The First Days of Motherhood, Part One

Looking back on those few days before my first born arrived, I try and remember how quiet our house was.

How the walls knew nothing of crayon or pencil markings.

The carpet was absent of juice, ketchup, and vomit stains.

The walls had virgin ears to the cries of a hungry infant.

Those days were also anxious for a new start, a new beginning, a new life.

The nursing bras were bought. The pads, the pump, all ready. Not a can of formula in sight.

Why? I was going to nurse my child. It's what was expected of me. Of mothers. What I had planned.

I set high expectations.

No supplementing, too costly. No bottles, just me, and my baby, my body.

The rush to put the baby to breast in the hospital was a blur. This nurse on this shift said the football hold is best.

That nurse on that shift said I should lay down.

Some nurses forceful and adamant that only breast is best.

Got it, taking mental notes.

Getting home.

Around the clock, feeding the baby. Am I doing it right, is she getting enough?

Who knows? Boobs and babies don't come with fuel tank gauges.

I will not supplement. It's not okay.

Okay for who? Baby, me? Society.

Struggling, not happy, not full, baby needs something.

I call the nurses station at the hospital 3 days later. An old family friend stops by. Comes to my bedroom to latch baby on. Latch isn't proper. Baby is starving.

Many nights those first days I remember crying myself to a mock-sleep. You know, the kind you get after a newborn.

Hubby is lost, he cannot produce milk. Knows we have alternatives.

No. Breast is best. The only way.

You don't have struggle, it's only one little bottle, a little help.

Defeated. I caved. In my mind, my heart. One bottle, then I will figure this game out. It's supposed to be natural, not this hard!

Where are the rainbows, the unicorns, the fairies dancing around. You know how new motherhood is portrayed in the movies. Where was my silver lining?

Already my mind and my heart were fighting, neither was winning.

....Part 2

37 supporters in group:

  1. SavvySuzie said...

    Ugh...I know that mental fight all too well. I wanted so bad to be "that mom" who does it all the way nature intended. Yeah, not so much...my milk production wasn't great at first and the Boy Wonder was a hungry kid. Finally gave in to a bottle or two a day, which gave me time to pump, and since it wasn't every feeding formula lasted a good long while so wasn't a huge expense. We both ended up happier!

  2. Kim said...

    I can relate to your story so well. I was a breastfeeding support person and nursed my first two children with no issues. Then came SP who was born early with health and developmental issues. He had no hunger cues so nursing was a challenge to say the least. I struggled for months with a baby who was "broken" before I admitted (thanks to a nutritionist who gave me permission to admit it) that he needed more.
    Why do we as mothers feel so much guilt for every decision we make?

  3. He And Me + 3 said...

    Awww, sorry about the struggle with nursing. I had that same problem with my first and only ended up nursing for 4 weeks...I was so depressed...then my other two I nursed for 18 months and 13 months, but not without trials or hardships, but I was determined. Can't wait to hear the rest.

  4. Shelley said...

    I hear you sister. I supplemented the first couple of days till I got the hang of the breast feeding thing. And you can always pump your milk and bottle feed it, too. I too, felt defeated, but I had a fantastic LaLeche coach who was very supportive of my problems.
    After a few days, I got my rainbow, but no fairies, now I feel cheated.

  5. WeaselMomma said...

    Bottles are not evil, no matter what the La Leche League would have you believe.

  6. Lindsay said...

    I am pretty sure you wrote about me after I had Sammy.. I even did the supplements for myself to try and lactate.. I got nothing :-P Glad to hear it wasn't unicorns and rainbows for everyone else.

  7. Lolli said...

    Thanks for sharing your story! So many women struggle with this same thing. I am eager to hear the "rest" of the story!

  8. Former Fat Chick said...

    I once saw stars when my son latched on, for real, almost blacked out, he latched on so hard. My boys soundeed like pigs ruttin gin the ground for truffles...it was so scary! sucked me dry those two

  9. Annie said...

    Been there...

    Done that...

    Why, after nearly nineteen years do I still feel like a failure?

  10. Amy said...

    I went thru something similar with my second baby. I tried it. I failed. I could not talk about it for a long time, and I still have regrets.....

  11. Tenakim said...

    I felt the exact same way with # 2- (didn't try with #1.) I'm a firm believer of do what works for you. And that some kids AREN'T nursers. #3 & 4 both nursed perfectly. I hated the expectations and the'looks' I got when I announced I wouldn't even attempt to nurse my son (#1) and tried to reconcile with #2- for naught!

  12. Krystyn said...

    It is such a hard balance, isn't it? And, people don't make it easy for you...nor is it easy!

    BF is hard and time consuming and people don't always tell you that.

    Waiting for more...

  13. Anonymous said...

    you're bringing back memories that I'd rather forget, those first difficult days....wow

  14. Jo-Jo said...

    I had a close friend of mine go through this. I take meds that can be leaked through to the baby so I never even tried. Does that make me a bad mom? I don't think so...but I guess some people would see it as such.

  15. Danielle (Life with the Hewitt Family) said...

    This post took me back to those days! We finally got the hang of it, but it was frustrating at the beginning. I wish boobs and babies had a fuel tank...things would be so much easier!

  16. numberonesistah said...

    Umm, you were peeking in on my house in those first days?

  17. Swirl Girl said...

    It's not nice to fool Mother Nature, is is?

  18. Michelle said...

    I had a similar experience with B. Not always what you think it will be.

  19. The Mother said...

    PLEASE don't feel as though you are responsible/unprepared.

    I was nursing my FOURTH when I suddenly realized that he wasn't gaining weight. Latching problems.

    I was not inexperienced or uneducated. It just happens.

    Luckily, a nursing consultant helped us through it. But the kid got a lot of formula in the process.

    Women ARE intimidated into breast feeding. If it's not working, it's not good for the mother or the child. We need to lighten up.

  20. Jill said...

    I struggled with the same thing with my first - and after a horrible 2 weeks, I finally realized that I'm not a bad mom if it doesn't work for me... and I gave in to the bottle for good!

    I boob fed my 2nd baby for the first 5 days - and then realized I just couldn't do it.

    This next one - I don't know if I'll even try once I leave the hospital. While I do feel that breast milk is best - it's just not best for me. And I'm OK with that.

  21. Merrie said...

    I love all the support out there. It just doesn't work for everyone, and I'm glad that people's eyes are open to that. All that should matter is that you do what's best for the baby, no matter what the nutritional source.

  22. Jenni Jiggety said...

    I can soooo relate to this.

    Dougie was a preemie...couldn't latch. I hated the pump. I stopped nursing and it was so painful emotionally to me, I was so devastated that it didn't work out that I couldn't even bring myself to TRY nursing when I had Jack. I figured to try and fail again would be worse than just not even trying.

    Bah.

    Can open. Worms everywhere.

  23. Christie said...

    If someone, anyone, would just tell us when we are newly pregnant with our first children that the only thing we should expect is that nothing is ever as we expect it to be, we would all be better prepared than we are.

  24. Midwest Mommy said...

    Oh those first couple of months are so hard. Anyone who says it was easy is lying.

  25. Martha said...

    I was older when Tara was born, with a husband who I knew would be of little or no help, unless maybe it would be a bottle from time to time, so I decided to not let the pressures around me make my choice. I did not stress about it or feel like I was doing my child harm, and you know what.... she was the healthiest of all the babies in my "new mom's group, about 10 strong all born within 4 weeks of one another... she was on antibiotics only twice in 7 years.... we had plenty of time to bond, on all those days,nights evenings that her father was no where to be found..... and many many more since we became a family of two when she was just 8 months old.... No regrets, no pressure, I did what was the right thing for me and my family.

  26. Clare said...

    you have definitely struck a cord, breastfeeding is soo tough. I had to syringe feed bradley for the first seven days, until he finally latched on. it was sooo hard.

  27. Jen said...

    The first 2-3 weeks of my son's life were pure HELL!! I had the same unrealistic expectations about nursing and how it would go. He wouldn't latch on at all. I felt like such a failure when I finally gave up and just gave him the bottle. I was devastated.

    Looking back now, I realize how ridiculous that was and that all that mattered was bonding with my baby. I really wish I could have that time to do over again.

    Looking forward to reading part two.

  28. Nicole said...

    I remember that all too well! I was so frustrated with my second baby, he just could not figure out how to latch on and he was so hungry. I remember balling and calling a lactation line for help. I was in tears! After a few days, we both learned to relax and not be so frantic! It all worked out in the end and I was soooooooooo relieved.

  29. Melissa said...

    I so could identify with your story...I came over from Heidi's blog. I look forward to the rest of the story...those first few weeks are such a blur to me! I loved your last post also '3 of me' enjoy your writing and will be back!

  30. Messy Mommy said...

    I'm bound to get it right this next time around. Didn't nurse the first. Only exclusive for 2 weeks with the 2nd. It was awful.

  31. Liz said...

    So glad you've got so many positive posts. I had the same struggle w/ #1. Lots of issues & defeat. Didn't even try w/ #2 & #3. And that's fine by me.

  32. Gena said...

    i think every new mom should read this!yes breastfeeding can be a great experience but not everyone can do it. I know there were a lot of times, I wanted to give up and we didn't have a lot of issues like some moms have! I think we need to stop putting so much pressure on moms and concentrate on offering our support. Don't tell them what IS best but tell them how to do what IS best for them!

  33. momto3angels said...

    Thanks for sharing such a powerful story! This is a must read for every new mom. Nothing ever goes as planned. Baby will tell you what she wants/needs. That's how i always did it.

  34. Northern Gal said...

    I struggled with nursing in those first few weeks with my first. We managed to get through it without supplementing (he WOULDN'T take a bottle...go figure) and it was much easier the second time around Thank Goodness!

    The whole breast is best debate is so pointed. How can a woman be made to feel like she has failed when she is providing nutrition to her baby, NO MATTER WHAT FORM IT COMES IN! Society goes to too many extremes of what is best.

  35. wife.mom.nurse said...

    I want you to post the second half tonight...OK?!

    i want to hear more...

    I had trouble nursing and I know the guilt!!

    Looking forward to coming back for the rest!

  36. Mrs4444 said...

    While breastfeeding is a very natural thing, it doesn't always come naturally (for moms or babies.) The lactation consultant at our hospital was amazing. My neighbor, who gave birth weeks before I did, had been suffering through scabs on her nipples until I sent her to my LC. It all worked out, just as it did for you; you have gorgeous babes :)

  37. Courtney said...

    This brought me to tears as i know exactly how it feels. I was so convinced that the breast was the only way. I felt so defeated when my first son wouldn't or couldn't latch on. I felt like a failure as a mother. Then the same thing with my second but this time i had a healthy 13 month old that had been formula and breast fed (i pumped for 6 weeks) to show that formula was ok. I am hoping that with the 3rd child on the way we will figure it all out, but if we don't i know it will be ok.

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