This is the fifth and final post in a series about breastfeeding and my very personal experience with it. If you haven’t read previous posts, it might help to start with Part 1.
Being cautiously hopeful was wise. I used the hospital grade pump for the first week we were home from the hospital and starting using the supplemental nursing system about a week after that. I was taking my herbs and drinking my mother’s milk tea every night. We tried to correct all of those breastfeeding “mistakes” that were made with Big Brother. But, just like with Big Brother, there was no engorgement, no clear indication that my milk had come in. And, as the days went on, it was clear that Little Brother was growing more frustrated by nursing (as he wouldn’t get enough). Given the information I had found, I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. Notice the key word–disappointment. Not despair, not devastation. My psyche was MUCH better this time. I was prepared to face this.
It was a BIG help that Little Brother was a much better nurser and we were prepared emotionally & logistically from the get-go. Although nursing was still crazy painful in the beginning, we kept at it longer and it did get much easier. A HUGE improvement from the situation with Big Brother. And, my milk production improved. A couple of pumping sessions I actually produced one full ounce!! Which was (sadly) a really exciting accomplishment! That said though, I still produced no where near enough to sustain Little Brother. This time, in a 24 hour period, I was making about 4-6 ounces of milk total from pumping and a couple of times, I even got 8! In addition, I was still nursing him at least a few times a day–so he was certainly getting more ounces there. It was incredibly time consuming though–hours of being hooked up to the baby, pumps, supplemental nursing systems, and feeding bottles.
That was really difficult with a 3 year old around and he was definitely feeling neglected many times. So, Little Brother and I made it 3 months and then our time came to an end. While I certainly wish my circumstances were different, I am at least glad that we saw improvements with Little Brother. And, once again, I am cautiously hopeful that we’ll see even better results with #3.
Before I became a mom, I had NO idea what a “hot button” issue breastfeeding is and would become for myself. It is such a personal decision and experience, yet one that EVERYONE seems ok with asking you about. And, furthermore, one that many are comfortable making judgments about.
I have been given disgusted looks by moms who are nursing while I mix up a bottle of formula. I have been hurt by comments. I’ve been angered by articles/blogs that further the myth that “every woman can nurse” and make judgments about women who don’t breastfeed, that bash formula companies and the “poison” they make. Well, that “poison” HAD to save my children from starving to death! I was once offered a sample can of formula from who I’m sure was a very well-meaning mom who said, “Do you want this? We don’t use this stuff in MY house”. Ugh. There was even all kinds of drama raised by some over moms writing positive reviews of the Similac Baby Journal App.
It saddens me (and has personally added further to my feelings of failure) that some are so quick to judge or who don’t seem to think about moms who would LOVE to be able to breastfeed their child, but physically can’t. Dear Chrissy addressed similar feelings in a post saying, “There is no blogger (and I like this one), no activist, no commenter or outspoken Twitter user that can inflict a pain on me deeper or more profound than the absolute agony that I put myself through when I failed to breastfeed my child, but if you want, you can give it your best effort.” I completely agree, but will say, that it still hurts–those comments reopen emotional wounds that run very deep.
So, there are many reasons for sharing my story (and in so much detail):
1. I want other to-be/new moms to know that no matter how badly you want to and how hard you try, breastfeeding might not be possible for you. Yes, it’s rare. But, it’s unfortunately true. The notion that “every woman can breastfeed” is a MYTH. Contrary to what some sources may tell you or how you might be feeling, not breastfeeding does NOT make you any less of a wonderful mom and your kiddos will be OK.
2. I want more OB/GYNS, Mid-wives, Pediatricians, nurses, lactation consultants, etc. to be knowledgeable about breast hypoplasia and helpful to women trying to breastfeed with the condition. I want more breastfeeding resources to be HONEST and include more detailed information about conditions leading women to have difficulty nursing.
3. I want other moms and judgmental breastfeeding advocates to take a moment to stop and think before they speak (or write). Some women don’t breastfeed. For some, it’s a choice. For others, it’s not. When you see a mom feeding a child formula, you have no idea of the circumstances. You have no idea what that mom and baby have been through on their journey. You have no idea if that was a confident decision the family made or if that mom is fragile and grieving how her body has failed her. Think about how much you love(d) nursing your baby; think about how important you think it is that your perfect food is the only thing that nourished your most precious babe for months; think about how hard it was for you the last time you nursed and that bond was over….then try for just a minute to imagine if your body wouldn’t have allowed you to do that. Think about a momma who wanted desperately to do that, who envies the milk you produce, who has tears streaming down her face, still dealing with that loss and those body issues 4 years later.
So, please don’t look at the formula in disgust. Please don’t comment about not breastfeeding. And, please don’t judge.
Thank you for reading!