Another post written & posted from my phone while Charly feeds (poetically) – so if you read it before I see it on the laptop & can edit it, apologies for spelling & terrible autocorrect errors I have missed.
It turns out that doing what I feel is best for Charly isn’t really a choice at all. A lot of people have told me how brave I am for sticking to breastfeeding through seemingly endless pains and problems, but I don’t feel brave because it hasn’t felt like a choice.
There has been one occasion where I considered moving to formula & it was purely selfish – when the lump in my breast caused what looked & felt like a red slap mark on the side of my breast & the fever drained the very last of my energy when mastitis started on midnight on Saturday.
As I sobbed while feeding my baby girl, Brett asked helplessly if there was anything he could do & then he asked what it felt like: “Like Charly is trying to suck a burning litchi, with its spiky skin on, through a threads-width tube in a bruised feeling breast & out my nipple.”
The pain of feeding was excruciating, but even worse was the fever that hit the next day after I started the antibiotics. I get bad fevers, I always have done; borderline hallucinating, chills, sweats, headaches & extreme muscle & joint aches – at 2am on Sunday night while feeding a screaming baby from an inflamed breast – then. Then I really considered it.
The fever broke about an hour later after taking 2 miprodols & the pain in the lump began easing Monday night. The migraine-like headache has not yet passed & my body is broken exhausted. Thank goodness for my mother being here the past 2 days, the blessing of a backup set of arms to settle your child when your body has betrayed you completely cannot be under-emphasised.
And as soon as the fever broke, the consideration of moving away from breastfeeding evaporated.
I have had a rough time of it: I had torn & bloodied nipples in the first week; my milk came in almost a full week late; Charly wouldn’t latch at first & then latched badly til her 1 week checkup where the clinic sister taught me to try a different position where she latched instantly; after a full month of excruciating nipple pain (that I thought was normal for the first 6 weeks as everybody said it was really hard at first) we discovered we had thrush; after 2 weeks of that I discovered I had blocked milk ducts due to overproduction (likely from the mood stabilizer I was given to bring in the milk & then to treat the baby blues); which brings us to Sunday when I found the lump & 8 weeks exactly after the birth of my baby I was diagnosed with mastitis – a serious inflammation in the breast caused by bacteria or a blocked duct.
I know it would have been a very different story if Charly wasn’t thriving, but she is. She is right at the top of the weight curve, gaining 40g a day & getting everything she needs. And so, I have never considered changing over.
I know I don’t have to move to formula; I could express & bottle feed. I even bought the fancy Medela Calma bottle that prevents nipple confusion & requires her to suck as if she was on the breast to stop her from preferring the bottle due to ease of use.
There are 2 reasons I haven’t expressed to allow myself some relief & let Brett or my mom feed her. Firstly, I’m selfish. This is something I can do that nobody else can: nothing can replace the emotional bond I feel with my baby when she is latched onto me; it is our special quiet time where we look into each other’s eyes and know we belong to each other forever. And secondly, I am terrified of the breast pump. Yep, that simple; but it really is mostly the first one.
Even as I write this I realise it sounds like a choice I am making, but only as I write am I thinking it out. I really just feel like as long as Charly is healthy & getting everything she needs, I don’t have a choice. I don’t resent it, I don’t even think about it – it is just the way it is. The same way in which I have to change her nappies or wind her or wake at night to feed her, breastfeeding in my life is just another thing I do for my child.
It is not brave or heroic, I’m not even a “breast is best” type & feel no need to encourage others to breastfeed or have any negative feeling whatsoever towards formula feeding. It is simply what I do with my baby because it is proven by her health & weight gain to be what’s best for her. And in most cases, I really believe that being a mom is about sacrificing for your child, so even if feeding always hurts me, unless it starts negatively affecting her, I’ll keep feeding her til at least 6 months.
I am planning on expressing as well though to allow me some freedom. I will never feed in public because as I described my experience of feeding – it is a very private quiet thing between Charly and I. So I will need the option of the bottle when I start venturing out more. For now going out anywhere is a battle, carefully timed out according to her feeding schedules, that change every night when I switch from waking her to feed her to her waking me to feed her.
That is our story. I hope there are far more positive happy stories out there & I have no doubt there are or there wouldn’t be armies of breastfeeding mommies out there fighting to educate women on the benefits of it.
Speaking of stories, I have not forgotten Part 2 of the c-section post, I work on it a little every day. With all of this & my grandfather’s passing, it may be a little delayed. That’s all for this evening lovelies; I am off to try steal an extra hour of sleep before Charly’s next feed. Much love to you all & once more thank you to all of you who have given advice and sent love through this horrid time. XxxX