I haven’t blogged for a while, a month in fact. It has actually been a really hard month. For a couple of weeks I was beginning to believe I had post-natal depression. I was feeling hopeless, upset, irrational and overall very sad. There were some stressful factors that could have contributed – our landlady is selling our house from underneath us and we have to move, we had big decisions to make quickly and I am awful with change. Also, I think I was severely sleep deprived – which is never a good thing for me. Being pregnant and having a baby is completely and utterly life changing. I cannot recognise the person I am from inside my own head, if that makes any sense at all. I’m sure the changes aren’t as apparent to others but for me they are deep rooted – this (for some absurd and irrational reason) made me wonder if my husband would still like me? It wasn’t a nice few weeks.
During this time Joni started feeding every 2 hours and spending time chewing on my nipples (probably to soothe teething pain). She utterly refused to take a bottle of expressed milk, and even when she was getting better at bottle feeding it was largely pointless as expressing was painful and almost completely fruitless.
I was absolutely hating every single feed and often crying through each one as I felt lonely, helpless and very sad. So – I decided to stop. I tried giving Joni some formula and she basically got the hang of formula from a bottle over a few days, then over the next few days I weaned her completely onto formula. I also cried through every one of these feeds. Seeing Joni drinking from a bottle, needing to be burped for the first time in her life and not being comforted in the same way as she was by breastfeeding was really, really hard. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt as though I was really letting Joni down – it wasn’t like she was deciding to stop breastfeeding, it was my choice. I was choosing to stop providing her with an organic food source – tailored specifically for her – to one manufactured with chemicals in a laboratory, no where near as good for her as my milk. I was convinced I was basically ruining her life.
How completely ridiculous. I stopped feeling guilty one day – I was sitting on the sofa feeding her from a bottle and a Unicef appeal came on the TV, there were children that very minute in Africa who had no access to clean water for milk, no access to food and were dying. I was the most selfish person in the whole world for feeling so precious about stopping breastfeeding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding, babies thrive – of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be allowed.
Strangely, my breasts haven’t felt over full, they haven’t been engorged, they haven’t leaked and I haven’t noticed any of the reported effects of stopping breastfeeding. It makes me wonder (coupled with the fact that Joni was feeding every 2 hours or so) how good my milk supply was. I’m well aware that this claim causes uproar amongst Breastfeeding advocates. But, I can only speak from my experience – that after 5 long months, where I persevered through cracked, bleeding and blistered nipples, night feeds every single night and being on call 24/7 for all of Joni’s needs, it just was not working for us anymore.
No one wants a sleep deprived, crazy, depressed and hormonal Mummy (or wife for that matter). So I stopped, I stopped for me and I’m not ashamed of that.
If you are wondering, I feel a whole lot better now – i’m feeling as rational, happy, calm and peaceful as I ever have.