It’s hard to get across sometimes how traumatic I found this breastfeeding experience. I suppose it’s hard to pinpoint why it was so traumatic as well. Was it just that it was so unexpected? That I felt betrayed by everything I’d read that said if you just try hard enough… and let the baby feed as much as they want that you’ll succeed? I know a large component was my personal feeling that I was at fault, that I hadn’t tried hard enough with a sizable helping of other people hinting the same feelings. I think I’d also had this idea that if I needed help it would be available. People would want to help me if I asked. Which turned out to be wrong. So part of my trauma was definitely the betrayal laden realization that no one was willing to help me. So feeling like it was my fault, other people treating me like I’d done something wrong (in fact being vaguely threatened for continuing to breastfeed on one side and quixotically condemned for combination feeding on the other), no one willing to help. All that and a child who wasn’t gaining weight, often losing it when I did what I was told to do, e.g. feed her lots, cut out the formula top ups. What a mess.
For comparison, I’d previously had a missed miscarriage. Which is the kind you go into your 12 week scan and find out you’ve got a dead baby inside you and have for weeks. Now to compound this, I was a recent immigrant to New Zealand and my residency wasn’t 100% sorted out yet. So, while the pregnancy was an oops (we were waiting for the residency to be sorted), it was desired. As an added complication, I wasn’t eligible for the healthcare system to take care of what needed taking care of. So I had to pay. And we weren’t really able to afford it at the time. So I waited a few weeks hoping the situation would resolve on it’s own. It didn’t, we paid the $2000 some for the operation and our lives went on. All that? No where near as traumatic as the breastfeeding experience. No where near. I mean I still get sad about it every once in a while, but nothing like what I still deal with in regards to the breastfeeding experience.
I know people react to things differently. I know some are happy to stop, and indeed feel a sense of relief at stopping. Others feel pressured into stopping, feel like they were lacking options, and struggle with a sense of regret. Some people only wish there were more things they could try. My philosophy is find something tolerable. Because if it isn’t tolerable, you will burn out on it and burn out comes with it’s own associations of anger and regret. On the flip side, no one should feel bad at others who do more than you feel able. Comparison can be kind of a trap. Whatever you do you need to do what works for you, because if it works for you it will keep working for you. If it doesn’t, it won’t. In an ideal world, well ideally we wouldn’t have these issues now would we? In an ideal world there would be clearly explained options, things to try for those that are interested, diagnoses for all concerned, and acceptance for those that don’t want to pursue the issue any further.