A Breastfeeding Story
While I was pregnant with my daughter I researched and scoured the internet for information that would make me the “perfect” parent. The questions that persisted were: What kind of food should she it? How often? How long should I breastfeed? However, after giving birth and being hit with the realities that parenthood entails, such as no sleep, inexplicable crying, and overall fatigue, some things were altered.
One of the things that I didn’t keep my end of the bargain on was breastfeeding. I read about all the benefits and I had decided that that would be the only way I would feed my baby. There was nothing better, and I know this. However, my milk didn’t come in right away and while in the hospital I panicked and gave her some formula. The nurses told me that it would be okay, but I believe that if I would have kept her on my sore breasts I would have produced more milk than what I did. I was so exhausted though that I caved in and gave her formula.
Throughout the next three months I continued to breastfeed but also supplement with formula because the doctor said that she had lost too much weight after leaving the hospital. Now, knowing what I know now about nutrition I know that my poor diet and impatience led to the demise of an exclusively breastfed baby.While I was pregnant I loaded up my body and hers with pizza, ice cream, and any other sweet I could get my hands on. The eating was akin to debauchery. It was horrible!
I also felt like I was always feeding her. By the time that I finished and put her in her crib, she was up again and wanting to eat! I was exhausted and I kept thinking of ways to justify the end of breastfeeding. So, be careful what you wish for! A week before she turned 3 months I noticed I had a rash on my right torso. They looked like blisters and I felt a pain stemming from deep within my body. It was an agonizing pain and only took up the right side of my torso and only that side was filled with blisters. I had no idea what was going on with my body! Again, I turned to the internet for answers and hypothesized that I had shingles.
Now, shingles is considered a disease that only the elderly suffer from. I was 30 years old, so I was far from elderly. I rushed to the dermatologist and he confirmed that I had shingles. I was given a prescription for Valtrex and that marked the end to my breastfeeding. I knew that I could pump to continue my supply, but I decided to take this as a sign and quit altogether. As I was healing from this debilitating disease, I was also healing mentally from all the stress I felt from breastfeeding. At that time in my life I felt the worst guilt possible! How could I be glad that I finally had a perfect excuse to stop breastfeeding? I must be the worst mother and human being alive! I feared my baby would grow sickly because of this decision. However, she continued to thrive and rarely gets sick today. I am thankful daily that she is so healthy and I still feel guilt for not providing her with the best through my diet and through my breast milk. But, I still can’t shake the relief I felt to know I could allow myself to stop.