Nothing really ever goes according to plan, I’ve realized over the last couple of months. I had every intention to breastfeed my daughter until she turned one, but everything changed when I gave birth to her.
We had issues with her latching onto me, and I sought out help within the hospital. After nurses forcefully handled my baby onto me, I asked for formula. They were baffled I would even ask for such a thing – I disregarded their glares, she needed to be fed.
I’m lucky that I bought a pump and started exclusively using it to bottle feed her through her cluster phase. I would still try to bring her to my chest regularly, but her screeching cries would deafen our household. She preferred the bottle, and I had to accept it. I lived by that pump for weeks, waking up almost every 2 hours with little to no sleep, squeezing as much liquid gold as I could for her. My body didn’t react well, and my G.A.D flustered. Even though I was topping up with formula for what I couldn’t provide, my supply started to lower drastically.
After researching and talking to doctors, I figured out that my low milk supply was due to my G.A.D. I felt like a failure for a minute. Seriously, I only felt guilty for maybe a day or two; it didn’t last long. The thing is, I know that I can’t change my G.A.D now matter how many times people tell me to “Just Relax!” “Drink some Beer!” or “Take Supplements!” – Trust me when I say I tried EVERYTHING. This is just how I’m wired. Accepting this doesn’t mean that I LIKE it – I’m acknowledging that this is valid.
Since she was getting bigger and on a better schedule, I made a decision to pump every 4 hours, except for a 3am one so I could try to sleep. ‘Try’ is the keyword here; my mind races almost nightly with things associated with her, the house, my relationship with my husband… nothing has been easy on my anxiety. What I did notice is that after some sleep, my first-morning pump would be almost a full dose of what she needed. After documenting her intake for a week, I decided to change up my pumping schedule to give her more. It worked for a little while but started dwindling again.
My husband and I were formula-fed, and we turned out (somewhat) normal. I wasn’t that worried over making an executive decision to stop breastfeeding once it dwindled down more. As I type this out now, she’s almost at 10 weeks, and I pump 3 times a day, extracting 60 ml each time. It can be infuriating at times, but she is still being fed, and that’s all that I care about.
I’ve had some backlash over wanting to stop, and one commenter in a support group said that I wasn’t bonding with my baby properly. I wish I knew this person so I could slap them. I don’t need that bond to be defined by breastfeeding, it’s more than milk – it’s when she smiles at me when she hears my voice, it’s when she grabs hold of my pinky finger when I’m feeding her close to my heart – just because she rejects a body part of mine doesn’t mean she rejects ME.
Even though my breastfeeding plan didn’t work the way that I hoped for, I’m making the best choice for my daughter to ensure she gets the nutrition she needs. This is my commitment to my child, and that shouldn’t be based on how much milk I was able to produce for her. Am I successful breastfeeding mother? Absolutely. Success is different for everyone, there is no right or wrong way, and it should not be measured in millilitres.