Uniquely Fed: An Honest Look at the Realities of Breastfeeding, Part Three – Real Breastfeeding Stories, Vol. 6
Welcome to Vol. 6 of the Real Breastfeeding Stories part of Uniquely Fed – where I share real stories, from real moms with you!!
If you’re just joining me here, don’t miss what has already been shared in this series:
- Part One: My Journey
- Part Two: Common Breastfeeding Issues
- Part Three: Real Breastfeeding Stories
Today, let’s hear from moms who have had some unique struggles along the way.
Click on the links (or images) to read today’s stories:
My son is the greatest human being on the planet. And obviously my boobies are the sole cause of such success. (Just kidding! But not really…) I love breastfeeding my son. Perhaps it’s selfish, but I get some amount of satisfaction knowing that when B is inconsolable, only mama and the boobies will do it for him. That being said… My story is about the guilt, shame, regret, and frustration that only a breastfeeding mother can feel. And oddly enough, the story has almost nothing to do with actual breastfeeding.
B was around 5 months old when he started showing signs that he was ready for solids. So I planned this momentous event to coincide with Thanksgiving, an appropriately food-centric holiday. I spent an absurd amount of time researching all the fancy bowls and spoons (honestly, they’re spoons…) before making my choice, I painstakingly prepared a ridiculous amount of (organic) sweet potato, gathered every family member and friend, and got my camera ready. It was… anticlimactic. B was more interested in sticking his fingers in his new mushy orange toy and seeing how much he could get in his hair. So I waited a few weeks, tried again, and eh, a few bites went down. A few weeks later, I painted B green with avocado but he showed no real enthusiasm, so I let it go.
At his 6 month appointment, his weight and height were off the charts, he was meeting and exceeding the developmental milestones, but he wasn’t eating solids or taking a bottle. At 8 months, his pediatrician diagnosed him with “oral aversion” and sent a referral for “early childhood intervention.” What?! What just happened? Cue the guilt and shame. Was this my fault? Did letting him nurse on demand cause this “intervention”? Was my son going to have some Oedipal complex from breastfeeding?
Between 8 and 10 months, B was given the following diagnoses: oral aversion, tongue-tie (ankyloglossia), necessary frenectomy, dysphagia, short upper lip, food aversion, developmentally immature, and the colloquial (but nevertheless hurtful) “titty baby.” We saw 4 different pediatricians and 4 different feeding therapy specialists across 3 states; each one said something different. Two therapists recommended surgery. One doctor told me B would never be a normal eater because of his reliance on breastfeeding. (Right, because for thousands of years humans have only been abnormal.) Obviously, I started blaming myself and cursing the over-availability of my boobs. But then I consulted my dear friend, The Internet. Parents were posting their trials and tribulations and some sounded surprisingly like what B was experiencing. Yay, I’m not alone, I didn’t ruin my baby! I’ve had to learn to wade through all the anecdotes, advice, superstitions, prejudices, and plain-old misinformation, but the process saved my sanity, and in all honesty, probably my breastfeeding relationship with B as well.
My story doesn’t have an ending because I don’t have the solution. B and I struggle with mealtime everyday. All I can say is that normal is a spectrum. What’s best for one family is not for another. I have the luxury of attending therapy while still producing enough milk for my son to thrive, and that’s my normal. I love nursing my son and I am thankful that my body provides enough for him. B is happy and growing, and I thank my lucky stars everyday for my “titty baby.”
I’m a new mom and still breastfeeding at 11 months. Even before we decided to have a baby, I always wanted to breastfeed because of the benefits of it, and it is the best milk you can give your son/daughter.
In my breastfeeding journey, my son latched on pretty well right from the start and I never had a problem with him feeding. The only thing that did not go well is that I did not have enough milk for him. After two days of just breastfeeding, my son had dehydration and UTI. He was not getting enough milk. He was crying non-stop and had a fever so, we took him to the emergency in the middle of the night. It broke our heart when we found out that he was dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight.
I expected it to be easy, that I would not have problems with milk production and that I would breastfeed only and without formula for one whole year. But that did not happen. It was the other way around, and it was tough. When things were hard, I had to have a second option. I had to feed my son some formula. So I did both. But for me to feel better about giving my son formula, I chose organic formula instead, so at least it is healthy and close to natural milk. I am a health freak, which is why I wanted just to breastfeed my son without supplementing with formula, but I had no other option when my production was low. I had to give him formula.
If you ask me about my breastfeeding relationship, for me, it did work out just fine. I was not able to reach my exclusive breastfeeding goal, but I was blessed enough that I was still able to breastfeed for this long. And doing both did work out for me because I do work in the morning.
I am still breastfeeding, and my son is turning one next month. So I am actually going to reach my one-year goal of breastfeeding. Yay! to me, haha. I want to stop breastfeeding once he turns one, but I know it’s going to be hard because he’s so used to it. But I want teach him to sleep through the whole night without breastfeeding. He still wakes up in the middle of the night and looks for my breast to feed. It is hard for him and me.
The advice I can give is that when you start breastfeeding, make sure you are prepared to give formula as well. I did not know that my son was not getting enough milk, so he ended up getting dehydrated and having a UTI on the second day of my breastfeeding journey. The nurses will just tell you to “Oh, just keep breastfeeding and your son/daughter will be ok.” But they will not inform you that your baby will not get enough milk for a couple of days and will not give you the option to give formula while waiting for your milk to come. Well, that was my experience. Some nurses might be more knowledgeable and will teach you and give you advice.
If you are not a stay-at-home mom and you need to go back to work soon, make sure that you start giving your baby breastmilk or formula in the bottle. Do not be afraid of nipple confusion. Once your child knows how to latch, you can start teaching him to drink the bottle. Trust me, it’s hard for the baby to take bottles when they are a little older, and you will have a hard time feeding him/her.
About Ophalyn: Ophalyn Lee is the creator and author of Mamalounj.com. She loves to share her life experience through blogging. She writes about Advice, Inspiration, and Tips about Parenting, Mom life, Health, Relationships, and more. Visit her site to learn more.
I always planned on breastfeeding. Not because of any ideology I held, but because formula is expensive and I couldn’t rationalize paying for something I could provide for free. My plan was to breastfeed for the first year, while pumping and storing along the way. I’d seen my sister-in-law do it, so I figured “easy-peasy”. I had no idea the commitment I was putting on myself.
I was one of the fortunate ones whose baby latched from moment one and never had an issue with feeding. He loved his momma’s milk, and I loved being his sole source of nutrition. I loved the closeness, and I loved having something that was just ours.
I remember the first time I pumped and barely anything came out. I thought my body just needed to adjust. (And then I cried when my husband fed him what little I did pump because I feared he would no longer want to breastfeed and would crave the speed of a bottle.) If only I knew then what was coming.
I soon discovered my body would not pump for whatever reason, so I was truly the ONLY source of food for my son. Most of the time I felt special. I cherished the moments together knowing it was such a small window in his life. But by month 4, I wanted to throw in the towel and had no idea how I’d make it 8 more months. It was so much harder than I ever realized. I couldn’t go anywhere for more than 2-3 hours because my son seemed to want to eat all the time. I was stressing all day about drinking enough water so my body would make enough milk. And there were nights I felt resentful of my husband who blissfully slept while I was waking constantly to feed our son.
But then we started solids, along with breastfeeding, and I went back to cherishing and loving the moments with my boy. Again remembering how fleeting this time truly is. Then month 8 came. My nipples were completely cracked open, and I started dreading feeding time. I cried in pain every single time. I feared the latch. I feared the teeth. I feared the whole experience because it hurt so damn bad! By this point my son wouldn’t take a bottle, so a few days “rest” was not an option. So, I iced. I wore plastic dome covers while saturating my nipples with lanolin. And I powered through. After about 2-3 weeks, I finally healed, and I fell back into my “appreciate it while it’s here” mentality.
My son just turned one this past week, and I’ve slowly been weaning him off me. I find I’m ready to relinquish the responsibility while also not ready to give up our precious quiet moments in the orange chair where I feed him. I’ve spent every breastfeeding moment for the last two months soaking it in and pausing to appreciate how lucky I am to have been able to experience this with my son. (I have many friends whose body never allowed them this path.) And even though I’m sad it’s ending, I now relish his hugs and when he lays his head on my shoulder because it’s safe and warm and full of love.
I hope you enjoyed reading these stories and that you feel encouraged if your journey looks like one of these! Stay tuned for more stories in tomorrow’s post.
What has your breastfeeding journey been like? Did it go the way you had planned or hoped? Let me know in the comments.