I’d always heard — from anyone who cared to comment on the subject — that having children is most rewarding thing I’d ever do. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and a relatively easy childbirth. I had no idea when I left the hospital with my son how grueling, how unforgiving, and how painful the next months would be.
The trouble started in the postnatal ward. Forty-eight hours had passed since my son was born and my milk hadn’t come in. Yet, in spite of hearing my misgivings and doubts, every nurse and lactation consultant told me to keep putting him on the breast, that the colostrum was enough for my baby. I felt like I was the only one not in on some giant conspiracy to breastfeed — the pressure I felt was immense. I had planned on breastfeeding, of course, but my earnest reports of having no colostrum fell on deaf ears. I pumped for hours and didn’t produce a drop. I asked to supplement with formula and my request was totally dismissed.
We were discharged and during our next day pediatrician’s appointment, I found out that my baby had dropped quite a bit of weight — dangerously close to the cutoff for what’s considered normal. Since my milk still hadn’t come in, our pediatrician suggested that we supplement our son with formula. We did, of course, but I’ve never felt like more of a failure. All I’d heard since giving birth was “breast is best” like some sort of demented mantra programmed into the brain of every lactation consultant and nurse I encountered. Having to give my baby anything but “the best” felt like I was being selfish — like I failed as a mother before I even had the chance to start.
To read the rest of Alyssa’s story, head on over here, to The Outline!