My mom did not breastfeed me. She said it’s because of my jaundice. She tried for a week or two (supplementing with formula), but said that I seemed to like the formula just as much anyway, so why bother? I always grew up thinking that breastfeeding was not so important… or it was something that people who lived in other places did because they didn’t have access to formula, bottles, etc.
To let you in on my world a bit, when I was in college, the doctors found a lump in my right breast. I had an ultrasound, and they said it was just a fibroadenoma – basically, some dense tissue. A few years later my doctor mentioned it to me, and she suggested I have another ultrasound just to check it. We compared the results with my previous ultrasound, and the mass had just about doubled in size in a few years. The lump itself wasn’t dangerous, but it was suggested to me that I have it removed because if anything formed behind the lump, it could not be detected. I was always self-conscious of my smaller breast size, and this was the smaller of my two breasts. The idea of removing a sizable portion was scary! So, at that time, I opted for a breast augmentation (and lumpectomy). Unfortunately, the other implant bottomed-out, so I also needed a second surgery to fix that one. I guess after all that, I assumed my breasts just wouldn’t work properly one day, and I accepted that as my reality.
When my friends started to have children, some breastfed, some didn’t. Those who breastfed were very determined to make it to at least the one-year mark. Those who didn’t had the mindset that I began to adopt “I was raised on formula, and I’m just fine!” I remember reading while I was pregnant that toward the end of your pregnancy, you may begin to leak. The day I began leaking was so exciting! I grabbed the phone to call whoever I could – maybe, against the odds, this breastfeeding thing could actually work! I told myself that if it did work, I would commit myself to breastfeeding.
As I reflect back now – basically, due to pure stupidity and 21+ hours of labor, I ended up having a c-section. I did get to experience pushing and trying for a vaginal birth, but it just didn’t happen. I asked the nursery that they not give her formula or pacifiers when she was born. They honored my desires, so when I awoke after surgery, they wheeled me to the post-partum area, Lydia was placed in my arms, and I got to breastfeed her for the first time. I was so lucky – she took right to it! She latched right on, and everything was awesome… until they told me about her jaundice. They said I had to ‘supplement with formula to flush out the jaundice.’ I stood in the hallway of the hospital crying as they told me this was no big deal. Well, it was a big deal to me! So, against all my wishes, I supplemented with formula (breastfed first, then formula), and most of the time she just spit it all up. As we were packing the leave the hospital, this awesome lactation consultant came into the room. She told us about her adventures in breastfeeding and home-birthing a breech baby! Wow! She said that the idea of having to give formula because of Lydia’s jaundice was ridiculous. And so… formula gone!
Richard and I used to talk about our friend, Justin Case (get it? just in case?) This friend was always there when you needed someone to bail you out. Well, this time around, Justin Case has been hiding in Lydia’s closet. You know those seminars you go to before you give birth? The hospital staff gives you a tour, and they tell you about the wonders of breastfeeding as they hand you a container of Similac. Well, that container has been sitting in Lydia’s room since last summer, with an expiration date of April 2010. I guess I left in there ‘Justin Case’ something happened – I got really ill, my supply diminished. So as I was cleaning my disastrous house yesterday for a playdate, I came across the formula. I saw the expiration date, tore the bottle open, and slowly poured it down the sink. Something about that experience was just so amazing – it was freeing. It was like winning the school spelling bee or completing a semester of college. I set out to provide my child with all the nutrients she needs…and I’m really doing it!
As for my house, it looked really nice yesterday. It’s back to disaster central today.