Boobs R Us

No, that is not what I call my family.

A few bloggers I read have been talking about breast feeding.  I’m not one for controversy.  I have enough drama in my life without creating it or contributing to it.  But (you knew that was coming, right?) I want to throw my $.02 into the mix.

We hear so much about “Breast is Best” and while my husband may agree, it makes me a bit sad to hear it said in an exclusionary and judgemental way.  Here’s my story.

When I was pregnant with E-baby I had every intention of breast feeding.  I heard and read all the statistics that say breast is best.  I wanted my child to have the best of all possible things (as does every mother I know).  I also wanted the spiritual part of breast feeding…the connection to my baby…the knowledge that I was giving her something life sustaining.  On the practical side, it was free.

So I stocked up on breast pads and milk storage bags.  I got a Boppy pillow and borrowed a hospital quality pump from a friend.  I took the breast feeding class at the local hospital.  I read books on the subject.  I had friends and family who supported me.  I was ready, I was breast feeding.

The best laid plans, blah, blah, blah.

What really happened? 

E-baby was born at 1:12 am on a Saturday.  I breastfed her in the hospital.  The nurse looked on and said E had a “good latch”.  My boob said, “No shit.”  

I was discharged from the hospital at 4:30 pm on Sunday.

Continue breast feeding.  This baby wants to be constantly on the tit.  Normal?  How the hell do I know, this is the first one I’ve had.  She could have sung an aria from “Aida” and I would have thought, “huh okay”.

Monday afternoon my friend calls, “How do your boobs feel?”  What?  Your friends don’t open conversations this way?  I love my friends.  I tell her my boobs feel fine and thanks for asking.  She then tells me to just wait until tomorrow.  Yeah, she was a little too gleeful now that I think about it.  “What are you, a freakin oracle?  What’s gonna happen tomorrow?”  She tells me all about rock hard boobs (they don’t phrase it that way in the class) and milk spraying everywhere.  Woohoo!  Tomorrow?  Can’t wait!

Monday night, the baby is wailing.  My husband and I are at a loss.  She is on the boob almost constantly and won’t get off.  (Please get off, I have to go to the bathroom.) 

In the midst of all this I am also trying to pump.  I’m not really getting anything but figure, well she’s eating it all and everyone knows the boobs produce as needed so maybe the girls just need to catch up.

The baby cries all night long.  Big Guy thinks she’s not getting enough food and wants to give her a bottle of formula.  We had gotten a lot of free sample in the mail.  Now I am freaking out, crying, snot every where.  No, I am breast feeding, she’ll get nipple confusion, they said in class to keep trying, it can be tough at first but don’t quit, BREAST IS BEST DAMMIT AND YOU ARE JUST TRYING TO TAKE MY BABY FROM ME!!  SHE IS ONLY THREE DAYS OLD I AM NOT A BAD MOTHER!!  Uh, yeah, I had a little trouble with the whole post partum thing, that was just the beginning. 

Tuesday morning I called the lactation consultant from the clinic at the hospital.  I really liked her when she taught the class.  She was La Leche all the way but never in the obnoxious way I’ve heard them portrayed.  She did a hard sell for breast feeding at the classes I took but never judged (at least not in front of the rest of us) the mother who said she was going with formula.

She is free to see us that afternoon.  Off we go.  She weighs E-baby.  Now babies are expected to lose a bit of weight in the first couple of days of life, I forget what the percentage is, but a little weight loss is normal.  E-baby had lost one pound ten ounces- not normal.  She was dehydrated.  Then the consultant examines me.  She squeezes my breast and out comes some fluid, that pre-milk (for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s called).  

She comes up with a plan:  go home and give the baby a bottle of formula (yes, the La Leche Leaguer told me to give her formula).  The reason being E is too hungry and needs something now.  Then on every even hour breast feed her.  Twenty minutes on each side.  Then give her a bottle of formula taking careful note of how much she drinks.  Then hook myself up to the Boob Hoover and pump for twenty minutes.  This will help stimulate supply.  See you in three days.  Ok, I’ll try anything, because Breast is Best!

I follow these instructions to the letter.  I think my tits were basically outside of any clothing for three full days.  I never pumped more than 1/2 an ounce from both breasts combined.  After two and a half days of this, I got no milk at all.  Based on how much formula E-baby drank, we figured she got no boob juice at all.  Three days later it’s back to the consultant.  After reviewing the data and examining us again, it is determined that I have no milk.

Let me tell you how that felt.  I have no milk.  I could not feed my own child.  If my child had to rely on me for sustenance she would die.  I could not give her what’s best.  My baby is less than a week old and I am already a bad mother.  What will happen to my girl?   She’s not getting any of the good things, no antibodies, she’s going to get ear infections and ear aches hurt my baby will be in pain because I have no milk and she will be stupid because I have no milk  I am a terrible mother because I have no milk I can’t feed my baby why?

The consultant saw  that I was upset and was very reassuring.  She told me there are good formulas out there and my baby would not be Forest Gump just because she was a formula baby.

Intellectually I knew that it wasn’t the end of the world.  But in my new mother’s, post partum depressed heart I knew I had failed my baby on the most basic of levels.  If I couldn’t do this fundamental thing, how could I raise her?

These days I know that my lack of lactation is due to my thyroid/pituitary issues.  I know my child is smart,  she is healthy (Thank You, God!) and she is vibrant.  I know that millions of babies have thrived with formula, hell I’m one of them.  My mother had six kids and didn’t breast feed a one.

So what’s my issue?  When I read or hear others touting breast feeding as the only way, I get upset.  Why do we feel it is our duty to judge others?  Why is our way the only way?  Why can we not put ourselves in the other person’s shoes?  Why can’t we just calmly present our view without being so damn judgemental?  

Why am I so twisted over this? 

I guess it comes down to this- I am not a bad mother because my child had formula and not breast milk, regardless of the reason why and I refuse to let you imply that I am.  

I hate that I let this bother me so much.     

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22 Comments

Filed under E-baby, Mama

22 responses to “Boobs R Us

  1. Thank you for sharing that story. You are one of the many reasons I do not believe BFing should be crammed down mothers’ throats the way it is. Warning labels on formula cans and whatnot. There are a myriad of reasons why mothers choose not to breastfeed. And there is no reason that we (myself included, having formula fed two children and surely on my way to mommy hell for it) should have to justify our decision to anyone.

    What we feed our children, whether we send them to daycare or not, or preschool or not, or whether we allow them two watch two minutes or ten hours of television per day is UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL. Right? (Yes!)

    More importantly than putting warning labels on formula cans, how about labels on french fry boxes?

    Brussel Sprouts are Best.

    (Now off my soap box! Thank you! Good night!)

    :o)

  2. What a rough start you had with your baby! I know a few people who had the same problems – you are not alone in that.

    I would just like to say – at least you TRIED to breastfeed. I know that BF is a personal decision for everyone and sometimes it doesn’t work out for whatever reason….

    but, it also makes me sad when I see very young mothers (teens) who won’t even TRY to breastfeed and my tax dollars are going to support their formula bills. I would like to see more education to support BF and have formula be an end decision – not a first one.

  3. I agree with Karmyn. The best part of the process is that you tried to do it. You tried your best.

    No one can say that you’re a bad mother. And, I believe, after reading this post, no one would ever think that way.

    *hugs*

  4. I am one of those that didn’t even TRY to BF. I have my reasons for it and if anyone wants to judge me, bring it!! My daughter is healthy, thriving and showing no “downfalls” from being a formula baby. And, to assure Karmyn: her tax dollars did NOT support my formula bill.

    Anyway…I’m sorry you went through that. I’m sure it was horrible for you. Don’t let it bother you. You didn’t fail….

    Thanks for sharing this story with us. 🙂

  5. J.

    Wooooohoooooo!
    Standing ovation babe, standing ovation.

  6. You said it better than I could. My son was switched to formula because I simply did not have enough. I’d breast feed and then he’d still take a 4 ounce bottle. I was feeling like a dog trying to chase it’s tail. It was exhausting. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Good for you for trying!

    My comment for this is the same comment I have for all of the other “big debates” that are out there…if you are secure in your decision, then you won’t feel the need to criticize an opinion that differs from yours. I am a firm believer in breastfeeding for my kids, for lots of reasons…two of them being 1.)the very selfish one of it helping me lose baby weight and 2.)saving me a crapton of money 🙂 I also know that I’m very fortunate because it came VERY easy for me. I’m not sure what I would have done had that not been the case.

    That being said…I couldn’t care less what you or anyone else around me feeds their baby (OK, I would care if a 2 month-old was getting french fries :)). What does it matter to me? Your baby is fed, not crying, and happy – what more could anyone want? Do I think your child won’t be as smart as mine? No. Do I think my child is healthier than yours? No. Do I think we both love our children enough to make sure there is something in their little bellies? YES!

  8. I am with Kellie, I didn’t even try to breastfeed and no one’s tax dollars supported the formula buying.

    I hate this debate because of people like you who could not breastfeed and people like me who just weren’t comfortable with it.

    My kids are healthy, happy AND attached to me. That’s all I care about.

  9. I have two kids and tried with both. When Kaylie, now 6, was born, I tried and at first it seemed to be going well, but then, like E-baby, she wanted to nurse all.the.time! I finally switched her to formula and tried pumping. I got nothing, maybe 1/4 of an ounce out. It was pretty upset about it, but her being healthy was what mattered. Kaylie is smart, has only had 1 or 2 ear infection her entire life and is rarely sick.

    Fast forward 5 years. I get pregnant with Alyssa. I decide I’m going to try breastfeeding again. Now, this time, I didn’t get all that much support from my husband, mainly because he wanted to be able to help feed her too, etc. I planned on trying anyway. Then, I had an emergency c-section almost 4 weeks early. Having a c-section makes it a little harder to breastfeed because your milk takes longer to come in (which I only knew because a friend had dealt with it, the doctors did NOT tell me this). I had that against me and the fact that, while Alyssa was 6 pounds, 9 ounces, she was early and still pretty small. She had a very hard time latching on. I decided to try pumping again and at least give her breast milk from a bottle in addition to formula. Yeah, once again, barely anything. More than the 1st pregnancy, but not enough to feed a baby.

    If I have another one I will try yet again, but I will not feel bad if it doesn’t work again.

  10. Well said! I got a lot of guilt from my sister and other La Leche League (tit-nazi’s) members when I didn’t breastfeed. Lord knows I tried. But I HAD A BREAST REDUCTION, I HAD NO MILK. NONE. I read their book, Defining Your Own Success: BFAR, and did all they said, and still not not produce any milk. Did the nazi’s including my own sister care? Not a wit. Did they judge? Every.single.minute. Do I worry that maybe that is the reason Tigger has had 16-18 ear infections? Every day. But Eeyore has had only 3. And I had just as many as Tigger and I was breastfed exclusively.

    Yes, breast is best, but is not always possible. More judging among moms that needs to STOP.

    (p.s. I think all Karmyn was trying to point out was all the young women on WICK who get the free formula instead of breast-feeding (education issue) so it is our tax dollars buying that formula.)

  11. THIS is so close to what M just posted the other day about teasing FAT people being one of the last PC things to do.

    I replied the same way I will to you.

    THIS is one of those “under my skin” kind of things.

    Not all fat people are lazy, non-exercising, overeaters. Some have real medical problems (like thyroid issues), some have eating disorders. Who in the hell are they to judge and point and make fun of?

    Just as this issue. Some women choose not to do it, some have that choice taken from them as you and I did.

    I tried Kyle. Kyle didn’t nurse well. Plain and simple and before I was missing 2 nipples I gave him a bottle. End of story.

    I tried again with Casey. After she’d been on a feeding tube for 3 weeks. After she’d been on a super small preemie nipple for 2 weeks. After I’d gotten up every night and pumped for 5 weeks. Casey never latched on.

    I refuse to be made to feel inferior because I did not breastfeed either of my children, regardless of the reason.

    If someone asks me if I did and I answer, “No”; I should NOT have to add the disclaimer “she was a 10 week early preemie” in order to feel less judged.

    So screw it.

  12. though I am not a mom, i have played one on tv.. wait a minute thats a commercial.. okay real me.. seriously though I will not nor have I have experienced the wonderful wonder of being a mother.. I have taken care of children for well.. almost half my life up until about a year ago. Some people get to do the family thing and others .. well I didn’t .. At 44 years old … this has to be my deepest regret. I know the adoption story etc etc… but it is not the same thing nor what I wanted or needed. SO I do appreciate this post as one who has seen so much bs out out there about which is best and having so many friends who would argue this topic… I think it really should be a non issue.. Do what you can do .. children are far more resilient than we give them credit for. A child thrives on love and care in many ways aside from breast feeding. A woman is not a good mother just because she breast feeds.. A woman is a good mother because fundamentally she is a good nurturer.. and you my dear.. are a good nuturer.. to your family to your friends.. that is what makes a good mother..

  13. Stirred up the pot with this one… I had baby one with EVERY intention of bf. I was so committed…and got sick right after I had him and I pumped and pumbed and did all I could and there were no rock hard boobs, there was no milk. It killed me to have to give him a bottle — he survived and he is a strong active 9 year old. I was able to bf my sweet little daughter and it was precious so when I had boy #2 I thought — no problem, I have this bf down. He was 10 lbs. 4oz and I was doing everything to have enough milk and to keep that boy satisfied. At 6 months and after excrutiating pain, suffering, and worry I weaned him. I don’t know why it wasn’t “natural” or “easy” with me. Parenting is so hard you have to trust you are doing the right thing for your child and review your decisions with every child every year or so. Why we feel we need to compete as mothers or parents I’ll never understand…

  14. Amen sister!

    I gave birth to my twins when I was 24 weeks pregnant. TWENTY-FOUR WEEKS. I had NO milk. None. It never came in.

    People STILL tried to make me feel bad! I mean, it was try to breast feed or try not to die. And I got flack for trying not to die!

  15. I nursed both of my kids pretty much for the whole first year (no formula.) The first couple of days I think my daughter nursed every HOUR, and I felt guilty because I was like: Get this f***ing thing off me!
    As has been mentioned here, at least you tried. And even if you didn’t, why do women, in general, have to be so bitchy! I am not perfect, and never claimed to be. I would not judge a woman who gives her baby formula and more than I would judge someone who gives their kids food I wouldn’t give my kids to eat.
    Who the hell am I and who the hell are they to say what is right for anyone?

  16. I’m not a mother, but do plan to be in the future…(hopefully) and I have ponder this question in my own mind. I listen to what others are saying and I have heard the same things you have about BF..and that it is bad if you don’t. I believe this is a question that only the mother can answer. NO ONE ELSE! And for everyone out there judging…STOP! It is a personal decision and it is your right as a mother to make it on your own without JUDGEMENT from anyone!

  17. I breastfeed (ok, I pump… he never did get the hang of nursing once out of the NICU) Jacob. I breastfed his older siblings but for a much shorter time. When I went back to work with them, I dried up. And then they had formula. Jacob takes formula occasionally too. And while I am gung-ho on the whole pumping thing for MYSELF, its a personal decision for each mother out there and if their child is happy and thriving, then what’s it to anyone else? Fie on Boob Nazis, I tell you. Fie.

  18. Unlike you, I had milk. Lots of milk. Copious, embarrassing amounts of milk.

    But I also had a daughter who refused to latch no matter how long we tried, and a son who couldn’t purse his lips, move his tongue and had a big gaping hole in the roof of his mouth.

    So no nursing for me.

    Bottle fed the girl, cuz it was either that or watch her starve, my second breastfed for about two months before he refused the boob and my youngest was tube fed. I did pump milk for him for about five months because the NICU nurses made me feel like shit if I wouldn’t, but I quickly tired of feeling like a sow, so after a month of pumping once he came home, I switched to formula.

    Good for you, standing up for us formula feeding mommas!!!

    Yea!

  19. Like you, my breasts were defective when it came to making milk. And like you, I intended to bf. In fact, I’d signed up to donate my extra milk to a milk bank, thinking that I’d have so much milk, I’d be able to feed all of the world’s hungry children.

    I was able to pump a lousy two ounces between my two breasts, at my peak. My baby was drinking four ounces at the time.

    As my sister had put it, if I’d been a dairy cow, they would have put me down.

    Like you I felt guilty about it for a little bit and then decided that loving my child and being a good mom involved more than my boobs.

  20. I, like you, hate the debate because whatever you choose is best for your child. Formula delivers healthy, happy intelligent children. BF does this also. I BF exclusively for 10 months. I drove myself crazy, I pumped 10-12 times a day while Jeffrey was in the NICU. I threw myself into BF because it was something I could contribute while he was in the hospital. However, since he couldn’t actually nurse for a long while, I stored a lot of frozen milk at home. This helped because when he did come home from the NICU, Brian could let me sleep occasionally and feed him the frozen stuff.

    All that being said, it’s your own choice. I surprised myself by how involved I became. My days were good or bad depending on the amount I pumped or how Jeffrey latched on.
    I am very proud that I BF Jeffrey but I would be very proud if I hadn’t also. Kudos to you (and all of your commenters) for doing what they thought was best. It’s not breast or formula, it about Mommy being best.

  21. lisa

    can i now why this happened

  22. Erin

    I’m having the same issues as you did. My lactation consultant told me that “nursing” is not the same as “breastfeeding” — you can still “nurse” your baby with a bottle…it’s about being close and connecting. That’s what’s best 🙂

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