Topics of Discussion
wisdom from the Preemie-l e-mail group http://www.preemie-l.org
Leanne discusses, "A couple of you have posted recently that you feel like failures because after pumping for many, many,
many months (or hours or days or weeks or not at all) and trying at least (it seems) a 100 different positions and timings and equipment
etc. etc. etc. and after finding the whole thing becoming physically and emotionally too demanding, and then doing the intelligent thing and
But instead of patting yourselves on the back for how long you pumped and how well you did keeping your supply going despite all the stress and anxiety and worry, instead of congratulating yourself on how you were able to supply your child with that liquid gold, if only for a few days (hours, weeks, months), instead of being proud of yourself that you did what you could for as long as you could, instead of feeling peace that you at last made the decision to stop and then did, you call yourselves failures and feel guilty.
I would call ending pumping when it was time (or past time) a strategic retreat.......an acknowledgment that there is more to motherhood than what goes in, how it gets there and where it comes from. Breastfeeding is hard work even for a FT baby. From the information that Iíve read and from my experiences, a healthy full term baby with no health issues can take up to six weeks to learn how to breastfeed properly, my FT daughter Hannah took at least 12 weeks and some never do. Is it any wonder that our preemies find it hard?
Irene wrote about longing to breastfeed and her sadness at not being able to, and there is much to be sad about. But there are other ways that we nurture our children. When James was too tiny for my nipple to fit in his mouth, I lived for the days that I was allowed to do some Kangaroo Care and share that close contact.
Now that James is 4, I live for the times that we "have snuggles" as James calls it. And we lay on the couch together and watch a video, me behind, James in front, my arms around him, his hands stroking my arms and I just soak in as much of him as I can, because it wonít be long before heís too big for snuggles, just as now heís too big for breastfeeding. That closeness is the same, whether kangarooing, breastfeeding or "having snuggles" it really feels the same to be close and hold on tight.
I think that thereís a whole lot of issues about being a preemie parent that can take a long, long time to work through, a long time. I know thereís a lot to feel sad about and there is a lot that we missed out on, a lot that we feel sorry about. There is so much sadness and so much guilt, my wish is that at least on this one issue, if you did the best you could, given the circumstances, then accept that you did well. Congratulate yourself that you made the right decision for you and perhaps even one day let it go."
Deborah responds, "I, too, tried to breastfeed both children and would be THRILLED when I managed 10 ccís (thatís about 2 tsp) of breastmilk at each sitting. After 4 months in bed and twice daily insulin injections during my second pregnancy, I finally got it that there was nothing wrong with me or my parenting because I could not supply enough milk to my children via breast. I turned down the idea of taping tubes to my breasts to feed formula to my son while they nursed at the breast. Enough was enough. I was just telling Ben (now 8) last night about how I used to sit with him in the dark and watch the 1992 Olympics with him while feeding him a bottle. This was after his brief hospital stay and I was so grateful to have him alive, safe and at home. Those late nights in the dark were such tender times that I really donít believe that my children or I have missed out or failed. As with so many things in life, I have done everything I could (and then some) to ensure the health and safety of my babies. I do not feel like a failure. I feel like I have endured much hardship, all willingly done so that my kids could be safe and loved."
Tracy comments, "After I chose to wean my first at 10 weeks and promptly ended up with a majorly allergic kid, then my second weaned himself at 10 mos (no guilt there, it was his choice) and my third nursed for 29 mos (no guilt there either, he got more than his share!!) I have carried a lot of hard painful, and guilty feelings about Stephen never fully getting to nurse (I was one of those with the tubes taped to my breasts) and only getting the partial nursing for about 5 mos or so. I think it is because after he came home, my instinct was telling me to get rid of the supplements so my supply would increase but like others, I was afraid to go against the doc and compromise his weight gain. Thank you for reminding me that even without total nursing, I still gave him the love and cuddles he needs. My heart is a little lighter now!"
Nola relates, "Itís weird but I can say that I have hardly ever thought about it in this way. Why I picked the negative way to think about it I donít know. Might be because I want to be a person who does all the right things for her child, and to me that means breastfeeding. But it might also be like a person who goes to the Olympics but doesnít get a medal. They are really bummed out about not getting a medal, about not fulfilling their dream, that they might forget that just getting to the Olympics is a rare and wonderful thing. Think of all the people who never even get that far. I think all of us preemie moms who pumped for months deserve a gold medal. Or at least a purple heart."