At my 30 weeks prenatal appointment, I confided in my nurse that for the last two weeks I couldn’t seem to control my bladder anymore and kept having accidents! We laughed over pregnancy woes and discussed kegel exercises. I then causally admitted that in my desperation, I Googled my symptoms and learned about women whose waters broke early in their pregnancies. I laughed nervously because that wasn’t happening to me, right?
“Formula isn’t poison.” That’s what an occupational therapist told me as we watched my preemie baby finally finish a bottle without choking. It was the first time in his whole life that he was able to complete a feed on his own without struggling or gasping for air.
Yet, instead of being thankful he was finally able to eat safely, I was devastated. With his early delivery, the doctors, nurses and consultants were all adamant about one thing – if I wanted my premature baby to survive, he needed my breast milk. I aligned myself to “Breast is Best” regime and followed a strict pumping schedule. I built up a strong milk supply and my freezer was jam-packed with frozen bottles of expressed breast milk. My son received breast milk through a feeding tube his first few weeks, but when he was older, all attempts to breastfeed and bottle-feed breast milk were painfully unsuccessful.
We’d later discovered he had a medical condition where he required thickened formula. I was deeply saddened because his only form of nutrition felt inadequate and almost toxic.
Here is a photograph from my time as a new mom. It tells the only narrative I had dreamed of sharing with my son about my early days of motherhood. He came, my world was complete and it was the happiest time of my life. In truth, I was suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).