I didn't think it could happen to me, but it did. A nursing strike. Last Saturday, the boy refused to nurse. Every time I tried he screamed in pain. I was devastated as I had to haul out the pump to express milk so he could eat. I didn't want to go there. I've already been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, don't want to do it again. Now I would never take away the 14months of love I expressed for the girl on a daily basis - but to go back to that after successfully nursing the boy for 4months - had me crying as I pumped. I would do anything for my kids, but staring down that long road I'd already traveled terrified me. Like Dorthy traveling through the forest to get to OZ. It was dark, foreboding, filled with feelings of inadequacy, and failure. I couldn't fail the boy, as I had failed the girl. I couldn't stomach failing at breastfeeding again. This is the perspective of an un-rational woman, who is functioning outside reality, scaring up imagined realities that don't exist. The refusal of your child to breastfeed is devastating - even if its only a strike. The reality is that I didn't fail the girl - she received expressed breast milk for the first 14mths of her life; and I'm not failing the boy either - he's still nursing. We finally figured out his reflux was bothering him, making it painful to nurse.
As a society we place a lot of responsibility on women, mothers to choose the best for her child. Breast is Best! Breast feeding is normal, natural! We've set the bar high, not only for ourselves but for other women as well. What makes it hard are the women who run around and boast of the ease they've had breastfeeding.The comments such as: "I didn't have a problems, I don't understand why you are. Breastfeeding is natural, its easy." Ok, I'll give you the point that breastfeeding is easier - in that I don't have to sterilize anything, don't need to make up a bottle or buy anything to give my baby food. But let's have an honest conversation. Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I've done! It requires cooperation from two individuals to make it work. You just don't put the baby to the breast and tada he nurses. Well, at least I don't. It's a learned process for both mother and child. It's amazing when it works they way Mother Nature intended. It's devastating - at least for me - when it doesn't.
I'm fortunate. I've got a wonderful support network of women who have helped me through my breastfeeding journeys. My midwives, my lactation consultant, the ladies at the "barn", my eping friends, and the women at the Old Town Alexandria La Leche League. I couldn't have survived the journey without them. They supported me through months of exclusively pumping for the girl, and they cheered when the boy first latched and nursed immediately after delivery. They also supported me through the boy's nursing strike - giving me encouragement, and advice. I hope we don't go through any more nursing strikes in our nursing career - but it's always a possibility.