had successfully nursed my other children for 2 months, 11 months, and 7 months, respectively. It was fairly easy for me. By the time I had my third at age 26, I felt like a pro and took it all in stride.
Or so I thought.
In the hospital, Lauren was struggling to latch on. The breastfeeding consultant came in to help. We tried different techniques, and this sweet little girl did okay once or twice, but for some reason, the next feeding did not. This whole process felt as if it was my first ‘rodeo’. I was baffled. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I struggled to have more patience and make it work.
The lactation expert didn’t want Lauren to have a bottle for the first 2-4 weeks, to ensure that she was fully accustomed to breastfeeding-only. According to the professionals, even babies will naturally take the path of least resistance. Breastfeeding is a bit more ‘work’ for them, especially in the beginning.
The first evening at home was like a cartoon scene from Family Circus. Picture this: The baby needed to be nursed, and before boppy pillows were invented, I used one of those bed rest pillows (you know, the ones with the arm rests). Well, my other three followed me, and before I knew it, two were jumping on the bed, and the oldest was playing Wrestlemania with them. And where was their father? He was actually doing one of the most important tasks any new father can do: watching wrestling on Monday Night Raw… To add to it, when I called him to retrieve the three little monkeys, he couldn’t seem to understand why.
You can imagine my tears. I hurt in multiple areas of my body, not just from having a baby, but also from having a tubal, an engorged chest, not to mention a splitting headache. I had more pain than Indiana Jones did in the scene on the ship in Raiders of the Lost Ark!
And my newborn baby was crying from hunger.
The following morning, my mom and sister-in-law came to check in on me. When they asked how everything was going, the floodgates opened, and I conveyed my feelings of frustration and ineptitude.
How could I breezily nurse three children, then have a very difficult time with the fourth? It didn’t make sense.
My mom looked at me and gave the best piece of parenting advice I have ever received. She said, ‘You don’t have to breastfeed this baby, you know.’
And she was right. I didn’t. It was as if the heavens opened up, and everything was right with the world again.
Amidst all of the chaos, I had forgotten something so simple. Relief flooded over me, and the monumental effort which felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest stopped immediately. I never looked back.
I knew it was the right thing for me, and therefore, my family. I was much happier, and life became a little easier.
Moms, if something in your world isn’t working…talk to someone you trust, and see if you can figure out why then make the necessary corrections. Your happiness is worth it, and this spills over into your family’s happiness. There’s a saying: ‘If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’
It’s okay not to be the most sacrificial mom on the planet…really, …it’s okay.
The switch to bottles gave me so much freedom–yes, it came with a price tag (formula costs are ridiculous), and with four children, that was a small hardship. But that extra freedom at that time for me was priceless.