Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They did what they're supposed to do ... sort of

Here is my contribution to the (Breast) feeding carnival hosted by my friend Lotus at Sarcastic Moms. It's an important topic... I was so angst-ridden during that period of new parenthood. If sharing my story helps other moms and parents, new and not-so-new, then I'm glad. And if you're just here to read about my tremendous breasts, well you're a bit out of luck.


One of the most embarrassing moments of my life occurred during a piano lesson. My piano teacher told me I was blessed to have a small chest. According to her, it was easier to play, especially if there were any crossovers required during a piece. And did you know, she added, you can still breastfeed even if you're flat-chested? Honestly!

At the age of 13, that conversation made my life feel so much better.


Even before I got pregnant, I always knew I would breastfeed whatever children I would be blessed with. And during the almost three years pre-conception, I read every article I could get my hands on about keeping your body healthy to conceive, and then keeping it healthy and eating right stuff so you would nourish your baby to the fullest, once baby arrived.

Well the journey to baby #1 wasn't as smooth as I had expected, so to take my mind off of not getting pregnant, I decided to enrol in business school (3 year, part time program) while working full-time. Just for fun, yeah, best way to de-stress when you're trying for baby.

Wouldn't you know it; just after the first part of my program I did miraculously get pregnant. Hurrah! When the boy was born, a full month early, I was just finishing up my middle year. The timing was right; I would be off on maternity leave for a few months, so the schooling would keep my brain busy when I wasn't focussing on baby. Yeah.

I was preprogrammed ... exclusive breastfeeding, no soothers and no bottles because Breast was best and heaven forbid anything that could lead to nipple confusion. I was huge ... at least for me. Went up to a size C, there had to be TONS of milk there! The boy actually latched beautifully and we were doing very well the first week or so. But then he started getting lazy, falling asleep whenever he got on my boob. Wake up, kid, I know you're hungry! I would strip him down, just to try to keep him awake. And I would pump, pump, pump just to keep the milk going, as it was slowing down. But he would fall asleep, then wake up starving. He would nurse and then still scream. For more. And more.

I was so stressed ... did I mention we were living with my parents at the time, mid-move, waiting for our house to close? So my mother was helping me with baby, but would slide in a criticism here and there about giving him the bottle. See, we were all formula fed babies, and fine. And why couldn't I just give him a paci... he was screaming all the time.

I was miserable. Told everyone to back off, as they were trying to be helpful. Why couldn't they support me? I even called the lactation consultant and on the phone, honestly, she didn't help. In fact, she was fairly critical. I really should have taken baby physically with me to see someone. But I felt so much pressure to do this on my own, I didn't want any help.

After two weeks, at the pediatrician's, I was told that he was losing weight. And that's what really woke me up. I decided that it wasn't worth it to focus so much on the BF. I relented, we gave him the bottle. He slurped it up. And didn't cry hardly at all ... ever again!

I didn't really give up on the nursing though. What I did was nurse him first, on each side. And then I had some formula for him in case he was still hungry. We got to the point where he was almost exclusively nursing. So all the efforts I made with nursing, pumping (yup, that was fun as I carried my "lunch/pump" bag to class with me every weekend) and supplementing with formula as needed... totally worth it. We did this for 6 months before he weaned from me and preferred the bottle.


Four years later, another roller-coaster ride to baby number two. This time, yes, this time I was going to do it. I had decided to stay at home so the baby would be with me all the time. Surely this baby would do well?! You'd think I would have learned a thing or two first time around.

I guess I'm a bit slow on the uptake. If anything I was more obsessed (possessed?) to exclusively nurse the girl. But the same darn pattern happened again. My kids like to sleep when they eat!!!! I had no problems with latching - just as baby would start eating, she would pass right out! And this time I did take her to the lactation consultant, had her weighed before and after a feed, just to see how much she was getting. Had her practically nude to keep her awake. And sure enough, she was losing weight! Arggggghhhhhh!

I took herbs (fenugreek, blessed thistle) even though I was reluctant. My experience in the drug industry taught me that not enough studies are done about lactation and nursing mothers and how much passes into mother's milk. But I was getting desperate. I went and got one of these contraptions too ...

About a million other things I would prefer to wear around my neck, like a Tiffany necklace or something? But the things you do for your kids. I tried it for a couple of weeks. Soooo.... I had this weird lasso-thing strung around my neck, my chest fully exposed with tubes attached to the nipples. Still, baby slept on the nursing pillow. Not eating. Lovely.

At one point, it was even suggested that I try domperidone. A drug. Hey, I'm all for drugs, I know a lot about them. Okay, I know it must work, but I don't know if the drug has ever been officially approved for that use. I was worried about excretion in the milk again. I'm paranoid, likely, as I'm sure thousands of moms have used it safely. But it wasn't for me.

In the end I supplemented with formula ... again. And it was the smartest thing for me. Sure it was more work, but at least I was sure that my daughter was really full. My darling girl eventually was at a point of exclusively nursing too. She weaned at 17 months. She's the world's pickiest eater... but that's a whole other story.


So those are my boob tales. I just wish they were still around to tell you their stories on their own. Unfortunately, along with the milk, they are long gone. But I still have those precious nursing moments to remember... and those with the bottle weren't too bad either.


Kami said...

I love stories like this! Mine is similiar with my first and on top of everthing else I had thrush. Talk about pain, try having a Hoover attached to something that is in angry pain when water is lightly hitting it.

Yes, I was a mess but I called a lacation consultant and she saved my life. She noticed the thrush and it slowly got better from there.

MandyPoo said...

Hey - I'm new to your blog...ended up here from the Curiosity Killer's site...

I'm so glad I happened upon your blog because I am currently going through the same thing. My son is 3 months old, and is now getting 1/2 formula and 1/2 breastmilk because I couldn't produce enough milk for him. I felt (and still feel sometimes) very upset that I can't exclusively breastfeed him...so it makes me feel better when I meet other people who've experienced something similar!

Thanks for sharing your story! (And so sorry that your ladies left you after you were finished breastfeeding. I hope mine stick around!)


BeachMama said...

Great boob stories. I had absolutely no problems with J, but this time around I am experiencing a little difficutly with with cracking and what my Dr originally thought was thrush, but it isn't. I have a high threshold for pain, but I don't know if I can do this for 7 more months if they don't heal up.

donna said...

Good story! Thanks for sharing!

Ginaagain said...

I love baby stories. For so many years pregnancy and nursing consumed me... it seems impossible that I have been milkless for almost eight years now! My first son completely refused to nurse.. wouldn't even try and screamed nonstop. It was a huge relief to give up and just give him the bottle. I felt like such a failure. Boy number two was completely different and was so happy to nurse that I had trouble ever getting dressed!

The Immoral Matriarch said...

My milk is still there!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After over a year now! THE HELL??


Rachel said...

Great story!!
Thank you so much for sharing! You never know who you'll help with your own story.

Dina said...

thanks for sharing Karen.
Nobody ever tells new moms-to-be just how hard breastfeeding can be in the beginning. I too went through he** and back to get to a good point in nursing but in the end he rejected the bottle and the paci and viola..we nursed until he was 15 months ( I would have gone longer but he self weaned at that point)
This time around I am convinced i am not going to give any formula and i'm not going to pump..we'll see!!

Kimmylyn said...

Sigh, my boobs disappeared completely after I stopped nursing. They came back for a short while while I was pregnant with number two.. but have gone missing since the birth. :)

I loved hearing your story. And as others have stated you never know who you could have helped.. :)

Dina said...

oh yeah...forgot to mention- i wish my girls would return to my prebaby size..i can't believe that after so many years enjoying a perfect B i am now a DD -ugh!

AND mothers have a way of saying the wrong things...mine kept telling me to switch to formula...because i was formula fed and i turned out fine- she also gave me cereal at 3 weeks!

pinks & blues girls said...

Great stories. I am sure they will be of much help to new mothers who are struggling with the same thing.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Anna-borderline-bonkers-banana :) said...

Wow, what an ordeal!

As for my breastfeeding story, it is a long one, and is still going on. We are working on weaning now thoug, thank goodness!
Ido remember that I had way too much milk and sprayed all over the place and choked my kids in the first few months though.
The spraying was embarrassing, I sprayed a few friends once, I could have died!

Lizzy in the Burbs said...

It's been a long time since I went through all that, but it seems like just yesterday! The constantly wet nursing pads stuck in my bra, stained shirts,..good times, good times! ;O)

Thanks for sharing your stories!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow, you sure were determined and dedicated! Color me TOTALLY impressed!

Rebecca said...

Awesome post!


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