I love that we are tackling this topic on the blog. It was a topic my friends didn’t talk much about before I had a baby, so I was clueless as to what to expect. I only knew breastfeeding worked for some, not everyone. Since having a child, I am very candid about my journey, something I wish others would have been for me.
“Are you going to breastfeed?” I can’t tell you how many times I was asked this while pregnant. After Jude was born the question became “Are you breastfeeding?” I cringed every time, trying to answer politely, although I felt the question was completely out of line. It was usually asked by someone I barely knew, not close friends or family. It’s such a personal thing, one that made me extremely emotional after I had to throw in the towel when Jude was about four months old.
If you read my birth story, you know that I had a quick labor. Since Jude went through the birth canal quickly, he didn’t expel all the fluids as he should have. In addition, he needed oxygen for a few hours after delivery. That being said, I tried to breastfeed right away, but he wasn’t cooperating. They suggested letting him get the oxygen and trying later.
I was blessed to have a great lactation consultant at Touro. I struggled to get Jude to latch properly without her help, so I called lactation every time he had to eat. In hindsight, I wish I would have stayed longer or set up lactation appointments in the weeks we went home. I pumped after feedings as recommended, but I barely got two ounces from each side. I also relied on the nipple shield a lot, which I now realize wasn’t a good idea for someone struggling with milk production.
Back to being candid. I was completely unprepared for when my milk came in. Holy moly! I’ve never had a boob job, but I can only imagine this is how it would feel afterward. I stood under the shower massaging what felt like rocks in my chest and hollered for my husband to come look at my crazy new boobs. I spent the next couple of days with frozen peas and cabbage leaves in my bra. After that, boy was I excited! I felt just like Jennifer Garner in 13 going on 30. A little girl tells her she likes her dress and she exclaims, “Thanks, that’s because I’ve got these great boobs to fill it out!”
Once I got the hang of my new boobs and my new pump, Jude and I had a good system. Although I almost always used the shield, he was getting what he needed. However, when I returned to work and mostly pumped, my production really declined. Additionally, I had a major episode with my back (I have a degenerative disc condition) and had to take medicine that wouldn’t allow me to breastfeed. After that, it was downhill from there. I tried pumping more often, after feedings, renting a commercial grade pump, drinking nasty mother’s milk tea, taking supplements that made me smell like a pancake, you name it.
Desperate, I begged my OB to prescribe Domperidone (a compounded drug that isn’t FDA approved) to increase milk production. Sketchy, I know. After just three days, I was elated: my production increased! By day four, I had a panic attack. I thought I was crawling out of my skin. I called my OB, and he said it’s a potential side effect of the drug and to discontinue use. Sigh.
The pediatrician saw that I was at the end of my rope and told me, “There comes a point when you need to realize what’s best for both of you. Babies can sense your stress.” As much as it pained me, I knew she was right. I was going crazy trying to make this work, and I wasn’t myself. When I quit, I cried off and on for weeks. It still pains me, wondering if I made the right decision. In my eyes, I did my best and went on to make all of his organic baby food for months six and on. I felt great about what I was feeding him, plus I saved money. Looking back, I know deep down that God took care of us, and it enabled me to better focus on my son. I made it four months, and I should be proud.
As mothers, it’s our nature to want the best for our children and worry about our choices. Bottom line: know that whatever choice you make is the right choice for YOU.