I sent this to a friend who wrote to me about breast feeding complications and her grief over her inability to breast feed her baby. I’m sharing this for anyone else who has gone or is going through a similar situation. Take heart, dear moms!
Hi, dear dear friend,
A couple thoughts:
1. I am so so sorry. I relate to your grief and spiraling emotions. It’s terrible. I wish I could be there to comfort you in person.
2. This IS hard and you’re not making it more than it is. Yes, you’ll be fine and he’ll be fine and it all will be fine. But right now, it’s not fine. And that’s ok. It’s ok to not be fine. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to struggle through this.
3. Give yourself permission to NOT do hard things right now. NO decisions about giving away nursing things. NO decisions about kids in the future. Give yourself some space to grieve! As a side note, I didn’t get rid of all my nursing stuff until over 3 years after I had our second child – and nursing went TERRIBLY with both of them. Can you put on your mental calendar that you’ll revisit these objects in 2 years? And just not deal with it right now?
4. Your emotional condition is all consuming right now. And it’s a “swirling vortex of drama” for you and for your husband. So yes, I understand your concern about what he might be thinking. But, a) he knows you and loves you and knows this isn’t the real you; b) you’ve been through worse with him; c) this will fade into your memories as a historical fact and not as a thing to be dreaded — just like the pain of labor, you will remember this as fact but it won’t affect your decision-making in the future like it’s affecting it now. I remember telling Niki during my last labor, “if it had hurt this much last time, we wouldn’t be here this time.” And yet we’ve been pregnant since then and hope to be in the future. The trauma of this season will not have a lasting impact on you as a couple or as a family.
5. If you haven’t already, talk to your husband and let him know where you’re at, why you’re grieving, what’s going on hormonally (guys can understand mentally but have a hard time relating), and that you hope to be back to happy you again soon. And maybe touch on the issue of kids in the future, if you feel comfortable with that.
6. If your baby is gassy, colicky, or having odd stools, then try a different formula. Your mommy instinct could be right. They make a ton of different formulas for kids with different sensitivities. No harm in trying. Our son really didn’t respond well to one particular formula. Didn’t eat as much, gave him tummy trouble, etc. But he did great on all the others.
7. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. You have not done anything bad or wrong. You have not sinned. You have not failed. You have not neglected him as a mom. You DO know what you’re doing. Every kid is different. For this baby, he needs to be bottle-fed. You made the right judgment call. Stick to your guns about setting the time aside to cuddle him during his feedings. And you’re not wasting these days. This is part of your story with him.
8. Happy mom = happy baby (and happy family). Prioritize whatever is going to make you happy right now – solid sleep, massage, quiet walk on the beach. Having been through severe post-partum depression and the disappointments of not being able to breast feed, I believe that it’s more important for mom to be happy than for the baby to be breastfed. A smiling mom with a gentle and quiet spirit has a far greater positive impact on a baby (and your other kids) than breastmilk. What will help right now? Even if it’s a small thing – prioritize it. God has a lot of grace for you in this time. His compassions for you are new every morning (and the morning starts at midnight!).