Quantify

To follow up on my last post, after the births of my children, neither of them could latch properly. They were both tiny, under 5 and 4 pounds at birth respectively. Their tiny mouths didn’t know how to latch, and the doctors fretted about not knowing exactly how much milk they were getting. I took that worry and raised it exponentially. I was overcome with anxiety that I couldn’t know whether my child was actually getting milk, and whether they were getting enough. If they were starving, losing precious ounces. And so, I started pumping. Of course, I had to pump for my daughter during those 6 days when we were separated in the hospital, so with her, we never really tried to breastfeed seriously–I just pumped from day one.

And so, I worked full-time (with a husband working 16-hour days out of town) and pumped every 2 hours during the day and 4 hours during the night for 10 months. Twice–once for each kid. It seemed to me the only choice.

I hated breastfeeding. Partially it was that I didn’t like the feeling of it. Partially it was that it was so difficult and fraught at the beginning for both kids, and it scared me. But mostly, it was that I couldn’t quantify it–I didn’t know exactly how many ounces were coming out, and how many were going into their little bodies. I needed the numbers. I needed to count–it made me feel safe. (I can hear my therapist’s voice suggesting that what I really needed was control.)

When things were so wrong, I needed to control what I could. I couldn’t risk hurting my babies any further, so I hurt myself–I bent over backward and kept bending, amazed that I wouldn’t break. My husband kept shaking his head and telling me I should just switch to formula, but I refused. I had already done childbirth all wrong, I wasn’t going to admit failure on this, too. Day 60.

Published by Quitter

I’m a college professor, wife, and mother of 2 small kids. I’m on a recovery journey 20 years in the making.

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