I feel so sad to have failed at BF- please help me to move on

(26 Posts)
Moonsquirters Sun 31-Mar-13 22:09:53

I have 4 children. When I found out I was pregnant the fourth time I thought it would be my chance to finally have the birth I wanted with skin to skin and I planned to BF for as long as the baby wanted. Probably for around 18 months I thought.

My first 3 births had all been traumatic on one way or another for example SD or CS. I mixed fed them all for about 4 months.

Anyway this time around it all went wrong at the start. I went into labour at 35 weeks and wasn't too concerned. When he was born though they took him away straight away and cleaned and wrapped him and gave him to the paed who said he was grunting and had low blood sugar. He was taken to nnu and given formula. So no skin to skin or cuddles. When I did get to see him he had drips in and antibiotics and was under light for jaundices. For the next 2 weeks he stayed under lights and was tube fed from EBM as he refused to suck. Because of the jaundice I never for the chance to really hold him and get him to try and latch on as he had to go back under after 5 mins or so. To add to it all I was being monitored for high bp and pretty stressed about my other 3 at home. I had planned a 6 hour discharge.

Anyway when discharged I was managing to BF on demand. To cut a long story short though I struggled being at home with a baby an preschooler and having to do do the school run. DH works long hours and I was usually alone until 9pm ish. Friends kept telling me to stop BF and I ended up introducing formula. When school hol arrived and I was at home with all 4 I just seemed to end up giving more bottles. I can't really explain why in retrospect. I guess at the time it seemed i easier to give a bottle and know he had taken it then I could put him down and give the others some time. Or if my mum was here she could give the bottle and I would give the 3 year old some time or take the older 2 out.

By 4 months old I was only feeding for about 5 mins in a morning and soon ended up stopping. I was back at work at 6 months but had hoped to continue evening and morning.

He is now a very happy and healthy 11 month old and I know this is bothering me more than him. A thread tonight asking how long everyone fed for prompted me posting. I was just in floods of tears about all of you out there who are still BF at this stage and much older. I feel sad and guilty and really gutted that I am missing out on that closeness. It is my fault. There was no reason to introduce bottles but now I look back and it seems such a blur. I can't really be sure why I did any of it.

Thanks for reading. I know there are many worse things and its been cathartic writing this. I am assuming that this will pass and that I will not feel like this in 5 years but right now I can't bear to go to any baby groups or be with BF mothers as it feels so raw and I wish I could turn back the clock.

fWIW despite the above I have bonded well and had no PND issues.

Iggly Sun 31-Mar-13 22:24:02

Oh but you did BF and you did so well (sorry to patronise!!!). You've got four kids, including preschooler, your baby went through a lot in his early weeks as did you so I can see why you made the decisions you did.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and time really blurs the feelings you had which led you to particular choices.

It seems like there are two things - 1 is the birth and aftermath and 2 is the breast feeding. When I was pregnant with ds I dreamed of skin to skin, home birth etc. in the end I was taken into hospital after he was born, he was

As you say, your baby is happy and healthy.

Iggly Sun 31-Mar-13 22:25:25

Sorry - posted too soon. My para was supposed to say: It seems like there are two things - 1 is the birth and aftermath and 2 is the breast feeding. When I was pregnant with ds I dreamed of skin to skin, home birth etc. in the end I was taken into hospital after he was born, he was taken into SCBU and I didn't get to cuddle him properly until the next day. I felt guilty for that for many many months, so can't imagine how you must feel.

ChocolateHelps Sun 31-Mar-13 22:27:03

You do sound very sad and feeling like this is affecting your every day life as you don't want to go to playgroups etc in case you see other mums bf

Does this article help? http://www.petrah.co.uk/Articles

Just because it is seen as a choice to bf or ff, if you stop bf before you wanted to or intended to, then it wasn't really a choice. You have every right to feel the way you do. I hope you are able to find someone to talk to in RL thanks

MrsSpencerReid Sun 31-Mar-13 22:36:52

I just wanted to say my ds had a similar start and I never bf him once, I tried and tried but we couldn't, and he is dc1 so I think you did an amazing job to bf as long as you did. Bf doesn't make you a better mum and he got bm when he needed it the most, it's hard when things don't go to plan and babies have other ideas, I still feel guilty sometimes but my ds is happy and healthy so I try and concentrate on that

Welovegrapes Sun 31-Mar-13 23:51:53

I am very sorry about the tough time you had when ds was born sad

I don't think you failed at all. Your son is so lucky to have a mum who really cares about him and who fed him for 4 months - that is an amazing start that will impact him for his whole life. I bet you and he are very close.

If you wanted to you could always look in to trying to relactate a bit. More info here:

www.alisaikeda.com/Clients_Clips/Relactation/body_relactation.html

kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/relactation/

Bringbring Sun 31-Mar-13 23:58:53

Imagine if a friend told you your story, what would you say to her? I bet you wouldn't dream of using the word failure.

I gave myself a massive guilt trip after an induction and rocky start with bf. my baby ended up in hospital, I expressed round the clock and now I'm on tablets to up supply. This is only possible because I have one child.

I had a massive breakthrough when I realised I would never judge a friend the way I judged myself. I think you need to grieve for your (last?) idealised pregnancy and birth. It s a bloody lottery ( midwives, baby, genetics) for what anyone's experience will be and not a bit fair! In a way I'm glad I've have setbacks because its likely I'd. be unbearably smug if everything had gone smoothly ( not saying you would be too op!) but now I'm very philosophical about the unfairness of childbirth. We all make choices which impact on our families and we should be nicer to ourselves as we consider everyone's feelings before our own.

bellabelly Mon 01-Apr-13 00:07:41

"He is now a very happy and healthy 11 month old " That. You did what worked for you at the time. Stop beating yourself up. smile

FadBook Mon 01-Apr-13 00:13:42

I agree with everyone above and all the advice so far, you are definitely not a failure.

You said in your OP that you miss the closeness bf has. Think about ways to get that closeness back - bottle feeding by you and DP only, story time cuddles on your bed before bedtime, cuddles first thing in the morning with his first milk bottle and many more times probably.

Breastfeeding does create a relationship, a closeness - I know because I'm breastfeeding, but even if I wasn't breastfeeding, I'm pretty sure that the closeness would be the same, because I'd make sure my dd and I had that time together.

It's easy to say "stop beating yourself up" but I think you are being way too harsh on yourself. Your baby was born early, you have 3 other children, a husband that works long hours and you went back to work at only 6 months and yet you still managed to express, breastfeed then mix feed. Amazing mum in my eyes- you sound like a person with lots of love in your heart.

That little 11 month old content abd happy ds is here because of you and he very lucky to have you as his mum.

FadBook Mon 01-Apr-13 00:15:43

Crossed post with bella but she said what I wanted to say in less than 20 words! grin

BitBewildered Mon 01-Apr-13 00:16:26

UnMNy hugs.

I had a traumatic birth with DS which resulted in him being tube fed and on a heat box and then a light box for jaundice. I wasn't able to begin BFing till he was 5 days old, so I know how tricky it can be to get them sucking properly. The fact that you were demand feeding after the start you had is wonderful.

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 10:31:52

Thanks for all your replies. I cried in bed last night and again this morning reading this.

I suppose I feel cheated. I had a terrible pregnancy and nothing went to plan from there. I have been around mn ( regular name changer) for long enough to know that there would have been some people judging me for bottle feeding my 2 month old in public without knowing my back story.

Those articles were interesting. I did look seriously at relactating when he was about 7 months but TBH I just didn't have the time to express 3 hourly day and night as it suggested. I took fenugreek and did some expressing but DS wouldn't latch and I gave up again.

I suppose now I am looking back and feeling sad and regretting my choices but I guess I must have had a reason at the time.

iheartshoes Mon 01-Apr-13 10:44:38

You did what was best for you and your baby at the time . You sound like a lovely caring mum and your baby is lucky to have you ! I wasn't breastfed and my mum is the person I am closest to in the world, she's my absolute rock. I read that thread too and it didn't make me feel very good either as I'm currently only planning to bf for first couple of weeks But Ultimately we all have to do what is right for our own babies and families and you have a healthy little DS now! Be kind to yourself , your children are lucky to have you x

I never ever comment on BF threads. But this time I am.

You did as much as you could for as long as you could at the time. Don't beat yourself up about it. It's something you feel sad about, but I can assure you when he's 25 and getting ready to go out on the beer with his mates, it won't matter that you didn't BF until he was 2 or 3 or 4. (Please take that in the spirit in which it is intended.)

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 11:05:47

That made me smile Freddie. You are of course right. I was bottle fed and am v close to my mum.

I know I wouldn't love him more or have a more special bond if I was BF. I wonder how other women manage it. I honestly believe those that BF for months and longer must be stronger than me.

I think I will hide this topic soon. I avoid childbirth too really. I guess by the time he starts school this will seem like a distant memory. It took me a long time to get over DS 2 birth but he's now 7 and I no longer give it much thought.

tiktok Mon 01-Apr-13 11:06:22

moon - you have named your feeling: 'cheated'.

Yes, you were cheated. It's not 'failing' to be cheated. It's still a horrible feeling because of the lack of autonomy, in something as intimate in feeding your baby the way you wanted.

Lots of reasons why this happened to you - you detail them all in your OP (wobbly previous experience affecting your confidence; early birth; poor care from the hospital; difficult early weeks; unhelpful friends chucking in their opinion; busy life with real and unavoidable needs of other children; partner away a lot....boy, you check the boxes smile sad )

This took away your choice and your strong desire to breastfeed, and yes, it slips away as you found....and it is cheating you. Not your 'fault'.

Some good suggestions here about making the most of closeness and yes, try putting him to the breast and see what happens.

A call to any of the bf helplines would listen and not judge and help.

Hope things get easier for you soon.

Grumpla Mon 01-Apr-13 11:23:12

As a "failed" BFer myself I can sympathise. When you have invested so much effort and emotion into making something work, something that so many women seem to find effortless, it is very very hard not to blame yourself when it doesn't work out.

It sounds from your post that your baby also had a really rocky start, and that dealing with the stress and feeling torn between your baby and your other children was probably something you just had to "get through" at the time. Now you are a bit further on maybe a lot of the feelings you simply couldn't afford to let yourself feel at the time are resurfacing.

My Ds2 is almost 14 months now and it's only now, when he is usually too busy and active to want to bother with much milk, that I am finally beginning to really enjoy bottle feeding him! But the snuggliness and closeness is there, it has always been there, just as much as if I had been BFing him. One of the things I found helpful was to think that although this was tremendously important to ME, as far as both my babies were concerned they were totally happy with bottles. They didn't feel any less loved or nourished, they didn't miss out on cuddles and eye contact, they are FINE smile

Motherhood is full of opportunities to feel so guilty and full of failure. But from reading just a very brief outline of what you have been through, you sound as though you have been incredibly brave and strong for all of your children, and worked so hard to balance their various needs. Now that the crisis has passed (as much as it ever does with children!) try and be kind to yourself and focus more on how far you have all come since those dreadful days. It must have been terrifying for you, but I bet it was YOUR hard work that steered you all through.

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 12:31:26

Mn often gets a bad press but you've all proven that the support can be amazing.

I am still producing a little milk when I squeeze. I tried putting him to breast this am and he wasn't happy at all. Again I felt sad that he really doesn't remember being BF. he really loves his cuddles and bottle so I think to push it at this stage wouldn't be in his best interests? It would be for me really.

I think where things really went wrong was that he stopped waking for night feeds at 3 months. That really didn't help at all. The last 3 months he has been waking again and I would love the convenience of BF rather than having to go and hear a bottle in a freezing cold kitchen.

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 12:33:00

Also I moved the older ones into a cup at 12 months. I think this time I will carry it on for longer. It's the only time he will really let me cuddle him.

Welovegrapes Mon 01-Apr-13 12:37:28

Try doing the offering when he is sleepy / asleep / just before bed - may be more likely to suck then.

RubyrooUK Mon 01-Apr-13 13:05:55

Moon, can I say you sound like a lovely thoughtful mum?

I think Tiktok did a lovely post above which is dead right. You had so many challenges from your pregnancy, to birth, to having multiple children to please. And you DID actually breastfeed too, despite all the odds. Of course you should feel however you want, but I hope you are able to move on.

I was bf for a couple of years. And I'm close to my mum. But you know what, I'm close to her because she was a brilliant mum all through my childhood and adult years. She wiped my tears when I was 5 and also last week when I was 34, when I had the baby blues after having DS2 and I worried that DS1 would never love me again. Motherhood is a lifetime job and cannot be reduced to feeding alone.

And for what it's worth, I simply wouldn't think anything if I saw a mum bottle feeding a little baby. I breastfeed because I am lucky enough that it worked out for me but there are plenty of other areas where I really struggle. I might be thinking your baby was cute and noticing you had a baby in the first place, but that would be it.

Hope you feel better soon. X

Maryz Mon 01-Apr-13 13:15:24

People who b/f for longer aren't stronger than you - they are luckier.

I b/f ds2 for a year, because it was easier for me. He was easy to feed, that's why I did it. There is no way I would have battled on, destroyed my relationship with my older children and been permanently sick and exhausted. I would have been sensible to use formula.

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 13:15:41

I will try that welove but I suspect I've missed the boat.

Thanks rubyroo and congratulations on your ds2! I remember feeling like that when ds2 was born. Of course it all worked out. My Ds4 is very lucky that he has 3 doting big brothers. As we speak ds2 and 3 are sitting in the playpen entertaining him! What he loses in not being BF he gains in other areas I guess.

Mn has lots of successful B feeders but maybe they are the ones most likely to post. One thing is my experiences of pregnancy, birth, feeding and parenting mean that I will never be smug or judge. My house is noisy and chaotic but hopefully there is lots if love there too.

RubyrooUK Mon 01-Apr-13 14:55:21

Moon, I think if you're feeling sensitive about breastfeeding, you tend to notice those threads. I notice lots about issues that strike a chord with me - for example, about sleeping! My DS1 has been such an awful sleeper since birth, and I often suspect it is as much my fault as anything else as I am a rubbish sleeper too. So sometimes I torture myself reading threads where people explain how their children go to bed in two minutes and then they enjoy a glass of wine, and they can't understand why it is such an issue for some people. Whereas both DH and I have cried on occasion because we have got so stressed by DS1's sleeping habits.

But mainly I think that families where parents are loving and supportive are good for children. One day, my DS will crack sleeping. Your DS4 has a mum who adores him and wants the best for him. If you were my real life friend, I'd hate to think that you were bashing yourself about breastfeeding when you have so many things going for you.

Moonsquirters Mon 01-Apr-13 15:42:36

You may be right and maybe everyone had hang ups about something?. I can't really talk to anyone in RL. My DH has no idea I feel like this. He wouldn't understand at all. The same as he didn't after ds2 was born . He just sees a happy thriving loved baby and certainly wouldn't get why I felt this way.

I know 3 other women with babies the same age. They all had 'perfect' births. One a HB and all are BF still. Having said that non of them are back at work of have 4 children.

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