the battlegrounds of breastfeeding:my story

I've had this weight on my chest for months and months. I haven't really talked about it because it still is a sensitive subject with me and still causes some feelings of regret and anxiety. But I want to get it out so that maybe some other people can relate with me or for new moms to know not everything works out the way you planned...and that it's ok that way, too.

Breastfeeding.

Before I gave birth I was 100% determined to breastfeed the boys. Yeah, I know breast milk is made specifically for your baby but I wasn't doing it for that reason, mainly because formula is so expensive. I didn't really know how it all worked but I knew I'd figure it out as we went along. 

Looking back on my experience, I feel like it was the perfect storm against me. In the hospital, as soon as I was in the recovery room, the nurses held both boys up to my chest and had them "nurse" while I just sat there. I really felt overwhelmed already because I really wasn't doing it. Over the next couple days, the Lactation Consultants and nurses really helped me learn to get the boys to latch right. I felt fairly confident going home. However, looking back I'm STILL confused on what I was supposed to do. The doctors and nurses told me I needed to supplement with formula until my 2 week appointment and we'd go from there. I had no idea how much they were getting from my milk, but they were sure sucking a lot of formula. 

By a few days in, both boys were drinking almost 100% my breast milk. But I was a zombie. I couldn't feed both boys at the same time so I was trying to get bf time w/one boy for at least 15 minutes (in which they would either be pissed off it wasn't coming fast enough (like it does from a bottle) or I'd fight with them falling asleep the whole time. So, after about an hour of breastfeeding both boys, I'd have to pump. I'd pump for 20 minutes (and would get a decent amount) but the clean up and storage process along with the pumping itself lasted around an hour. The boys were on a 3 hr feeding schedule so I'd have around 1hr or less between feedings to myself. To sleep. Eat. Shower. Bathroom. Record what they were eating. Clean bottles and prepare more for the next feedings...retain my sanity.

I was SO stressed. We were in the process of finding a place to live and were currently stuffed into a studio apartment. My mom was visiting (which was great help) and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend came to visit at one point, too. I didn't know if I was doing anything right, wasn't getting both boys to the breast every feeding so one was on a bottle when he wasn't breastfeeding. No matter what, they were drinking from a bottle every meal. Each step forward with the latch was a step backward with the bottle. 

The stress started to take a toll. When I'm stressed I have no appetite. I was hardly eating. My mom was getting really worried about me, I was pale, weak and tired. I was not enjoying being a mother (I loved my boys but I hated feeding them). That hurts me still to this day. It hurts to think that the first two weeks of their life I really didn't get to FULLY enjoy and revel in motherhood. I cry right now just thinking of that time. And I cried then. I was experiencing many symptoms of PPD. I know the difference from just general baby blues versus what I was feeling. By the 2 week mark, I was literally crying all day. Everything made me sob. I could feel myself slowly giving up and felt like a bad mother for it. 

The night before the boys 2wk appt I was up at 3am with my mom, who stayed awake with me that night. She'd been practically force feeding me all day because nothing sounded good to me and I wouldn't eat. I'd been so stressed I literally couldn't breathe that day. I felt like there was a 50lb weight on my chest. So there I sat  pumping at 3am, hunched over in my chair falling asleep from exhaustion and I knew I'd had it. I told my mom I quit. I couldn't continue. I knew that everyone was saying it would eventually get better but at that point, I'd lost the will to fight to get to that point.  

The next day at the doctor's office, I cried telling the pediatrician my decision. I felt like I was being selfish and giving up on my babies by not choosing to breastfeed them. Like all new moms, I placed very high expectations on myself to do everything perfect. I'd wanted SO BADLY to breastfeed them but was now at a point where I couldn't go any farther. I was crushed. However the pediatrician (and my OB) were extremely supportive of my decision and I IMMEDIATELY felt a huge weight off my shoulders. I literally was able to breathe again. I was also extremely proud of myself because with my milk, I was able to get the boys back to their birth weight by their 2 week appointment. 

That day I ate the first full meal I'd eaten in weeks. I could feed my babies a bottle and not feel like I was taking a step backward each time. I made bottles once a day and was getting more sleep between feedings. I wasn't bonding any less with my boys and was actually enjoying motherhood a million times more. 

I look back on the whole experience with many emotions. I'm proud I tried. Could I have kept going? I don't know. I honestly don't think I had the emotional capacity to fight any longer with myself. I wish we wouldn't have to pay for formula now. I'm glad I have my boobs and my body back. I'm sad the situation wasn't what I'd envisioned it to be. 

In the end, this is all that really matters, isn't it?







15 comments :

  1. thank you, thank you, thank you for being so honest. in a mommy world where you're almost a second class mommy citizen if you even consider formula-you're an awesomeness of a mom! almost identical story over here in my world girl. (hug)

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  2. it IS so much easier the second time around :) I gave up earlier than I had planned with Ethan--and I felt terrible about it. With Addison, it was like I was more determined to do it, and I am so glad I did. You tried and they had a great start.. kudos to you :)

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  3. With my daughter I went through the same thing. I tried for two weeks to breastfeed her. It was horrible. I could not enjoy my baby. Finally my husband helped me come to realize that bottle feeding was the best thing for both of us at that point. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  4. I have been hearing a lot of these stories today and it's heartbreaking. Although I don't know where you coming from You did what was right for you ALL. I only had one little one to BF and I don't think I would have it in me to do two at a time, I had my slip up moments, the moments I wanted to cry and I seriously doubt I could have handled it times two.

    Your a strong mama, and your right in the end all your boys need is you.

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  5. what really matters is you gave it your best try. and you did. women often put these CRAZY ass expectations on ourselves. for fear of failing our children, ourselves, or other mommies that we have to prove our selves to. as Maya says...you know better, you do better.

    your boys love you to pieces!

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  6. i know that i had a few moments while in the hospital where i was thinking of just saying, "screw it". wyatt wasn't latching and my milk didn't come in for over a week. i was supplementing with formula eventually because wyatt lost more than the usual 10 percent body weight. i felt like a failure and i thought, "my kid is going to die if i don't give him formula!" so, if i had to deal with TWO?! it literally just wouldn't happen, i know that. i really feel like you did the right thing. if you're not mentally healthy then you can't properly care for your babes. so you definitely made the most crucial decision for your family. and you can't ask "what if?" because we live in the now and what happens, happens.

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  7. What a brave and honest post!

    Breastfeeding one baby in the early days can be hard enough, without adding another baby to the equation! Your babies got 2 whole weeks of breastmilk, and that is better than none at all so well done to you - That's a top effort :)

    I hope that next time around, you have the support and info that you need to successfully breastfeed.

    Big love x

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  8. I am so glad more people are willing to talk about how hard it is to breastfeed. I too had serious problems with breastfeeding (I wrote a post about it a while ago) and I also suffered through some PPD mainly because of it. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. This was so powerful to read. You're so awesome for putting your feelings together like this, and sharing it with all of us.

    I had a heck of a time breastfeeding my first, and no lactaction consultants could help me. My breasts were something like a J or K cup... it was so out of control. I ended up pumping for her, for 6 months. I remember the exhaustion. Pumping for hours and hours a day. Cleaning the pumps, and the bottles, and then pumping again. I can't imagine trying to do it for TWO.

    I felt so guilty when I made the switch to forumla, but... in the end it was better for all of us.

    And I've since been able to breastfeed her two siblings, so... I learned from it. I figured it out.

    Loved reading this, Mama.

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  10. Thanks for sharing. As you know, I did not breastfeed Drake and know it was the right thing for both us! I was lucky as well, and had lots of support with my choice!

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  11. you are so honest and so truthful. I admire you for that. It truly makes you so strong! You should be so proud of yourself.

    I went through a similar situation after my twins came back for 4 weeks in the NICU. The exhaustion, feeling like a failure, tears, tears and more tears. Feeling like I failed. I made it 2 weeks of pumping before my husband had to look me in the eye and return the pump to the hospital and say "stopping breastfeeding/pumping makes you a god mommy". He was right. I felt relief and the guilt went away after only a few days of 100% formula.

    Now my twins are 8 months old and I look back and feel 100% comfortable with my choice. I also am with you in saying next time (if there is one) I will try again.....

    Thanks for this lovely post

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  12. Boy do I feel like I could have written this post! After having my twins my milk didn't come in for almost a week because I hemmmoraghed and need a few blood transfusions. I tried and tried and tried to get them to latch and was pumping every 2 hours like a crazy person. I thought I was going to lose my mind! I lasted 8 weeks pumping and then had to quit. I felt so guilty. Sometimes I still do. But giving them a little bit of BM is better than none I guess?

    I hope when I have another I have a easier time!

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  13. Yep, I could have written this post word for word. Thank you.

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  14. good on you for writing that!! i had the exact same battle as you, the same 3 hr roster and all the pumping/cleaning/storing bullshit and it absolutely broke me... and that was just with ONE baby so holy bahjeesuz TWO babies is absolutely incomprehensible. so thank you for the honest post. there should be more of it around! breastfeeding is goddamn HARD! my 9 week bub is still eating every 3 hours day and night and someone said to me 'oh cool, so you're getting 3 hours sleep at a time then!' NO! what about all the settling time, and getting yourself back to sleep time, not to mention your own eat/ wee/ wash time and all the pumping shenanigans. i burst into tears anyway! i think perhaps they get it now? anyways. good on you again, and never feel bad about switching to formula :)

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