I got married at 23 and couldn’t wait to be a mother. At 24, when I got pregnant, I had already read all the pregnancy books and subscribed to all the parenting magazines. I felt like a pro. I had my birthing plan all mapped out. My pregnancy was flawless. None of the morning sickness I read about. I felt great.
But then … the 9th month and reality hit. The pain, the swelling and my due date coming and going. My doc suggested we induce as he estimated the size of my son to be “quite large”. I wasn’t having any of it. I already pictured my water breaking and the excitement of running to the hospital. My bag was all packed and ready for me in the car “just in case”. Well … week 40 turned to 41 and then … 42. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sleep. Doc said it was time.
OK, so one snag in the plan wasn’t the worst. I’ll be induced but then everything else will fall into place.
Contractions hit hard and the epidural didn’t work. My doctor told me I need a c-section. I was as stubborn as they come. No way! I am not having a c-section. That was not part of the plan.
But then … 28 hours later my fever spiked and my blood pressure dropped. Before I knew what was happening, my husband was signing forms and I was being rushed into emergency surgery. I passed out before my son was born. I wasn’t even conscious to receive my baby! I woke up a few minutes later. They showed me my perfect baby boy and I immediately fell in love. (I even quoted Monica Geller from Friends “No woman will ever be good enough for you!”) As they wheeled me off into recovery, I pictured holding him in my arms and nursing him and creating that amazing bond that I read about everywhere. “Breast is best”.
But then … my fever wouldn’t go down and I couldn’t hold my baby for 24 hours. In those 24 hours the nurses held him, and cared for him and fed him with a bottle. By the time I got to hold my son, he wouldn’t go near my breast. It was too much work for him. He wanted the bottle. Again, my stubbornness took over. I read that it could be hard but you should just keep with it. So I did. I didn’t see or feel any milk coming out but it was the natural way so I was sure he was getting what he needed from me. I was his mommy!
But then … I opened his diaper to change him and saw BLOOD in his urine. I frantically called the nurse in and she told me it was brick stain from not being fed adequately and she gave me a bottle of formula to give him. The lactation consultant at the hospital suggested that I try nursing him every time he’s hungry but then also supplement with a bottle. I went home and did just that. But every time I tried to nurse him he would scream and cry and claw at me until I gave him the bottle. And then while giving him a bottle, I would cry that I wasn’t able to breastfeed my baby. It went on like this for a month.
I wasn’t able to deliver him naturally, I wasn’t able to hold him right after he was born and I wasn’t able to breastfeed him. I felt like a failure at motherhood and it had only been a few weeks. I felt that I wasn’t meant to be a mother.
But then … my mom sat me down one day and opened my eyes. She told me that the bond between a mother and her baby is not created through breastfeeding alone. I could hold him close to me while giving him his bottle and create that same bond. Love him and look into his eyes. Motherhood was hard and it was only going to get harder (thanks for the encouragement!) but the best mom is the mom who does her best. Only HER best. Not the neighbor’s best. Not the best that was written about in the magazines. She needs to do what’s best for her and her family. I realized that crying while feeding my son was definitely not the best. Not for him and not for me. At his next feeding, I prepared that bottle and sat with him in the rocking chair. Looked into his big brown eyes and felt that connection. Felt the love and bond between us that 9.5 years later is still there and still strong.
I was meant to be a mother. I was meant to be HIS mother and I was doing MY best.