Could it be Breastfeeding PTSD?Katie Loeb
I have made no secret of our breastfeeding struggles. From day one, Eli couldn’t breastfeed. He didn’t know how to suck, didn’t know how to root and when placed at the breast never latched. After 5 weeks of trying to get him to latch, 4 lactation consultants, pumping and more tears than could ever be counted, we gave up.
And as much as I have tried to move on, there is a part of me that just can’t seem to.
I know that we tried everything we could. I know that quitting and pumping was the right decision for all of us. And yet, I have this gnawing feeling about it and I find that it takes shape in 2 different ways in my daily life.
First, anytime there’s a breastfeeding debate, I feel personally insulted, even though I rationally know that’s not the case. Recently someone commented on an older post of mine that her baby breastfed easily because she didn’t have an epidural and it took all my self control not to reply, angerly, to her comment. I doubt she meant it to make me feel bad, but I just felt like she was saying it was all my fault or that it was avoidable, when I’ve been assured by medical professionals that that’s not the case. I feel so very emotional about it, when typically I’m not that way.
Or anytime anyone makes a comment about formula or bottle feeding, I feel on guard. I hate bottle feeding in public because I feel like people are always looking down on me. I want to scream to them that he’s eating breast milk! Just from a bottle! Even though I have NOTHING against formula. (I mean nothing, my kid eats it usually once a day because of my lousy supply.) Yet somehow I feel like other people, who have never said anything, are silently judging me.
The second way this plays out is that lately I have this urge to keep trying to breastfeed. We try every once in a while, but not with much gusto, we just place him to the breast when he’s hungry (but not famished and impatient) and so far, it has never resulted in breastfeeding. And it always results in a new sense of disappointment. And yet, I want to keep trying. I’m more than slightly considering picking up a new nipple shield and seeing if that can coax him again, even though I didn’t work well before and instead resulted in a 2 hour long eating, pumping, bottle feeding process.
I can’t describe why this is such a big deal for me, why it’s so important, but somehow, it is. I want to be as at peace with bottle feeding as I claim to be. I want to not constantly wish we could breastfeed, not be jealous of all those who can. My sister is having a baby next month and I KNOW that if she is successful at breastfeeding, it’s going to open up all these wounds all over again.
I just struggle to get past it. Our whole experience was such a mess, so stressful and miserable, and all for nothing. We fought and fought and it never worked and I’m left feeling like we failed (even though my son is fed, which was always the goal), or at least like things are unfinished.
Is it crazy that after 4 months I still can’t move on from this? Is it crazier that I want to try all over again?