By Melanie Sio
When the test read pregnant, I was taken aback. I was 40 and a couple of years earlier had recovered from brain surgery to remove a tumour. It had taken a year to wean myself off the anti-seizure medication. At the time, I was told we were not to have any more kids due to risks to the baby and my personal health. But nature had other plans for my family and me. The pregnancy went smoothly, with the birth all-natural without too much medical interference, and we were gifted with a healthy and happy, almost 10-pound boy.
I’d hoped to be at home with our new baby for his first 3 months so that we could have that bonding time as well as breastfeeding was really important to me. This meant Chris had to work to cover our living expenses. But for a whole number of reasons, Chris wasn’t getting enough work. Within 5 weeks, I made the call and said I would go back to work. It was the practical and logical call that was best for all our family. And it was my decision.
So I went to the shops, bought a tin of formula, made a bottle up which our son took willingly and with no fuss. Chris was clapping and saying “good boy son, good boy.” That’s when the tears started. I looked into my baby’s face and watched him suck in the formula so easily.
I had so much milk. My boobs were weighing me down in size F cups on my size 12 frame. “F” for fricking huge! Chris looked at me, and I could see the look of confusion on his face. Why was I upset? It was my call to go back to work. We wanted him to take the bottle, didn’t we?
My sister in law came to visit just as baby finished his bottle.
She took one look at me and just knew. Knew I was falling apart. Knew my heart was breaking. She knew as a mother, and for me in particular, the significance of feeding your baby.
I went back to work the next day. I think I got asked no less than 20 times, who is looking after the baby? Don’t you want to be at home with your baby?
I survived two days at work before the weekend when I could hold my baby all day. That first day back at work. I didn’t see him all day because of sleep times. Everyone seemed elated about that too. Everyone except me. I hadn’t been able to hold my baby for a full day, night and the following day.
I work in the office of a Construction Company. Predominantly with men. I would hide in a little back office at work pumping off milk into a container. Hiding away feeling exposed with my shirt open, ashamed and a contraption on my breast to relieve the pressure of no baby consumption. Uncomfortable in my body which was still trying to shrink back recovering from birth.
Taking my milk home for my baby in a little chilli bag I kept in the staff beer fridge. He didn’t want it. He now preferred formula. He didn’t want my milk anymore. Nevermind that it was better for him, had important antibodies and the most natural food source for him. He didn’t want it. I was tipping my precious breastmilk down the drain.