So, in other posts I have already made mention of when I “WAS” breastfeeding so clearly I have stopped. It has taken me a while to type up this post because it was such an emotional time for me. Anytime I would start I would start crying. I know the “baby blues” were part of it but the whole experience for me was rough. I am in no way trying to deter anyone else from breastfeeding but I do hope that other parents that feel or felt like I do know they are not alone.
Leading up to childbirth I had made up my mind I wanted to breastfeed this time. The last two times it did not work for various reasons. Me and my Breast Buddy as I will call her both had similar past experiences and we both decided we were going to make it work no matter what.
June 15, 2013 my muffin was born at 10:46 p.m. I think I was nursing her by 11:30 ish.. I was so elated that she actually latched on. I could feel the tightening in my uterus so I knew it was working right. All I could do was cry. I was so happy. Latching on was an issue in the past so the fact that we figured it out so fast was exciting. I kept telling Big Daddy through my tears “She’s doing it!!”
That night she kept waking up to nurse every 1.5 – 2 hours. Clearly I didn’t do any research about nursing or breastfeeding to know that was normal. Feeding 12-14 times a day in a 24 hour day is exhausting…. I was soo sleepy. And there is no way for a spouse or anyone to help with it.
The whole time in the hospital, I assume because I was so excited about breastfeeding and she seemingly was doing it right… I never saw a lactation specialist. I guess they thought I knew what I was doing… But I didn’t. Latching on was so painful. I just thought you were supposed to feel a hard pinch and then it goes away. Apparently it wasn’t going away, it was getting numb from pain. In no time my nipples were dry and cracked and in soo much pain. But.. who knew. I was just happy it was seemingly working.
By the time I was discharged from the hospital my muffin had dropped a significant amount of weight. It was due to her being slightly jaundice. Apparently the difference in our blood types and the anti-bodies created… so and so and so…. She had too much bilirubin producing and had to poop it out. The problem was she was not getting enough from me to poop regularly enough so I had to start supplementing with formula. That was the beginning of the end…..
Once I started supplementing I thought I would still nurse at the same time. Well… I was wrong. Once my muffin got used to that steady flow of formula, going back baby to breast was a no go! She was not feeling me anymore. That was the most hurtful rejection. She would start, realize enough wasn’t coming out and start whaling!!! It hurt my feelings so bad. To want to do something so bad, and get rejected by the person you just gave life is like a knife to your heart. In my rational mind it made sense why she didn’t want to nurse, but it still was so hurtful to me. Either way I decided to pump. This way she can still get all the colostrum and anti-bodies etc. she needed to be healthy. Pumping brought on a whole new set of challenges. It was very painful. I would be pumping one side and the other would hurt. The main issue was the amount of time it was taking with a single pump, and the amount I was getting after spending so much time pumping. After about an hour and a half I would only have 1-2 ounces. That just seemed crazy to me. I couldn’t get anything done because I was seemingly always pumping.
That’s when Nurse Theresa from Durham Connects came and gave me hope. She suggested I go ahead and order the parts I needed to make the pump a double pump, and recommended the Mothers Milk tea and Fenugreek pills. Both of which were to help with lactation. I became excited and renewed again to make breast feeding work. I was all over at GNC, Whole foods etc. trying to find the pills and tea. Once I found them I began popping pills. I actually hate swallowing pills. I don’t do it well. I try to get a liquid form of everything if I can. However, for the sake of my muffin I was willing to take an additional 12 pills a day to boost my milk supply. After day 2 I didn’t see a difference. I decided to google the average amount of time it took for other mothers to see a difference and they said 24 hours. I was deflated. I still kept on going for roughly a week and I did not see an increase to how much I was pumping.
I finally stopped right when she became 4 weeks. It ended up she was on formula and I was supplementing with breast milk which was backwards! By week 4 she was up to 3-4 ounces per feeding and that’s about all I could get per day so she at least had 1 bottle a day of breast milk. The pain and emption attached to the whole thing was too much for me. I was not ready for the emotional highs and lows. Every time I pumped I was left with a feeling of inadequacy as a mother and as a woman. I couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t work and it just made me sad and caused me to cry all the time. So it ended… or so I thought.
Once I stopped supplementing with breast milk my muffin was getting constipated. She couldn’t go to the bathroom on formula alone. We switched formulas a few times and finally had to incorporate some juice. I felt like it was all my fault because I stopped breastfeeding. That was another wave of emotion. Every time my muffin was crying in pain or clearly irritated with a tight tummy my heart ached. Each time I heard her take those deep breaths to cry it was so painful to my spirit.
The last time I was in the doctor office he told me I was doing a good job and it wasn’t my fault. These things happen and not to get down on myself. Just hearing someone else say I am doing a good job was so impactful. This was a medical professional telling me my child was just fine and she was going to be ok. The remedy ended up being Switching from Enfamil products to Gerber Good Start products and incorporate a little apple or prune juice into her bottles. Now she is pooping up a storm like she should be.
I have finally let myself off the hook so the guilt is gone. But these last 4-6 weeks have been such a roller coaster of emptions. I was not prepared for all that. For other mom’s having problems it’s ok. The fact that you even attempted is great. If all the baby received was colostrum that was still a great thing. Do not beat yourself up. You know what’s best for you , your body and the baby.
Through it all I survived…. You can too.
PS – My breast buddy has had great success with breast feeding… I am extremly happy for her. (It’s always the folks with small boobs… I figure with all the boobs I have I should have had gallons… LOL)
- Breastfeeding, Exclusively Pumping, and now Formula Feeding. (lettingthepiecesfall.com)
- Tips for How to Combine Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding (thebump.com)
- National Breastfeeding Awareness Month (overthemoonva.wordpress.com)