From the moment I found out I was expecting a baby, like most soon to be parents I’m sure, I started to get ideas in my head of how it would be. I had visions of a couple of “gilmore girls” with very few worries, drinking too much coffee and having the kind of relationship people were jealous of. Obviously, nearly 4 years down the line we’re still a little while away from the coffee drinking age but we do get on pretty well. During the first few years of her life though, I have been plagued with mum guilt at various points which is again part and parcel of parenthood. However, none more so than when we she was 10 weeks old and I had to face facts, that I’d failed her in the most basic of motherly ways and the guilt still stays with me in some form years on.
I knew right from the start that I wanted to breastfeed Alyssa. It was just what I had in my head and I knew it was the right decision for me. Her entry into the world wasn’t quite planned at 5 weeks early, and a few hours after her emergency delivery, I had to try expressing, whilst looking at her picture (she was in SCBU) with the midwife holding a syringe to the end of my nipple to try and catch every drop of precious liquid gold.
I was fortunate in that my milk did come in fairly quickly, and whilst she had an ng tube, she was being tube fed my expressed milk and then we were also able to start trying to feed. It didn’t go well the first day or two, until an observing SCBU nurse offered me some nipple guards as my nipples were quite flat and little miss latched on and took her fill. I was disappointed when she still needed some of my milk expressed in a bottle to top her up but at least it was my milk and she was growing.
Once home, I carried on expressing and storing my milk but we pretty much exclusively breast fed. Man those next 6 weeks were hard – she didn’t want to sleep anywhere but on me and it felt like she was constantly feeding, which she effectively was. I looked down one day when I felt a sharp pain to realise that my nipples had cracked and were bleeding and each time I had to feed her, she was re-opening the wounds. It was hard, I was exhausted but I kept on pushing, trying, I did not want to fail.
At 10 weeks old, my family staged an intervention. She constantly fed, I was bleeding and in pain and neither of us was happy. They suggested I try a bottle just for one night to see if it made a difference. Through tears, I sat and bottle fed her and she dozed off. I placed her in her cot, climbed into bed and we woke up 8 and a half hours later. I had to admit defeat. I spoke to my health visitor who agreed that no matter how much she fed from me, she simply wasn’t getting enough. It wasn’t my fault it was just one of those things.
It didn’t feel like one of those things. I’d fought through cracked nipples, mastitis, the embarrassment of trying to feed in public and feeling peoples stares and then the horrible crushing words I said to myself when I realised I’d failed. It took a long time to be able to hear the words of others that told me, I’d done everything I could, given her the best start and that the decision to bottle feed going forward was the right thing for Alyssa – would I rather have a hungry baby, who couldn’t sleep or a happy and content baby?
Of course then came the guilt that I’d kept trying so long and the worry that all this time she had simply been hungry. Having to stop breastfeeding so early on, it felt like we’d been robbed of something I had so been looking forward to sharing with my little one but it obviously wasn’t meant to be.
Three years on, I know I was not a failure and that it was the right decision but I still experience sadness and of course the dreaded mum guilt over it. I am not an avid breastfeeding supporter and nor am I all about bottle feeding. I am on the fed is best train and as a mother who has done both, I appreciate that there is more than one option of how to feed a baby.
Why am I telling my story? Because I want to support the #NormaliseNormal campaign from Stylish Mum, creator of breastfeeding apparel.
“Our campaign #normalisenormal is a joint initiative with Hooha photography which aims to normalise all the different aspects of parenting and family life, starting with breastfeeding.
Many new mums still feel awkward and self-conscious about breastfeeding in public or even in front of their friends and family. This feeling of embarrassment can stop some women getting the support they need and even lead to them stopping breastfeeding before they want to. We want to help combat this by showing the world that breastfeeding is a normal part of everyday life and no one should feel like they need to hide away to feed their baby.”
When I was breastfeeding there were many times I felt embarrassed which is ridiculous – I can even remember leaving my family in a restaurant to go and sit in the car and feed, so that no one would be watching me or worse make comments. This needs to change. To help raise awareness, I have teamed up with Stylish Mum to hold a giveaway – the winner will be the first to receive their new stylish Black Breastfeeding Top!
** WIN FIRST EVER BLACK BREASTFEEDING TOP FROM STYLISH MUM **
a Rafflecopter giveaway
1 black breastfeeding top as pictured for 1 winner – no monetary exchange available
Contest is open until 10/02/2019
Distribution of prizes is the responsibility of Stylish Mum
Mummy in a Tutu cannot be held responsible for lost prizes
This post was written in collaboration with Stylish Mum– all views are my own
All winner decisions are final – the winner has 48 hours to claim or a new winner will be drawn
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