In Someone Else’s Words

I’m still not over my feelings of anger and sadness about how my second, and last, attempt at breastfeeding failed.

It still hurts me to read about successful breastfeeding relationships.

It still feels like a slap across my face when readers are urged to keep trying, because it does get better and it’s so worth it to stick it out (and I absolutely KNOW that no one is slapping me across the face with that message, it’s just what it feels like when I read it.)

I still wish, every day, that I had that ultimate bonding experience with my son. That I were still enjoying it. That it were a part of our lives.

I think it will get better when he’s older and I can assume we would have stopped anyway, but at nine months, I think we’d still be going strong, had we ever got going at all. So the pain lingers.

There is never a day where I wish I’d kept pumping, but there is also never a day where I don’t regret that we didn’t get to breastfeed.

Sometimes it’s hard to articulate, how and why this hurts so much, why I feel like such a failure.

Then I read a post like this one and I feel such overwhelming gratitude that SOMEONE is able to put it into words so much better than I ever could.

I want to write about this more, hopefully on my public blog–because this is something I’d love to speak about publicly–but I’m not sure if I have the time for it. In case I don’t get my own message out there, I wanted to at least write this here. And link that that article. Because it says everything I wish I could say, better than I could ever say it.

3 responses

  1. I actually find the linked article a bit ridiculous. We have images like these to help old crusty people realize that breast feeding is ok and normal to do in public. You have no idea how often I’ve been given the stink eye for nursing in public. Even my breastfeeding crazed MIL encourages me to find a private space and cover up. Pictures like the one in the post aren’t to induce guilt – they’re to try to help people get the idea that ALL babies need to eat in public. If someone feels guilt by looking at it, then that’s their issue. This article went a bit crazy, in my opinion.

  2. Esperanza, I always feel weird commenting because I don’t have a blog, comment very rarely because I typically read you from my phone, and worry you have no idea who I am. So I never know whether to introduce myself, again. But I have been a regular reader since we were both pregnant with our girls, who were born 2 days apart.

    What you feel regarding breast-feeding is so similar to what I felt regarding the birth of my daughter. My birth did not go well, and it ended after 70 hours in an emergency C-section. This was devastating to me for reasons that I still don’t quite understand fully. I really wanted to have a transformative birth experience. At the very least I wanted to vaginally birth my daughter. I had all the intense feelings of failure and having made wrong decisions, and even now four years later I still feel a little bit less of a woman because I wasn’t able to do what most other women can. The recovery was difficult and painful, but more than anything I felt I had really missed out on a primordial, existentially critical experience with my daughter that I could never do over again.

    I had been following several pregnancy Blogs at the time, and as people started having babies I just got so upset every time I read of a successful vaginal birth experience. The ones that are really awesome where The birth goes fast, the person had no pain meds, or had a wonderful water birth, all of these things really hurt me to read. I was jealous of you as well (even though you gave birth two days before me, I didn’t read it until after mine) that I couldn’t come close to the ease of your experience. You’re probably laughing out loud saying it wasn’t easy, but comparatively that’s what it seemed like. Like everything I had wanted had gone wrong despite my best efforts, and though I was glad we were both alive, that didn’t make up for missing out on what could be termed a “good birth”.

    But then my daughter and I were champs at breast feeding. And we had a very loving, bonding, successful bfing relationship until she was 2.5. I never had the pump output you did, not even close, but it was enough and it worked for us. And somehow I felt at ease and confident breast feeding, in a way I really hadn’t felt about my body surrounding all this reproductive stuff. It really helped take some of the edge off the birth thing. Now, 4 years out, neither seems as big of a deal in the course of our lives as it did at the time.

    I say all this because I just wanted to bring up that every mom has these things. For you right now it’s breast-feeding; for another mom it’s how the birth went; for another mom it’s that her child has ODD or something. And every day she feels like she’s failing at just having normal happy time with her child. We all feel this way, but just about different things. I understand what fearless formula is trying to do, but coming from where I sit, they seem so defensive. But everyone needs to feel supported, especially with feelings of failure and not being able to have the parenting experience you planned for, and moms everywhere need better support for sure.

  3. As much as I agree with Courtney that being unhappy about yet another image in popular media of the perfect nursing situation feels a bit much, I think the article does get to a good point. We need to have more conversations about the real barriers to happy and healthy parents and babies. For my money, I think you had a really successful breastfeeding relationship. We need a better definition of success too. I wish so much I could have fed my girls formula because nursing was miserable but since it technically worked, we were stuck with it. I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole thing and have decided to quit being worried or bummed about it because sometimes life happens. I don’t have to like what happened but I also can accept it to the best of my abilities and try to let go of the hurt. I still feel super gut punched by the families with the kids we don’t have but it’s getting easier as I get used to this. I keep acknowledging that I’m allowed to feel hurt and also reminding myself that there will be a scar in my life there but it won’t hurt forever.

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