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For many reasons, I wasn’t able to breastfeed the Babii beyond a week after her birth. Because of that experience, I tried very hard to breast feed our little BooBoo Bear. It wasn’t easy, because I was literally starting from scratch and in the beginning it was. Just. So. Hard.

I know I often belly ache about how hard it is to be so far from home and family, and giving birth in a far away land with no family is certainly one of the factors that make it so difficult. The hospital system is different. The hospital culture is different.

One thing that I really appreciated, though, is the emphasis that our hospital placed on breastfeeding. The babies stay with their mommies during the day and return to the nursery only at night. During this time, the mothers are expected to breast feed their babies, but formula is also available upon request.

I started off breastfeeding BooBoo Bear, but it seemed that she was always hungry and we could go at it for hours and hours because she would cry once I put her down. To top it off, my nipples started chafing until it came to the point when they started bleeding.

Ewww. TMI.

Apparently, even when a mother’s nipples start bleeding she should continue breastfeeding. It’s quite disconcerting, because aside from the physical pain that the mother feels, the baby spits up the blood. And in my hormone-anesthesia-pain killer induced haze, it looked a lot like I had a little vampire baby.

At that point I was just ready to throw in the towel and have a good cry. Googling for answers didn’t help, because all of these websites had mothers cooing about how wonderful breastfeeding was and how they bonded with their babies and how everything was sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. None of them seemed to have encountered any problems so why was I different? (Answer: It’s a breastfeeding conspiracy!!!!)

On our last day at the hospital I had taken to giving the BooBoo bear formula most of the time because I just couldn’t take the sight of the blood and the thought that she was drinking all that (I have issues). The night nurse had looked at my chart and came over to ask me why I wasn’t breastfeeding. When I explained to her why, she took a look at my breasts and let out an “Ayayay!” because they were so swollen.

“Get your baby. I will help you.”

So in the middle of the night I took the BooBoo Bear from the nursery and the night nurse stayed with me to make sure she was latching properly.

She was a big help that night and she kept me going when I was ready to give up. I wish I could say that we lived happily ever after, but there will always be glitches because that’s just the way life is.

The supply of breast milk was never enough, and I know websites say to just keep going because you will eventually get there, but I doubt the website would be of much help in the middle of the night when the baby is hungry and angry, and the boobies have released all the juice it could possible release at that point.

I’ve never been a fundie or a purist and I don’t have any issues about “exclusive breastfeeding.” Some mothers can supply all the breast milk their babies need and still have left overs to freeze and/or donate to charity. I am not one of those mothers. So I supplemented with formula and saved my sanity.

Now that I am back at work I am glad I made that decision, because there are just times when I can’t pump on schedule or don’t get to drink enough fluids.

It was hard enough to actually just get started on the breastfeeding and harder to maintain it given everything else that is going on in our lives without being anal about exclusivity. As long as my daughter is healthy and happy, I won’t waste my time worrying over it. I just wish I didn’t allow those websites to influence my own experience of breastfeeding the BooBoo Bear and make me feel inadequate about being a mother.

When we started out, I set myself a goal of six months. I didn’t think I would even last the week, but I did. We are now in the middle of our fourth month, and I wonder if I will have the heart to stop at six. But I will take it as I promised myself that night in the hospital: one day at a time.

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