Sunday, October 21, 2007

I know.

I have a new three-day-old niece and have been (willingly) around my sister-in-law as she breastfeeds her sweet little one. I didn't realize that I was rubbing salt in an obviously still open wound. I was just so curious to know how the process works with a normal body. To hear what a "real" nursing baby's swallow sounds like. To watch my SIL put pressure on her breast to stop the milk from flowing out. To hear about the pain of engorgement. It stings a bit. Ok, a lot. And I have such a feeling of guilt and spite for my body. I know that I should be satisfied at this point that I've been able to make anything at all, but I don't feel lucky. And I hate that I just can't let go.

I would have literally starved my daughter if I'd relied on my body alone. I had a rough time with that, but thought that I'd accepted it. I needed help getting her in me and getting her out, so why should feeding her be any different? I had known something wasn't right for a while- my A's stayed A's throughout my pregnancy. I was never engorged...my milk took five days to come in, and I had a hard time deciding if it had indeed come in at all. The most I've ever made at a time as been one stupid ounce. Total. For five months, I've been offering my daughter breastmilk before a bottle, and for five months she's been the most patient baby on the face of the earth. I'm drying out. I'm now down to making less than a full ounce a day. And all those failure-as-a-woman feelings that infertility introduced me to are all back to the surface. I know that I've been desperately clinging onto breastfeeding. I know.

I know that my daughter won't suffer at all if she is exclusively formula-fed. I know that there won't be any physical pain when I stop. I know that I shouldn't feel guilty. I know that I've done the best that I could. I know that I shouldn't hate my body for failing me. Again. I know, I know, I know.

But it scares me. How can I teach my daughter to love her body when I hate mine so much? How can I teach her that being a woman is so much more than any physical limitation or imperfection? I want to be the kind of person that can just let it go and move onto things that I have more control over, I really do. I know that ultimately this isn't about me, but right now, right in this moment, the tears keep on falling. I just rocked my daughter to sleep and they streamed down my face. I want to shield her from all of this and yet, she's already been affected by it. I wanted so much to give her what most people have the choice to do, and once again, my body won't allow it.

I'll get over it eventually. Someday the sting won't be as fierce. I know that, too. I hope that someday the guilt fades. I know that this isn't as big of a deal for a lot of people. I wish that it was that simple for me. I wish I knew how to just deal with it. I wish that I didn't feel so alone with it.

I know, but I wish...

5 comments:

Ann said...

Oh, I'm so sorry this hurts so much. I haven't yet gotten to the point of even thinking about breastfeeding, but I've witnessed how painful it can be when it doesn't work as well as we all assume it will. And the expectations of society don't help, either.

This was an achingly beautiful post.

Rachel said...

I'm glad you are back. I know you must be busy with Rory.

I am worried about breastfeeding. I just assumed I could do it until I talked to friends. I have a breastfeeding class in a month, and checked I out 2 books from the library. I am halfway through the first and have no idea if it will help or not.

Sarah said...

good to hear from you, despite the less than ideal situation.

actually, to your last point, it seems like this IS this big of a deal to a lot of people. seems to be very very difficult for so many women, and i know that doesn't help much, but at least don't go round feeling like you're alone in this.

very glad you posted about it, it's such an important topic and if more women told the truth about how difficult these things are, we'd all be the better for it.

Bobby and Ivy said...

Well, sweetie, let me be the first to welcome you to the "PCOS sucks the life out of you" Club. I'm so sorry. When I realized I couldn't feed Luke, I was horribly devastated. I listened as he cried and cried because there was no milk for him to drink...it was awful. But I look at him now, and you know, he's ok. I may have had a problem with it, and still do, but he's ok, and that's what counts. I still wish I could put him to my breast, I still wish my boobs had worked. But the pain does go away with time. It gets better. And Rory will be just fine. She'll love herself becasue she has a mom who loves her incredibly. That's what counts. Love.
Sending many hugs.

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