Before I ever got pregnant, I always thought that nursing a precious baby was one of the most beautiful things ever. That particular peaceful connection between mother and baby was something I was eager to experience and hold onto for a long time.
Then, my son came along. I was induced 3 weeks earlier than my due date (there are some studies that link those two things with my next point) and he didn’t latch on very well. When he did latch, even if it wasn’t the “correct” way, I would keep him on for hours. Yes, he would fall asleep on me and I wouldn’t move him. Of course this was just day one, in the hospital. The second day is a different story, and if I was to sum it up in one word: PAIN. Hmm, let me make that two words: Excruciating Pain.
I had bought an upscale breast pump that I intended to use when I returned to work. But as soon as I went home from the hospital, I started to pump during the day and nurse at night- because I didn’t want anyone knowing about my weakness. I would literally squeeze my eyes shut, sometimes even cry, and hold my breath. Needless to say, it was not the beautiful, peaceful bonding time I had always dreamed of. Soon, I started pumping for the night feedings because it was easier than trying to “fight” a baby that’s not latching on properly. I still attempted to nurse once or twice a day in hopes that my son would eventually get it right and the pain would go away.I tried just about everything. I went to a lactation consultant; I used “aids” while nursing, and even got a specially made “triple nipple cream” prescribed just for me. It got a little better, but not a whole lot. My son started teething at two months, so there were new challenges to overcome.
Eventually by six months, I was an exclusive pumper. Prior to that, I nursed my son just once a day, if that, so I sort of always considered myself an exclusive pumper.Yes, I sometimes get a feeling of guilt that I’ve failed a task and gave up too quickly. But then I tell myself, I work doubly as hard to give my child the best. In the wee hours of the night, when the whole world (as it seems) is sleeping, including my son, I am pumping. So I am not a failure. My son has recently turned a year old and elhamdulela I am still pumping. Will I try even harder next time though? Yes, inshallah.
Hoda is a wife and a mother to a stillborn daughter in heaven and an almost two year old son. She is an elementary public school teacher and lives in Virginia.