I Always Wanted to Breastfeed
From New Beginnings, Vol. 25 No. 5, 2008, p. 18
In October 2007, I gave birth to my daughter, Cameron Jane. I was in the hospital two days before delivering her by cesarean section after induction drugs, an epidural, and hours of pushing. I was simply exhausted, and couldn't go on. I did not get to see my baby for several hours after her birth, and immediately I tried to nurse her. I didn't manage to as I could barely hold her and had no idea what I was doing. There was no one there to help me.
I had great difficulty in the hospital, and even greater difficulty nursing her once I was home. We struggled for several weeks, going back and forth between breast and bottle because she simply wasn't eating. I developed a major infection in my incision and had to have it reopened. I was given strong antibiotics to combat the infection and, after a few days, Cameron began having diarrhea. When I took her to the doctor, he advised me to stop nursing until I was finished with the antibiotics, as she clearly wasn't tolerating them. I listened, not knowing any better. Unfortunately, after several days of not nursing her, she began to prefer the bottle and, try as I might, she would not take my breast again. Even when I brought her near my breast, she screamed. I was in such a panic because nursing my child was truly important to me.
After resigning myself to the likelihood that she would be a bottle-fed baby, I went into a depression. I felt like such a failure for not being able to breastfeed my baby. Each time I made a bottle, just looking at the powdery substance I was feeding my child made me cry. How did this happen?
I decided about six weeks later to try to relactate. I contacted my local La Leche League Leader and attended a meeting. I got some very good advice on how to bring my milk back in, and how to encourage Cameron to latch on again. I began pumping every few hours every day. I took herbs and drank a special tea, took baths with Cameron to get her used to being near my breasts again, and generally worked hard for about a month. No matter what I tried, I simply could not get Cameron interested in my breast. She screamed, fought me, and was beside herself if I even attempted to put my breast in her mouth. I gave up again. I remained depressed and every time I looked at my breasts I was reminded of what they weren't doing.
After another month, I decided to try again. You can't believe how much I wanted this! I followed the same routine, except this time I pumped even more frequently. I thought that if I could just get my milk in and pump for her, I would resign myself to feeding her my milk through a bottle so at least she'd be getting my milk. But my milk wouldn't come in unless she suckled, and she refused. I finally gave up for good.
My daughter is now nine months old and, thankfully, she is healthy and smart. I still mourn the loss of my dream, but I have accepted what is.
I am now pregnant with my second child and am looking forward to breastfeeding this time. With my knowledge and experience, nothing will stand in my way.