Because I could not stop for death....

I got knocked up instead...

Monday, September 19, 2005

6 Months on, I'm still guilty.

As always, I prefice this by saying I FIRMLY believe that breast is best. And therein lies my issue.

When I was pregnant with Vivian, I imagined breastfeeding with ease. I imagined this easy bond forming.


First comes Post Partum Depression. Then comes a baby swimming in a sea of boob, searching for a nipple. Then comes no milk, since Mommy lost so much blood, and isn't eating due to depression.

No one ever mentions the following:
  • Breastfeeding is REALLY FUCKING HARD.
  • You will SMELL.
  • The kid does NOT just latch.
  • Big boobs makes it twice as hard.
  • Your hormones will go completely, and utterly nuts.

I understand that now, organizations like La Leche League are fighting an uphill battle against formula, ease of use, etc, etc, and are doing what they feel is necessary. But you know what? People like me, who really wanted to breastfeed, but couldn't due to PPD, and no help, end up feeling guilty forever about it. When people ask, you lower your eyes and mutter "well, I did try."

With Rosalyn, I was physically able to breastfeed, and I think back on the short period of time in which I did so as this halycon moment. What a wonderful feeling it was.

Of course, this is totally disregarding the memories of me thinking, "Gee, I could just throw her out the window, and then take myself into the woods with that very large bottle of muscle relaxants." I stared that that bottle for weeks.

Finally, my father and husband sat me down and told me I needed to make a choice. See, we have NO family out here, and my father only stays for the winter. In the past, women had their families around them to help with the house, the other children. That means you can spend the first few weeks, basically in bed feeding your child, and resting.

I had to choose between my sanity and my daughter's breast milk. And I feel quilty for choosing me. She's healthy and cool and HUGE! And I still feel quilty, because there is this movement out there that makes you feel like less of a woman because you couldn't, or wouldn't breastfeed.

If I had a mother nearby to help, I would have. If we had anyone, I would have. I become infuriated with the basically raised nose tsk tsk's that many of the articles and books I read have about those of us using formula, with only a token nod to the women who cannot do it because their lives are at risk. It makes me guilty, and it makes me angry.

6 months on, and I still feel guilty for putting myself first.


At 2:34 PM, Blogger Dana said...

As a woman who has breast fed and had PPD, all I can say is stop the guilt. You aren't hurting your baby. Yes, breast is best, BUT depression is worse and you don't need to go without medications. Being depressed will hurt your baby more in the long run. Believe me. You can't help it that you have depression, just like I couldn't help it. I got help for myself so I could be a better mother and so did you. You did the right thing and it was not selfish.

I breast fed my first for only 2 months. Then the depression got too bad. My second, I went as long as 11 months, but just couldn't deal with the depression any more. So I had to quit again and take the meds. So I know what you are going through and if you need to talk, just give me an email.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if that's what my mom really have. She was young when I was born. I predically feel like she hates me to my bones. There's enough hurtful comments about how I have to born and my Dad pratically like raping her when they were suppose to "make love"

She blame everyone everything around her. She was told to have to do c-section, the traditional way like straight downward top to bottom. So no more bikini like she even going to do bikini at all. she was told breastfed is bad and wrong. She was told cant spend too much time with new baby. 2 weeks after birth already have to cook and clean for housefull of relatives. And the in-laws told her she forgot to scrub the floor.

Sometimes, I just wonder. As she's often very sick like and faint easily. Doc cant figure out what her problem is and she totally refuse to take any anti-depressant meds.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Hollie The Mom said...

Breast is best blah blah blah you did what was BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILD! These people that get on thier high flautings can kiss my big ole bottom! I could breast feed didn't even try. I have an inverted nipple you know those spazzes would tell me there was some specail thing i could do to painfully I might add force the skin apart (basically an at home surgery) so * lala* I could breast feed.. *insert you are a friggin nut job get away from me and my child look here* they are people without a life and have no clue what to do withthemselves other than go around with a little "Cause" and totaly forget that in many cases they are actually doing more harm than good.

The guilt you feel not your fault! It is thier little marketing campaign of ignorance and misguided I need something to do other than spend my hubbies money and do lunch.

You are holding and bonding with the wee one and also allows Dad times to bond too. And a mentaly and physicaly healty Mommie is way more important and BEST for your children and you than fitting some stupid ad campaign RIGHT?

stay strong in knowing you are a great Mom and keep patting yourself on the back.

At 1:45 AM, Blogger Dak-Ind said...

Ah, another victim of the breastfeeding nazis. I bottle fed both my sons. I have no guilt. The boys are both big healthy happy handsome critters! I made the choice that was best for my family. I am a very very good mom, even my mother in law says so. Tell the busy-bodies to back off and get bent. You need to make the choices that are a fit for you and your family. You know what you are doing, your kids are healthy. Get rid of the guilt.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger thordora said...

I know all these things, and I'm glad I'm not the only one calling them the breast feeding nazis!

I just hate the fact that something like this has become so divisive, and that I live in a society that makes it hard.

And anon-please, email me if you need an ear, or a shoulder.

I don't have time right now, but I have another post on this theme....

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Dana said...

Well, I don't consider myself a BF nazi and I don't go around telling people how to feed their child, it was just something I believe in. :)As long as you do what you think is right, then you have nothing to feel guilty of.

And it goes the other way too. I was ridiculed for BF my babies. I was told it was disgusting. I was told it was un-natural. And in some places, I was made to feel guilty for BF my babies. (and I am not one to go around flashing my boobs at people) Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who try to tell you how to live your life. You just have to do what's best for you and ignore the others.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Raida said...

Darlin' as I now approach my l'il man's 4 month mark I TOTALLY understand. I had to stop with him a couple weeks after he was born due to drying up thanks to a wonderful "Hi, I'm F-ing bleeding to death" session in the hospital. But you know what? The kicker was that I didn't enjoy it the way that people told me I would. I too felt guilty but look at it this way, (PLEASE because I SO understand how you're feeling), if you're not happy then your baby knows it. Do NOT listen to the naysayers. I truly believe mother AND baby happiness is far more important than ONLY baby happiness. You've done the right thing.

*BIG hugs*

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Vicky said...

I had my first baby at 19 and was talked into the "breast is best" propaganda in the hospital after her birth. After two weeks of suffering through mastitis (my nipples were cracking and bleeding!) and both of us crying through every feeding we discovered that there was no milk coming out and I had been starving her! (that was a whole load of guilt)

One day of formula and she was a happy girl sleeping through the night for 10-12 hours at a stretch. I'll never regret bottle-feeding my kids.

14 years later, she's an honour student and very athletic.

...oh and she still sleeps through the night...up to 20 hours on weekends!!!

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had PPD and I regret breastfeeding as long as I did because it kept me from getting on medication. NOT GOOD. It would have been far better for my baby if Mommy had been happy, instead of deeply suicidal. She'll be two soon and I'm only just now starting to bond with her. I'll feel guilty about this all my life, I know. I wish my husband had done what yours did. I wasn't thinking clearly and needed someone to help me out.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger thordora said...

Thank you for everyone's candid advice and experiences. Like Raida, I had the "bleeding to death" experience myself, which no one could explain either time. Good to know that I would never have survived childbirth in the "old days".

I just don't get, and will elaborate further in a future, draft in progress post, why we divide ourselves so much, and why we all hold ourselves to this standard which doesn't really exist. Hell, I smoked while pregnant with Vivian, and she's smarter than half the 3 or 4 year olds I meet. I firmly believe in NUTURE having a bigger impact than nature. I have to.

Like the last anon comment, I am only bonding with Rosalyn now as it is, but that's more because I bloody hate babies. I shudder to think what it would be like if I HAD breastfeed her.

Why don't WE reclaim our bodies from these other women? Why does any woman have a right to make us feel this? If it was men doing the guilttripping, we'd crucify them...

again, I'll continue this further in a post in a week or less. And if anyone wants to take this offline (I'm thinking the anon people) Please email me at ESPECIALLY if you're going thru this. No one should be alone.

At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Nat said...

It's hard to imagine that your girls would have been better off with breastmilk. They're perfect the way they are. How can breastmilk improve on perfection? ;-)

I don't think my mom will be of much help if my future breastfeeding efforts involve the "sea of breast" syndrome. My mom has very little breast. And I have abundance of. lol OH DEAR!

At 9:15 PM, Blogger supermom said...

I just wanted to comment. I have 7 hildren and five were biological. I breast fed all my biological children. I did it because it was possible for me. My sister had three and she didnt because she couldn't. I didn't see much difference between the kids. For me, it was easier than sterilizing bottles and dealing with formula, that's why I did it. I also bottle fed (Playtex and Evenflo)when in public. (*OH GASP* say the BF NAZI'S!) People that judge other people like that are just suffering from a superiority complex and "delusions of granduer". Everyone needs to do what is best for their lives and that is it. Didn't their perfect mothers ever teach them: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything." I have a high IQ and I speak English, Spanish, Latin and I am learning sign language. And I was a Similac Baby!!!

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don;t know if you get email alerts for these comments, as I realise I am about 6 months behind (I am a new reader of your brilliant blog and just catching up). Anyway, I had (have?) v v bad PPD with my first son (7mo last week). I categorically refused anti-depressant meds as I felt so guilty about not breastfeeding. I am still breastfeeding him, but it's been an uphill struggle. I dont think I am 'better' re PPD, but I am a hell of a lot better than I was.

Right now I am wondering if I did the right thing. We are still forming the bond we 'should' have made when he was born, and I wonder if we will ever get it. I love him to pieces, but I feel I am only now letting myself love him as a mother should. Does that make sense? I feel like I can 'see him' properly now. And I regret that lost 7 months.

So don't feel guilty. As there are 2 sides to the coin and whichever way you look at it, you win and lose.


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