Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Triumphant Tuesday: Breastfeeding and Homeless

It's often said that formula feeding is only unsafe in undeveloped countries where there is poverty and poor sanitation. This is a fictitious claim circulated by defensive formula feeders in an effort to justify their choice.

As we’ve learned over the past couple of years, disaster can strike anyone, anywhere and anytime. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a rich capitalist nation, or one that is poverty-stricken. A natural disaster, whether hurricane, tornado, flood, or tsunami, can devastate areas and leave families without resources, sometimes for long periods of time. In these instances, breastfeeding is a life-preserver.

The star of this week’s Triumphant Tuesday is Kate. When a flood destroyed her home, Kate lost everything. This tragedy pushed her into deep depression. Yet she was determined that her breastfeeding relationship would not suffer.


“When I became pregnant with my daughter I had the no-plan plan because I am the most indecisive person ever. All I did know was that I wanted a healthy happy baby. Then, early on in my pregnancy I took a nasty fall. I sprained my back and neck with a lot of other injuries.


A Complicated Pregnancy

The worst feeling is being told that we would have to "wait and see" if my daughter would be affected by the medication that was given to me by the hospital - the same hospital that knew I was pregnant!! I had such a painful pregnancy; And it didn't make it any easier that I wasn't given the comfort of knowing whether my baby would be healthy or not.

Later in my pregnancy the doctors believed I was on the verge of becoming preeclamptic due to abnormal test results. So everyday they were running tests on me. Nothing was making sense to them.

The Flood

In the midst of all of this my home was destroyed in a flood. We lost everything. All of a sudden there were so many unknowns. My home became a motel room and just the very thought that I would have to bring my newborn (that may not even be healthy) to this place sent me into periods where I would sob for hours. I felt incredibly guilty because now my daughter didn't have a house to grow up in, let alone her own room! Unsurprisingly I spiralled into deep depression, before she was even born.


Kate's porch. This picture was taken before they were evacuated. The water was already coming up to the door of the house, despite the porch being elevated 4 steps from the ground.

An induction date was set, yet still I had no definite plans for labor or feeding. I decided I was going to try my best and see where labor took me, rather than trying to control it.


Little Sophia is born.
After my beautiful baby girl arrived I put her to the breast and just kept thinking, "If it hurts she isn't latched right". So if it hurt I would unlatch her and try again. She was born at 6 lbs 11 oz and at 3 days old she was already  7 lbs 1 oz and ABSOLUTELY HEALTHY.

Unhealthy Thoughts

As a consequence of my very stressful pregnancy and my existing depression, I developed postpartum depression. I was expecting to feel this overpowering love for my daughter. I thought I should feel so happy but all I could do was cry and all I wanted to do is sleep. I felt overwhelmed by the world around me and had daily panic attacks. It was as if an engulfing pain would course through my body, my chest would tighten, and I wouldn't be able to breathe.


Their first family photo.
To make matters worse, at the time we brought her 'home' from the hospital, her Dad was working over 12 hours a day, 6 days a week just to keep the roof over our heads. The time he was home he spent sleeping. 

I felt like everyone was passing judgement onto me for living in a motel. People would suggest that I could have prevented ending up there. It made me feel like I had done something wrong, not that a flood took my home and my belongings.

During this time I was convinced something bad was going to happen to my baby. I couldn't sleep because when I did, someone or something was always hurting her. Once I started having scary thoughts about harming myself because I believed that I wasn't worthy of life. During that time, my daughter is what kept me on this earth. The closeness that we built while breastfeeding is something that no medicine or therapy could ever replicate.

When I would try to talk to my doctors or nurses about my depression, they kept saying to me, "oh yes, having a newborn can be so overwhelming". That just made me want to scream more, because my newborn was the only thing holding me together. My emotions were just out of control but my little Sophia brought me back to me being me. She gave me focus. Every month that passed and I was still nursing, was something I could be proud of.


'Breastfeeding Snob'

These days I can honestly say I am somewhat of a breastfeeding snob. When I talk to pregnant ladies who aren't even considering breastfeeding because it's "weird" or they just don’t like the idea of it, I rattle off my long list of why they should! A part of me even looks down on people who don’t make an honest attempt at breastfeeding. I think, "Don't they know the benefits not only for their baby but for themselves as well?" Sometimes I feel like people just don't try hard enough. Parenting was not meant to be easy. Every pregnancy, child and mother is different but one thing is for certain - there is only one way that you SHOULD feed your child and if you don't make a whole hearted attempt at it for YOUR BABY then you really shouldn't be a parent.


My daughter is now 6 months old and has been exclusively breastfed, even when I myself wasn't able to get out of bed. She NEEDED me, so I was there for her. It’s as simple as that.


Kate's Bingo Card:


Get your own Bingo Card here.

Email me with your story.

7 comments:

Antonya DLC said...

What an amazing story. What an amazing mom

Unknown said...

Wow! Amazing! Respect!!! You are a wonderful strong mother and your daughter is such a happy super cute little girl!

Anna Radchenko said...

wow! what a strong, encouraging story. Kate, you and your daughter are so BEAUTIFUL! I love that first photo. Thank you for sharing. You did what any loving mother would do: LOVING YOUR CHILD WITH ALL THAT YOU COULD. Glad to hear Sophia is doing so well at 6 months. :) Blessings!

Nichole said...

Wow! An amazing woman!

Elizabeth M. Johnson said...

So glad to hear a happy ending but confused how we went from "scary thoughts" to breastfeeding snob. Did Kate get help for her postpartum depression? It could have been encouraging to other moms in similar situations to hear that piece a bit more fleshed out.

Katelynn Gerst said...

Hi elizabeth, The scary thoughts i was having has nothing to do with the fact that i am some what of a snob when it comes to people who don't make a serious attempt at breast feeding. The scary thoughts is what made me realize that something was seriously not right because that is just not the way I typically am, so yes I did try to seek help but no one would listen to me. They just continued to tell me that having a newborn was stressful and throw a bunch of medications at me. If it wasn't for the accomplishments I felt as a mother for being able to continue breast feeding, and that she was growing so well I would have been a lot worse for a lot longer. and thank you for the positive feedback!!!

Fantastikraft said...

What a strong mother. I cannot imagine going through something like that and having no-one who could help or in some cases even be willing to listen.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...