Breastfeeding-Yes, No, Maybe So.

I made the decision when I was pregnant that I was going to breastfeed, or at least give it my best shot.  Some people make you feel guilty about NOT breastfeeding.  Even if they don’t verbally try to persuade you, you can often see their judging eyes when you tell them you aren’t.  I never told anyone that I wasn’t going to because I had every intention of doing so.  My answer every time was, “I’m going to TRY.”  I’ve heard so many breastfeeding horror stories of how painful it was/could be, that I was just sure that I wasn’t going to be able to handle it, especially with my low pain tolerance. (If you pinch me there’s a chance I may break into tears.)  Still, I was set on giving breastfeeding a go.  I met with a lactation consultant in the hospital.  I couldn’t breast feed Blake the first 2 days after he was born because of the surgery I had to have right after delivery.  I was so drugged, dazed, and totally out of it those first few days that I had almost forgotten I’d even had a child. (See Delivery post.) On the 3rd day of being in the hospital I started breastfeeding. Ouch. Yeah, it hurt.
When we were released from the hospital I continued breastfeeding and pumping at home.  I remember waking up from the first night of being home and being so engorged!  I had large, painful lumps that woke me in the wee hours of the morning.  I phoned my doctor and asked what I could do about the pain I was experiencing and was told to massage the large lumps I had to get the milk production going.  For 40 minutes I massaged through the pain, then I cried when he was feeding, not only because my breasts were so sore, but because he was hurting me….biting.  I trudged through it for a week, hearing all the little voices of people telling me that I just needed to get through those first few days or weeks.
I used Lanolin cream, which helped slightly, but the only downfall of that cream is that it’s not numbing! 😉

After the first week and a half I noticed that my milk supply was decreasing.  We supplemented with Similac Supplementation formula, the same formula the hospital had put him on when I couldn’t feed him. I took the advice of friends and tried an herbal tea called Mother’s Milk to stimulate my supply.  I kept pumping and feeding, until one day he bit me so hard that I began to bleed.  With tears streaming down my face, I called it quits with breastfeeding and strictly pumped.  As the days progressed, my supply lessened.  Four days ago (after four weeks of giving it all I had) I only produced 1 ounce the entire day.  (30 ounces is the norm)  I called it quits on breastfeeding altogether, and enjoyed 2 nice cold beers that night.  Ahhhhh.

In a conversation with a neighbor 2 days ago, we began talking about this subject and she asked me how feeding was going.  I told her that I had switched him to 100% formula and she gave me those “judging eyes.”   I tried to defend myself in saying that I really tried, but she told me I should’ve stuck with him breastfeeding (not pumping) longer because that’s really what stimulated the production of milk, and she continued to say that I should’ve waited out the pain because it only became easier.   She made me feel guilty. I don’t need to feel guilty.  My post pregnancy hormones are whacky enough without me having to listen to someone give me advice that I did not ask for.  Here’s what I would like to say…when you ask me how something is going, then be prepared for my answer and don’t stare at me as if you’re disappointed, think I’m making a bad decision, or think I’m being a bad mom.
I want to tell people to think before you speak. I don’t give you unsolicited advice that could potentially make you feel less about yourself.  
Trust me, I wanted to breastfeed if only for the sheer fact that formula is expensive! Some may say I gave up.  You can say what you want but crying every time he feeds and spending more than half my day pumping (every 2 hours) was more than I could handle.  It doesn’t matter to me what people think, I only wish they would keep their opinions to themselves.

On the other hand, I had some wonderful people give me advice that was nonjudgmental, and that I appreciated.

On a visit to Blake’s pediatrician we found out that he has ankyloglossia, or is tongue-tied.  Tongue-tied is when the tissue under the tongue is too short, causing restricted movements of the tongue.  This can result in difficult sucking, affecting breastfed babies.  This can make feeding very painful. When I heard this information I felt better and less guilty, knowing that the pain I was experiencing during breastfeeding wasn’t fabricated on my part.  No wonder it hurt so badly!

Here’s a picture of a tongue-tied baby.

We haven’t yet decided if we are going to have the doctor cut the extra tissue, or just wait to see if he grows out of it. We’ll probably make the decision to have it snipped because it can cause a speech impediment as a child gets older.

In the end, tongue-tied or not, I don’t regret my decision to quit breastfeeding. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.  And I’m okay with that. I’ll now be able to enjoy a Bloody Mary. Long time coming! So HA to all those judging moms out there who are currently breastfeeding.  I’ll drink to you!


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