I do not consider myself a breastfeeding failure. Yes, I struggled tremendously with breastfeeding. Yes, it is true that I was “only” able to provide my firstborn three months of breastmilk. And yes, Claire has been exclusively formula-fed ever since I decided to quit.
But I do not consider myself a failure. Claire has never gone hungry. She has never been sick — not even common baby rashes like eczema or a diaper rash — nor does she suffer from any allergies. She is smart as a whip and she is, simply put, thriving.
What more can you ask for in an 11-month-old?
But with all this being said, I do want to give breastfeeding another go with BebeDeux. J remembers the hardship we endured with Claire, and tells me that it is entirely up to me, that he will support whichever decision I make. And as I recall the horrendous physical pain (I had recurring mastitis and thrush infections), the endless hours I spent pumping when I could’ve been bonding with my little girl, as well as the dietary restrictions put on nursing women and the elimination diet I endured when we suspected Claire was having adverse reactions to my breastmilk, I am tempted to go straight to formula with BebeDeux.
But I do not want to fall into the trap of not providing for your second (and subsequent) child the same — or at least as similar as possible — attention, effort, and conditions as your first.
…And I confess that a small part of me wants to successfully breastfeed this time around because I could not with the first.
Looking back, I now realize that there were four main obstacles standing in the way of a successful breastfeeding relationship with Claire:
1.) She had, and continues to have, a weak suck.
I did not know this at the time because I did not have other babies to compare her to, but even when I look at newborns now, I am amazed at how strong their sucking reflexes are compared to my daughter’s.
Only recently have I come to read about a physical condition called abnormal attachment of the maxillary labial frenum (via Fearless Formula Feeder) which may lead to difficulty in nursing…and Claire definitely has this “bump” in the middle of her top gumline.
We will definitely be bringing this up at Claire’s next pediatrician appointment, and will be checking BebeDeux for this condition as well.
2.) My in-laws were around all the time.
And while I was — and continue to remain — grateful for their help, I am a very private person who is uncomfortable exposing my bare chest in front of my own mother. This time around, I will not be afraid to speak up if I feel suffocated…I may even ask them to leave at times!
3.) I was tied to the pump.
Like, for the majority of my waking hours.
And while I knew that I had to pump if I wanted to nourish my daughter with breastmilk, I only now realize that this severely interfered with precious mother-child bonding time in addition to making me miserable because I literally felt like a milking machine.
If BebeDeux turns out to hate drinking from the breast as much as Claire did, I will not be afraid to supplement with formula, and only pump enough to give her half-breastmilk.
4.) I just did not like breastfeeding.
There. I said it.
Even on the times that Claire was sucking on the boob, I never felt the rush of endorphins other moms describe. I never felt like it bonded us more than when I was bottle-feeding her. In fact, I actually liked bottle-feeding better, because I could look directly into both of her eyes.
I hated how my boobs leaked all the time, how horribly large and unwieldy they were (they were an E-cup when I was breastfeeding…not very proportionate on a 5’1″ girl whose breasts normally hover between a B and a C), and how my back and shoulder constantly hurt from my oversized, swollen breasts.
And because I hated breastfeeding, I felt even more like something was horribly wrong with me. Which added to the stress, which lowered my immune system more, which continued to contribute to my recurring infections. (And I am sure that this also got in the way of my bonding with Claire.)
I am not sure if I will feel the same way about breastfeeding when BebeDeux comes along. They say that breastfeeding gets better past the newborn stage, but I also know that breastfeeding is not for everyone. I guess we’ll just have to see on this one…and if I end up hating it as much as I did with Claire, I will stop after 3 months, just as I did with Claire.
I am now 32 weeks pregnant with BebeDeux. And despite my weekend puking marathon (I am feeling much better now), she remains as strong and active as ever. It’s incredibly scary and exciting to know that in as little as two months, we will have two babies in our household.