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!” Fellow members of the itty bitty titty committee will understand my excitement.
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. It was AWFUL! 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. If you don’t breastfeed and need some extra oomph, you can always get a nice push up bra.