In our society where ‘natural’ everything is thrown about daily, having two C-sections and breastfeeding issues sets you up splendidly for feeling like a complete failure. Slogans like ‘breast is best' can be more a dangerous pressure than encouraging information. Nonetheless, I hoped perhaps I’d have a second chance with Gray. Even with the help of an incredible friend/doula by my side, his birth still didn't go to plan. I cried when, halfway through my labour, doctors coerced me into giving into another C-section. But I made sure this time I had the energy left to actually want to hold my baby and it changed the outcome significantly. I didn’t put him down once throughout that first night. My birth story, like many others, isn’t perfect. I think about it still, even let myself grieve a little from time to time but I won’t let it fester. I am so damn lucky. My beautiful boys were healthy, I was looked after and they were (for now) born into a safe place. Caesareans go back centuries and whilst I wholeheartedly agree our modern medical world may rely on them too eagerly, they save many womens' and babies' lives. If that isn’t something to feel wonderful about?
I also thought I would soldier through breastfeeding this time around with new vigour, expressing colostrum 2 weeks before I gave birth and giving myself into learning and caring for this new little person, but not long into it, I'd feel panicked every time my hungry little bundle woke up, knowing he’d want to feed. I’d squint and curl my toes through the pain, would clench up so horribly that I was worried I’d hurt his neck a few times holding him. Together we’d suffer through this ordeal until one night unable to latch properly, he screamed while I sobbed and my guilt for turning to formula was really aimed more at the relief of it all than the giving up. Whoever advocates adamantly that breastfeeding is vital for bonding really hurts women more than it nurtures. Turning to formula for us was bondings saving grace, the opportunity to actually want to hold, feed and lovingly look into my child's eyes again while doing so. I think being a happy, relaxed mother outweighs absolutely any other argument and has made me in turn be able to cope so much better with every other aspect of caring for a baby. My children are strong, clever, happy, healthy and confident. What more could anyone ask for? I think it’s incredible and wonderful when my friends and all beautiful women out there birth with little to no medical interventions and when I see them almost absentmindedly able to latch a crying baby. I just mean to say that if you’re struggling with it and you can’t or couldn't, then that’s completely fine too. You’re not alone and in loving yourself as well as your child, you’re doing the absolute best thing you can do.