Breast is Best

I’d been wanting to do an entry on breastfeeding.

Some of you might recall my breastfeeding story with Conner. I came home, with 2 full years of pediatric office experience and figured everything would work out fine. I knew we’d have to do some tweeking, but it’d work. Well, it didn’t. After about 1/2 hour on a hospital-grade pump I’d get about 5-10cc’s of breast milk. Of course, I didn’t realize that until we’d been home a day or so and my child stopped having wet diapers, or poop… and was crying a lot. Like, all the time. Frankly, so was I. So I went on reglan (it made me crazy), and fenugreek (made me smell like maple syrup — but I still took it faithfully), and I did increase my production to about 10-15 cc’s (1 ounce is 30 cc’sfyi). However, the reglan made it so I couldn’t sleep. I had a 4+ episiotomy and I decided to work out one day because I was about ready to jump out of my skin (which is a side effect of Reglan, FYI). Needless to say, jumping around to Paul Abdul’s high impact aerobics isn’t the best plan when your pelvic girdle is already split in two. I was losing it, I’d breastfeed, finger feed (using a tube and my finger) and then pump — taking about 1.5 hours in total and then I’d re-do it 1.5 hours after that — and some insane lactation consultant told me to do that 24 hours a day (seriously, she should be shot). My doctor also told me to do sitz baths every 4 hours because my cut was so etended. AND, instead of just giving me a normal sitz bath, they told me to do it just in my tub. So, there I was squatting in a tub with my 4+ episiotomy bawling my eyes out because this was my new reality. I’d literally cry every time I saw Conner. I didn’t want to see him, my nipples were bleeding, and all I could think was that it was my job to feed him and I couldn’t do it. And there was no way my sweet baby would be deprived of the benefits of breastfeeding, and be fed by that nasty formula. By some ironic coincidence all of my friends with kids already were out of town at this time, so my support system was entirely lacking. I had one friend who called every day and I bawled to her on the phone. She told me things would be fine, that I would get through it.

I did, and it was from one lactation consultant who said, “Sweetie, you need to stop.” It’d been two weeks of this. I was probably get 1-2 hours of sleep/night, and I couldn’t stand to look at the infant who had turned my life into hell. So I stopped. I stopped the pumping, I pulled out a giant can of formula and I stuck a bottle in that little boy’s mouth. And you can’t imagine the bliss that came over his face. The fact that he wasn’t having to suck my fingernail off to get some drops of his only sustenance was divine to him. I felt all the guilt that was pent up in every cell in my body melt away. God had created formula for situations like this. Suddenly I started to notice how cute he was, how he made nice cooing noises and felt warm and soft. Perhaps I could do more with him then feed him. Perhaps he might be 10 IQ points below the national average, but at least I could look at him this way.

And there it is. I am a formula mom. I tried about a week with Spencer with similar results. After feeding him for 45 minutes at Kaiser I was elated, but they weighed him and he’d gained 1/10th of an ounce {sigh} (but they did come out with like 10 cans of formula because they felt sorry for me). I am hoping that these female hormones that are coursing through my uterus right now have somehow perked up my boobs so maybe I could get an ounce, and then supplement with the rest. For, you see, I do think breast is best. And now I know a lot more about it than I did 8 years ago. But I also know that love trumps all. I also know my son’s IQ’s are not below average. Conner had issues with ear infections, but Spencer didn’t — and they both got the same “treatment.” Conner has pretty bad allergies, but Spencer doesn’t. God makes us all different.

So, I was interested in this article I heard about on the Today Show today. You see some women performing instant judgement on women who choose not to breastfeed. I can see their little gears saying I didn’t try hard enough, or long enough, or I lie that I didn’t get that little of milk. That’s fine. I applaud mothers everywhere who even give it a go. It’s ugly stuff in the beginning. Anyway, I appreciated the article, although it’s really long. I think I’ll read it a bit more in depth later on. I think one of the best things the media could do is make realize that it will be one of the hardest parts of having a baby (especially your first). It doesn’t come easy, it takes work, and partners need to support them in it.

It’s hard not to get my hopes up this time that it will work, to look longingly at the lilly pads and bags to hold all that milk I’ll pump. However, I did buy my first thing of formula today, and I plan to buy a box at Costco when I go this month. I can’t imagine I won’t have to supplement anyway. I am so glad that I’m more than 8 years out from having those experiences with Conner. And perhaps the most important lesson is that love does trump all. If you take the time, and the energy regardless of what resources you have at your disposal God does take care of the rest. I’m glad this woman wrote this article. I too feel like breastfeeding is just another thing we as women can beat ourselves up over. Heavens knows we have enough of those already. Go moms, go.

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Comments

  1. says

    Good for you! I wasn’t able to nurse Oliver for more than a month (because we were passing a yeast infection back and forth)I felt like a horrible mom. Then after I gave him a bottle, I discovered how Dave could finally help with feeding a child and I wasn’t tied down to feeding by myself. It was also liberating to not have to feed my baby in a bathroom stall at restaurants and stores! I agree that mom’s need not feel guilty about giving your baby a bottle. Your baby will be perfectly normal. Oliver turned out just fine!! (At least I think so…)

  2. says

    You know, when it all comes down to it…you can’t line up college graduates and tell who was breast fed and who wasn’t! As long as your baby is healthy, THAT is the most important thing.

  3. says

    Amen, Amen, and Amen! It’s so funny how everyone’s situation, body, baby, etc. is different and no lacatation consultant or breastfeeding mother should judge. I just weaned Max this month and mentioned a little something about it on my blog. One of my very own friends gave me grief about it in a comment. Kind of bugged me. Blah!

  4. says

    Well put! Can’t we just all respect each individual mom’s decision? Until you walk in their shoes, you don’t know what is going on in their life or their breasts! And breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have done personally — WAY harder for me than pregnancy and delivery. I feel like no one warned me of that….and it was a huge shock (along with everything else about a tiny person living with you).
    Oh, and I am with you on the Reglan…officially allergic now after my face and neck went into spasms….man the side effects of the drug are crazy and I am not sure worth what is was trying to fix (nausea in my case)…yuck.

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