Breastfeeding – Round 2?

I like to equate breastfeeding to a fight that would take place in the UFC. In one corner, you have the breasts. They’re strong and ready for a fight. They’ve trained all their lives, especially hard the last nine months, to be ready to do something that they were destined to do. In the other corner, you have the mom. She thinks she is strong enough, ready for a fight. She’s trained for the last nine months to be ready to do something that she felt her body was destined to do.

Ding, ding, ding . . . round one starts. From the start, mom struggles to find her footing in the octagon. She inches toward her competitor even though she is nervous and unexperienced. By all standpoints, she’s a rookie. First time in the ring, so sure of herself during the last nine months. Now that she gets her first real view of her competition it doesn’t seem so easy. She lunges forward and lands the first right hand. Mom prematurely thinks she might win and lets down her guard a bit, even smiles at the thought of possible victory.

Suddenly, a swift kick to the leg, a hard punch to the gut and she’s down. Locked in a submission known as the rear naked choke. She tries to hold on. Tries to get out of the death grip that the competitor has her in but it’s too late and she has no other choice but to tap out. Sadly, mom loses the fight.

Yep . . . that was me after Landon was born. I lost my first fight with breastfeeding. Now it seems that even though Round 1 was not that long ago, Round 2 is fast approaching. In twenty weeks or less I will be in that octagon again. Truth is, I don’t feel ready for the same match-up.

Is it strange that I still feel a knife in my heart when I hear a pregnant woman say they will breastfeed their baby?  Is it even stranger that when I find out breastfeeding is working once said baby is born that the knife twists a little?  I don’t know.  I can’t understand why my feelings are so strong on this subject.  Especially since we have a beautiful son who is healthy, happy and thriving after being fed Similac {gasp} for most of his first year.  All I know is that when breastfeeding didn’t work out it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make to give my son formula.

I think it still hurts me because it is the one thing I feel I failed at as a new mom.  Not that I am perfect in every other aspect of parenting.  But I’m a good mom in every way possible . . . and I’m so envious when I hear a pregnant woman say that they will breastfeed.  I want to say, “How do you know?  Because I knew that too and look what happened!”  But pregnancy is a beautiful time of unawareness. Who am I to knock them down?  I do miss that “sure” feeling that first-time pregnant moms have.  Now I find myself making a much more accurate statement.  I say, “I’ll give it my best shot!”

I’m not writing this post to piss anyone off or gain sympathy from people nor am I writing it to defend what I believe was a valiant try the first time around. I’m writing it because I was never emotionally ready to talk about how difficult the process was for Landon and I.  Even more difficult was the process of admitting defeat.  But I have finally decided to write it all out so I can sort through my thoughts on the subject in preparation for Round 2.

I had Landon on a Friday night.  We were in the hospital all day Saturday and left around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.  We weren’t really there for very long.  But I was always clear with my doctor and the nurses that yes, I would be breastfeeding my son.

During our short hospital stay I had numerous lactation consultants coming in and out of our room “teaching” me how to breastfeed. I appreciated that the hospital had people to help me at the time. But now that I think back on it they weren’t that helpful. In fact, they downright confused me! They would each come in and tell me something different. Tell me that THIS is the way you are supposed to do it and the kicker? They raised the hospital bed up and kept telling me to “sit up straight.” Did these ladies forget that I just birthed a baby out of my vagina? It was kinda sorta (snort, snort) still sore from doing that and sitting up straight was like sitting on a pin cushion with the pointy part of the needles facing UP! It hurt like hell! But who was I to stop them and tell them they were wrong? Now I know that I should have said something. Now I know that there are much more comfortable positions that would have saved me that agony. Let’s just say that the combination of me cringing through each feeding and a sleepy baby trying to latch onto my inverted nipples, well, that was not a good mix. Rest assured, during Round 2, I will slay anyone who tells me to “sit up straight.”

I am not saying that our hospital experience was terrible. Everyone took really good care of us for the short time we were there. But there is one nurse who said something to me that, even in my sleep-deprived state, I will never forget. Our plan was always to have our baby room-in with us. I was dedicated to breastfeeding and wanted the baby right next to me so I could breastfeed on an as needed basis.  It was when Landon started to develop jaundice that what I wanted seemed to fly out the window.

It was early Sunday morning, close to 1:00 a.m. I think.  Our last night in the hospital when a nurse came in to let us know it was time to feed him.  They had already taken him a couple times throughout the day to check his bilirubin levels.  When she came in the door I thought okay, let’s gear up for another painful BF session!  But instead she just took him out of the hospital bassinet and started to walk away.  I think I said something like, “Don’t you want me to breastfeed him?”  She replied, “I am going to take  him to the nursery and supplement with formula.”  I said sheepishly, “Oh, um, I really don’t want to supplement with formula.  At least not this early.  I want him to be breastfed.”  She instantly looked annoyed with me and said, “Okay, you can breastfeed him.  Just know that you most likely won’t be taking your son home with you tomorrow unless we feed him.”

You can pick your jaws up off the floor now.  Yes, she actually said that to me.  And no, I don’t think I know more than those in the medical field but I do feel that it was a mean, terribly inappropriate thing to say to a new mother who had been sick with worry about her son after a traumatic birth experience {more on that later}.

So what did I do? I very reluctantly gave in.  I let her take him to the nursery.  How many times they supplemented and with what I have no idea.  I just laid there and bawled in the hospital bed knowing in my heart that my son needed to eat.  But also knowing that if we were already supplementing with formula in a bottle on his second day of life that all my hopes to breastfeed might be dashed.  I listened to them tell me that formula was necessary and yes, maybe it was.  I know they were just trying to protect him but what that nurse said still pisses me off.  I was not prepared to go to battle on my son’s second day of life.  I was not prepared with knowledge about jaundice.  I was not prepared for the shitstorm of information that was given to us in those two short days and how there was no intelligent and careful way to process it all when I was #1. in pain and #2. more tired than I had ever been in my life.

So that was how our breastfeeding process started in the hospital.  Ironically, it was not as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  And if you think that’s where the problems ended, yeah well, it’s not.  We had a month’s worth of breastfeeding issues so this post is to be continued . . .

But let me just say that by starting to write about this process and sort through it all I begin my training to fight Round 2.  And this time I want to win.

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Thank you so much for reading. I hope you know how much it means to share a little piece of my heart with you today.

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  1. Nap Mom says

    My husband is SUCH a "nature" person… but he cannot believe why something that is supposed to be so natural can be so darn difficult. Baby and mom are designed to breastfeed… why does it have to be so hard.

    I BF my first child (who was 10 when my second child was born). You would think that I would know what I was doing. I was at my wits end with second child. I was sobbing one night and told DH to just go get a bottle. He said to me, "Well… I thought that we decided that BF was best." I was sobbing… I was exhausted… I was in pain… I wanted to kill him. I handed him the baby and started to look up info on the web about bottle feeding. I had never bottle-fed and didn't know where to begin. How much to feed? How often? I called my friends and asked what to do. You know… there is/was VERY little on the web about the logistics of bottle feeding.

    Nonetheless, you rock (and you already know this). BFing takes lots of determination and, in my opinion, a little bit of luck from the BF fairies. I can't wait to see your new little gem… and I am praying that you have more success this go 'round.

  2. annie says

    I'm pretty much with you Molly. When I couldn't breast feed Levi I was crushed and confused and very hesitent to actually make the decision to stop pumping 24/7 and move on to a realistic plan.
    I had lactation nurses helping me too. And they were fine and did what they could. It was the regular nursing staff that had me stressed out. They were pulling the same stuff about making me worry that if Levi didn't eat soon who knows what would happen. I'm not gonna let them do that to me this time around. Babies do not come out of the womb hungry. And they want to sleep for a whole day. It's normal for them to not even care that you're trying to feed them. I feel like my stress level will be much more under control this time and I do have hope that breast feeding will work out. I've already met with this hospital's lactation nurse and she's set me up with some things I'm already doing in prep for the baby being born. She knows my story already and is prepared to help once the baby is born next week. If my experience goes well this time then I'll have some tips to give you I guess. I really want it to go well this time. For me and you. ;)

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