Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breastfeeding kicked my ass – and other musings

I’ve been stewing on this post for a few days now, but I needed to deal with some of my own guilt and emotional issues first. This is heavy stuff, people.

Clearly, from my previous posts, one can assume that I am severely type A. I like organization. I appreciate being able to classify things in my life. I research things that are important to me and I generally succeed at the things I put my mind to. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would succeed at breastfeeding.

But I failed.

My sweet baby has Clampdown Bite Reflex. Some children grow out of it quickly, for others it takes a long time. Unfortunately for us, it prevented Grayson from gaining enough weight. And two weeks later, it’s still preventing him from feeding at the breast. He just can’t get enough milk from me. It also doesn’t help that I have severe supply issues. As in, I have none.

Everyday I try to feed him, fail, and say I’m done. I say I’m going to give up the good fight and just formula feed. And then every day, the guilt starts all over again.

I think most people assume that breastfeeding will go well. It seems like something that should be intuitive. The baby comes out knowing how to suck, so why don’t we instinctually know how to offer them our boobs? Why doesn’t it work for everyone?

There is no way for me to summarize my struggles with breastfeeding into one post. I just have to know that I really did give it my best shot, and I have to be ok with the fact that it didn’t work. And it won’t magically work tomorrow.

I know there are moms out there that will judge me, but I wanted to give everyone out there that also tried, and failed, that they are not alone. This is tough stuff. And just because breastfeeding didn't work out the way I had hoped, doesn't mean that I am not willing to do everything I can for my son.

There is so much more to write – but I just can’t do it.


Kelly Marie said...

I too was unable to BF, due to having NO SUPPLY.

I'm so sorry :( I know how hard it is, especially when it is something you wanted to do soooo badly and when everyone around you is doing it pretty well.

the guilt does get easier/fade.


Amy said...

my long story, with a caveat at the front. If ANYONE judges you, unless they've nursed a mile in your boobs, have no compunction about telling them to kiss your A**.

Breast feeding is hard. My first was born 6 weeks premature, she couldn't wrap her tiny mouth around the nipple, much less cram it all in there. I had a c-section which can cause supply issues and even though I pumped 'round the clock, by 6 weeks I was empty. My daughter will be 8 in March and I STILL feel guilty sometimes. I used to cry because I felt that formula was poison, oh I could go on, but needless to say, it was awful. In the end, she survived, and it took months to find the formula that worked for her. But she lived.

Along comes #2. Again, kid can't latch. But this time I had tons of supply (I had a VBAC), pumped every 2 hours round the clock for FOUR months. Had a freezer literally full of breast milk. Then one day, I offered it to him again, and then he was big enough, he latched. After 2 days he wouldn't take a bottle from me, and it worked out.

I'm pregnant with #3 now, and I'm dreading it. Breastfeeding isn't automatic, isn't easy, and doesn't always work. You're doing the best you can for your baby, and he will grow and thrive.

I can't tell you the guilt will go away, see above, but it does get better. This prepares you for the rest of their lives when they totally do/think the exact opposite of what you want/need them to do/think.

It's all good, hon. He will love you no matter how you fed him. My mantra for newborns was "The baby doesn't know if I'm doing it wrong...."


(@BugnBuddysmom on twitter)

Laura En Espana said...

Thank you for sharing your story. You ARE an inspiration!!
You're doing your best, what more can ANYONE ask?

-Laura (ladipale)

janessa said...

You're doing what's best for Grayson. Honestly, he wasn't gaining weight, it was beyond a struggle for both of you and now you're doing what's best for him by providing him the nutrition and love he needs.

It really doesn't matter who judges you, because you will be your toughest critic. And, that's the hardest part.

You're doing a great job. ((Hugs))

illinigirl09 said...

Hey Meg -

Congratulations on your little boy - he is so precious. You may or may not remember me from LJ but I was chiclady815 over there. I found your blog through CC and wanted to tell you thank you for sharing your honest feelings about BFing. I did EBF for 12 weeks but found when I went back to work that I just couldn't keep up with the supply. I had TONS of Mommy guilt, but I knew that the best thing I could do for him is to be a well rested and relaxed Mommy and I wasn't going to be if I was trying to squeeze every last drop out of my boobs at every chance I could while trying to work full time and care for a baby. So I quit. I feel a little guilty about it still, but I look at my son that is growing on formula and I know that he's doing great. And so will Grayson.

Best to you -

katie said...

oh wow. . . thank you SO much for posting this. I have a two week old son and just got back from an appointment with a lactation consultant where I was basically told I will never be able to exclusively breastfeed. I have been crying off and on for days, trying to deal with the guilt of it, even though I know it's nothing I can control. so I totally understand how you feel.

and i want to tell you, you did not fail! as long as your son is loved and gets enough to eat (from whatever source!) you are not failing.

Stephanie said...

Hang in there Meg - just know that you are doing what is best for your little man and thats all that matters!

Rachel said...

Hello -

I found your blog through CC Nursery thread and I have to tell you that you are clearly not alone in breastfeeding issues. I failed too for latch issues and OVERsupply. My DS got so much he would clampdown so hard to try and stop it from coming so fast. I don't want to go into my story because it is long but while I was completely unsuccessful at breastfeeding (I tried for a whole month crying everytime he fed) I WAS successful at pumping for the next 9 months. 10 months in total. You can definitely try to pump and if you do it consistently you can increase your supply. If you want him to get bm it's the next best thing to bottle feed him your EBM. It's completely doable, it's hard, sometimes harder than being successful at breastfeeding. Good luck and know you are not alone.
Congratulations on your beautiful son!

Amanda said...

Hang in there. Very well written. I know exactly how you feel.

Mandy said...

Meg. I could have written this post myself. It took me almost 2 months to come to terms with not being able to breast feed. Every friend I had breastfed with zero issues and I couldn't understand or accept that it wasn't working for me. For the first 6 weeks of Harpers life, I was anxious and guilt ridden every waking hour. When I wasn't pumping (every hour to try and get my supply up), I was crying while feeding her formula. When she would latch on, she'd eat for 45 minutes, then SCREAM because she had barely gotten anything. I felt like a failure. I had such high hopes about breastfeeding - you and I always talked about it - but sometimes (a LOT of the time) it just doesn't work. A friend of mine couldn't because she had too much milk. It would literally choke her baby and squirt everywhere all day. For laundry and sanity sake, she had to stop.

I know exactly how you're feeling now. But I can tell you, it gets better (the guilt). It will take some time, but I promise it will come. After I put my foot down and decided Harper was going to be a formula baby, I returned the breast pump to the hospital and finally felt better.

I love that Scot can feed Harper and help out on midnight feedings, plus get that bonding time with her. And I love that I can enjoy a glass of wine when I want. It was the hardest thing to accept, but I am telling you - he will be FINE. More than fine.

For now, HUGS. I feel for you right now lady. Just know that Grayson will be nourished and have all the love he needs from you.


Anonymous said...

Meg, I commend you on your courage for being open and honest. There are so many women who have a hard time with breastfeeding and yet it seems like we don't hear about it enough. Thank you for being honest about your struggle. You love your son very much. It is evident.

MamaCat said...

i had terrible supply issues and could barely keep up with my son's needs. and then my lactation consultant told me to try fenugreek and it was magic. I used it throughout and wished I had learned sooner.

Sally said...

You're a wonderful mama and are doing what's best for your little guy. I know all too well how frustrating and what a huge challenge breastfeeding is. You need to do what's best for the both of you, and I know it's not the easiest pill to swallow, but if that means G gets a bottle then that's okay. Having a stress free mama is more important. Believe in the decisions you're making and don't worry about what anyone else may or may not think - you only answer to yourself.

I'm so sorry you're having a tough time coming to terms with it all; as if a new baby isn't overwhelming enough. Keep your chin up and go snuggle with that precious little bundle.

Sophie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophie said...

I just wanted to ditto what everyone else said. You are NOT a failure. I think one of the hardest things about being a mom, is trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything it in your control. You can still do all the "right" things, and your kid will still get sick, or be picky or whatever else is on their agenda (=]). We can only try our best and then let it go. I guess this is what makes motherhood such a challenging yet amazing journey, right?

*Sorry about the deletion.. I wanted to add something.

Jeanine said...

Sometimes it just doesn't work for some mama's and thats ok.. I was also one of them.

The guilt does get easier, and as long as your boy is healthy, gaining weight and striving thats all that matters and you tried :D I still say thats something to be proud of!

Lindsey said...

Hey Megs- Bennett was just born and I'm having trouble too. It's frustrating! You are a great mom for even trying. Grayson will be way ahead of the pack just for having you and Koka as parents!

Jenn said...

I know exactly how you feel. I have not broken down and stopped completely, I have made every attempt at pumping the milk and taking Fenugreek to increase my supply. It is the hardest job I think I have ever done. I am also one that says I will do something and put my mind to it and it gets done. Why did this have to be different? You are not alone!