Soon after giving birth to my daughter, Kara, I was presented for the second time in my life with a wrinkly-newborn, crying out for my breast.
In that moment I was filled with joy at the sight of such beauty. I was also haunted by deep insecurity and sorrow.
I had failed to breastfeed my first child, and honestly, I was reluctant to even attempt it again with baby number two. I was scared and unsure. I was so scared and unsure, that I fed Kara formula through her first two days of life, and left the hospital feeling defeated.
I didn’t breastfeed her in the hospital, because I didn’t want to cope with falling short, not again.
I didn’t even try… How could I not have even tried?
When I got home from the hospital, I pushed the thoughts of breastfeeding completely out of my mind. I told myself that I could accept things the way they were, after all, I formula fed Evan, and he is a beautiful, brilliant, and healthy child. I don’t judge any mother who formula-feeds her child, even when it’s simply a choice.
The last thing a mother needs is scorn from other mothers—this—I know.
How everything changed…
On my second home with Kara, during a bottle-feeding and while breathing-in her intoxicating baby-scent, I felt the urge to pluck the latex nipple from her tiny mouth and to replace it with my own.
Within the lonely silence of that late-night feeding, when I knew that no nurses, or lactation consultants, or well-meaning family members were watching me, I tried, and I tried, and I tried again.
Please latch, please, PLEASE just do this.
And she did. I did.
The connection was made, Kara had latched, and I enjoyed the euphoria of motherhood and the tingle of pain that comes from a latch that isn’t quite perfected, for fifteen minutes.
I wasn’t sure if I had waited too long by not trying to breastfeed her for 48 hours after giving birth, I wasn’t sure if this was a fluke, and I really wasn’t sure why I had waited to give this my best effort the second time around. The only thing I did know, was that she seemed eager to breastfeed, and from the start, it was a totally unique experience when compared to the breastfeeding experience I had with Evan.
Kara is now 17-months-old. I exclusively breastfed her until she was 6-months-old, and continued to breastfeed until she was 15-months-old. I kind of feel like a rock star about the whole thing, if I’m being completely honest. I’m totally a rock star, right?
What I want you to know
I want you to know—yes, you—that just because your experience with breastfeeding wasn’t perfect the first time, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.
Truly, the second time, or third time, or seventh time may be the charm. If you want to breastfeed a subsequent child, try. Even if you’re scared of failing. Reach out for help, be patient, give it your best effort again.
If it still doesn’t work for you? Everything will be okay in that case, too. You’re still an amazing mom.
I’m so glad that I followed my motherly instincts during that 3:00 a.m. feeding, and that I was finally inspired enough to just keep trying.
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t perfect, but it was worth it in every way.
Every. Single. Way.
Moms, were your breastfeeding experiences different from child-to-child?
I’d love to hear your stories in the comment section.