When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had decided that I would breastfeed her as long as possible. You might ask why. Simply because it was good for both of us. And breastfeeding would be our special mother-daughter bonding time.
I had taken the last two weeks of my pregnancy off so that I could get ready for her and get some much needed rest before our daughter's arrival. But sad to say that never happened. I was unexpectedly induced at 38.5 weeks since I was told I had low amniotic fluid and that it would be too dangerous to leave her in any longer.
But I was not ready for her. I was supposed to have more time. But l knew she was coming and she was coming fast. We had less than an hour to go home get our stuff ready and go back to the hospital to get ready for the induction. I had mixed emotions; I was scared, excited, but also felt nervous and unprepared.
After 30 hours of labor, my beautiful daughter, Sophie, was born.
She had jet black hair with light skin. And she had the smallest nose ever. She was just perfect in every way. After cleaning her up, the nurses brought her to me so that I can breastfeed her. Breastfeeding was not easy for me. But I was determined to do it.
Unfortunately, my breastfeeding journey didn't last long with Sophie. A few weeks after her birth, I got very sick. I was so sick that I had to be hospitalized for a while. And I wasn't going to get better without taking medications. I was prescribed two different kinds of medications and those medications were harmful to her if I were to continue to breastfeed.
I had to make a decision. Do I start taking the medications and stop breastfeeding, or do I continue to breastfeed and refuse to take the medications? I knew what I had to do. I had to make the smart choice, the choice that was right for my family and not just for me.
She was two and a half months old when I finally stopped breastfeeding. I was devastated. I felt like I had failed her as a mom. And then, there was the guilt. How could I not breastfeed her, something that's supposed to be so natural? Was I a terrible mom?
It took me a long time to get over the guilt I had for not breastfeeding her. I tried to remind myself that it was in her best interest, but it was hard. I also tried to make it up with my next two babies. I breastfed my son for about a year and my youngest daughter for seventeen months.
But it wasn't the same. Not only I wasn't able to provide her with the numerous benefits of breast milk, but I felt I had lost my bond with her. Breastfeeding was my time with her and I loved every minute of it. But now, it was gone and so was my special bond.
As she got older and became a toddler, I felt less and less connected with her. I carried her inside me for almost nine months. And I gave birth to her. But what happened to the bond? Was it lost forever? When she was 2/3 year old, I was always her second choice. She would always go to her dad for everything. And that hurt.
I tried to make myself feel better by concentrating on my son and making sure I would breastfeed him for at least a year. I wanted to create a strong bond with him. And that's what I did. And I hoped and prayed that things would get better with Sophie and I. And to my surprise it did!
When Sophie was fours years old and done with her terrible twos and threes, she became very close to me. She wanted me now. She wanted to dress like me and be my mini me. It was all very cute. We both share a passion for art. We drew, we painted, we cut and glued paper. We did it all and we always had a good time.
I feel that my bond with Sophie was delayed and interrupted due to my breastfeeding struggles. But it was always there, just maybe dormant, waiting for the right time to bloom. And now, my bond with her is stronger than ever.
Do I regret not breastfeeding her? Of course I do. But does that make me a bad mom? Of course not.
I did the best I could. And next time I see a mom not breastfeeding her baby, I'm not so quick to judge. Maybe she can't breastfeed, maybe she doesn't want to. And that's okay.