In honor of World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to share my short lived but still sweet breastfeeding story. It started on April 4th, 2016 during the ‘golden hour,’ I was experiencing with my newborn daughter. It was a really beautiful hour. While my doula recorded my daughter doing the breast crawl and commented how beautiful of a latch she had I was spoon fed pears by my sister in law. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
“I’ll easily be able to do this for a year,”
I proudly thought. With the birth doula package I had purchased from one of our local agencies I was given two hours of a postpartum doula. Luckily for me, the postpartum doula I chose was also a lactation counselor. That is just what I needed because, two days postpartum, breastfeeding was hurting like crazy. My daughter was chomping down. It felt like she was going to bite my nipples right off. I had always heard it wasn’t supposed to hurt. Had I heard wrong? She told me my daughter had a shallow latch which was why it was hurting so bad. She called one of our local IBCLC’s and told me how to teach my daughter how to have a proper latch. I did those things. Make sure her lips are phalanged properly. If the latch hurts unlatch and relatch. Hold her tummy to tummy. Hand express in a spoon and feed it to her that way. Hold her like a football. Make sure her lips are phalanged properly. Flip her bottom lip out more Hold your breasts this exact way with your thumb here and your fingers here. Unlatch and relatch. Hold her like a football. Unlatch and relatch. Don’t worry, she can breathe even though it seems like her face is stuffed into your breasts. And there were times it didn’t hurt as bad. For four weeks that was our life.
“I’m doing great. This is what is best for my baby. She is happy and fed. It hurts like the dickens but maybe it just hurts for some moms. This is best for my baby.”
Those are all things I would tell myself through the pain. I even have a picture of me laughing during breastfeeding…(one of those times it didn’t hurt as bad.) I’m really grateful for all the breastfeeding pictures I have.
I only had one negative experience breastfeeding in public. But, me being me I didn’t even realize that she was asking me to leave because I was breastfeeding. I honestly thought it was because my baby was falling asleep and she thought a quieter environment would help. I thought I would care about people seeing me breastfeed more, but I didn’t. Getting up to go into another room was too much of a hassle and I was still sore from giving birth. Everybody else who said something was supportive. So, In general it was a really great breastfeeding experience.
Then came ‘hell week.’ It started on Mother’s Day. Here’s what happened. All of the sudden she started eating for 45 minute at a time every 20 minutes. She’d fall asleep at the breast and wake up screaming in hunger. Sometimes she’d be screaming while on the breast.
“Eating that often is fine. She’s just building your supply,” “Just hold on for two more weeks and everything will even out.”
I was told. So I pushed through. Then came her six week and final check up with our midwife. She had lost weight. Wait! Are you sure? She’s lost weight?
“That’s not possible. She’s never not eating. The only thing I do is feed her. I’m definitely producing, I promise.”
She can’t be losing weight!
Is there something wrong with me? How did I not realize my baby was losing weight?
My midwife had me feed my baby in her presence. I was definitely producing. She recommended I see an IBCLC. She came over the next morning and my baby weighed even less. She sent me to our pediatrician to see if he thought she needed to be admitted to the hospital for IV supplementation.
STOP. An IBCLC is most likely already a nurse who has gone to two extra years of school and spent at least 1000 hours in clinicals to be certified. These are people who are ride or die going to do everything they can to keep you exclusively breastfeeding. And I have one telling me that I need to get formula into my baby right now because she is starving. I’m in tears.
I called my husband. I couldn’t talk through all of the crying. I didn’t think I’d be able to stand.
My baby is starving and I didn’t realize. What kind of mother am I?
My husband comes home. He drives us to the pediatrician. Our daughter isn’t growing. He gives us some samples of formula. We give some to her before we even leave his office. She is quiet. She is satisfied. She sleeps for more than 20 minutes. She sleeps for more than an hour.
I am heartbroken.
We have more visits with the IBCLC. She diagnoses my daughter with a lip and tongue tie.
This is something that could have been diagnosed weeks ago? Hell week never would have happened. I wouldn’t be terrified to breastfeed.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t producing. It was that proper transference wasn’t happening. I believe that for the first few weeks she was getting enough. But when she started needing more proper transference wasn’t happening. I have to believe that for her sake and mine. She recommends chiropractic care and revision of her ties. She gives me a list of everything I’ll need to do to continue on my breastfeeding journey. But I can’t. I don’t have the willpower. I’m not brave enough anymore.
“Don’t you see how happy she is right now? I know she is getting the right amount of ounces she needs. She sleeps. She smiles. She is peeing and pooping enough. She is happy.”
The last full day I breastfeed was four days shy of six weeks. After we got her lip and tongue tie revised I nursed once in their ‘nursing room.’ I felt the tingle you were supposed to feel. It didn’t hurt. I could have started exclusively breastfeeding again.But, I already knew she was happy the way she was being fed. So I didn’t make any effort to continue. I still regret it now and then. But I also know in the deepest part of my heart that I made the right choice for us. I still love her the most. But, more importantly, she STILL loves me.
There’s a reason you shouldn’t ask a mom who is buying bottles, “Have you tried breastfeeding?” There’s a reason you shouldn’t go up to a mom buying formula and say, “You know breast really is best.” It’s not because we’re sensitive sally’s who get offended at every little thing. It’s because you don’t know their story. Next time you see a mom buying formula or bottles don’t say anything about breastfeeding (we know). You really don’t have to say anything at all, but if you must tell them how cute their little one is or that they are doing a really great job. That will go a lot further in that momma’s heart than any words of wisdom about breastfeeding will. Trust me.