Baby number one – I planned to breastfeed but lasted 24 hours. I couldn’t get past the cracked, bleeding nipples!
Baby number two – I planned to formula feed. I breastfed from day 2 till day 6 which ended with us both getting thrush and a doctor telling me the only way to clear it was to stop breastfeeding!
Baby number three – I planned to breastfeed. Formula top ups were introduced at day 5 due to weight loss which gradually increased over a couple of weeks due to poor weight gain. I switched completely to formula at 6 weeks when I was told, “enough is enough, you are starving your baby!” ARGGGGHHHHHH!
Baby number four – my wonderful whirlwind of a boy. I was determined to breastfeed, more so than any of the others as he was my last baby and my last chance to experience breastfeeding. I read lots and lots of information about positioning, latch, talked to friends, had good support around me and felt ready for the challenge! I wasn’t going to give in as easily as I did with the others. I was going to succeed and it was going to be wonderful!
After 30 hours of labour which included malpositioning, fetal and maternal distress, and a placental abruption, Theo came screaming into the world via an emergency c-section. I don’t remember much about his birth other than he had a big bump on his head! I was losing a lot of blood and was pretty spaced out.
In the recovery room, I was asked how I wanted to feed. I could barely keep my eyes open so asked for a bottle of formula. I would figure the rest out later.
After an hour or so in recovery, I was moved back to the labour ward to have the first of 4 blood transfusions. Shortly after it was started, I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in all my life – with every after pain, it felt like my insides were being pulled apart (little did we know at the time, that’s exactly what was happening). I couldn’t focus on anything else and, dare I admit it, even forgot that I had had a baby! I do recall at one point begging a midwife to kill me if she couldn’t stop the pain (yep, drama queen) and with that I was given a super duper drug that knocked me right out. My baby was given more formula and our breastfeeding journey had ended before it had even begun.
I guess you could say that even with the best intentions and determination, things can change in a moment and that’s ok!
There were many reasons why breastfeeding ultimately wouldn’t have worked for us had we tried. At 8 days post birth, I returned to hospital for major surgery to repair the damage done during my C-section – it turned out they had stitched my urethra to my womb hence the terrible after pains! I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed with the medications I was taking plus Theo was only allowed to stay with me for three days before being kicked out! I stayed for a further two weeks.
Theo was also admitted to hospital at four weeks old and again at six weeks with a recurrent infection in a salivary gland that made his face swell up and become very painful – no chance of holding him close, never mind close enough to breastfeed. Because I wasn’t breastfeeding him, the hospital advised me that they wouldn’t provide me with meals during my baby’s stay, meaning I would have to leave him to visit the hospital cafeteria. Needless to say, I didn’t eat for four days whilst he was in there!
It also turned out that Theo was profoundly deaf. He didn’t like being held close whilst feeding, possibly due to not liking having his view restricted or maybe just because he’s a nosy monkey! He was diagnosed and fitted with hearing aids at 8 weeks old.
I didn’t regret not trying to breastfeed nor was I disappointed despite being so determined during pregnancy. At the time I felt (and still feel) that there were more important things to concentrate on – especially after nearly losing my own life and my baby’s during the traumatic birth. Formula was fine for my other babies so it was more than fine for Theo too. It may have been my last chance to experience breastfeeding but I wasn’t going to dwell on it.
Little did I know, five years on, along would come Ed….