There were two things I was sure of going into this pregnancy: we were going to use cloth diapers and I was going to nurse my son for at least six months. The cloth diapers have gone off without a hitch, but the nursing has been one hell of a fight.
From the moment Fry was born, things seemed to be against us. Because of his low sugar level, he was given artificial milk within an hour of his birth, and even though I got to nurse him first, things went right downhill from there. I had very little encouragement from the nurses and midwives in the hospital, who told me not to hold out hope when my milk didn't come in on the third day after his birth, or when it did come in the next day but they told me to keep giving him "compliments" of artificial milk, or when they told me to stop altogether when they were afraid I had an infection that could be passed on to him. When I started pumping and dumping, I actually had one night nurse try to console me with, "Don't worry, it will dry up soon," as she obviously thought I was pumping because I didn't want to nurse at all. Then when Fry wouldn't nurse because of the taste of the antibiotic in my milk, they told me he'd probably never take the breast again since I had to stay on the antibiotic for ten days.
I was really lucky to have a midwife here in Tiny Town that was very encouraging and many friends with a lot of nursing experience (and even a couple that are studying to become nursing consultants!) who gave me loads of helpful advice and cheered me on. But this week, I lost the fight. After the nth day of a vicious cycle of nursing for an hour, taking a bottle for an hour, and screaming for an hour (rinse, lather, repeat), I had a long talk with the midwife and Stéph and I finally threw in the towel.
Giving up on breastfeeding was probably the hardest decision I've ever made. I cried as I said the words, but at the same time I felt like a terrible weight had been lifted. I had stressed myself out so much that I was probably projecting that on Fry as well. I know we made the right decision for us, but it still took a couple of days for the feelings of guilt and sadness to pass. And even though it's been a few days, things didn't magically become perfect; Fry is still colicky and our nights are pretty hit and miss right now.
In this holiday season, and this Thanksgiving weekend, we have so much to be thankful for, Stéph and I. I may have had a difficult week after his birth, but our son is in perfect health and is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. We have a roof over our head and food on our table. When put in perspective, breastfeeding seems like such a small thing.
(Thank you all for your lovely comments! I will respond to the questions you've left in my next post. I'd like to wish all my American readers a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!)