Initially, I had decided to go the bottle route. Knowing that millions of babies grow up healthy on formula, it just seemed like the easier choice. Around the sixth month, education and encouragement from others changed my decision and I decided that I would be a breastfeeding mom.
Then finally, after a difficult induction that took place over two days, Skyler William was born. Luckily, neither one of us had any issues with breastfeeding, and it quickly became our private time together.
I felt like I was doing so much more with Skyler than just providing sustenance– I felt connected. He would hold my pinky finger while I studied his face and rubbed his toes. Every once in awhile, he would stop suckling and look into my eyes.
At three and a half weeks postpartum, though, while nursing Skyler, I felt little pings in my lower abdomen and the sudden urge to pee. When I went to the bathroom, I was shocked to see blood pouring into the toilet. Terrified, I immediately called my doctor. He told me to call an ambulance.
At the hospital, the OB/GYN determined that the lining of my uterus had not stopped shedding and I would have to take copious amounts of the birth control pill. I was also given a blood transfusion and an injection of Ergometrine to make my uterus contract. I was told how lucky I was. If the hemorrhaging had happened while I was sleeping, I could have easily bled to death.
Almost as an aside, the doctor told me I would have to cease breastfeeding, both because it makes the uterus contract and the medication I was taking would quickly dry up my milk.
Initially I was okay with switching to a bottle, but, within a few days, I found myself resenting the loss of that exclusive time with Skyler. I felt cheated that anyone could now feed him and even unnecessary, like I was really not needed at all. I silently started to feel resentful of the people I treasured most in my life.
While I was nursing, I hadn’t felt the loss of that little human growing inside of me because we were still linked, quite literally, every couple of hours. Instead of an umbilical cord, my breast had been Skyler’s nutritional lifeline. Now, I felt disconnected from my own baby.
I was finally able to bring myself to talk about my resentment to one of my closest friends, and she helped me figure out the root of my issues.
First, I had to realize that the decision to stop breastfeeding was not mine. It was not my fault that I had hemorrhaging and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
Second, when I was breastfeeding Skyler, I was able to avoid the separation anxiety that can come when that little person growing inside you is suddenly a separate entity. Those feelings were simply delayed because Skyler was not completely apart from me until I could no longer breastfeed him.
By turning to someone I trusted, I was able to work through my feelings of hurt and animosity, and I found that there were resources available with mothers who had surely gone through exactly what I experienced. I realized that my son and I were connected in so many ways and that he still needed me. Dealing with the shock of not being able to nurse anymore taught me to reach out to others for support and find new ways to get the closeness I craved.
Once I was able to forgive myself, the anger and resentment I had felt toward others faded away and I was okay with taking this new journey as a bottle feeding mom.
*Pauline Milner has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter for over 12 years. Her articles cover a broad spectrum of topics. She is currently working to complete 2 screenplays and a series of children’s books while living a quiet life in rural New Brunswick, Canada with my husband and our very spoiled rescue dog, Casey. Her daughter is married with 2 children. She and her husband are both teachers. Her son is travelling the world as a fine dining chef and is currently in Australia. You can find her on Twitter at @PaulineRMilner.