January 20, 2010

My Story

I have been thinking about the discussions on Annie's blog.  About breastfeeding.

I remember when I didn't have any children.  I was pregnant, and had been gorging myself on the free baby magazines that always seem to find you when you're pregnant. And I was adamant. I would breastfeed. Exclusively.  Because that is what good moms do, right?

I went to visit my sister in law and her brand new baby.  And when she pulled out the bottle, I judged. (Only the strongest sisterhood leaves me confident enough to admit that.)  I couldn't believe that she would deprive her child like that.  (Also, I was 20.  And stupid.  Before the name calling starts.) I found out later that a lack of milk was the biggest reason in that decision.

I walked away from that experience arrogant and superior. Then, I gave birth.  And my baby wouldn't latch on. Couldn't latch on.  I laid in a hospital bed in the dark giving her a bottle of sugar water to keep her blood sugar high enough.  It was a miserable 2 days as we tried to get the hang of it. It took over an hour for each feeding. Fighting with her to eat, to latch on properly.  And once we got past that, there was the pain.  All the books, all the magazines said that if you're doing it right, it wouldn't hurt. They lied. I finally started doing it right. It was unbearable for 6 weeks. It was uncomfortable for 6 months.

I tried desperately to keep it together.  By the end of the first week of her life, I just couldn't take it any more. One night, she woke up for her fourth feeding. I couldn't face the thought of trying to do it again. I got up. I dug the sample formula out of the back of the closet. I found the bottle that came with pump.  And I fed her a bottle.  I think that it was the best decision that I made during the first year of my daughter's life.

I still nursed.  But I didn't hesitate to give her a bottle to have a break. Or to let a grandma have a chance to feed her.  I don't regret it one bit.

So, when I ask a mom if they are nursing, this is all coursing through my brain.  I know how hard it can be. I know that sometimes, it's just impossible.  And I know that everyone has their own story.  And for all the new moms out there, they should be told.


Emma said...

Yes to nurse or not to nurse... so hard.

My first I didn't even want to go their, but my second I wanted to try... man oh man it was hard.. my husband didn't like it and it does hurt, I lasted only 2 months and then bring on the bottle baby!!

Linds said...

Ooh! Ugh! That's me trying...desperately...not to...get...on...my...soapbox. Aah! Okay, I'll just leave it at I learned the hard way to not be judgmental of other moms who choose not to breastfeed (or discipline their child the way I do, or rear them in the same manner). We're all different and so are our kids.

Emmy said...

Yes, everyone is different.. what works for everyone is different. And what you think you are going to do and then actually do when you are the mom.. well it's often totally different. :)

Jo said...

My first was born one month early at 4 pounds 10 ounces. The doctor gave him a bottle of high calorie formula and he was hooked. I got him to breast feed in the hospital once! I almost suffocated him and he wouldn't come near my boob after that. I would just bring him near that bear breast and he would scream! I pumped for about three months, until the electric pump broke it was formula from there on out!

wonder woman said...

I think it's awesome of you to post this. Love the honesty and your experience. I had an easy-peasy time with Spiderman. I still gave him a bottle every now and then, but at 3 mos he stopped taking the bottle.

The Hulk was harder. He was an unhappy baby for many reasons and so well-intending family members gave him the pacifier frequently. Which led to nipple confusion and having to trick him with the pacifier to latch on to me. After that......I didn't have too many problems.

But at this point I realize that every baby is different and as much as I'd like to breastfeed, I know that it may not be an option this time.

wendy said...

Hey your first comment above - Emma, did you know she is my daughter.

Nursing can be a touchy subject. good post. Never should a woman have to deal with things that make her "feel guilty" about herself. We all do what we can eh.

I didn't nurse my first 2 as my mom thought it was GROSS.
but when I was pregnant with #3, Emma, my best friend talked my into trying.
Well -----it worked for me TOTALLY. I was amoung the lucky few that had NO problems (guess I would have made a good wet nurse eh) Then I nursed the next 2---all of them for 10 months.

but it is not for everyone.

Rochelle said...

I nursed my first two with no problems for a year each, and loved every minute of it. Then I had my daughter who was born with a heart condition and was forbidden by the docs to nurse at all. It was heartbreaking for me.

I pumped religiously for the entire 7 weeks she was hospitalized, and was determined to do it for 6 more months once she came home. Well it didn't work out that way.

My milk supply diminished, it was impossible to sit down and pump for twenty minutes every three hours while I had 3 kids to tend to, and it didn't feel worth it since I had to supplement formula into her feeds anyway to add calories. I gave up three weeks after she got home and felt guilty about it for months.

Now I know that at least I tried, and pumping is hard, knowing that I did do that for 10 full weeks makes me proud. It didn't hurt her in anyway not to get that breast milk, and she is still doing great a year later.

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

You're so right. Everyone has a story, and we don't always know what it is. I have had three wonderful breastfeeding experiences with my three daughters, but that doesn't mean that every minute was birds chirping, angels singing. I was in PAIN for the first few weeks with my second daughter. And my third daughter was born 5 1/2 weeks early and had sucking issues so she was syringe fed for the first couple of weeks, but once she got the hang of nursing, she did great! Though I've had three bouts of mastitis with her, so again, it would have been easy for me to throw in the towel. I know it's not easy, and there are many reasons for moms to choose the bottle over the breast. I used to judge a little too, now I don't. We're all just trying to do what's best for our children. And that's what is most important.

Lourie said...

I nursed all 3 of my kids. Kristin for only 4 months, Emily for 6, and Ryan for 8. When I had Ryan I was in a semi-private room, and the young and inexperienced mom on the other side of the curtain could not get her baby to nurse. Boy did the lactation team keep pushing her to do it. She was sobbing to her husband, bawled on the phone to her mom. Poor dear. I wanted to tell her it was okay. She didn't have to. They were really pushing it.

Kristin and I took about 3 weeks to really get a rhythm going. Emily had to be taught as she was 4 weeks early and didn't have a clue. Ryan was a pro from the start. maybe it was because I was. But then it had been 5 years since I nursed a baby.

And yes it DOES hurt. They did lie!!!

blueviolet said...

My sister had the exact same problem you did. All of our babies thrive though, don't they?

Just SO said...

I agree every woman should know that it's not easy. Thankfully it was for me because my kids would not take a bottle or a pacifier. They refused. It was horrible. I felt like I never got a break.

I usually don't ask if women are nursing or if they aren't because I usually find that it's none of my business.

Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

j@nAe said...

My first was nearly impossible, too! She didn't learn to latch until about 8 weeks, and each feeding would take about 1.5-2 hours. Honestly. I'd feed for two, rest for one, feed for two, rest for one. Finally, by about four months, she could feed in 30 minutes. It was amazing. Then I had my boys, and they both knew exactly what to do from the get go. And they could nurse both sides in under 10 minutes total - and still be in the 75% for weight. Some babies can be so tough!

The Boob Nazi said...

Ouch. I don't want to have children. It seems like there's just so much pain!

That Girl said...

Thank you thank you thank you for telling the truth: YOU CAN BE DOING IT RIGHT AND IT STILL HURTS LIKE OUTER DARKNESS!

That said, I must say that it only hurt for the first week or so, then my nipples were so tough a truck could have run over them and I'd be fine.

(Did I just say that?)

Anyway, I did breast feed all three boys exclusively - I lucked out. Only afterwards did I realize that so many struggle with it. To me, it should be an enjoyable experience for both mother and baby. If it's not, DON'T DO IT!

FURTHERMORE (wow, sorry for the hijack), I actually TRIED to get my kids to take bottles every now and then, and they never would. It drove me absolutely nuts. It meant that our date nights were limited to two hours, tops.

#4 will be introduced to the bottle fairly soon ...

Kristina P. said...

And this is why I am not adamant about nursing. I am not going to be miserable, make my baby miserable, when I have a perfectly healthy and feasible alternative. I know a lot of women who don't breastfeed and it's totally fine!

Michelle 2021 said...

My baby had a hard time for the first day or two, but thankfully things worked smoothly after that (minus the pain). I was encouraged by Babygirl's Ped to try a bottle when she was about 4 weeks old and just give it once every day or two, just so she could learn to drink from a bottle early. That way, I could go to bed at 8pm, hand my husband a pumped bottle and say, "Give me a few hours to sleep." Those were some rough weeks, but having the bottle as an option to buy me some time really helped. And it let us go for date nights.

We ran into trouble when my milk started waning at ten months; we tried whole milk, but she seemed allergic to it. She's now on formula at a year old, which lets me go back to work and gives her the iron/fat/calories she needs. But it was an enjoyable year of nursing for me. I hope it works out next time, but no guarantees.

Thanks for posting about this, and letting us validate each other.

Kimberlei said...

I am on baby #2 right now. She is 3.5 months old.
I nursed my son until he was 15 months old and even then I only stopped because I was pregnant with Little Miss and it hurt too much. I had a really easy time with my son. It hurt like crazy and the first couple of weeks I would have to bite down on a wash cloth to make it through the first couple of minutes, but looking back, I can't remember the pain, just knowing it was terrible.
My daughter was a totally different story. She latched on in the hospital immediately and I thought I was going to have smooth sailing. It wasn't meant to be. She was tongue tied and had a high pallette, which meant sucking in lots of air and terrible pain on my end. I ended up with a giant blister and had to use a nipple shield for about a month until it went away.
I love that I am able to nurse so well. I love that I never have to worry about bottles and formula.
On the other hand, I definitely understand why someone wouldn't want to do it. If you are shy about it, there is the seclusion and loneliness of having to leave the room to nurse. Milk supply can be finicky, either too little or too much. I'm just glad I have been blessed with the ability to nurse so well.

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