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Thread: Sherie's parenting de-brief

  1. #1

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    Default Sherie's parenting de-brief

    This is something I have wanted to get off my chest for a long time. This is more about my feeding jouney as a mother for all three of my children and I still struggle with it and how I could have done things differently. I still feel like I have failed them in some way and I don't think you ever get over the guilt completely. You can tell yourself that everything is OK, they have thrived on formula, you aren't stressed about the pain from cracked nipples anymore, but it never really goes away - it just gets pushed to the back of your mind until something is said or done to bring it all to the fore again.

    DS1
    I had feeding issues with him from the start. I was never told how hard BF would be - I always assumed that it being the most natural thing in the world to do should also be the easiest - I was VERY wrong. Every feed hurt and I put it down to having extremely sensitive nipples during pg. The midwives told me that it should settle soon and that yes, establishing BF would be a bit hard on them. For my entire hospital stay of 5 days I didn't have a single BF that did not hurt me and the one time I did start to feed with no pain, the midwife told me that if it didn't hurt he was attached wrong and promptly pulled him off and put him on again which did hurt. I tried many postions with him and the hospital's in house LC came and saw me and gave me some great tips but he simply would not latch properly no matter how much we tried. I had full and painful breasts and I literally curled my toes everytime he attached and started sucking. When I left hospital the first three days home were horrible. I had cracked and bleeding nipples, he still wasn't attaching properly and I cried those three days and I wished that he had never been born and I remember telling DH that I want it to go back to being the two of us again. He was supportive, but adamant that i continue to BF. I though how dare he tell me what I should be doing? he isn't the one dealing with engorged breasts, bleeding nipples and a basic feeling of not being in control of his life anymore?

    I did go to the local chemist and hire a breast pump to try to give my nipples a rest - which did give some relief, but still that couldn't help with the attachment issues. At the end of the first week home I was in tears again and I demanded DH go and get me a tin of formula because I just couldn't bare the thought of feeding him anymore. The first time I gave him formula was the first time I enjoyed feeding my son - who despite all this I loved with every inch of my body and would protect him with my life. I decided to continue the BF but would use the formula to give my breasts a break and expressed the milk to store. After a few days BF was a dream - it didn't hurt and he seemed to be doing OK because he didn't have to fight for every mouthful of milk, but it was not to last, the attachment issues resurfaced and the cycle began again. The only saving grace was that I never got mastitis, but I came close several times. By the time he was 7 weeks of age he was fully FF because the cycle just kept going and even despite the advice that I sought out couldn't fix the problems. The guilt I felt was huge and I was my own worst critic, but I could see how well he was doing and slowly the guilt was pushed to the back of my mind.

    DD1
    DD1 was born during the first year of the worst drought on record. For those who don't know we are farmers and the drought hit with full force without warning. had we known when we conceived her that she would be born into the drought, we honestly would have waited to have another child.

    During my pg I was more determined than every that she would be a BF bub. I read every book under the sun to educate myself all over about BF and how I could make it a success this time around. The very first time I fed her I attached her myself and there was NO PAIN!!! I couldn't get over how easy it was this time. She had a perfect attachment and everything started to go well. My milk came in on day 4 and she was amazing. It was such a different experience to Lindsay. I left hospital so happy that I had no BF issues. Once home she fell into the routine of feeding 12 times a day. I was happy with this because the feeding was going well. Sure she was very demanding but I thought that was normal and that every baby is different. When I took her to get weighed for the first time, I discovered that she had not put on any weight at all - she was still at her birthweight. By this stage she was 4 weeks old and I was shocked. Here I was feeding her 12 times a day and she wasn't putting on weight? I noticed that she didn't look chubby like DS1, but assumed that because she was BF she would stack it on like he did. From there it went down hill. She was screaming all the time because she was hungry and I just couldn't make enough milk no matter how much I demand fed her. This also coincided with our harvest which was to be extremely poor. The stress on both Dh and I was huge - we were worried about the future and how we would survive the following year because the crops failed. I began to realise that maybe the stress I was under was affecting my milk production because by the time she was 5 weeks old I literally had nothing left - not even going for a whole day without BF would fill my breasts at all. I was devastated - it had happened again - I had failed my child. I think I was more upset this time because everything had been going so well to this point.

    Putting her on formula made an overnight difference - she was more settled and slept though the night for 8 hours at 7 weeks old. Again the old feelings of guilt resurfaced because I felt I had been starving my child and that I should have done something sooner to help her.


    DD2
    Fast forward 20 months and I was BF again for the third time. Again I was determined that BF would be a success and it was. DD2 fed immediately after birth and despite having to have a manual placenta removal, i fed her again after I was brought back to my room. She was an absolute angel - I couldn't have asked for a better baby. She was a textbook feeder and fed like she had done it for a 100 years. I did have trouble from the start producing milk because I lost so much blood and required a blood transfusion - my body wasn't coping with making milk for her and blood for me so I never ever felt full and never suffered engorgement like I had previously. This worried me, but while I was in hospital (7 days) she did lose just over the recommended 10% body weight, but was putting on 20g a day - a great start, or so I thought. But by the 4 week mark my milk had gone - my body just couldn't do it. It didn't help to establish supply that she slept for 8 hours at night either - making it hard to establish my supply. To say I was devastated was an understatement - I was crushed when again I started buying formula again. I knew it was the best that I could do for her but it didn't matter what i told myself - I had failed again. How unlucky could one person be to not be able to provide food for their babies?

    I don't expect support, I don't expect criticism - god knows I've done enough of that myself - I just wanted to put my story out there and try to digest how I have felt as a parent. I would give anything to have been able to BF my children for longer than I did and I envy those women who can Bf with no troubles and do it for however long they choose.

    No-one fully realises how hard it can be and I feel that you can't even begin to understand how a FF mother feels unless you have been there. If you have never had any trouble then Kudos to you. But mothers are the harshest critics when it comes to parenting and I constantly feel judged for my decisions - but trust me - they weren't taken lightly and if I get another chance to do it I will endeavor to do it differently.

    Every time I see someone that I know successfully BFing I get all the old feelings of guilt and inadequacy come back again - "Why couldn't I do that so easy?" "Why should she be able to Bf and I couldn't?" it is something that will come back for the rest of my life and I keep telling myself that it is silly, they have all turned out fine - better than fine - they are happy, healthy and smart and I know in my heart I have done the best I could for them, but it isn't enough - I'm their Mum and I should have been able to give them the best start to life but I couldn't. I would like to get past this, and being 2 years since I last gave birth I should be over it, but I'm not and I don't know if I ever will.

    Last edited by Trillian; October 18th, 2010 at 02:37 PM.

  2. #2

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    oh Sherie...there are tears all over my face as I read this. Hun you have held on to so much grief over bf I hope writing it down has let some of it go. When Matilda was weaned off bf and thrived without as much pain from reflux, I felt like such a failure, like I didn't have it in me to produce the best for her. Its awful feeling that way & feeling like you couldn't give your child the "best". *hugs*

  3. #3

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    Sherie, I SO know where you're coming from. But you tried very hard against some pretty challenging odds to keep it going. You did the best you could under what sound like very trying circumstances. That is all anyone could ever be expected to do. You are so much more than a source of food for the children and the fact that they are happy and healthy says more about you than whether you could breastfeed them or not. It really does.

  4. #4

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    Thanks you guys. It is so hard to have confliciting emotions inside me about this subject. It is so easy to push these feelings aside and look at the positives of what I have done, but it doesn't take much to bring them out again. Now I am at the stage where I possibly wont have another chance to try again, I feel a bit wistful about that and a sort of loss IYKWIM, because I will never know if I could have made a go of it.

    I would give anything to be able to say, "I BF my child for x amount of time".

  5. #5

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    Thanks for sharing your feeling here Sherie - I totally understand how you feel. I also wanted to BF my daughter more than anything and changing to formula was the hardest decision I think I have ever made but one made for the health of my DD and also for me. I still feel guilty when feeding my DD a bottle out in public - worrying that others are judging me - thinking that I am FF for convenience.
    Just wanted to give my support and let you know that you're not alone in the ongoing guilt.

  6. #6

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    I constantly feel judged for my decisisions - but trust me - they weren't taken lightly and if I get another chnce to do it I will endeavor to do it differently.
    I understand completely Sherie and feel sad for you that you are carrying guilt for this. For some people its just not meant to be. It doesnt sound like you had a decision to make, hun - it was made for you by your circumstances.

    A lot of your posts have supported me and made me feel better about things that have happened to me or just given me a general boost. If you can do that from your pc, I can just imagine what a great mum you are to your kids. I really think that breastfeeding has nothing to do with the kind of parent you are. For some people its just not possible, and thats ok.

  7. #7
    Nickyb Guest

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    I only just found this thread and it really struck a cord in me too!
    I had similar attachment problems with my first and the feelings of failure were all consumming. Why aren't we more supportive of a mother's choices whatever they may be? Lord knows being a time mum is hard enough! Women need genuine support not psuedo support and silent judgement.
    Hugs to you Sherie

  8. #8

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    I feel it is time for an update. Since I put my thoughts and feelings on *paper* I have come sooo far - I have had another baby for a start, but not only that, emotionally I have absolved the guilt I previously felt and I know I did not fail my babies, but my body failed me - failed to do it's job and provide the liquid gold my children needed. I have no idea why this is the way it is, maybe it's because I am overweight, maybe it's because I have higher than normal blood sugar levels, maybe it's just because?

    Alister
    Even before I was pg with my fourth and final child there was never any question of how I would feed him - Breastfeed he would be. I didn't even twig during my pg that my lack of leaking colostrum or only increasing 1 cup size could have been indicators that breastfeeding was not to be again. I had never had a problem getting that first flush of engorgement (except for my third baby) - my problem was keeping the milk once I had it. After my babe was in my arms for the first time, I put him straight to the breast and he sucked for so long - it was bliss to have another baby at my breast again - and after I had showered and he was bathed we fed again and it was nearly 1hr that he was on both breasts for and I was loving it. After that feed he went to the nursery and we (DH and I) settled down to sleep. The next morning when I went and got my boy the MW told me he had been very mucousy and congested overnight - not a biggie, but at the first feed for he day had he fussed around a lot and wasn't attaching properly as he would gag. He had been very chucky and gagging a lot from mucus during his first night and he just didn't improve through the day either.

    We did struggle through it on the second day(second full day after his birth), but by that night he was so tired from not sleeping because he was hungry I started giving him 10ml of formula after a bf and then would use a pump (manual hand pump) to encourage my milk to come in quicker for him, but it just didn't. I kept up the BF/pumping/top ups through thursday but there was just nothing - even the colostrum didn't look like colostrum anymore, just this really clear fluid. Also the attachment issues didn't resolve themselves either (small mouth, big nipple) So I made the decision to go to FF. My boobs never even showed signs that engorgement was immenment.

    Another thing that was quite worrying was that he had not pooed since he was born (he did a huge mec poo when the cord went tight around his neck just before he was born) and this was of a concern to the midwives. Not only that, he wasn't having a lot of urine output either and when he did it was stained pink from the urates in his urine, signalling that he was starting to become dehydrated - hence not getting anything from me. One he was on formula though he started having normal wet and dirty nappies. Luckily he did not lose weight at all and came out of hospital at his birthweight (4.56kg) so he didn't have to regain anything.



    As I look back over my problems, its only now I realise that it was out of my hands. I know that there are medications and remedies I could have tried, but to me, that is as artificial as using forumla and there was no gurantee that it would work anyway - women shouldn't have to use supplements to keep their milk.

    So now I have to live with the fact that I feed my baby 'crap in a can' and there is nothing i can do about it - I have no guilt, but in the absence of a wet nurse it is all I have. I live with the knowledge that it is inferior and to think otherwise would be foolish and irresponsible. I have to also live with the possibility that my children may have health problems as adults - even now there is strong evidence to suggest that the increase in Type 2 diabetes is directly related to formula use in infancy. My chidren are not sick now - indeed they are healthy, thriving, intelligent and rarely get sick - but that could just be good genetics rather than the way they were fed. Or it could be just plain luck that they have suffered no adverse affects from it, only time will tell.

    It is funny though how I have come full circle with my feelings about it all - yes, I did feel terribly guilty at first and felt I had to make all the excuses, but there is no point dwelling over it, you just have to get on with life as it is handed to you.

  9. #9

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    I'm so pleased to read this update. I remember the dissapointment when DS refused my lovely boobies. I also remember breaking down when measuring out the formula, I was frightened, I didn't know what was in it, I hated the darn tin with a passion - but what was the alternative when he was so young?

    There is only so much you can do - and you did everything possible. Yep, certainly sounds like it was out of your hands - but the rest of their lives isn't! You're a great, conscientious mumma - kudos to YOU! Mwah.

  10. #10

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    I'm glad to see yoy're feeling more at peace with everything now because I can't imagine you giving up on anything without giving it your best and of you've done your best you shouldn't feel bad about yourself.
    I don't think you need to worry about type 2 diabetes it's usually a disease of lifestyle so good food, frsh air and excercise are a great preventative and I know our children get plenty of those things.

  11. #11

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    Sherie,
    I have a lovely cousin who had 5 children and her story is so similar to yours. She persisted with breastfeeding for every one of her children but each time they just went backwards in weight. Like you, her body failed her, and she is stick thin so for both of you it was "just because". I am so glad your feelings have changed so much since your original post.

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