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When Everdeen was born she was immediately taken away to be suctioned. They had found meconium and thought it might be in her lungs. When they finally placed her little body on mine I felt such a sense of relief...but I had hoped that I would have been the first one to hold her.
It didn't. I remember my mom and older sister would stop by after work and check in on me those first few weeks. Everdeen would be crying and ready to eat, but I was beginning to resent feeding her. I cried almost every time she latched on. It was like forcing myself to keep touching the hot burner on the stove every two hours. I just couldn't do it anymore. My older sister, who was still nursing my 8 month old nephew, took Everdeen and fed her for me. She didn't feel any pain from her latch so I knew it really must be me. They gently suggested I try to feed Everdeen some formula...just to give myself a rest...I burst into tears (for the 40 millionth time). I didn't want to have to supplement. I wanted my baby to have my milk. My doula suggested that maybe I consider solely pumping and bottle feeding my breast milk. I liked that idea.
The next day I went out and bought myself a pump. I learned how to power pump to get my milk supply up and began pumping every two hours. Strangely enough, pumping didn't hurt nearly as bad as nursing. But it was time consuming and exhausting. I felt guilty leaving Everdeen in the baby swing while I sat at the kitchen table listening to the droning sound of the pump...a sound that had become all too familiar very quickly. The worst was when I pumped after Everdeen's 1am feeding. I could barely keep my eyes open, but knew if I skipped the session my milk supply would begin to decrease.
The decision to stop pumping and to move to just formula was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make. I think from an outsiders perspective it seemed like the obvious choice...but my mommy guilt was crushing and I felt like I had given up. Everdeen had gotten my milk for three months, which is wonderful! But I couldn't see that. I remember feeling mad and jealous at those around me who seemed to have no problems nursing. I felt hurt by anything I read that suggested formula fed babies were inferior to breastfed babies. But secretly deep down I also felt a sense of relief. I didn't have to spend hours pumping now and I could truly enjoy feeding my sweet girl for the first time. There were no more tears, just songs sung while I rocked my little one while she ate. Martin was really able to start bonding with Everdeen while feeding her too, which wasn't something he hadn't been able to do before.