Sunday, July 25, 2010
Breast is best?
Ask any expert, read any parenting book and you have to agree that there is no denying the fact that breast is best. But is breast best when your 7 month old decides to totally reject one side so you end up looking like a lop sided Dolly Parton?
If you were to ask me how long I would be feeding my baby boy for, the answer would have been, 12 months. Did I think that I would wean him at 7 months? The short answer is, no and the long answer is that he kind of made the decision himself.
When my first born entered the world I was determined to feed her in the way that God intended but then she was born just over a week early at 5lb 2oz with undiagnosed IUGR (basically this just means failure to thrive in the womb due to a dodgy placenta). This meant that she had to enter special care until she was a decent weight and feeding independently (without a tube).
After the wonderful public system sent me home without my baby (she had to stay in special care for over a week but I was only allowed to stay for two days!) I was desperate to do anything to get her home. However, her sucking reflex was very poor which meant she had to be tube fed with formula and expressed breast milk to help her gain weight quickly.
At that stage if you asked me how I intended to feed my daughter, the answer was, anyway that will get her home quickly! In the end she put on weight very quickly which lead to her sucking reflex becoming stronger and finally she came home and was a fully breast fed baby for the next 14 months.
When my second child was born she was a breastfeeding natural. She latched on straight after birth and continued to feed for over an hour. The truth of the matter is that we wanted her to stop feeding because she hadn’t even been weighed yet! This early success meant she was a fully breastfed baby until just over 12 months.
Then Benjamin was born with IUGR, 4 weeks early by emergency c-section at a low birth weight (the same as his eldest sister in fact!) and I was sure he would have all the same feeding issues as Emily. But he came out of the womb and was a vigorous feeder (painfully so!!!) and I thought that was that.
But as I said before, he started to reject me about a month ago and I really wasn’t sure what to do. I was on the cusp of hiring an electric pump to increase my supply and flow when all of a sudden I just decided it was too hard and weaned him off the one remaining boob!
How did I feel after he took the bottle that first time? I have to confess that I felt guilty, I felt some grief, I felt some pain at the thought of the cost and I also felt like a failure. Should I have tried harder, done more, not given up?
The truth is that when I was first out at the shops feeding him with the bottle I just wanted to yell out to everyone, “He rejected me! I would still be feeding him! I breastfed my other two children for over 12 months! Don’t judge me!” etc, etc, etc…
And then I watched my dear husband feeding his son. How did I feel? You are expecting me to say that this tugged on my heart strings and made me feel all gooey inside but the truth of the matter is that the first emotion I felt then was RELIEF followed by FREEDOM!!!
I have just finished feeding my son. It is the middle of the night. I have held him close in much the same way as I did when he was breastfeeding. I have had great eye contact the whole time. He has held my hand and smiled at me while I am feeding him his bottle. He has finished and cuddled in for a few minutes until I get up and put him back to bed.
So now, how do I feel? The truth is that I feel exactly the same way I did when I was breastfeeding him; that it is the middle of the night and I wish I was still sleeping!!! No, just kidding!
I enjoy that quiet, sleepy night feed when bubs isn’t trying to look at everything and big sisters aren’t trying to get his attention (or mine) and he is blissfully staring up at me in adoration and I just know that I am supplying all his needs in the way man intended – via bottle. I can’t complain. He is happy and so am I.