Breast feeding is definitely one of the most heated topics when it comes to having babies and raising them. Olivia is my third and last child. Denali is 10 and Dylan 8, when we got pregnant with Olivia, everyone asked if the pregnancy was planned. And yes she was planned. I had known for about five years that I wanted another baby. I couldn’t explain it but, I just knew I wasn’t done. It took five years to convince my husband, but that’s another story for another day. Olivia was my baby to enjoy every last moment with knowing I would never get to experience these things again. I had nursed my other two babies until they were a year, so there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to nurse Olivia as well. I’m not saying it was easy to nurse my other two children, but the hard work was totally worth it.
I am going to attempt to share my emotional journey of wanting to nurse my baby and not being able to. After Olivia was sent to the NICU at birth, I tried everything possible, and I mean everything, for more then seven weeks to successfully breast feed. I finally decided that this was not going to happen for Olivia and I. It had become a full time job: pumping, nursing, bottle feeding and then pumping again. I wasn’t getting to enjoy this time with my precious baby. I couldn’t hold her while I pumped. I had cried every day over this struggle. I cried that awful cry that dehydrates you because you shed so many tears. The kind of cry that just wells up and your body shakes and you can’t hold it in. Not just the misty eyes, much uglier then that.
I had wanted this so badly and never dreamt that I wouldn’t be able to nurse my baby. I was frustrated that no one could help me. I was angry that I had failed. This was supposed to be the most natural thing. I should be able to give my baby what she needs. What kind of a mother was I, if I couldn’t perform the simple task of nourishing my baby. This just wasn’t my plan. I hadn’t made the decision not to nurse my baby. I felt like someone else had unfairly decided this for me. I wanted someone to blame. The NICU nurses, even if they were just doing their job, were mainly to blame. But, blaming didn’t help, it didn’t fix the problem.
I wanted to be the one to feed my baby. I didn’t even want anyone else giving her a bottle. I selfishly felt like that was something that only I should get to do. I was her mother. I felt like if someone else could give her a bottle, then did she really need me?
For seven weeks I tried everything humanly possible. I talked to LLL, visited lactation consultants, tried every tool, trick, milkmaker cookie, and nipple shield out there. I finally decided that this was out of my hands. The pain of this loss was not over then though. I continued to cry for another seven weeks everyday. I remember standing in the bathroom, the usual crocodile tears dripping from my face, and me telling my husband that I just really wanted to be done with the sadness and tears. I wanted to be over crying. I had been grieving this loss for 3 months. I’m not saying I wasn’t enjoying my precious baby. I was loving every moment with her, but I was just feeling robbed of the special time that you can only have with your baby. I was grieving a loss.
For the most part I put on a happy face when people asked about the nursing. But, my husband and my mom knew how sad I was and how emotional I was. People tried to console me with comments like, “Well, she’s healthy”, and “I didn’t nurse my babies and they are perfectly fine”. These words didn’t help. I saw strangers at the mall nursing their babies and I would lose it. I feared that Christmas would be miserable because we were going to visit my husband’s family and my sister in law had a baby three days after me. I thought I was going to burst into tears every time she nursed her baby. I wanted that to be me.
Olivia is a healthy four months old now. Even writing this now has brought back the tears. A couple of weeks ago I found some breast milk in the freezer. After feeding the last of it to her, I cried again. I know in my head that we are bonded to each other and she loves me no different then my other kids did, but my heart still kind of hurts. It’s one thing to mentally understand something and a totally different thing to emotionally get a grip.
I feel like I must not be the only one out there that has wanted to nurse and can’t? Can you relate to my pain? Why is breast feeding so emotional?