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Our breastfeeding Story: Édouard

My dear son, for International Breastfeeding week I wanted to share our story. A complex bresatfeeding journey, short and for which I am still grieving.

Édouard, everything started with you, my first baby. Breastfeeding was a must for me. I didn’t think there was any other option, but I didn’t do any preparation either. It’s natural, it will work out- right?

Our journey began when you were born, after 23 hours of labor. Pitocin, epidrual, hemmorage- the experience left me feeling powerless and out of control when I thought I would be in control. This is where we started our breastfeeding journey. I knew something was off from the beginning. Feedings were making me suffer and on our second night it was especially difficult. You didn’t seem satisfied- and we thought it must be normal. We thought that persevering would mean everything would work out and that it would surely bring in my milk supply.

We introduced formula quickly to feel relieved and to help regulate your hypoglycemia. We thought there was no reason that breastfeeding would’nt work out. We went home after two nights which seemed like an eternity. Things got harder and harder. I was so tired, my body ached and my emotions were up and down like a rollercoaster.

After five days I decided to abandon our breastfeeding journey to prioritize healing from what I still consider a traumatic experience, and to avoid falling into a postpartum depression. This decision has stayed with me to this day. For months and years following this decision I still wonder if I made the right choice. I wonder if I could have done more, and what I could have changed.

Healing did come slowly, and with my ventures into becoming a doula and perinatal education I learned so much. Today, I watch you grow and know we have a very strong bond. I know you are developing well and that you are healthy. But I will always miss that breastfeeding experience we never had.

Dear Laurent, my second baby. Our breastfeeding adventure started well at your birth! I learned so much from my experience with your brother- I researched avidly, and became a doula and babywearing consultant. It goes without saying that I was a lot more prepared when you were born. Your birth was so different as well- it went so well! At the birthing center with mid wives was an ideal experience for me, and restored my confidence in myself. If my body could birth you without any medical intervention, I was confident for what was to follow.

This time, postpartum started out well but once again, doubt found me on day 3. I felt a lot more positive than the first time around but I had to relive parts of my first breastfeeding journey, even though we were in a completely different situation. On day 5, we were worried. You were showing signs of dehydration, you slept little and cried a lot. We were becoming increasingly tired and I had a lot of difficulty to accept that things were not going as I thought they would. After a visit to our local lactation consultant, we finally understood what was happening.

I am part of the small percentage of women who have hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue. This diagnosis brought a huge relief, and I was able to heal from my two strenuous breastfeeding journeys.

I chose to continue breastfeeding and to introduce a bottle. I took a medication to increase my supply. You decided you did not want my breast, so I started pumping and would feed you my milk with a bottle. At around three months after your birth I understood that breastfeeding at the breast would no longer be an option. I realized- we really control so little!

This time I was more in peace with my decision and I knew I truly did all I could. My dear son, I still grieve what never was and imagine my reality as a mom who breastfed. I am still frustrated with my body- frustrated that it couldn’t provide milk for you as I would have liked. I hate washing bottles but I love you so very much- more than you can imagine. These two experiences taught me to be more gentle with myself, to let go and to help other families imagine different scenarios in their preparation for birth and beyond.

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