By Katrina Farah
In writing this I am hoping to catch a new mumma on one of those days or nights where the tears don’t stop and the guilt from wanting your old life back is real.
At the same time, I want to reach out to those soon-to-be mothers, not to instil fear, but to let you know that it is not going to be all rainbows and butterflies.
So often we hear while we are pregnant that it is going to be “the most rewarding thing you will ever do”. For me, in those initial weeks and months of bringing home my son, those ‘rewards’ seemed few and far between.
I wish I had my eyes open a little wider in the weeks before giving birth.
Reading something or hearing someone real may have in some way put me on notice.
Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have done anything. Quite possibly I may have scrolled past the story or blog from another mum telling their story, in the same way I am sure many will do this one. Nevertheless, I really wish I hadn’t.
Like many first-time mums I absorbed myself in ‘getting ready’ for the baby. Not realising that a babymoon, baby shower, maternity photo shoot or endless justifications as to why I needed to purchase something or other would do very little for the challenge that lay ahead.
The most I had done in those weeks was visualise what it be like. I was breastfeeding my baby in our perfectly put-together nursery with the quintessential grey rocking chair to match. In that moment, I was playing out the perfect bonding experience as everyone would put it.
To me, I would now call that a fantasy world.
The only thing I did in that nursing chair for the first 6 weeks was sob. Sob as my baby fussed, latched, unlatched and squirmed every time he was put on the boob.
He would scream in hunger and frustration; it just wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. I attempted all avenues to increase my supply, expressed every 3 hours (even overnight), took 6 tablets a day and tried just about every herbal product on the market. I went to breastfeeding clinics, sought lactation advice, only to have to sit there and watch women spilling milk on their bubs’ faces. Meanwhile, I was asked by the nurse if I had brought a bottle as my little one was clearly distressed with what was on offer.
Yep! Reality hit me: I was in a breastfeeding class formula-feeding my baby.
I wasn’t angry or upset at the nurse because I knew myself it was the right advice, but it still sucked the life out of me, if everything else about having a newborn hadn’t already.
Then there is the dreaded question, “how is it all going?”.
I can’t even remember how many times I was asked this, but I do remember the nurse from the clinic ringing me at home with this question. I just broke down, the same way I reacted when pretty much anyone asked this question. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that for the last 5 days I had been expressing milk and freezing it, as my baby was much more content with a bottle of thickened formula.
Two long weeks of expressing and stashing passed; meanwhile, my little one was exclusively bottle-fed.
What was I doing, and who was I doing it for?!