Friday, 31 August 2012


This week we had a review appointment with the laser dentist to check George's mouth following his tongue tie proceedure. It was good news and they confirmed that his mouth is totally fine now. Though this is really good, I was thrown into a steep slide down the rabbit hole as I sat in the "relaxation room". My thinking went something like "If there is nothing physically wrong to stop him breastfeeding and it is poor co-ordination that has been the challenge then if I kept trying then he could get better and he could breastfeed. And then the killer - so it is my fault cause I haven't persevered and gave up too soon for selfish reasons and cause I am weak".

The awful knife twisting and dark feelings that accompanied this were awful and I think for the first time I felt the full weight of the grief of losing that special part of my relationship with George, which has been so important to me in mothering Ella.

I started thinking that I should try again and even contacted the lactation consultant again the next day to get her advice. And I did try again, even just for that day. But it was awful, physically and emotionally. And by the end of the day I knew it wasn't going to work. Both for him and for me.

And so I remade the decision to feed him with formula and though I am sad, it felt right. And today was a much better day because of it.

I am realising that I am going to have to learn to mother George in new ways. My old stand by of offering the breast isn't a possibility. And I have very mixed feelings about that. Because if I am honest, part of me, and not just a small part, is relieved.

I know it isn't the done thing, but breastfeeding is intense. Your body and your breasts are not your own. You walk a line between mother and lover which is often hard to negotiate. I fed Ella to sleep and helping her learn to sleep in other ways has been a long process. I fed her in the night until she was over 18 months and she fed intensely during the day until she was over 2. I wasn't able to go out and leave her in the evenings until she was over a year. At the time I did it because she needed it and I believed in it. But it was exhausting and some of my choices were because I didn't know how to draw a line between my needs and Ella's. I totally support using breastfeeding as more than just nutrition and breastfeeding beyond babyhood. But it comes with sacrifices. And given that I am now in the situation of not breastfeeding, I am trying to focus on the positives while also being a responsive and present parent to George.

Some of the positives are that I have had my first glass of wine in over a year. Today I was able to leave George with his Nana while I went to Ella's first dance class with her. Hubby is helping with some of the night feeds, which is definitely making life much easier. I am learning to help George get to sleep without feeding, which hopefully will mean we have a bit more flexibility with sleep in the future. I won't be the only parent who can get him to sleep. There is a predictability and a pattern to the day that I like.

But it is hard to accept that things are also so different from the way I have done things in the past. No rolling over in the night to feed and staying in bed. Feeds in the night take a long time and I am often up for and hour and a half at a time by the time I feed him, burp him and get him back to sleep. It is a horrible feeling to know that if you don't have enough bottles or formula, that you cannot feed your child. It is also harder to get organised and ready to go out and there is more paraphernalia to carry. And I am continually washing and steralising bottles. It is definitely not easier than breastfeeding. Just different.

So it is bittersweet. I am not going to pretend about it. And I am hoping that acceptance will come as I grieve the loss of what I had hoped for but also embrace the reality of life as it actually is. I wish it were different as much as I like but it is not going to bring me peace or be the best for George.

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