May 18, 2009

My Breastfeeding Story

I love the idea of breastfeeding. I think that breast milk is the perfect food for a baby. I think that if everything works out perfectly, a baby should be breastfed until they don't need the nutrition any longer. It is a wonderful, natural bonding experience for both the mother and the baby. But sometimes things do not happen the way we expect them to.

I was 18 years old when I got pregnant with Summer, and 19 when I had her. I was mature for my age and ready to be a mom, but at the same time, I was 19. The idea of breastfeeding made me really uncomfortable. I planned on pumping milk and bottle feeding her, to make sure she still got the best nutrition possible. After she was born, I pumped and pumped but the nurses encouraged me to also supplement with formula until my milk came in. I had a three day labor, suffering from pre-eclampsia (check out the size of my elbow in the picture below!), followed by a c-section. I was in horrible pain, and the pain meds were making me nauseous and really out-of-it. So...I agreed to the supplementation.

I kept pumping, but every other bottle ended up being formula because I was having trouble building up my milk supply. One night, I started to feel very guilty for not breastfeeding. I talked to Joe about it. He supported me either way but understood how I felt. Summer was only a few weeks old at the time, and we decided we would see if I could breastfeed her. She wouldn't latch on, and I felt like crying. I had failed my baby. This natural occurrence, something that is so natural, didn't. After that, my pumping slowly dwindled, until my milk supply was gone, and Summer drank formula for the rest of the year.


When I got pregnant with Camryn, I knew I was going to try breastfeeding her. The guilt I felt for not breastfeeding Summer was something I didn't want to feel again.


When Camryn was born, I tried breastfeeding as soon as we got to our hospital room. She didn't latch on. A few hours later, we tried again. She wasn't hungry. 9 hours later and multiple phone calls from the nurses asking if she had eaten yet, she still wasn't hungry. The nurse called again, and suggested that I just "give her a bottle of formula". I did not give in. A few more hours went by. Camryn finally latched on. It was a wonderful and beautiful experience. A lactation consultant came by and said I was doing everything right and her latch was great. And then the pain started. She was eating every 2 hours and by the third feed, I was in such excruciating pain, my feet would sweat while she ate. It made me want to scream and say really bad words. By the fifth feed, I decided to pump instead. It still hurt like heck and I watched as blood squirted out of my nipple and into the bottle. "Oh that's fine, she can still drink it," the baby nurse said. Right. I called the lactation consultant back and she watched me feed her. "Your position and her latch look just fine. The pain is normal and will lessen with time. Good luck!"

After we went home, I kept breastfeeding, waiting for the excruciating, foot-sweat inducing pain to go away. It never did. One day, I lost it. I burst into tears and said I couldn't do it any more. That day and the next, I gave Camryn formula. The day after that, the guilt set in. It was a Monday and Joe was at work. I woke up that morning, and decided I was going to continue breastfeeding. I breastfed her every 3 hours. The pain was horrible still, but I was doing what was right for her! I was so proud to tell Joe when he came home from work that I had breastfed her all day.

And then, a few days later, the pain was even worse. Again, I lost it. I collapsed on my bed, and Joe came over and asked me what was wrong. "I want to do what is right for her, but it's making me miserable. It's making me resent her. I don't know if I can do this anymore," I told him through tears.

"Sweetheart.... Summer drank formula and she is as healthy as can be. You have tried so hard to breastfeed Camryn. I bet she would rather drink formula and have a happy mom than be breastfed and have you upset and in pain all of the time. That stress isn't good for any of us."

He was right. I hated the idea of giving up. I wanted to do the "right thing". I didn't want to be judged for not breastfeeding. But I had to do what was best for us as a family, so I did. We continued to give Camryn pumped milk that was stored in the freezer for awhile, and after it was gone she got formula.


My girls are as happy, healthy, and smart as can be. While I still wish I could have breastfed them, I know that they still got all the nutrition they needed, and they had a happy mom to go along with it. Some of you are going to think that I could have tried harder. Maybe I could have. At the time, I felt like I was doing the best I could. Now, I wish I could have given it one more day. But the point is, decisions such as this are so very personal. I could never judge another mom for not breastfeeding. If telling my breastfeeding story helps even one person feel better about their own decision, or helps someone think twice about judging another mom for making a choice different than their own, then sharing this will be worth it.

21 comments:

Holly said...

Thanks for sharing your BFing story!!

clauren said...

I loved this hun! Very beautiful entry. You are a great mom. Cass

Kristine said...

You should never feel guilty...some women never even try. (I won't mention any names. ::cough SIL cough::

I remember the cracked, bleeding nipple days fondly, lol. I'll never forget realizing when M was about 4 weeks old that it finally didn't make my toes curl to latch her on and then I knew I had *made* it, lol! It's definitely a rough road that women need to really prepare for.

Katy said...

OMG I have been going through major depression and anxiety because I formula Feed now. Thanks for your view on it!

Alicia said...

I think you made the right decision for you and your family. I was only able to breastfeed for about 5 wks and then I had to go to formula. My daughter is healthy and so smart.

Thank you for sharing your story!

Brandi said...

First you are one tough cookie!!!

I'm very admiment on my views on what I will chose to do when I have children. I will not be breast feeding. One person in particular told me my choice was as bad as smoking while pregnant. L M A O

I think to each their own, ya know? When a woman gets on my plane and breast feeds her infant that is her choice and I don't think anything about it, but why do people look at the lady with the forumula in a weird way?

Ugh..

SOrry bout my rant. lol

Desiree Fawn said...

Good for you for trying so hard!

Lindsay said...

Don't ever feel guilty! I know how you feel because I had that terrible pain with the blood and all when I would try to feed or pump.

Also, you looked beautiful in the hospital with Camryn and I'm so jealous! I loooked like a deranged crazy person.

vintagehousewife said...

Way to keep trying! It really is a rough thing, and many women don't realize it. That pain is excrutiating, a nipple shield helped me in that. After a few weeks the pain was SO much better.

You can't feel guilty, but I understand how you feel-I have different nursing relationships with each of children. You have to do what is best for you at that time and know that you always make the best choice with the cards you are dealt.

Thanks for sharing!!

Candace said...

THank you so much for this post! You do not know how much it means to me. I have a similar story, not the terrible pain(I am so sorry you had to deal with that), but one of guilt and just not being able to continue. I had decided that I was going to give it a try when I had Grace, however when she was less than 24 hours old she was sent to Children's Hospital due to a bowel obstruction(she didn't pass the meconium plug on her own), causing me to be separated from her for 3 full days(I had a c-section so I could not leave the hospital). I was pumping, but I believe that because of the stress and being so upset, I just wasn't producing the way I should have. It was very upsetting, but I knew that supplementing was better for her than not getting anything at all... and once I was giving her the bottle more, I was happier, and she was happier! I agree with you. No one should ever judge anyone for what they decide is best for their child.

Again... Thank you so much for this post!

Stephanie said...

Every woman has got to do what's right for them. Each one of my four children have been bottlefed and they are all fine and healthy. I really wanted to try and breastfeed Allie but with Caleb as young as he was when she was born I just didn't think I would be able to do it. Point is that it is your decision and no matter what other people think...well they really don't matter :)

Stephanie said...

Oh and by the way ..you have an awesome hubby for supporting you like that!

EmilytheCreative said...

Great post. Everyone's story is different and you are right we shouldn't judge. Heck, I get judged for weaning mine after a year. To some people you will never do it right because you don't do it like them. I know what I do for my family is good for us and if someone doesn't like then they don't have to be a part of it.

Natalie said...

You tried and you know a tiny bit of colostrum is better than nothing. My first baby I was so overwhelmed, cracked, bleeding and a baby who refused formula, yup he threw up everytime. Each baby got easier but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. Nobody should judge either way it's a perosnal choice and what the baby needs is nourishment, bottle or breast. Only you know what's best for your baby and your girls look like they're just fine ;D
Can't wait to read the next post.

PunkRockChic said...

Great post! I'm exclusively breastfeeding my son, so I know exactly how difficult and how painful it is! I swear, it felt like the excruciating pain would last forever. When my son was around one month old, I remember laying in bed, nursing him, with tears running down my face because the pain was so intense. My SIL, who delivered her daughter five weeks before I delivered my son, told me that it gets easier and less painful around five or six weeks. Honestly, had she not told me that, I would have given up that night. It hurts SOOOOOO bad! And I also had to supplement in the hospital because he wouldn't latch on well. I also had a c-section, so it was hours and hours before I got the chance to nurse. Did you have a repeat c-section with your second daughter or a vbac?

I think that no matter how a baby gets breastmilk, it is so good for them. My other SIL pumped and gave her son breastmilk for 6 weeks. I applaud you for at least trying and for breastfeeding Camryn as long as you did. It is a lot of hard and painful work!

One of my SIL's formula fed her son for a full year and he is as healthy as a horse =) And I saw how easy it was for her to feed him in public. She just mixed a quick bottle for him and he held it up himself. Anytime I'm out and about with Franky, I'm constantly looking for a place to feed him - bathrooms, nursing rooms, fitting rooms, in my car, sigh.

Before this turns into a novel, there is no shame in bottle feeding =)

Monica said...

I breastfed all 3 of my boys. I was about to give up with the oldest because of the pain. There was an old nurse that told me to try her "remedy" for the pain before I stopped... She told me to put a cabbage leaf on my boob and leave it there all day. I would just remove it before I nursed. I swear to you, it worked! It took away all the pain, soreness, and cracked nipples. I have passed that along to all new moms that are trying to nurse. Everyone swears by it. I know it kinda sounds nasty, but it works!

I don't think anyone should judge you at all. At least you tried to do it. Your girls got the colostrum (sp?) which is the most important part of nursing anyway.

A little piece of 7th heaven said...

great post..
Everyone needs to do what is best for themselves and their baby..and that so varies on an individual basis!
Believe it or not I only started out nursing my first because I figured it would save "us" on formula. We were only 19. Little did I know after a cracked bleeding nipple, a bout with mastitis(severe infection), cringing at the thought of nursing her, etc..that it would lead me to nursing all five of my own. Perhaps I will blog about it one day:) and tell about the troubles and woes and the incredible bond and love that has developed. Everyone has their own story and should be proud of it.
Your journey with breastfeeding is an amazing one. One of such courage and perseverence and you should be SO proud of that..and only God knows where your journey will take you in the future:)
Annmarie
PS thanks for sharing.

Bridgett said...

No judgement here!

I have breastfeeding stories too.

In fact, maybe I'll do a post about it as well. I think it's a really important topic.

But honey, we know you did the best you could. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing at all.

If it makes you feel better, I've squirted blood into a bottle while I was pumping too. Uggghh. Blood from the nipple is just not a pleasnt thing.

Loved the pictures too. :)

XOXO

Tasha said...

I am so happy to hear your story. I formula feed my 2 girls. When I had my son the guilt of not breast feeding was nagging me. All the lactation people and nurses said we were doing good, except I was in so much pain, that I dreaded when he would wake up to eat. He would cry before I would nurse him. I finally started pumping ang could only last 2 months. He is now 10 months on formula and has one happy momma.

I felt guilty at first but I was so stressed out, that he was getting stressed out. Some of my friends asked about the breast feeding expeirence and if it was great. Absolutley not. I hated it, it was painful and hard and it was not right for me and my son. Thank you for sharing the REAL expeirence.

Tasha

Tiffany said...

It's hard not to feel the guilt sometimes, when everyone pressures you saying BFing is best, etc. Even though I BF Keely for 9 months, I felt guilty for not being able to keep at it for longer. Sad huh? I'm sure many mom's would love to BF their kids for 9 months! LOL. And I had the bleeding occur with Keely too, it does hurt! I've had many many days that I just want to give up! BFing is hard work, and not everyone even produces enough milk for their babies. I'm glad you shared your story and I hope it does help someone down the road not feel so horrible about their choice not to BF their child. I'm at 6 months BFing with Brynleigh now, and I'm up for the challenge of going as long as she's willing...well unless she ends up still wanting the boob at like 2 1/2...lol I can't personally imagine that.

~Ann~ said...

WoW, That sounds painful.

You scaring me woman! I am going to try to BF but if I cant do it then I guess its not meant to be.

I dont think you should feel guilty. At least you tried. Some woman dont even try. Plus you have 2 beautiful girls.

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