I know nursing is a very sensitive topic for most mothers. I hope my story can help someone who has a hard time with it like me.
When savannah was born I tried to nurse but it was very painful and the day we were going to be taking her home from the hospital, she was rushed to Primary Children's for an emergency surgery. I was only 18, just had a baby and there was something very wrong with her. In the first week of her life, she was born with polydactyl (extra fingers and toes), had dilated bright kidneys, and her uterus was not connected so they drain 3 ounces of fluid from it and she had it reconstructed to where she had a hole at her waist, and we had Specilist and genetics all talking to us. I remember just feeling numb and if I let it go I wouldn't be able to stop crying and on top of leaving my newborn baby in the hospital and going home without her, we were told she had one of two possible genetic diseases, & I was in so much pain. Breastfeeding was just one of the last things on my mind and no one pushed it, which I am very grateful for. So, we fed her formula and she was a happy baby!
About four years later we had our son, Xander. He had the same condition, Bardet-biedl Syndrome. We were more prepared. I was determined and set on breastfeeding him. I had (mistakenly) bought into the lie that all good mothers breastfeed. I wanted so badly to be a good mother and to do all the right things. While he was in the NICU, he was fed by a tube for a while so I pumped. It was so painful but I knew I wanted the best for my baby because I felt I had given Him this disease so at least, maybe I could give him what would be the healthiest thing for him, no matter how hard and painful it was for me I just had to get through it for him. The NICU nurses and breastfeeding consultants were so encouraging and were more than willing to help me to keep going. I was blistered, bleeding, mastitis, yeast infection from it. I cried through my pumping sessions. One of the lactation consultants told me she had been working there for 30 years and mine was the worst she had ever seen. The pain was just so awful. When I could breastfeed Xander it was even more painful. But I did what I felt I had to and we were able to bring him home!
With Xander I got really bad postpartum depression. He was so colicky and would not sleep. He had really bad acid reflux. I felt so guilty about everything he was going through, and what Savannah was going through. I was jealous of my friends and their healthy babies and kids. With Xander, it seemed every time he had an echo or an ultrasound they found something new and Savannah was having such a hard time. We had just had her tested for autism and we didn't know what to do to help her. We couldn't get through to her. It was such a hard time for me. But, I started taking medicine for it. My amazing husband and one of my best friends helped me so much.i couldn't have gotten through that time without them. I learned how to look at things differently. I realized how blessed I was and it became easier to be happy and enjoy the small moments. Also, I started this blog. I guess writing things down helped me to get it out and not feel so alone.
When Xander was 2 months old his acid reflux was so bad we had to use towels at home instead of burp cloths. :) He started taking Prevacid. We thought he was allergic to milk and I had gotten mastitis for the third time. With everything, my doctor told me I should stop trying to breastfeed and pumping. That it wasn't a big deal. My husband had been telling me I could stop at anytime, that he understood. I think he really wanted me to stop because he knew of all the pain I was in. But it wasn't so easy for me, Because nursing is “natural,” Its suppose to be. I started asking myself how come other mothers pick it up so easily. They bond with their baby. Why couldn't i do that?
I realized I just had to drop my pride and this allusion of what a good mother should be able to do. I stopped pumping and nursing. We put Xander on Nutramigen. It smells worst than soy formula but I think it did help him. :) Xander started to become a happier baby and I felt this great since of weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was able to bond with my sweet baby and I don't regret my choice at all. It was right for my baby, for me, and for my family.
With Addison, I had many ultrasounds too just to make sure she was healthy and to rule out BBS. She was BBS symptom free! We were so happy! I just felt so much joy and it was so nice that everything was so positive. Savannah and Xander were doing great and I decided I would try to breastfeed her too. I promised my husband that if it got too bad or if I got depressed I would stop.
While in the hospital, the first time I fed Addison I had a lactation consultant there. I told her how bad my breast get and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to do it right so I could breastfeed my baby.
Sure enough, after that very first time I was already blistered and bleeding. They said I was doing everything right, and so was Addison. The lactation consultant kept working with me but she said she isn't suppose to say this but she wouldn't blame me if I stopped and to stop if it didn't get better. At home I kept trying. It was so painful. I kept getting lumps and became achy with chills and a fever. I tried pumping and it was actually better and I was able to heal a little bit. I started to only pump. I could tolerate that. Courtney was so helpful and kind. We tried every herbal home remedy we came across to help with the pain and to prevent and get rid of mastitis. I kept telling myself I just had to at least make it to 3 months, at least.
After two months I got sick and I started losing my milk supply and I couldn't get it back up after. I was starting to get a little depressed. And with my other two kids I was so stressed. I decide I was going to stop. I did it very slowly. I would drop a pump then go for a few days and drop another. After two weeks of not pumping. I got mastitis again. I tried everything to get rid of it but it just kept getting worse. I started an antibiotic. It kept getting worse. I had to go back in, see a Surgen, have test done, start another antibiotic, I'll spare you the details, but it is so awful. :( hopefully this time it will go away. But I feel so much better now that I have stopped pumping. I feel free in a way and I feel like I can enjoy our sweet baby and my other two children even more and to enjoy this happy time in our lives.
So, Maybe your story is similar. You assumed your baby would latch on perfectly. You assumed you would make enough milk and your body will do what it's naturally meant to. You assumed it wouldn’t hurt and nothing would go wrong. You assumed it would be a wonderful bonding experience between you and your child. But, you were wrong, And nursing is not working for your family anymore.
I know many mothers who beat themselves up because they couldn’t or wouldn’t breastfeed and I was one of them. I have blamed myself for my children's health. Part of their syndrome is obesity and health problems that often come with that, so I blamed myself.
Here’s the truth, something that took me a long time to finally accept: Many GREAT mothers formula fed their children. Whether or not you choose to breastfeed does not determine your status as a mother. I think very highly of mothers who nurse because I know how hard it is and I know they must be very strong. If you want to stop nursing and that it is the best decision for your family, then stop. And don’t feel guilty about it, and hold your head up high because, you are still a great mother. You are still meeting your baby's needs, and loving her. If you aren't getting the sleep you need, falling into depression, and or feeling helpless tell yourself, I am good enough and it's okay to stop.
If you are one of the lucky women whom nursing comes naturally, be thankful for that gift. It is such a beautiful gift.