I’m pregnant! Not exactly planned but there you go. Anyway, first things first, take seven pregnancy tests to make sure (all positive), then it’s off to the doctor to get booked in with a midwife.
I get the appointment and a 100 page booklet wanting to know everything about everyone on my family tree. I’m starting to think that pregnancy isn’t just nine months of sitting about picking baby names and getting lots of presents.
The day of the appointment arrives, I’ve got my booklet, urine sample and an increasing anxiety that the midwife is going to make me take my underwear off and ask me embarrassing questions about sex.
First question (as I’m barely sat down): “How are you planning on feeding baby?”.
Admittedly I’d already decided to give the old breastfeeding a go but I didn’t think it would be such a vital question at the first appointment.
Fast forward 40 weeks or so, the baby arrives without incident and I remain true to my word on the breastfeeding front. It goes well! Puffin knows what he’s doing and my milk is good to go.
I’m an absolute hit on the maternity ward, midwives faces popping through the curtains while I’m feeding smiling saying, “Look at him, he knows what he’s doing” or “Look at you, clever Mummy”. This breastfeeding lark is making me into some kind of hero!
Back at home the breastfeeding continues (with lots of gold stars from health visitors and community midwives). Everything is going well, apart from some absolutely mental screaming in the latter part of the day, which is finally resolved by Gran announcing “He’s got wind”.
Wind? I thought breastfed babies didn’t get wind? Well they do, and sometimes the only cure is to put them on their tummies for a little nap (over two years later and he still sleeps on his tummy).
Hurdle number one jumped and cleared.
Seven weeks in and things are still going well but I’m starting to get sore nipples so on goes the nipple cream. A week later and it’s getting worse. I haven’t worn clothes above my waist for days and feeding feels more like passing broken glass.
Two weeks later and it’s still no better, feeding is now excruciatingly painful and there have been plenty of tears. Finally I ring the health visitor who announces “That sounds like thrush to me”.
THRUSH! IN MY NIPPLES! She can’t be serious?
She absolutely is – and now I can’t feed my baby for a certain amount of time because of the tablet I have to take.
This is where the problems start.
First of all I get the guilt that I can’t feed my baby and obviously that makes me a rubbish mum.
Next on the list is a bit of relief. Daddy shares the night feeds – oh, and is that a bit of a social life I see in the distance now my breasts are officially signed off sick from work?
Final problem. I’m thrush free and essentially ready to go again but I’m not sure if I want to. Don’t get me wrong, Puffin took to it like a duck to water and I had the milk, but now I’ve had a few days off, Daddy’s done some of the feeds and I’ve had a bit more sleep, I’m starting to see that there are benefits to the bottle, and if I’m honest, the thought of going back to breastfeeding makes me feel a bit trapped.
It would be all on me again, I’d be the one getting up in the night, and if I did nip out for a bit of dinner with a friend I’d be on the clock from the minute I left the house.
I know these sound like selfish reasons and I’m not pretending they aren’t but it wasn’t like my baby became ill the minute the Cow and Gate touched his lips.
He was still a happy baby and continued to do all the things newborns do. What I didn’t account for were the crazy hormones, because now I felt like I had a decision to make but if I didn’t decide to carry on breastfeeding I would automatically be a failure.
Luckily, I have a very sensible older sister. I started to tell her that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to breastfeeding but if I didn’t I’d feel like I was f… and before the F word was out of my mouth she explained very clearly and firmly that bottle feeding my baby did not make me a failure.
It was just what I needed because I’d gotten to the point where I actually felt like I needed permission to stop breastfeeding. I do plan on having another bash at breastfeeding with my next baby but this time I will be on high alert for the thrush because they sure as hell don’t warn you about when they’re giving out the gold stars!
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