We always chronicle the “firsts” for our children – the first word, the first step, the first tantrum. Okay, maybe not that last one. But I wish there was a way we could savor and remember all the lasts, too.
I wish I knew when it happened that it would be the last time I would breast feed Angel Face. I had been breastfeeding along, merrily unaware that my child was getting more and more YELLOW by the day, until at her six-week checkup, the pediatrician said, “Boy, she sure looks really yellow for six weeks old.” (Now, I slap myself in the face every time I look at pictures, because DUH, she’s SO YELLOW and didn’t I NOTICE that when her little yellow face was pushed up against my white, white BOOB?).
Much blood work (taken from her tiny little yellow foot, which makes me sad just thinking about) later, we discovered that in fact, Angel Face had breastfeeding jaundice. Or breast milk jaundice. I can’t remember which one we thought it was first, but then it turned out to be the other one. Anyway, it meant I stopped breastfeeding, at first just for the weekend. Then it was for a few more days. Then we tried again. Then, when the toxic levels of bilirubin shot back up, we tried formula again. I drank soy milk, which I hope I never have to do again. Finally, when it became obvious that nothing was keeping her from getting the horribly high levels of vile bilirubin in her system except the formula, I stopped altogether.
No one thought I would like breastfeeding. I wasn’t even sure how I would take to it. I wasn’t breastfed, neither was my husband. But I wanted to. And I enjoyed it. I felt like I was really accomplishing something: I was keeping my little baby alive from just my little body! And I was good at it – Angel Face was a champion latcher.
I think it helped me bond with her more quickly than I otherwise would have – I was not one of those instant-connection mothers. I was more one of those “let’s-have-a-few-drinks-and-see-where-this-goes” mothers.
So when it all went bad, I felt like a colossal failure. That was probably the closest I came to post partum depression. Every bottle felt like a betrayal, and it took me a few weeks to adjust and accept that while breastfeeding was the right thing for some women, bottle feeding was the right thing for others, including us. Having Hubby help out with overnight feedings was a benefit too.
And now, more than six months after the “last bottle” I even miss the bottle-feeding too. I don’t remember the last bottle-feeding. Or the last time I gave her baby food. Or the last time we had an overnight feeding. Or the last…
And there’s only more lasts to come.