I said I wouldn’t be hard on myself if I wasn’t able to breastfeed. I told everyone who asked how I was intending to feed that bottle feeding was something I was prepared for if Warren didn’t take to the breast, or if I found it too painful or demanding.
Of course, I was lying. I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months. I’d joined Facebook groups for breastfeeding mothers. I read countless articles about why breast milk was better, and skipped the chapters in my parenting book on bottle feeding. The mum I wanted to be breastfed, and I thought I was prepared.
When Warren was born, he was breastfed within half an hour. I looked at his little face against my chest and felt like I was succeeding. “LOOK! He’s breastfeeding. Look at us go! I am Mother!”
Things were a struggle for the first few days. When he fed, he fed for about an hour because he’d only latch for a few minutes at a time. He ended up with more milk in his hair than in his tummy, but I was determined to persevere. We would get it, it would just click, and it would be great.
But it never got easier, in fact, coupled with the lack of sleep and still feeling drained from the birth, I was struggling more and more. I had several break downs, but didn’t want to give up.
When I saw the midwives for my appointments, I would sit in tears about how hard I was finding it. My breastfeeding support worker was on holiday, and I was feeling very alone. Me and Warren stayed over at my dad’s house one night, and I couldn’t get Warren to settle. I ended up crying myself to sleep, wondering why something so natural was so hard.
That’s when everyone in my family started suggesting formula milk. I maintained that I didn’t want Warren on formula, but the response was always “But breastfeeding is making you miserable, and you said you wouldn’t beat yourself up about it”.
In the end, after another tearful attempt at feeding, Alex went out and bought formula. He sterilised all the bottles, prepared water in them and lined them up in the fridge. That’s when I realised he was excited about feeding Warren himself. He wanted to help, he wanted to spend time feeding and bonding with his son, but I was being stubborn even though I was failing.
Warren took to the bottle in a way he never took to breastfeeding. He wasn’t fighting for food, and I was the first to admit that knowing how much he’d eaten was a weight off my shoulders.
He has steadily gained weight, and although I’d love to still be breastfeeding, I’m not angry at myself anymore because I’m not sad during feeds. It’s now a time where I look into Warren’s eyes without tears in my own, and that’s far better for the both of us.