I looked over at her lit-up face and responded in awe, "Congratulations! That's wonderful;" and then, "I am SO jealous."
I couldn't help myself: as happy as I was for my sister's successful experience with pumping breast milk, I felt rattled. "I know," my sister said while turning to my friend. "She had a lot of issues," she told him.
I had NEVER pumped eight ounces of breast milk in one session. The fact that my sister was able to reach that milestone with her two-week-old daughter JMT astounded me.
It was after two weeks of torturous breastfeeding that the concern of my son's doctor over his lost weight and my family's fear of Equis starving overwhelmed me. I broke down and fed Equis formula, and after four months, I completely stopped breastfeeding. My sister's success triggered my guilt and sadness over not being able to breastfeed Equis for an entire year as planned, and not being able to do so STILL makes me feel like a bad mother.
Later, in the basement of my parents' building, my friend tried to get me to talk about my reaction. Tears filled the corners of my eyes, and I could barely whisper about how breastfeeding was the hardest thing I ever had to do and just didn't seem to work for Equis and me.
As difficult as breastfeeding was for me, I take solace in the fact that I have been able to use my torturous experience to help my sister with her own breastfeeding journey. On the day of baby JMT's birth, I bent over the hospital chair to knead my sister's breasts and help her daughter properly latch on to her nipple. I had learned that the greatest need of a breastfeeding woman is support and guidance so I spent the next few days assisting my sister in putting the breast pump together and showing her how to massage her breasts so that the milk flows more easily and her milk ducts do not get clogged.
"You've helped to ensure my daughter's breastfeeding future," my sister has told me on more than one occasion, and that makes me feel like a better woman.