I never thought breastfeeding could be this awful.
I never thought I could resent having a child clamped on my boob. But 99% of the time, I do.
Breastfeeding can be hard at the best of times, I’m not saying this to put you off, but to acknowledge that it isn’t all comfortable rocking chairs and contented milk drunk babies. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Vivienne’s poor latch, and the fact that I had bleeding nipples.
Since then thanks to the help of my midwife and support from some lovely friends, things have improved dramatically. Sadly my journey with Vivienne isn’t the easy ride it was with Sebastien. Her latch still causes me immense troubles, but not the troubles you might expect.
So often I hate the feeling when Vivienne is nursing. I hate it so much that I want to throw her off me. There. I said it. I hate it. For the entire nursing session. I sit there with gritted teeth and try to suppress the urge to crawl out of my own skin.
I’m so touched out. I’m itchy. if I’m eating when she wants to eat, then I loose my appetite. Completely. My mouth goes dry. Sometimes I even retch. The feeling of her feeding makes me angry.
Now, she’s clearly an efficient feeder, as she’s gained a whopping 10lbs in 14 weeks, but some nursing sessions I begrudge every single second that she’s on me. Sometimes I have to unlatch her despite knowing she isn’t finished. I just have to get away from that feeling. That feeling of her little tongue catching the end of my nipple with every suckle.
The touched out feeling doesn’t just affect breastfeeding. I feel like I’m no longer in control of my own body. The toddler needs me, the baby needs me, and of course my marriage needs me too, because a marriage without physical contact is nothing more than a friendship. My husband isn’t just my friend. He is my happy place, my lover, the person that satisfies my primal (almost feral) needs.
But some days when the toddler crawls up on to my lap for a snuggle I shout at him to get off. I scream “don’t touch me” not just at the toddler, but sometimes at Mike. My infinitely patient ever supportive husband. The man that on some days just can’t do anything right
Don’t touch me/don’t you dare go out without giving me a kiss/get your hands off me/please hold me.
He puts up with me blowing hot and cold he knows to restrain me when I scratch my skin until I draw blood. I love him dearly. I want him. Need him. But some days my skin cannot stand his touch. The mental reaction and the physical reaction are so different. My heart breaks because my stupid stupid brain doesn’t like something my heart wants.
It’s not all the time. But when it does strike it is destructive. It leaves me feeling numb. Then just as quickly as these feelings build they’re gone again.
I know what this is. It’s called a nursing aversion. (Also described as breastfeeding agitation) Aversion is a good word. In fact, repulsion is an even better word. I am repulsed by breastfeeding. It’s a toe curling jaw clenching tear my own flesh off feeling.
But most of all. It is “normal”
Normal. I’m not a freak. It happens. It happens to a lot of women. Thankfully there are forums and Facebook pages specifically for women suffering from aversion, where we can seek guidance. Websites such as LLL, or Kelly mom that explains D-MER Where we can find help to abate the symptoms. Where tiny little changes are suggested-and miraculously they help. It is getting better, slowly. I still dread cluster feeding, knowing that at some point I will want to run away. That sometimes I will get so angry that I vomit. That I will ask that my husband holds Vivienne *just for 5 minutes* so I can breathe again. I’ve discovered that it is worse if I’m dehydrated, or if there is too much noise around me. On those days I take myself off to a darkened room, and sit quietly (not always easy with a toddler around, the mama guilt for bribing him with tablet time is overwhelming)
*mama needs 5 minutes alone to feed your sister*
It is getting better. One day she won’t be breastfed anymore, and I will mourn the end of our journey together. For now, to my husband, and my children I will say this: excuse me whilst I get through this. Like everything in life, this too shall pass. But until it does I’m sorry for the things I say in anger, and for the way I push you away. I love you all. So much. Even on days where I scream at you to leave me alone. I still love you.
For some more resources and help with, check out the brilliant Breastfeeding aversion blog.