I feel like somewhat of an impostor posting these images. I’ve actually felt like an impostor since the day I realized that my milk was never fully coming in and had to give Ramona a bottle of formula. I even felt like an imposter at my breastfeeding support groups. The truth is, I was never able to breastfeed my baby entirely, and I’ve been a “want-to-be ” breastfeeding mama since day one. I know that I’m being hard on myself–I know that the very small amount of breast milk that I was able to feed my daughter was invaluable and I should be proud that I worked to give her any at all. In fact I read that just 3oz a day will be enough to pass on immunities. But what I yearned for, and what I’m mourning, is the bond that occurs with breastfeeding a baby, and the comfort of knowing that I alone could continue to grow my baby outside the womb. So today, as I post these beautiful images, I am waiving the white flag and surrendering after a long and heartbreaking fight to breastfeed. I am sure that there are a lot of readers out there thinking that I could have made this work–I’ve had dozens of people offer up their advice as to how to make my milk come in. But I have to stop right here and say that I have never, in my entire life, worked harder at something. I pumped 8 times a day. I woke up in the middle of the night, even when Ramona was sleeping to pump. When that didn’t work, I added drugs and took Domperidone. I used an S&S feeding tube and taped one end to my nipple and put the other end into a bottle so Ramona didn’t get nipple confusion. I tried chinese medicine, acupuncture, a 72 hour skin to skin breastfeeding marathon, synthroid, metformin, prayer and anything else that might increase my supply. But the bottom line, is that my body would simply not produce enough milk to fully feed my daughter. At first, I used donor milk, but when my donor could only provide 50% of what Ramona needed and I was still supplementing with formula, I gave that up. And purchasing donor milk was out of the questions at $3.50 an ounce. I’m saving that for Ramona’s college tuition. And honestly, I don’t have a huge issue with formula. It’s food. Bottom line. And Ramona needed to eat. More than anything, I just wanted to bond with my daughter, and instead of the bond, we were fighting at the breast. Ramona would get so frustrated, that she would scream and cry and turn her head while pulling my nipple in her mouth. I had sores. Blood. Tears. It was hard. It is hard. I look at these images of me breastfeeding and tear up because I wanted this so much, and when I photograph other mom’s breastfeeding their babies, I get envious. It just didn’t work out for me. And today, I’m throwing in the towel.
I need to say here that I have no issue with mamas who choose not to breastfeed. I don’t subscribe to the whole “formula is poison” philosophy. Actually formula feeding does have its perks including Dad being able to take a night shift, and the ability to work without having to find a closet to pump in. I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this. It’s extremely personal and I feel vulnerable putting this out there, but I guess it is catharsis, and maybe there are other women out there who have had a similar struggle that might take comfort in knowing that they are not alone. I guess sometimes breastfeeding just isn’t in the cards. I’m crossing my fingers that with my next baby, things will be different. Until then… Here’s to Dad taking a turn!
Thank you, my darling Caitlin for taking these intimate photographs. You are my life saver, sister and friend, and you truly inspire me with your amazing talent. I will treasure these photos forever. They will remind me daily how truly blessed I am to have such a beautiful healthy baby girl. After all, that’s all the matters in the end.