The first time I ever breastfed
I was a clueless 19 year old, in a hospital bed having just been handed my tiny 5lbs 13oz baby daughter. I still vaguely remember the struggle to get her to latch properly and her then being taken to the hospital nursery because I needed emergency intervention. I then spent the next few days in a hospital bed desperately trying to get this little human to latch in between her screaming or having blood tests and ECGs.
I lost count of the times I had to ask a midwife to help me get her to latch and most of them ended up just offering me bottles of formula. Every time she managed to latch she would feed for hours on end and there were many a time where I felt like giving up. I hated my body for not doing what it was supposed to do, I hated myself for coping badly and I was worrying Eloise wasn’t getting enough milk.
I remember one night in particular where she had been feeding all day every days for weeks and I was exhausted and just thought “f**k this” and went to get the carton of formula i bought “just in case”. These days became frequent. I was a single, teenage mum with this beautiful, tiny human who depended entirely on me. It was f**king hard. I wouldn’t change it for anything though.
We had latching issues for months to the point I ended up with ulcers and every time she fed she cut off the blood supply to my nipple. Fun times. For the first few months Eloise was attatched to me approximately 85% of the time but we got through it, and at about 4 months into our breastfeeding journey we both just seemed to get the hang of it and only went on to have a few blips where I got blocked ducts but nothing to write home about.
My second baby, Lily was an entirely different story. I felt more confident this time, I knew what to do, I knew how to help her latch and I held less doubt over my body. I fed her straight away and although she took a while to get the hang of latching initially because she was so small we got into the swing of the physical side of things in no time at all. It’s amazing how different two babies can be! Eloise took a good 40 minutes to get a full feed whereas Lily takes about 10 minutes. I unfortunately got mastitis when Lily was a few days old and she began to plateau with her weight which was worrying as she was only 5lbs 7oz to begin with but I got better and Lily began putting on weight again. Cue hiccup number 3!
Despite having the physical aspect of latching on and so on and so forth down I never felt right when I fed her. I felt the same with Eloise but at the time I just put it down to being young, single and sleep deprived as hell.
It was discovered that I suffer from Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER which in laymans terms is where you experience every negative emotion you can possibly think of each time you feed your baby. For me it happens as soon as my milk starts to let down and continues until Lily finishes feeding so I’ve never had that textbook blissful mummy and baby time when I breastfeed, and I can’t help but feel guilty when Lily catches my gaze as she’s feeding and smiles and I’m hating every second and just sat there willing her to finish so it’s over and I can stop feeling like a huge black cloud is suffocating me. I adore both of my daughters and I love being a mother more than anything in the world but I don’t enjoy breastfeeding. I feel awful saying it because I’m supposed to feel all these wonderful oxytocin fuelled emotions when I cradle my beautiful baby to feed or at least that’s what all the pregnancy and baby books say.
I’m just grateful to know that this actually exists and I’m not just going completely mad! It makes me feel less guilty.
BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC
The first time I ever fed in public was at Eloise’s 6th birthday party, in the middle of Wacky bloody Warehouse of all places. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end! It was coming to the end of Eloise’s party and Lily was getting fussy and I was just thinking “oh f**k I’m going to have to go to the bloody car to feed her”. If you’ve ever fed in the car you will know that it results in dead arms, elbows hitting the doors and babies kicking the gearstick. Basically it’s not fun and several levels of awkward that would have led me to probably give up on life and come back to the party hating myself for not having the balls to just sit down and do it without giving a damn.
Luckily one of Eloise’s friends has a wonderful Mum who reassured me that it’s the most natural thing in the world and to basically not give a f**k and so I sat down in the corner of a play barn and fed Lily. No one said anything. No one looked at me in disgust. No one cared.
I’m still quite self conscious but I can now go out and not worry about Lily needing a feed. Today I even planned to feed Lily in public!
Basically I’ve broken out of the habit of feeding in cars or avoiding going places for long incase Lily needs feeding and just generally adopted a “fuck it” attitude and get my tits out to feed lily wherever she needs.
I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that if somebody has an issue with a mother feeding her child then they’re probably an asshole which isn’t my problem.