[This isn't a post to spark debate about breastfeeding. It isn't about ANYONE else except from myself. It is not my aim to offend or cause controversy. This is my story and I am not judging any body else.]
Recently, I posted here about 'Guilt.' I talked about how, since F's birth, I have been plagued with a lingering sense of guilt.
I failed to mention however, my biggest source of guilt. The guilt that hits the hardest; goes deeper and is most difficult to forget about.
I have a confession to make. I did not breastfeed my son.
Sometimes I think it makes me a bad mum. Does this make me a bad mum? NOT AT ALL. Bad mothers abuse and neglect, my son is my everything and I would die for him a million times over.
He is now five months old and my milk has been and gone; there's nothing I could do about it if I could. So why do I persist on punishing myself?
The past few weeks, F has been ill with a cough and cold. When I hear him coughing away during the night, the discomfort evident, I hate myself. I haven't told anyone about this, for fear they'd think I was being ridiculous. It is too late now to make a change so why is it now it is playing on my mind?
What is my reason for not breastfeeding? Well primarily I believe it was a lack of support; maybe a lack of information or even laziness and ignorance on my part. However you look at it, I do need feed my son myself; and sometimes, excuse the pun but, that eats away at me.
I still feel guilt that I didn't breastfeed because I feel like it is unfinished business. I feel like I wasn't provided with the support; from my family, from my midwife or from anyone else. I didn't know how to breastfeed, I still don't and ultimately, that is why I didn't breastfeed F.
When I was younger, I always assumed I would formula feed my baby. It was what was seen as the 'norm' within my family. Both myself and my brother was formula fed along with the rest of my extended family; all of my 12 cousins were all artificially fed. Shockingly, prior to having my own baby, I have NEVER met anyone who breastfed their baby. In spite of all this, I am not deluded; I know that breast feeding is the best possible option for my son. I watched the videos, I read the books and initially, I made an informed choice that that is how I would be feeding my son.
After all is said and done, it didn't come naturally. It wasn't as I imagined. It was difficult and fumbley and I hadn't a clue as to what I was doing. I feel angry that I wasn't shown. I feel angry that I didn't fight harder to be shown.
I wasn't shown immediately after birth. Instead, I was simply told I was doing it wrong. I wasn't shown on the postnatal ward as I was told that the breast feeding support lady didn't deal with ladies from my area. I was informed that there was a support network in my area but they didn't cover the particular hospital that I'd given birth in so there was no one to see me. I wasn't shown what to do when I was sobbing; when I was getting upset that I didn't know what to do. Instead, I was told that I had to make a decision as it would confuse my baby and make me more stressed and upset.
Some may say these are excuses; I believe different. If I hadn't have wanted to breastfeed I wouldn't be writing this post, it would be irrelevant and I certainly wouldn't experience the feelings of guilt that I do. I genuinely believe that I wasn't offered enough support to enable me to breast feed my son.
My best friend is a midwife so I am very aware that there is a desperate shortage of staff, resources and ultimately, time within the NHS but it still saddens me greatly that there was no help. As with all health care provision, the level of care you receive is dependent on the area in which you live. The hospital in which I had F has one of the lowest rates of BF in the country; now I understand why.
I admit that I could have tried harder. I'd made an informed choice and I wanted some help in fulfilling that. What saddens me the most is that, that help wasn't given. It was too easy for me to formula feed. I'd been awake for 48 hours, I'd pleaded for help which wasn't given and I was under the assumption that I was confusing my son. Formula feeding seemed the easy option.
I want to reiterate that I am NOT judging anyone. Feeding is a personal choice; it shouldn't define us as a mother.
I do not have a problem with mothers that do not breast feed; I'm one of them.
I just wanted to vent my anger/guilt/frustration/confusion/annoyance and so on.