I will start by saying that I DID breastfeed both of the wigglers. Sass for 8 months and Sprinks lasted a whole 3. Being gifted with Holstein like Mam-bags I felt obligated to at least try. While preggo with Sass Monkey I researched a bit on the subject but didn't worry about it too much. I had spent a lot of time on a dairy farm as a child, if I could get a calf to suck, couldn't I get my own to do the same? It’s all about instinct, right?
Fast-forward to being induced a month early because my water broke. Then through an 18 hour labor and delivery where the epidural gave out at the most crucial time (like, for most of it). I spent hours cursing, sweating, pushing, and begging for someone to just please reach inside and pull the little sucker out because that was the most painful thing I have ever endured (and folks, I have had horses FALL on me, if that puts this in perspective). So there I lay in the post-partum room, still a bit in shock, with this tiny, HUNGRY creature screaming at me from a bundle of blankets nestled in my arms. Hubbs and I could only sit and stare. Well, I guess I should try and feed him? Let’s whip one of these suckers out and take ‘er for a test drive! Aaaaaand we stalled in the driveway…
No milk? I had no milk! How was this possible? They had gotten HUGE! Oh wait! Drip… That’s. IT? Freak out time!
My husband (who had researched lactation, latching, and feeding holds to the Nth degree as always because "an attorney never enters the courtroom unprepared") assured me that this was normal. He’s so good like that. "Remember… Sass came a month early and this was my first. My body just wasn't ready yet. Maybe his tiny sucking muscles weren't fully developed?"
And enter Lactation Consultant stage left… the sinister side…
"It’s okay! This is a natural process and the best choice for your baby! Let’s try this!" She proceeded to grab my already cracked and bleeding nipple in her icy claws and squeeze it flat while shoving it into my enraged son’s mouth. At this point, the boy was really hungry and this stranger who smelled of Purell and False Advertising didn't help. For the rest of the day Hubbs and I milked, cajoled, and teased only a few precious drops from my abused and terrified mammaries (Me-effing-dela) while the Nipple Nazi would continue to “pop in and out” to check on our progress. Cheerily. It most certainly wasn't the four courses the boy was looking for so he continued to scream.
This went on for 2 effing days. "Oh, he'll be fine!", she would coo, "They don't actually need to eat for 72 hours after delivery!" Basically...let him starve sweetie, it's your fault he's not eating anyway. Did she at any time acknowledge that he was a preemie and may not have been strong enough to latch? Did she consider that my body might not have been ready yet as he has emerged a full 4 weeks early? Did she take into account that stress keeps your milk from dropping? She did not. She only ever so politely suggested that to give in and give my baby boy a bottle of formula would most definitely ruin him for life. He would never latch! He would never like the taste of breast milk! I wouldn't bond with him as quickly! Nipple confusion! My body needed to be forced to produce!
Bull-effing-sh*t. I wish I’d known then what I know now. And I swear... if I EVER see that... that woman again....
At the end of day two Hubbs and I conceded a temporary defeat and fed Sass some Similac but we felt awful about it. Or I felt awful. I felt I had failed as a mother and as a woman. My husband knew the truth you see, but I just wouldn't or couldn't listen because my raging insanity/hormones were holding my rational hostage (for like, years). Formula isn't the devil. Sass’s brain would be fine and develop normally (Well… as normal as possible). We would all bond and my milk would eventually come in and it would all be OKAY no matter what. But good luck telling me that because society tells us that “if you can’t do X then you can’t be Y” and I had bought that crap hook, line, and sinker.
With Sprinks I had milk in time... I just had given birth to a baby piranha She latched on like the world was gonna end 20 minutes after she popped out. She sucked and she sucked... and ... oh gawd that hurt and ... Holyjezusandchristonacracker she ATE a piece of me! Sucked a chunk of nipple clean off and then puked up a belly full of my blood. Yeah... unsettling doesn't cover it. It took weeks to heal. I gave her 3 months and then we were done. By that time she was getting more Nystatin than milk anyway as we had a never ending case of Supa-Thrush. We be a thrushy people.
Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't try breastfeed even if the going gets tough. If that’s what you want then go get it… just don’t stress yourself out if things don’t go as planned. I was wracked with guilt for weeks after the birth of my first about my “failings” and all it did was make it harder for my milk to drop. Breastfeeding, in the beginning is hard, bloody work. But it can also be wonderful. I still miss snuggling up with my babies and watching their eyes glaze over in sleepy ecstasy as their little bellies filled. It was something special that I could do just for them…. But it is not the end all be all.
It is NOT the only way to bond with your child. Daddies don’t lactate and seem to do just fine.
It doesn't make or break your woman-ness.
It isn't the only way to feed your child. I refuse to believe that formula companies would mass produce poison and charge you $24 a canister just because they want to kill babies. I don’t believe that they are out to get your kid. In. Any. Way. (Just your money).I also know that formula has saved the lives of thousands of children… if not millions… around the world as an easy food source for babies whose mothers are in dire straights health-wise. And what about those lactose intolerant children?
Colostrum is important and helpful but not a necessity. Not these days.
I will end this rant with something I tell everyone who either feels guilty about not doing it or goes all Red-Star-Regime about it:
My husband was exclusively formula fed. I was exclusively breast fed. Who’s the attorney with the crazy high IQ? Well it ain’t me, folks.