We’ve been watching a TV series called “Call the midwife” and the whole show is about delivering babies and the many trials and tribulations around becoming a mother. The main characters are nurses/ midwives and nuns. It’s the kind of show that sucks you in. At 11pm we find ourselves saying “just one more” and suddenly we’ve left no room for sleep.
Last night, we watched an episode in which one particular Nun was advocating FOR breast and AGAINST formula and a new mother was so pressured by the idea that breast is best that she breastfed until her nipples bled and her baby was dehydrated. A day longer and the consequences might have been worse.
I know it’s only a TV series but it reflects real life. While we were watching my husband turned to me and said “she’s like that nurse you had that told you her other mom’s could do it fine.” And i thought to myself, that’s exactly what this is like.
For context, when my son was born I had a burst appendix and a ruptured colon that were both undiagnosed. So for four days I lay in hospital getting more and more septic. My body filled with waste from my bowels. There was no milk coming out my breasts. But I persevered. Eventually the pain became too much, I could barely turn onto my side. I could hear the gunk in my body sloshing around. Of course at the time, I didn’t know what that was.
By the time they figured out what was wrong with me, I was so severely toxic. Breastfeeding was not something that I could make happen. No matter how much I had planned to. No matter how much I wanted it. No matter how hard I tried or how long I resisted the drugs I needed to live.
Because there is this idea in the world that if you don’t breast feed, you’re somehow LESS of a mother. That if you don’t breast feed, you’re somehow a failure. That breast is best and if you don’t do it that way then your child won’t bond with you, won’t grow strong, won’t get everything it needs to grow up to be Einstein.
The truth is, breast is best. That’s the honest truth. But it’s not always possible.
I wish more than anything my birth story had been straightforward. Without any of the complications. Without the nearly dying stuff. Without the surgery that saved my life… I wish more than anything that I had gone in, had a natural birth (with epidural because I’m not keen on experiencing the real deal with pain) and left after 3 days and taken my new-born home.
I wish more than anything that I wasn’t still in hospital a month later.
I wish more than anything that everything had been easy.
But it wasn’t.
The reality is that EVERYTHING was complicated and a mess and I couldn’t breastfeed my baby and you know what, he lived.
I was forced to feed him with a bottle from the beginning. In fact, for the first month of his life, I didn’t even get to be the one feeding him most of the time. I was worried he wouldn’t know me and we wouldn’t bond. But you know what, we did. We bonded and he loves me to the point I wonder if I deserve it.
And sure, breast is best but it’s not always possible and so you know what’s best then? FED.
Fed is infinitely better than dead! So you do what you have to do!