Current Thoughts on Breastfeeding
*This post is written as a contribution to the PAIL blogroll monthly theme post. For my original breastfeeding story and thoughts on infant feeding, go here and here.
My kid is 17 months old. I haven’t breastfed or pumped for 16 months. For four weeks after he was born, I tried and tried to do something that would have never worked, although I didn’t know that at the time. The guilt was awful, the physical exhaustion and pain were intense. If I knew then what I know now, I would have given myself a freakin’ break.
My son is in the process of being diagnosed with Mitochondrial disease. Mito is a genetic disease that affects every cell in the body. The disease presents in a variety of ways and can cause problems in any organ system in the body. Many, many Mito patients have GI and eating issues. Grayson is no exception. When he was a tiny 5 pound newborn, asking him to breastfeed was probably more than his body could handle.
Grayson is now 100% G-tube fed. He survives on formula (Pediasure). Not breastmilk, not organic fruits or free-range chicken, and not anything I’m cooking him. I pop a can of Pediasure 3 times a day, pour it in a bag attached to a long tube, and it slowly drips directly into his stomach 22 hours a day. When I was a 35 week pregnant woman sitting in that breastfeeding class, I could never have imagined the way I would actually be feeding my baby a year and a half later.
Since Mito is a genetic disease, my husband and I will have to be tested to see if we will be able to have any more biological children (we won’t if there’s a significant chance we would have another child with Mito). I may never have another chance to be pregnant, give birth, or try breastfeeding. This makes me very sad, although I don’t dwell on it much since we are not emotionally, financially or logistically ready for another child right now.
If I do have the chance to breastfeed again, I will not put any pressure on myself. If I succeed, great. If it doesn’t work, I will gladly make those bottles of formula without an ounce of guilt. Breastfeeding is an incredible, amazing way to feed a baby. But so is bottle feeding, and tube feeding, when they help a baby grow, gain weight, and thrive.
I have very harsh feelings about breastfeeding. I hate all the advertisements, and all the propaganda related to breastfeeding. This is probably harsh, but I did not produce very much milk, the fist month of my life I partially starved my little man and he lost over a pound, the next six months I tried all kinds of medicine, breast fed a painful awkward 15 minutes on each side, gave matt a bottle, then I had to pump for another 15 minutes. I did this every 2 hours!!!!! If I could go back I would work on not feeling guilty, but if you want so bad to be a mother, and you want what is best for your child you feel so very guilty. I now have my tubes tied,it took years to get pregnant with many losses, and with Matt have so many issues it was an easy decision for us.
I was one of those very lucky breastfeeders who produced a lot of milk and I was blessed with a baby who eagerly latched on. With that said, breastfeeding was not an easy process at all and for me, it was not the most important way I bonded with my baby. Babies do absolutely fine on formula or with breastmilk and it makes me so sad that there is so much pressure on women to breastfeed. If it works, fine. If not, women shouldn't be made to feel so guilty!
Very well written, as usual you have a way with words!
Tube-feeding really changes your perspective, doesn't it?So often I see the debates ad have to refrain for getting all snarky and reminding them to just be grateful their kid can eat – anything, at all, ever. One of my boys has been tube fed for more than 3 years now, and its still just such a miracle to be that my new baby eats and its no big deal at all.
Wow… perspective really changes things, huh? I couldn't stand the judgmental looks I got when I would bottle feed Ginny, but it was what we needed to do. Just making sure that your child is fed is the most important thing.
GREAT PERSPECTIVE! Thank you for this! All I can say is, WOW!
Beautiful perspective. A thriving, growing baby is 100% most important!
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