First Lesson In Motherhood: Shit Happens

I never thought being a first time mom was going to be easy, but I didn’t expect to consider myself a failure the day my daughter was born. I kept a journal throughout my entire pregnancy. I recorded my physical ailments (morning sickness for a full nine months), my food cravings, my happy days, my sick of being pregnant days, my baby sonogram updates and promises I vowed to work on everyday to give my child the best life possible. I was committed to being the balanced, confident perfect mom with all the right tips and tricks to help navigate my daughter through birth to adulthood. One of those promises was breastfeeding. If you asked me before I got pregnant what I would feed my baby, I would have responded dubiously, “Coffee and cream”?!
Since I was becoming a mom and was responsible for taking care of another person besides my own selfish needs I was going to give her the greatest gift. “Breast is best,” I was told countless of times. Experienced moms, lactation specialists, doulas and scientific research expressed the positive effects breast milk has on a child’s growth, health and brain function. And there was another bonus. Theories suggested body-to-body contact helped form a mother daughter bond I instantly craved. I imagined myself sitting next to her 20 years later discussing the joy I received while cradling her in my arms as I fed her milk from me, my body, the dedicated mother who would sacrifice everything to keep her happy and healthy. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the breastfeeding daydream images surrounded by lullaby tunes playing in the background with a fixed crooked smile on my face dressed in a cute white sun dress turned into a major shit show!
As soon as she came out I sang her name out loud in the delivery room and then growled at my husband to hand her to me. I was eager to introduce myself and watch her latch on effortlessly. Except, she never did. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I qualified as a woman with inverted nipples. My boob malfunction drove me into a tailspin. I was drugged due to a C-section and left dumfounded by my inability to nurture my child naturally. I became depressed, angry and desperate. I requested a lactation specialist to visit me in the hospital and tell me what my chances were of delivering breast milk to my daughter. Already I let my daughter down–only nine hours after she was born. I tried everything. Nipple covers, breast shells, a breast pump to convert my inverted nipples to erect ones. The anxiety overwhelmed me, I felt like I was starving my child and I was exhausted. My breasts failed me and I failed her. Being overly paranoid and emotional, I decided to supplement her with formula while I tried tirelessly to get her to latch on.
I was engorged the day we came home from the hospital. I assumed this was a sign that my body was ready to surrender to her suck. Unfortunately, the milk buildup became too painful and my baby nurse had to help me pump it out through my screaming and crying. I was lucky if I got out half an ounce of milk. According to experts, babies don’t need many ounces in the beginning stages, but after seeing how much I produced is when my “mother instinct” kicked in. Yes, I could keep trying to feed her naturally while being cranky and feeling defeated or I can try to get to know my child and give her what I think is best. I opted for the latter. I kept my daughter at a healthy weight with formula feeding meals and whatever drips of breast milk I could pump out for dessert. I returned my boppy pillow and pump a month later. It’s almost been seven years since the boob fiasco. My daughter has been attached to my side ever since.bf2