I was reading one of my favorite diaries today, and the diarist's wife has just become a new mommy for a second time. She's having trouble with the breastfeeding.

Gosh, it brought back such unpleasant memories. I have never felt like such a failure, as when I couldn't breastfeed my baby.

I had heard of breastfeeding classes. The Lamaze teacher recommended the breastfeeding classes. I didn't believe I needed a class to teach me something that women had been doing very naturally, all over the world, for eons... So, I didn't take the breastfeeding classes. When the nurse brought my precious bundle of joy to me, I attempted to hook her up - and neither the infant, nor I could figure out how to do it. When she was facing the right way, her mouth was all wrong, and when I flipped her backwards like the nurse suggested, I thought I was going to smoosh her in my armpit or something. When she finally got attached correctly, nothing would come out of me.

Then, I got it into my head that the baby was surely going to starve to death. I was such a poor excuse for a mother that I couldn't nourish this child I had wanted so badly. I was stressing out. I asked the nurse what I should do. "Just relax and enjoy your baby" was the usual remark. I couldn't say to this nurse - "Look, I'm starving this kid. She's wasting away. Help me!" Because then they would know what a failure I was, and maybe they wouldn't let me take the baby home.

When I finally did get home, the attempted late night feedings were really nerve-wracking. First, I have a starving baby, screaming in my ears. Then, I try and feed her. She can't get attached and becomes frustrated. So do I. Then the husband starts banging on the bedroom wall because we have disturbed his sleep. I stress out more. The breasts refuse to perform. Baby screams louder. I am a FAILURE...

About the 3rd night, I marched the screaming baby downstairs to the kitchen. I placed her in her car seat on the kitchen floor. I dug around in the diaper bag for the can of formula the hospital gave me when I checked out. I read the instructions. I sterilized a bottle. I mixed the formula. I fed the baby.

I had failed.

It has taken years for that feeling of failure to leave me. The whole, La Leche League mentality of breastfeeding being the ONLY WAY - which was pushed on me even by my daughter's pediatrician - who is a Lactation Specialist - made me doubt even more, my ability to mother that baby.

I am very high strung. I have trouble relaxing even now. Fourteen years ago, I was ten times more uptight. In order to successfully breastfeed, a woman has to be like a milk cow. Very relaxed and at ease. I've NEVER been relaxed and at ease.

It took me years to forgive myself for feeding my baby formula. What kind of world is it where a woman feels like a failure - for FEEDING her child?

I hope the new mommy in question can stop feeling bad about herself, and just love her baby. My kidlet managed to grow up just fine drinking formula - and with me as her mommy. I'm sure this little baby will be okay too.

Ooooooh! Some Hot and Excellent Spike-ing from Spike!

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