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Now being a mother of a 4 yr old I feel like a veteran mommy already, but here I speak about the struggles I went through as a newbie mommy.
I am married to my best friend and everything in life was pretty smooth and seemed quite preplanned for both of us. The pregnancy and delivery was as uneventful as can be. I had my hubby and both sides of our families ready to welcome our prince.
Even though we were doctors and I had operated on so many infants in my avatar as a pediatric ophthalmologist, I remember being petrified of holding my son for the first time, was scared to hurt the tiny pup. The true struggles started from the day 3 of life! I fed my son as soon as I first came in contact with him! The colostrum or first milk is great for the baby, baby feeds fast ...satiates fast..and sleeps a lot...so all is great!!
Day 2 or 3 for most, the milk starts flowing in. I was blessed with great milk production. But from the start, I was in pain. The engorgement, the arm pit pain, the the bleeding cracked nipples, and milk overflow. Nothing and Nobody had prepared my tiny mommy brain for this. Added to this my hubby had to join work and went back after a week and I didn't have my best friend around which pushed me into the darker.
We had a constant flow of guests for almost a month who had come to bless the baby, but there was this sleep deprived and over lactating mommy in her worst skin hair and clothes day who hated to see anyone and everyone. The endless suggestions of eat this, massage this way, wear that belt, do those exercises never ended. The docs said that the feed and milking cycle would set in but by month 3, it never did. I always produced much more than what he would suck....I even went to the extent of having delusional ideas of outsourcing the extra milk. The routine was wipe the nip cure cream, feed from one side done, panic!!! Kiddo has slept, so tickle and pinch to wake him and give the other side. Gosh!! he has slept again. Panic, express, pump out due to the severe pain. Clean, apply nipcure and lie down aaaand time to clean the potty. I am sure every mom goes through this but then and there I felt like this is happening only to me. I was crying when not doing any of this above and still felt an odd aunty saying that he wasn't gaining 'enough' and there is something wrong with the milk!!
As days went by I developed a lump in my breast. Having taken opinion from a lot of consultants all of them were convinced that it was part of the breast engorgement and when I started spiking fever and feeling extremely tired it continued to be treated as just another mommy thing!!...it is just the exhaustion!! I knew instinctively that something was wrong. I kept talking to my hubby and talking to my now 4 mth old to understand whether it was all in the brain...finally I convinced a doc to needle aspirate whatever is in the lump...and there was pus...pus...more pus ..there was so much that I had to be posted for surgical removal of abscess under general anaesthesia the next day.
Now the real mental breakdown began. I came out of surgery and after being allowed after few hours fed with the other breast. My hubby was by my side and every time I fed, my this abscess dressing would soak with blood milk and debris and he would change the dressing all over again. I was wearing my dad's old shirts by now because the dressing was soaking into every cloth worn. The abscess would soak and pain like a fresh wound in every dressing and it felt hard as a rock all the time, the agony, guilt, pain, embarrassment and smell of the blood were soaking deeper and deeper into my already broken mental state.
My hubby and my mom were my pillars of support and just started bottle feeding my baby in addition to this. Initially my pup wouldn't take the bottle and I couldn't feed from the affected breast due to the fear of infecting him. They would close my room so that they could bottle feed and I would hear him crying and howl like a wounded animal!! It felt like a course I didn't sign in for!! My self esteem and love for my parents, child and hubby all seemed to be crashing. One side I had my docs telling me that the nectar is utmost important and some telling me you might never bond with your baby if you don't feed, your baby will remain weak. My hubby and mom were firm on saying to stop feeding as the wound was just not getting dry and not healing.
The reflex soaking and engorgement never allowed me to be pain free. One day I just took pills and stopped this self inflicted pain. My son had taken up to bottles by now and was less cranky and playful. In 2 days the milk dried up. I felt lighter, definitely felt empty sometimes and hollow but lighter too. I took my son in my arms and danced, laughed, sang, played and after ages I dressed up and went out with him.
I connected much better and fell in love deeper with him after I stopped bothering about the nectar. Being a doctor and having read I do believe that breast milk is the best and I would promote breast feeding. But the nectar cannot be at the cost of your life and sanity. For your child you are going to be his nectar and not the milk!! You will feed him with love, ideas, laughter,games and feeding milk is not your only role.
Travel lighter in life even if that makes you take some tough decisions. What works for others may not work for you or your kiddo.
You have a god given instinct. Use it mommies and enjoy motherhood in its true sense. you will bond like a glue better and tighter.