My Breastfeeding Story

M Y  B O O B S  N E V E R  G O T  T H E  M E M O

This is going to be a very emotional account for me. The truth is that I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t fully wanted to face the reality of the situation. I definitely got spoiled with my ‘plan’ when I pulled off the home birth of my dreams. I just sort of expected everything else to go as planned! I had learned that formula was the devil and that mothers milk was the only thing good enough for my baby and her sweet little appetite. She latched PERFECTLY on day one. She immediately recognized me and her urge to suck was immediate. She started heading for my breasts the moment she was laid on my chest. What a relief! After I finally got up off of the floor (7 hours after I fainted), I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with her in bed and start giving her my milk. Day 1 she sucked, day 2 she sucked, day 3 she sucked but I instinctively knew something was off. It wasn’t the latch- that felt right. But she was sucking awfully hard and my nipples were in pain almost always. How is that possible if the latch is so good?

While I was given lots of advice, I knew I needed to consult and professional and rule out any questions. The pediatritian weighed her on day 4 and she’s lost almost a whole pound of her birth weight! YIKES! Everyone was so nonchalant about the whole thing, but I just knew she was getting fed properly. I hired Micky Jones of 9 Months and Beyond Nashville and she came over the next morning for some serious analysis. We unfortunately figured out that baby was getting about 4 ml per feeding and she was very, very hungry. I needed to produce closer to 30 to satisfy babies needs. My milk still hasn’t “come in”. After some analysis we found out that the baby was sucking so hard because she was trying to get milk out that wasn’t coming. I had to supplement immediately. We made her up a bottle and she took it happily. I cried 20 times over the next couple of days- I just had to get my milk in! My husband immediately went to get herbal supplements for milk production, I pumped after every feeding for 10 minutes without fail and I tried to imagine my milk coming in and baby getting her fill.

It’s been 2 weeks since we started pushing and while my breasts have gotten bigger, milk production still isn’t where it needs to be. I’ve had a really hard time with this and cried horribly at my inadequacies. How can this perfect creature be drinking formula? Why shouldn’t she have the very best? We think we’ve figured out why the milk hasn’t come in. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was very young but never wanted children so never took it seriously. PCOS means I produce more of a male hormone than most women so I have irregular periods, rarely ovulate, should have a high occurrence of miscarriage, grow extra hair on my body, could have a hard time getting my milk in and more! Ahhhhhhhh– why has my body betrayed me??!

Since that initial visit, I’ve made 2 decisions: first, to feed her with the help of something called a “LactAid“. It’s an incredible little device where even though I’m supplementing, it’s at my breast where she can pace herself and we’re still getting the bonding time we deserve. It’s been a great little device! Takes some prepping and practice but it’s worth it. Secondly, I’ve gotten some doners! Two wonderful mothers have pumped milk and donated it to my baby to minimize the use of formula. While it’s not my milk, it’s still better than formula. I am eternally grateful to these women and all of the women who have supported me on this emotional journey.

I feel like while it’s been a challenge I’m going to continue to do everything I can to make breastfeeding happen for us! Some days I am so angry at my body and other days I feel so badly for my baby. I’m still struggling with what not being able to breastfeed is doing and then there are times when I remember that I can only ask so much of myself. I feel like my body has betrayed me which is quite a strange thing to think after giving birth naturally. I continue to remind myself that my body is incredible and not to be too hard on myself. My baby is happy to eat, I believe. She’s happy to be warm and near me and that’s it. I know there will never be a point where she’ll resent me for not exclusively breast feeding.

So, this has been my journey and it continues. I’m going to keep pushing, keep pumping and keep doing what I can to bring my milk in. I hope my story inspires you to be thankful for your supply or to attempt alternative ways of breastfeeding. I believe it’s far too important to give up and as long as I’m living I’m going to try to give her the best. Courage, moms! One day a time…

– M

*Update 5/7/2013: I have continued to pump, taken Domperidone and continued to tried to do visualization techniques. The Domperidone upped my milk production from 1 oz. a day to 2 oz. a day and the accompanying side effects included constant diarrea and cramps. I have officially thrown in the towel. My plan is to continue to get her as much breast milk as possible from donors. So far, the plan is going great! She’s only had about three days of using formula and I continue to get calls, texts & messages on facebook with women who have milk to donate! We have been so incredibly blessed with the amount of people willing to help us out. I feel a lot better about things and feel very accomplished in all of my attempts.