In honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, I had been trying my hardest to find the words to properly express my experience with breastfeeding. Wanting to be “politically correct” I would have talked about the benefits and all of the great things that come along with a mother being able to give their baby the nutrients and all of those great vitamins that out bodies have to offer. But because my transparency wouldn’t dare let me skip talking about my personal experience, I have to because I know that there’s a mom who has been through something similar, and she’s looking for a little encouragement.
When I gave birth to my oldest, Marley, almost 6 years ago, it was by emergency cesarean. I had a really bad cold towards the end of my pregnancy and I ended up taking the wrong cold medication which made my blood pressure elevate and it lowered her heart rate, and then we also found out that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice so I kind of procrastinated on getting to know more about breastfeeding and before I knew it she was here. And as if the birth wasn’t traumatic enough, a few days after getting home postpartum, the left side of my cesarean incision opened up and I ended up with staph infection in it, so even if I wanted to breastfeed during that time I couldn’t.
The next time around when I was pregnant with my twins, I went into premature labor on my job and left work at 7AM that morning after being there for just an hour, and I gave birth at 10AM and 10:01AM to my twins, Ayden and Ireland. My babies came early and weighed 3 pounds and 10 ounces, and 4 pounds and 2 ounces. They stayed in the NICU for 33 days due to breathing issues and while they were there I met with a lactation specialist and I went home with a breast pump. I was taught the importance of my twins needing my milk in order to get stronger and get the nutrients that they needed, but being home with a 9 month old (my oldest Marley), having postpartum depression, going through a divorce and trying to pump milk for my twins who were in the NICU was stressful and unfortunately my body just could not produce the milk. I ended up trying to pump so much that my nipples starting cracking and bleeding and sadly I had to stop.
Having to end up giving up on pumping made my postpartum depression even worse because I felt like I was failing my babies. I felt like I was denying them of the very thing that was going to make them strong enough to leave the NICU and be home with me. I had to try and look at the situation as a whole and realize that me being there for them, my voice, my touch, the caring staff, and most of all God’s grace is what was going to make them stronger.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience between mother and child, but unfortunately not every mother and child get to experience this, and that’s ok. This story is MY experience with breastfeeding, and I know that like me, there are many other mothers who didn’t get that chance but that doesn’t make you any less of a mother or a woman. All of our bodies are different, and God equips our beautiful babies with the strength that they need even when we mothers are unable give it to them.