FFF Friday: “Each time I gave birth I attempted to nurse…”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

I’m sure some folks will read this FFF Friday post and think, “Ha! Told you so! This blog discourages breastfeeding!”

But I don’t think that is what happened in this case. I think (and maybe I’m just delusional) that FFF Melissa, a mom of four, simply realized that she didn’t have to beat herself up simply for the sake of breastmilk. I think she realized she had given it the old college try not once but three times previously, and had found nothing but heartache. I think she realized that she deserved at least one postpartum experience that was not sullied by the stress of breastfeeding difficulties.

And I think that is awesome.

Happy Friday, fearless ones….

The FFF

***

I am the mom of three boys and one girl. Each time I gave birth I attempted to nurse and each time it did not work out. I wanted to nurse so bad. I loved the idea of whipping out a boob, shoving it into the baby’s mouth and bam! they were fed. That however is not how it ended up.

My first born turned dusky the first time I put him to the nipple. This turned out to be a sign of an undiagnosed and severe heart defect. I pumped like a mad woman for him and managed to maintain a decent milk supply for his needs. He was never strong enough to nurse and was partially tube fed. I did this for 14 months until I got pregnant with my second son.

My second son developed breathing issues and had a severe tongue tie. While he was in the NICU he would reluctantly latch and shredded my nipples with his horrible latch. Why I kept insisting on getting him to latch I will never know. After he got clipped he became increasingly frustrated with nursing and eventually I had to stop because it was just too much of a struggle. I was just happy that he was eating orally unlike his older brother.

My youngest son I will never know what exactly went wrong. He stopped wanting to latch in the hospital so I was hooked up with a SNS and a nipple shield to try and get things going. Every time I nursed I felt like I needed about five hands to get everything right and in position. When we got home I could get him to latch and actually eat but he was soo slow when eating. I think the final decision to stop nursing came when I spent an hour with a lactation consultant and he was latched perfectly but out of the entire hour of nursing he only got about a half of an ounce in him. At that rate I would have had to have him hooked up to my breast 24/7 for him to get what he needed. I tried to pump with him but I started feeling like all I was doing was pumping or feeding the baby, something that would not be sustainable once my inlaws went back home.

My fourth and final baby has been the best of them all. I started reading the blog shortly before her birth. I was ready to try nursing again but after reading the blog I decided that obsessing over nursing and beating myself over it not working out was something that this time around I would not do. My little girl is a big baby, she was over 10 pounds at birth and it became very apparent very quickly that she wanted food and she wanted it now. She was not willing to wait for my milk to slowly come in after my c-section. Giving her formula was an easy choice to make and I think that we bonded a lot sooner because it was such an easy choice. Each feeding was not a battle. I was not stressed out trying to do everything I could to get my supply in. I was able to feed her as much as she needed (and she had a very healthy appetite very quickly) with out having to worry about me not having enough. She is my last baby and I am glad that I have been able to relax and enjoy her first days of life.

***
I am seriously going to cry about the lack of FFF Friday entries in my inbox. Please send me your story, or at least a box of Kleenex to dry my tears: formulafeeders@gmail.com.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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8 thoughts on “FFF Friday: “Each time I gave birth I attempted to nurse…”

  1. There is really something to be said for lowering the amount of stress in those early postpartum days. I'm questioning whether I will even try again next time as I have no reason to believe it would be any better. It does sound like it would make things a lot smoother if I didn't have to worry about it at all. Glad that things went so well with your last baby after what you have been through!

  2. Man, when I read this, I thought I had sent this to you and forgot – LOL! I'm a Melissa with four kids who has tried to nurse each time… but I have three girls and a boy 🙂

    Other-Melissa, thank you for sharing your story, I can completely relate. My fourth was the hard line, too – I decided I'd nurse in the hospital but that beyond that it was up to fate, and when my milk still wasn't in after my C-section when she was six days old, the Similac was bought and I never looked back. And in all honesty, her babyhood was the happiest out of all of my kids (and I had beaten myself up and obsessed about nursing/pumping with the older three.) I'm a breastfeeding supporter and think nursing is great… but for us, even with the best support, it just never worked out, and I'm at peace with that!

  3. I go back and forth about whether to try bf again with the next child. I still haven't decided, but I have decided if it's miserable and interferes with bonding like it did for my first, I won't feel guilty about stopping! It sounds so nice to hear from moms who enjoyed the first few days/weeks/months of their newborn's life! Thanks for your story.

  4. I just stumbled across your blog. I have three children and couldn't breast feed any of them. With my son I remember trying and trying. I got to the point where I would fear his cry because I was so afraid of failing him. From there it went down hill. It wasn't until one supportive nurse at the hospital said “It's alright. You are still a good mom.” That I realize it was alright. That I still loved my son just as much as those who could breast feed. I cant count how many times people have put me down because I didn't breast feed. I feel sorry for them.
    Thank you for putting this out there.

  5. Melissa, my heart ( no pun intended) goes out to you. My little girl was born with a hole in the heart so I definitely can relate to your story, especially what happened with your first child. It didn't make BFing easy. Actually, it pretty much ruled it out even though I stubbornly did it for 8 long weeks, listening naively to the whole ” gaining any weight is good, even if it's 2 oz, just keep going mama, just make sure you do it more often” ( Great advice that…doing it more often was only making her even more exhausted) It sounds like you've done an amazing job- what you're describing goes further than ” giving it a try”. And I won't be the only one cheering about that important point you're making about bonding better when formula feeding- simply because for some of us, BFing really gets in the way of bonding. Will I try with the next one? Yes, of course. What I won't do though, is listen to the crazy advice I was given. I won't set myself a target of six months. One day at a time. And if I decide to formula feed after all, I won't beat myself up.

  6. I am newly pregnant with my 2nd child and was never able to exclusively breastfeed my first due to super low supply. It was emotionally devastating and incredibly demanding to even make it as far as I did the first time. There is no reason to believe it will be any different this time around and I am struggling with whether or not it is worth all the many hours effort for a few ounces a day – especially with a toddler needing my attention and emotional support. So this post really spoke to me. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Thanks gals for the nice comments.

    FFF you are not delusional that is exactly how I felt. I was a bit hesitant about cutting myself a break because the area I live in is very much a lactivist haven, but the blog helped me realize that I was the one raising my kids not other people. I feel empowered to own my decision to formula feed with out guilt or feeling that maybe I “didn't try hard enough.” I did try really hard and it was not enough to establish a supply and satisfy a baby for whatever reason (my mom had nursing trouble too and was never able to fully nurse any of her kids either so I am sure genes played a role).

  8. You can try breastfeeding but try not to get too invested in it, I have had friends with low supply for whom this worked for later babies. That is, they'd start off nursing frequently but also formula feeding, and simply stop nursing whenever baby was no longer interested, etc. They wouldn't use galactogues, or have a pumping schedule, or expect to provide all their baby's nutrition, just what was easily possible.

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