August 22, 2009

Trying Again, Letting Go

Last night I read something about relactation. It seemed to coincide all too perfectly with some thoughts I've been having of late of my (lack of) breastfeeding relationship with Charlie. Combined with my explosive feelings of closeness to Charlie and a conversation I had with Myra, I can't help but feel that this is a sign. Although some might think that ship has sailed (and sometimes I do, too), I still want to breastfeed Charlie.

It's not that I regret giving Charlie formula. I really don't. It was the best I could do at the time - with a crappy birth experience, recovering from a C-section, an insane amount of sleep deprivation, and a raging case of the baby blues, something really had to give - and breastfeeding was it. I don't feel any guilt about switching to formula because it's what needed to happen, and it gave me time to rest and heal and others (especially Roy) time to bond with Charlie.

I have always been an overachiever, and I never do anything half ass. I am proud of myself for not pushing myself to the point of insanity to try and make breastfeeding happen when I was already so overwhelmed. I was able to have the foresight to let go before the going got entirely too tough. That is so not something I would normally do. And it's always nice to surprise yourself.

But in the back of my mind there is that voice that says, "You really didn't try that hard."

And that is true. I didn't suffer through mastitis and clogged ducts and supply issues and so on and so forth. We never really got past Charlie's latching issues. I just caved really quickly because I wanted to feed my baby and I wasn't sure how to do that without giving him formula. Pumping worked for awhile and got some breast milk into Charlie for the first four weeks or so. I do think that any amount of breast milk a person can give their baby is great. But I know that I didn't give it my all. I didn't have my all to give.

But now I have recovered. My body has pretty much healed, and I am much more emotionally stable. If I worked my butt off and went through the relactation process, there is a chance that I could get my supply going again and try to build a breastfeeding relationship with Charlie. The timing is absolutely terrible, because I really need to focus on other things, like figuring out my work situation, and doing this would be all-consuming. It will probably (no, definitely) throw a wrench into our nice little routine we've got going on, especially at night. It will make it more difficult for me to do anything on my own, where I have enjoyed a nice amount of freedom since Charlie was born. I imagine that once again, everything will change and our lives will be chaos - just as the dust has begun to settle from Charlie's birth.

It's just that I feel that I'm missing something so important by not breastfeeding Charlie. Everyone keeps talking about what a special thing it is to nourish your baby with your body and how it is such a bonding experience, and now that I have been given a taste of what bonding is really like, I can't help it - I want more.

I think I'm also dealing with how I originally envisioned myself as a parent (cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing, and all that other crunchy granola attachment parenting stuff) versus the parent I've turned out to be. So far I've managed to do cloth diapering, but all the rest has fallen by the wayside. I'm no Earth Mother. And I guess that was the kind of mother that I wanted to be.

It's funny how high our expectations can be without our even realizing they are. Here I had all these hopes for my birth experience that I didn't even realize, and we all know how that turned out. And likewise, I had all these wishes and dreams and visions for my parenting style, and well, what can I say except that Charlie is who he is and I've had to adjust to that. Honestly, I love Charlie and am more than happy to do what works for him, even if that includes formula feeding and disposable diapers and whatever else I didn't want to do originally. One thing my birth experience and first few months of parenting have taught me is that flexibility is absolutely key, so that you can become the parent that your baby needs you to be.

However, despite all this "wisdom" I've gained since Charlie's birth, I still haven't let go of my desire to breastfeed. So I'm going to call a lactation consultant on Monday. And I'm going to ask her if she's affiliated with La Leche League at all, and if she is, I'm going to tell her to keep her agenda to herself so that I won't be afraid to ask her for help.

And honestly, I am scared. I sat last night and read about breastfeeding and bonding and relactation and all that other stuff, and you know, I cried thinking about the phone call that I had with the lady from La Leche League when Charlie was a week old and I was completely out of sorts. I thought about all the horrible things that she said to me because she couldn't let go of her own rhetoric to help someone who really needed it. I am still so angry at her for not reaching out to me in a way that was truly supportive. I am angry at her because this is what essentially stopped me from really trying to get Charlie breastfeeding. But I am more angry at myself for letting her stop me.

I have no idea where this is going to take me or my family, but I do know that I need to make this phone call. I need to know if we can start over, try again - or if this really is the time to let go.

Wish me luck. And if you have thoughts on this subject, share them. I'd love to hear them.


kim said...

Like I have told you many times, I thin you are entirely too hard on yourself, so if it doesn't work out, please know that everything will be OK. You are an amazing mother to Charlie, and he will turn out great no matter if he is drinking formula or breast milk. And you guys are bonding in other, just as great, ways.

As for me, I have found that I don't have many expectations. I think it's because I know that with twins, so much can fly out the window. I guess I am just expecting to "get by" and try to be as flexible and open-minded as possible.

LLL people can FRO. Don't let the haters get you down!

Good luck! Keep us posted. xoxo

mj said...

I know what its like to be an overachiever and be too hard on yourself but from everything I've read on your blog, it sounds like you are doing great and as well as any new mom could do considering the circumstances.

I'm no lactation specialist but if calling one will help you feel like you tried your best (and I say that bc thats how I would feel), go for it and dont let one crappy LLL rep get you down!

Erika said...

^I agree with are being too too hard on yourself. I would imagine there are LOADS of other ways to bond with Charlie....its not like he is going to sit you down one day and say:

" You know mom, I really wished you would have breastfeed me when you had the chance, I don't really feel bonded to you at all".

Seriously, Think about it....I'm sure if you really think hard about it, you would and could find ways to bond with him and I'm pretty sure you have bonded well enough already he looks like a very happy baby....:)

HOWEVER, if it would make you feel better and i'm assuming it will...:P by all means call that lady monday and ask her questions regarding starting over and such it would not hurt in the least to know what your options were.

But please....don't sell your self short like you breastfeed him or not, is not the point....YOU are an amazing give him tons of love, all his physical needs as well as emotional needs are met....HELL.....half the kids in America should be so lucky!

I wish you luck my friend....let us know what happens.

Brenda said...

My mom didn't breastfeed me. I love her ass to death, we have bonded plenty--she is my best friend. You do what you can and you do what works best for your family. You are an awesome mother to Charlie Les, please don't doubt that for a second. Eff the LLL reps.

Angie Eats Peace said...

Ditto, Kim, and best of luck my friend. We are here to support.

inflammatory writ said...

You are being way too hard on yourself. All of this competition bullshit that motherhood has turned into is just another way to make women feel inadequate and ashamed of their bodies and their limitations. A good friend of mine just had a baby ten days ago and she's having a terrible time breastfeeding and it's mostly just making her and the baby miserable. She is supplementing with formula. Just do research and make sure he gets the best formula possible, and all your love.

A friend of mine refers to LLL as the tit nazis. I think it's appropriate if they can't put their judgmental rhetoric on the shelf for two seconds and actually, y'know, HELP.

Anamika said...

I pretty much agree with every other comment on here.

I saw a button one day and I think it totally rocked. It said: "Breast milk or formula? Who the fuck cares? We all end up giving them pop tarts and kool aid anyway." Something like that.

If making that phone call will give you peace, then go for it. You're a wonderful mommy and no matter what you decide to do with your boobs, you'll still be a wonderful mommy.

phairhead said...

good luck! remember yr breasts don't determine how you are as mum!

Nanette said...

I know it's a trek, and it's kind of $, but I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend the lactation consultants at The Pump Station here in Santa Monica. I've met all three of the consultants, and they're all wonderful, warm and very supportive. Not militant or judgy at all.

If you decide to go that route, let me know so we can meet up while you're up here! :)

amber said...

I'm still sad for you that the La Leche League lady was a such a raving bitch to you. :( I agree with everyone else - if it will make you feel better to speak with another consultant, then definitely do that, but know that even if you can't breastfeed, you're still an excellent mother to little Charlie. :)

sherthebear said...

You are way too hard on yourself as Kim said. We all have expectations as to what sort of parent we want to be but as you said, flexibility is key. You are being the best mom to Charlie by providing him nourishment and meeting his needs as well as providing him love. You are bonding with him by being the best mom you can be. Just by being who you are and wanting to provide him with the best, you are showing how wonderful a mom you already are.