It’s National Breastfeeding month *cue sarcastic hurrah*. It’s a hard month for me because my newsfeed is full of adorable babywearing mamas casually breastfeeding and I AM SO INCREDIBLY JEALOUS. Yes, anything you read in this post comes from a place of jealousy. I’m trying to get over it and I thought I had, but then it a whole month dedicated to a natural way of feeding your baby happens.
Before you read any further, please know I support you breastfeeding mamas. You should be able to feed your baby anywhere I can. You shouldn’t have to hide in a bathroom or your car. At this point in our society it really shouldn’t be the conversation we’re having. I will not attend any latch-ons, but I’ll sign any petition or whatnot you want from me.
What irks me was what I was lead to believe before giving birth. I took to heart that breastfeeding wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t think that we wouldn’t be able to do it. I was so confident that I packed away the bottles we received at our shower (we moved less than four weeks after having Keely). All the doctors I saw asked if I had planned on breastfeeding, and I answered a resounding yes.
No one prepared me for failure. No one said, in case it doesn’t work out, here’s what you should do. I think in a lot of ways we’ve swung so far towards “breast is best” that a formula-shaming society is starting to develop.
Our problems developed so quickly. Keely had trouble latching and my milk didn’t come in. We worked so hard to fix both of these problems. We saw the lactation consultant in the hospital three times and the lactation pediatrician three more times to work on the latch. It was after this time that I decided to pump as the main way of getting milk.
At times it seemed to be better. However, what really was the problem was my lack of milk. I didn’t feel it come in until she was about five days old, then I got the stomach flu, then a skin reaction, and then nothing.
You see, I’m heavy-chested (no surprise if you’ve met me) and I really thought that this was going to work because of that. I mean, what else are they good for? Wrong.
I made the cookies. I ate the supplements. And yeah, for a couple weeks I could keep up a supply. Do you know how expensive that can be? Still probably cheaper than formula feeding I bet. I remember going to the one-month appointment and the doctor being impressed that she was getting exclusively breast milk with me pumping. That should have been a sign that what I was doing was not sustainable.
I was so very uncomfortable all the time. From the constant pumping (every 2-3 hours) and then I had a skin reaction. I think it was PUPPPS (Pruritc urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). PUPPPS comes from the hormones and as long as I was pumping those hormones were coursing through my veins and made every waking moment and itching nightmare.
My desire to keep going started to crumble. I was so jealous of Ryann because she had the decision made for her. Yes, it sounds awful, but at that time I was just mentally broken. And yet I kept going.
I made it to the seven-week mark, miraculously. We went to see my family in Buffalo and I didn’t have much of a chance to pump (okay, some of it was that I didn’t want to pump. I started to feel normal, less uncomfortable, less like my skin was on fire). You hear horror stories of how full women feel when they wean. I felt none of that. I felt better.
On the way home I talked it over with Derek and it was decided I was going to stop pumping. I tapered off for about four days with absolutely no problem. Within ten days I no longer had the red, itchy, grotesque bumps all over. I could sit down and not have the compulsion to scratch. I could spend time with people and not have to excuse myself to go pump. I could hold my own daughter without feeling like my skin was on fire from the hives.
Wow, writing this out has calmed me down. I was so jealous when I started and now I’m reminded of what we went through and why we’re here. I am still jealous because it didn’t work out, but in some way I am at peace with my decision.
**Please do not take this as as medical advice. This is simply what I did and I am not even remotely close to being a doctor. The closest I am is that one of my best friend’s is in medical school.**