A Story That I Will Never Ever Tell Anyone, Except Perhaps the Entire Internet
He Calls Them Veedy-Ohs

My Boobs. Did You Miss Them?

So I'm dreaming about the baby pretty regularly now -- shockingly nice, normal dreams where he (he is always a boy, apologies to the hair-bow hopefuls) is indeed of the human variety, although I did have one dream where he was born with a full set of teeth -- and weirdly, every dream eventually includes breastfeeding. I say weirdly, because breastfeeding always seems to be really easy in these dreams.

DING DING DING! BIZARRO WORLD!

(I know the loyal, long-time readers hate it when I spend half an entry recapping three-year-old plot points, but I cannot help it! It's something of a compulsion with this pregnancy, to neatly file everything into Then and Now columns, and I'm entirely too lazy to dig through the archives for links.)

(Plus every time I go into the archives I get delete-happy because can you honestly BELIEVE what a fucking longwinded know-it-all neurotic twit I was back then? God.)

(BACK THEN! HAR HAR HAR HAAAAAAAR COUGH.)

Anyway, the Cliff's Notes version of Mah Boobs:

I have fibrocystic breast disease. It's been relatively quiet lately, but during my early 20s it was a constant source of annoyance and cancer scares. The cysts would occasionally fill up with blood, meaning they very closely resembled malignant lumps during exams and ultrasounds. And even though we sort of KNEW it was really a benign cyst, it's not exactly the sort of thing you fuck around with, so off to the aspiration races I went.

I once went to a doctor who...I don't even know what his problem was. He spent the entire procedure trying to talk sports with Jason while impatiently jabbing at my right boob with a needle, and then proceeded to randomly aspirate cyst after cyst without removing and reinserting the needle, meaning he was, essentially, tearing through my breast tissue while hunting for cysts. (Hi! Were you eating? Nom nom, suckas.)

After it was over, I sat in the car and sobbed and sobbed because it hurt SO MUCH, and then reached up to examine my boob and HOLY LIVING FUCK, he'd left the very lump I'd gone to see him about in the first place.

I called my OB/GYN from the parking lot and started shrieking at the receptionist because HOLY LIVING FUCK, after all of that, he'd aspirated the WRONG CYST.

We drove to the office for a quick ultrasound to confirm, and yes, I was right. He'd roughly aspirated a slew of clear, obviously harmless cysts and left the solid-looking suspicious one completely alone.

I was referred to an actual breast center that specialized this sort of thing and that doctor actually got the right fucking cyst and was extremely gentle during the whole procedure. The cyst was -- surprise! -- benign and I've never had anything else aspirated since.

But the damage was done. My right boob is a mass of lumpy scar tissue from the botched aspiration, and while I should have known that there would likely to be milk duct damage as well, it wasn't really something I thought much about at the time.

So. Flash-forward to Noah's birth and our subsequent attempts to breastfeed. My milk took a really, really long time to come in, and my supply was nowhere near adequate for the 10-pound chunker I birthed. He was born with the appetite of a six-week-old, I swear to God, and I imagine I would have struggled to ramp up a decent supply even WITHOUT the gimpy right boob.

But no matter what I did -- and believe me, I tried everything increase my supply -- I was, at best, working with a boob and a half. The more fenugreek I consumed and the more I pumped, the more painfully engorged my left boob would become -- it was even showing signs of OVERSUPPLY, projectile milk and everything -- but the right side could eke out an ounce or two every few hours, and Noah had absolutely no patience for that nonsense.

I felt like a big. Fat. Stupid. Failure. I remember paying my co-pay at the pediatrician's office the day after we brought Noah home and just. Bawling. Right there in the waiting room. Our dog had a broken leg and our baby had just been slapped with a FAILURE TO THRIVE diagnosis and we had to get his weight back up or he'd go back to the hospital and it was all my fault. All of it. My fault.

We didn't have any formula at home and I had some bottles I planned to use once I went back to work but I couldn't remember where I'd hidden them and Noah's first week of life is kind of blur, but I remember the crying. There was so much crying. Mostly from me.

Looking back, it all seems so head-slappy obvious that nursing exclusively was just not in the cards for us.  I was damaged goods! Hello! Domperidome ain't gonna squeeze milk out of non-existent ducts, babycakes. So nurse on the good side and follow up with a formula chaser, GOD.

And that's what we did for awhile, although it was always treated as our temporary stop-gap solution. The lactation consultants continued to give me advice that would lead to the end of the bottle, because THAT was the goal. Not like, feeding the damn baby or coming to terms with the obvious problem. "We'll get him off that formula junk yet!" one of them told me, six weeks in, just when I'd finally managed to get Noah to stop rejecting my boobs altogether. They openly admitted that the surgery I described would "likely impact my supply" but kept telling me it was something I could overcome if I just tried hard enough.

(You know, as this is all coming back to me today, I am sort of filled with this overwhelming desire to drive by their office and pelt the windows with rancid Similac.)

Then I went back to work. The gimp boob dried up almost immediately (and OH, what an attractive rack I had there for awhile!), and the other one wasn't doing so hot either. I'd assumed that because Noah's daycare was close to work and I had an office with a door that I wouldn't have any problems nursing him during the day or pumping regularly at work.

(Head! Slap! Obvious!) Even though I had a completely enviable set-up at work, I still needed to do...like, WORK. Huh! I'd get called into a meeting right when I planned to pump. I'd get stuck behind a deadline and would get to daycare late for a feeding, meaning my baby was screaming and the caretakers were frustrated. Noah wanted eight ounces at a time -- I'm guessing I could give him four. Then maybe two. Finally, when he was about five months old, he pulled away one morning in a pissed-off fury and would never latch again. There was nothing left.

We were done. I still felt like I hadn't done enough. If I'd just pumped more or held on just ANOTHER COUPLE MONTHS until the freelance work came through I could have kept going. I still got comments and emails from people telling me I should have tried X, Y and Z and that there's no way my milk dried up and I was using that as an excuse and spreading terrible misinformation across the Internet because milk only dries up if you stop putting the baby to the breast, don't you know that?

A recent post that dared to even MENTION bottles got one of those "you should just breastfeed" drive-bys. Ay yi yi, and so it begins.

I wish I could tell you that it doesn't still sting a little bit. That I don't still feel a little bit defensive about it, but OBVIOUSLY  this entry tells you otherwise. The "just breastfeed" business makes me especially stabby, because there is no "just" from my bust, okay, sweetcheeks?

The closest thing I can compare it to is the time I had to put my cat to sleep. In my head, I knew I'd done everything I possibly could have done for her. I knew it was time and the right thing to do. But I was still haunted by feelings that I let her down and could have done more; that in the end I just plain gave up on her.

And then I went and got another cat, knowing full well that it might end the exact same way. Why? Because it's worth it, duh.

These dreams, though. Almost every night. Cute baby boy, nursing like a champ, while I ask Jason what my big fucking damage was last time. (I dream in 80s movie lingo a lot too, yes.) This is easy!   

I've done research this time about damaged ducts and breast tissue, and even found some breast-surgery sites that suggest your ducts will sometimes heal themselves and regenerate with each subsequent pregnancy and lactation. That's a really nice thought. And it would really great if that happened, but I'm not counting on it. I can still feel the hard mass of scar tissue under the surface, and there's almost a full cup size difference between right and left. Just like last time.

I do plan to breastfeed again. I also plan to supplement again, to make up for ol' gimpy here. I hope, since I'll be staying home for awhile longer, that I'll also be able to nurse for longer. Or not! These babies do come with that pesky will of their own, after all. I mostly I plan to cut myself some goddamn slack. It's on my iCal and everything! October 2008 Through Sometime In 2009:  GIVE SELF A BREAK FROM SELF; REMEMBER TO NOT LEAVE NEWBORN AT TARGET. It appears my subconscious likes this plan.

It might end the exact same way, sure. But even that will still be easier. And it will still be worth it.

Comments

obabe

the last sentence is perfect. just perfect.

Jenn

Dude. The next time somebody leaves you a drive-by comment, let us at them. Rancid Similac for everyone!

tasterspoon

I'm still stuck on your description of that earlier boob doctor, rummaging around in there. Steam is coming out of my ears. I think I would have driven over to his office and punched him.

Amy H

Do whatever you need to do for yourself. I remember how it was for you and reading about all the torment you went through to try and do what is "best" for your baby. I say that a happy mamma is what is best for a baby. Keep that in mind.

On another note, I can tell you that so far, for me anyway, the second baby has been soooo much easier than the first. I am just 15 days into this journey, but the new kid in our house has made things very easy for me. The c-section was easier (probably because this time it was planned and I knew what to expect), the recovery was easier (even left the hospital a day early), nursing has been easier, and my hormones (you know, the whole crying thing) has not happened this time like it did with my first. Maybe you will have the same experience,

again, he is only 15 days old, so I may be back in a week telling you that I am a total asshat for even thinking this was going to be so easy. :-)

b

I'm with tasterspoon. I have an inordinate amount of rage at that ass hat. Seriously, I'm pissed. And my boobs hurt out of compassion for you.

andrea

I went through similar feelings when I had my son and just couldn't get the milk in due to surgery. I felt like a failure. But you know what? He is 7 weeks, and he is thriving, and in the end THAT is all that matters. It would be nice if I could have breastfed him, but I am doing what is best for both of us. And that is what you will do to - and using a bottle, and formula, is not the horrible thing some people make it out to be!

E

Can I just say - from someone who had an awful time with breastfeeding due to things I could not control - those lactation consultants who acted as if I was doing my baby such harm? There is a special place in hell for them. Because we try everything we can. And having a happy, healthy forumla fed/combo fed baby is okay. Making a woman feel like she is such a failure as a mother is NOT OKAY.

(Thanks for letting me say that. I feel much better.)

mandy

I was able to nurse my first for 19 months without a hitch. I stupidly thought it was always going to be that easy. With my second, I nursed for a week or so before I realized I could not produce enough, fast enough, and had to supplement, even with DD's, baby. I continued nursing her when I could, but it dwindled. With my third, I nursed and supplemented from the start, but he was so fussy I was worried it was my milk so I quit. Put him on soy, and he grew out of the fussy stage.
I know the desire to be able to nurse, I am sorry you have booby-issues. I am sure you will do what is right for you both in the end and a year or so later, SHE'LL be just fine. Just kidding, I know it's a HE. Or at least you know he/she is. hehee
I love your posts, as always. I am intrigued to know what is going on with you and the kids. I can't wait to see this little boy's face, so hurry up with the ultrasound pictures, geesh.

mswas

I didn't have the medical issues you did, but I had a hard time keeping up with bf and pumping.

To this day, the word "fenugreek" scares me.

Elizabeth

I was reading back during your previous breastfeeding posts, and I remember the masses of comments full of suggestions for how THIS worked for THAT person, it should work for you! Every person is different. I don't remember you mentioning the scar tissue, though, not that having that info should have changed anyone's comments.

I've had 3 kids, one was exclusively formula fed, one was breastfed with formula fillers, then the third was all formula again. All 3? Healthy and beautiful. Just like your baby will be. xo

Mother of Beans

My boobs have failed me too. I don't appreciate their lack of interest in nursing my offspring, but DAYUM. Those bottles come in handy.

Sadie

I'm glad you're chilled out about it this time; I think it's awful how much pressure there is on new mothers to be breastfeeding goddesses, and it so often leads to feelings of failure or inadequacy. I swear, the sanctimony of some lactivists makes me want to feed any future babies formula right from the jump just out of spite. But I guess that doesn't solve anything either.

Bottom line is, do what works. It obviously worked out okay with Noah.

jsdcreative

Weirdly, I feel those feelings (of defensiveness, rage at inconsiderate know-it-alls, total failure, etc) about not having been able to give birth naturally.

After 4 C-sections, and kids ranging from 18 down to 2, I still feel frustrated that I couldn't do what my body was made to do.

Small frame (5'2"), big babies, tiny pelvis (confirmed after 1st CS), malpositioned babies (breech, transverse, oblique, posterior), low anterior placentas, chronic SPD and a previous spinal fracture. And each pregnancy I still thought maybe this one I'll manage on my own. And every pregnancy I went through the tussle with myself and guilt before coming to terms with it.

We are so vulnerable as mothers. At the end of the day, breast fed or formula fed, CS or vaginal birth, daycare or not, our mothering and bond with our children is so much more than all or any of these things.

I say bless you Amy.

And rancid Similac is too good for that ±%$£@!. Wonder how he would feel if a female urologist hacked away at his urethra like that whilst maintaining a conversation about nail enamel colours with his wife.

Nicole

Completely different issue,that I won't bore you with, but I don't have a full milk supply either. Failure to provide the most basic need my babies had was devistating and I'm not sure that I'll ever be ok with it. That said, I did have more working ducts with each pregancy and I was able to keep my third baby from rejecting the breast by using an SNS and a lactaid. In fact it was so successful that I can't get the stinker to wean now. If you feel that it's important to try to keep this baby breastfeeding for a certain amount of time they may be worth looking into. They're pretty easy to manage, even in those hazy post partum days.

Allison

Although I had a much easier time with breastfeeding, I just decided to stop pumping at work (I was only getting 2 oz in my 6-hour work day with two pumping sessions) and I'm just waiting for my supply to shrivel up altogether. Even though I made it 10 months, I still feel like I'm a miserable failure. But I'd probably feel that way no matter what. I'm now coming to grips with the fact that everybody faces a different reality, and I'm NOT going to judge myself based on other people's standards. So good on you, Amalah! Whatever you do, you've definitely got a lot of love for this lil' one.

Jayme

Oh girl... I can so relate. I have three kids, from 10 months to 4 years old. I remember the absolute frustration and feeling like half a woman because I could not get milk outta my boobs. I have PCOS, and although the lac people knew it, they were still determined to make me feel like a piece of shit because I couldn't nurse. Well... that was my experience with my firstborn. With my second, I attempted to nurse for about a day. I basically told the lactation Nazis to piss off at the hospital. With my third, I didn't even bother busting out the boob. I KNEW it would be pointless. We mamas know our bodies, we know our babies, right? I vowed right then that I'd never let some self righteous know-it-all make me feel like I was harming my child. I still believe that breast is best after all that, but I refuse to believe that's the ONLY way to go.

It is what it is...

Luba

Ahh...Fenugreek & Mother's Milk, totally still haunts me. I was never able to produce more than 2 oz a feeding (both boobs combined). I was adamant about breastfeeding, and my son lost a pound from his birth weight in about 4 days. I wish someone had told me it's ok to supplement. But all the stuff I'd read about nipple confusion, etc. scared me. Breastfeeding just didn't work for me. I too, felt like a failure. Looking back, it was just so stupid. You get told a million times "breast is best", but you know what, it's not the best if there's not enough of it. Honestly, I've been so scarred from the whole experience, it makes me not even want to try the next time.

Faith

Okay let us have the name of the boob mangler now. I will book a flight out to BEAT HIS ASS NOW!!

I had breast surgery and knew that it would possibly make it difficult to breastfeed...but with each miscarriage my milk came in and stayed for MONTHS. So I figured when Toddler was born it would be no problem...I WAS WRONG.

He was also diagnosed as failure to thrive, and we put him on formula. I know that "FAILURE" word is what sent me into hysterical sobbing for months, and still makes me feel responsible. But the truth is it worked out the way it was supposed to. And he is fine.

So do what works for you, and when you are at the hospital tell the breastfeeding NAZI'S to stuff it - you are a bottle feeder only. It will keep them away from your boobs, and let you nurse and supplement in peace.

Shanda

This is my favorite blog....I wrote about you on my own blog check it out at

www.shandasdailyblog.blogspots.com

Kristin

As long as he eats something he'll be fine. Of course they all say breastmilk is best but I think that having a happy Mom is actually what's best!

Amalah

Elizabeth - I don't think I made a big deal about the scar tissue because I didn't think it WAS a big deal. The LCs downplayed it so much that it wasn't until very recently that I did my own research about breast surgery and breastfeeding and discovered that actually, it CAN be a big fucking deal for some people.

Instead of pushing typical low-supply remedies on me, I should have been treated like someone who had a breast reduction or other major breast surgery. They heard "aspiration" and waved it off as not a big deal, even though what I went through was nothing like a typical aspiration.

The LCs told me that the scar tissue was probably affecting the speed and flow of the milk, so that's why Noah would reject the breast completely if I started him on the right side. This was probably half-right, but they NEVER told me about the possibility that I just didn't have enough healthy working ducts on the right side, so no matter what I did, that boob was just not going to produce any more milk.

I can't even tell you what a help it would have been to know that, so I could have blamed that &$#$ boob doctor instead of myself. Gar.

Gramma

It's so hard. It's almost like if you don't successfully nurse the baby, you're not a real woman. I went through that with my first. She was a nice plump 8 lb. + and they didn't exactly encourage breast feeding in the hospital. In fact, they'd give her a bottle before bringing her to me to nurse. This was some years ago, babies didn't stay in your room then. And you stayed in the hospital 4-5 days even with a vaginal birth, so it was time enough to ruin things.

So we took her home, and she nursed on both sides every two hours and still cried. She went down to 7 lb. Finally after about 10 days of that, we were going to visit relatives and since I was too shy to handle the public nursing very well, I took a bottle of Similac with me. A full bottle. To the top. Probably 9 ounces. I had no clue that babies that age eat 2-3 ounces at most.

Came time to eat, and she drank the WHOLE BOTTLE!!!!!!! Then she slept for SEVEN HOURS!!!!! A lightbulb appeared in my thought-bubble - "We may be onto something here." I called the pediatrician, he said I could supplement for the next several months or I could just give it up and bottle feed. My ob/gyn said the same thing. So I bound my gigantic swollen painful size 32 EE boobs, and I switched over to the Similac, and I never tried nursing again.

It might have worked with the other two. I didn't even try. It was easier for me and the baby to use formula, and heaven knows life with an infant is stressful enough without stressing out over whether you are a real woman or not.

Do what you want to do. The baby will thrive if you are content and happy.

DQ

I, too, couldn't provide for my son when he was born because my c-section was so traumatic to my body that I was struggling to stay alive myself. I was one giant pacifier. I, too, felt guilty at first, until my mother said to me, "you shouldn't feel guilty about something you can't control. Here's some formula." I was like, "you know? you're right!" The world invented something great for people who need help. It's called baby formula, and I loved it to bits. My 3 kids were all formula fed, and I had the happiest, well-nourished kids on the block. I was like, "THANK GOD their food doesn't depend on me, too. I have enough to worry about what with their Every Other Aspect Of Upbringing lying in my hands."

qwyneth

Oh honey, hugs for you. I haven't yet succeeded at the conception crapshoot, but thinking about breastfeeding already scares me. I want to so badly, but I have PCOS and had a breast reduction when I was 18. Be strong, and know that we support you. You are a wonderful mother, and your baby will be healthy and happy regardless of whether s/he eats formula or breast milk.

That doctor on the other hand...I want to rip out his fucking throat.

SpaceCasie

Gahhhh. I can completely relate. My milk supply dried up when some doctor decided to tell me my son most likely had brain damage from severe juandice.....he was in the hospital for two weeks where some lovely nurse didn't wash her hands well enough, and he contracted e coli. Lovely.

I tried for about 3 months. He would nurse for 1.5 hours and then eat an 8 ounce bottle. For fuck's sake, what do you want me to do??

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant with a surprise bebe, and I will try as hard as I can this time, but if I can't do it, I'm NOT going to take it personally again. People that haven't been through it have no idea what it is like to feel like a failure 5 weeks into an 18 year stint.

Good luck with your wonky boob!

becky

Hey - you're healthy, and Noah's healthy, and that's all that matters. The people who leave you negative comments and employ the word "just"? They don't know you or your situation. They're *just* spouting words, and you *just* need to worry about how to keep yourself healthy and your baby nourished. Noah is beautiful and smart and very special... not too shabby, Amy. And if it works out that the new arrival is able to be breast fed for longer, fine - great! But if not... you've already produced one perfectly healthy and loveable child on your goods plus supplements, so you can damn well do it again.

lindsey

I totally had that toothy baby dream, too--with both my pregnancies. I think it's a Thing. Along with the dream about your babies being born speaking full sentences.

Also, I just found your blog and adore it.

Kristine

Happy mama makes a happy baby. A stressed mama does not make a happy baby.

(Although I find it odd that the experience I had in the hospital was kind of opposite like the nursery nurses were out to sabotage me.)

Annie

Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I too had difficulties with milk supply for my chunk of a kid. I was so sick of unsolicited advice about breastfeeding from people who thought they were being helpful.

I cannot believe that bastard boob skewering doctor. RAAAR!

Melanie

Oh my god, the lactation ladies! Holy shit.
My boobs dried up at three months with the firstborn and one month with my younger kid. And those lactation bitches were trying to make it my fault, like I hadn't tried hard enough, or something.
But let me tell you: there is no way any person can ever tell you "YOR DOIN IT RONG" if they aren't right there with you, watching the milk supply dwindle no matter what you do.

I hate the lactation ladies with the fiery heat of a thousand suns.

adele Richards

Is it wrong that I want to find the sport-talking boob piercer (in all the wrong places) and HURT HIM?

And good grief, what is wrong with supplementing boob with formula? I for one think it is perfectly sensible and way better than having a stressed mum and hungry baby.

At the end of the day you've got to do what works for you and baby. Amen x

sheilah

I also had a hard time breastfeeding. I tried, yes I tried, but I never had enough milk to feed my son. When I pumped I was lucky to get 3 or 4 ounces. TOTAL; TWO breasts. So we supplemented. Then sometime between 5 and 6 months, my son (who got his first tooth at 4 months), started to bite me. HARD. Teeth on top and bottom. Blood. Pink milk.

I tried to get him to stop but he never did. I lasted almost a week with cut, bloody boobs. We went from 'supplementing' (HA!) to exclusively formula.

Do what you can. Fed and happy baby; happy mommy. That is best.

Jess

Are you kidding??? PCOS has something to do with low milk supply/breastfeeding issues? Why didn't anyone tell me!?!! Dang. I was so frustrated with the amount of milk I produced with my first baby. My second baby is due in a few weeks. Thank you thank you thank you in advance. Not my fault. Ha! You are wonderful and so are your readers/commenters. Thanks again.

Lindsay

That bastard doctor! I'm ready to go kick his ass.

I'm with you on the Failure to Thrive thing. Happened with my baby, too, and I just knew that he was going to die because I couldn't produce enough milk.

We had to go as far as weighing him, nursing, weighing him again to see how much he ate, pumping what was left (we were excited when we got a 1/4 ounce), feeding him that and then giving him formula to make sure he got how ever many ounces he was supposed to have each feeding. Shampoo, rinse and repeat. Every two hours (day AND night) for several weeks...

...then, I had someone have the gall to tell me that the formula I was giving him was the same thing as feeding him a Big Mac.

That was WAY too much for a new, scared, sleep-deprived mother to go through. We did end up being able to nurse for 10 months until he started biting and I could take it no more.

I definitely think if I have the same milk production problems next time, I'm immediately turning to Enfamil. My son is no worse for the wear for getting some formula and sometimes you just have to do what's best for you and your family - whether the BF nazis like it or not.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Tessa

Thank you so much for sharing. I have troubles too, with my 9 week old. Whoever said breast size doesn't matter with production LIES. At least, in my case. Add that to a lazy nurser, and hello! You get underfed, crying baby. Also, I am one of the 15-20% of women who apparently are unable to express by pumping, and since Lilah knows the formula is next, she won't nurse for long anymore. Huzzah. So much for the whole "exclusively breastfeed for the first six months" thing. I expect she'll either wean herself or I will dry up in the next month or two. And then I will cry, because I love nursing. But the best thing is that now, all the pressure is off of ME to make her thrive. If she needs more, she can get it from the bottle.

Formula chasers are a godsend. I could have used a (much stronger) chaser myself those first four weeks as I was beating myself up for being an utterly total failure. Now I realize how silly I was being, and how it mattered more to ME than to HER.

Andrea

I'm nearly 12 weeks pregnant with my first and I keep telling myself, I'm planning on a vaginal birth, breastfeeding and sleep training my baby with the understanding that you can't predict the future and as long as everyone is healthy and happy I'll make any changes necessary including formula, co-sleeping and a c-section. Thanks for your open honesty, it helps calm some of my jitters.

stangmom

Rock on sistah!

GinnyM

I'm sorry everyone has had to deal with The Boob Nazis. I've only dealt with the bottle heads.
Breastfeeding is the ONLY thing I've ever succeeded at,(EVER!)and I got very little encouragement. Even today, I understate the amount of time I nursed in momcoversations because people think it's bizarre. (I know. I'm hanging around the wrong crowds.) Anyway, good luck to you, Amy. (The cyst-y thing blows. I'm dealing with it now.) Anything you do for your baby will be good enough. And, I envy you your lovely, vivid dreams.

Ana

Long-time lurker. First-time poster. I have enjoyed your blog for over a year now.

I would like to offer you some hope: many women can fully breastfeed from one breast. Some mothers of twins chose to feed this way (each baby gets his/her own boob).

I would also like to offer you some relief (I hope): in addition to the physical issues on your end that might've interfered with or prevented lactation, we are learning more and more in the world of lactation science (and yes, I am a Board Certified Lactation Consultant--stab me, choke me, shoot me if you will...) that children who eventually get recognized as having sensory disorders or "being on the spectrum" often had difficulty with breastfeeding as infants. By that I mean their own difficulties: refusing the breast, taking a long time (or never being able) to organize the ability to suck-swallow-breathe effectively, excessive tongue-thrust, you name it. Of course, when a mother/baby are experiencing these issues, it is not possible to know if it is a sign that that baby will also have sensory integration difficulties; in fact, it is something that can't even be "put out there" as a factor in the situation. However, in hindsight, I believe that many moms of kids with spectrum issues do feel some relief from knowing that their/their baby's difficulties with breastfeeding might've been due to "real" physical/physiological problems. It wasn't a case of not trying enough, or of supplementing too early, or any host of "should'ves and could'ves" that we often agonize over.

Finally, I would also like to offer you some assvice: Despite your bad experience, and apparently, that of just about everyone who has commented to this post, there *are* good lactation consultants out there who *do* know their stuff. Interviewing and selecting an LC who understands your history and goals *before* you have your baby can go a long way to avoiding the contradictory information/unrealistic expectations issues that often happen when mom sees different LCs (one at the hospital, one at the time of first concerns, one later in the game) with no ONE person having a "big picture" view of what has happened from Day 1. There is a protocol for evaluating babies when it is known that there is potential for problems (as with your aspirations, PCOS, previous breast surgeries, etc.). You probably have discovered the BFAR site (www.bfar.org) in your pokings on the internets about this topic. The basics for maximizing your breastfeeding experience are there. A worthy LC should be able to lay out a plan for you that you are comfortable with re: monitoring and intervening with supplementation if a concern arises.

I wish you the best as you work out your concerns with this issue.

Oh, one more thing. I would just like to remind everyone reading this how incredibly offensive and hurtful it feels to be called a "Nazi". Especially for a something that most of us who chose to go into this field do because we are genuinely interested in helping mothers and babies breastfeed. There is NO EXCUSE for bad care, but, truly, calling someone a Nazi (basically, a willing participant in mass murder) for being (too) passionate is uncalled for and also disrespectful to the millions of people who actually perished at the hands of the Nazis. I recognize that it usually isn't "meant" that way, but words are words and they have meaning and impact for a reason. Please think before you "speak".

cagey

As a breastfeeding blogger and advocate, I would like to echo the sentiment that using the word "Nazi" is indeed, over the line. I do my best to support mothers attempting to breastfeed, but I bend over backwards to NOT be judgmental about it. Cut us some slack here, folks.

That said, I would like to offer the positive that I have seen many, MANY instances where the 2nd attempt at breastfeeding went much better than the 1st. And even if it does not? Amy, I think that the 2nd time around you will just move on and say "meh. whatever" without all the hand-wringing. You will be having WAY too much fun squeezing your newborn and toddler to worry about much else. I am so excited for you and all the sweetness you are going to experience watching Noah gush over the baby. :-)

Danielle

Don't worry what others think. Don't worry if you can't breastfeed. Easier said than done, i know, because i had the most difficult time with my daughter too (ill spare you details) and all i did was CRY because it wasn't working and my kid was HUNGRY! If you decide to kick a lactation consultant's ass, let me know-I'll be your wing-girl. They pissed me off!

Jen

Oh, I recently had a cyst completely removed because the dang thing kept refilling after aspirating. And it started AFTER I stopped breastfeeding. Now, they're starting to pop up everywhere. That sucks, girl. And that doctor needs to get something of his own aspirated to see how he likes it. As for breastfeeding, do what makes you happy!

jodi

As someone who was unable to breastfeed AT ALL, b/c hey, I had the kid that refused to latch and the LC who told me not to pump b/c do not give this baby a bottle ever, it really is ok. I know you know that, intellectually, but still it hurts your heart, b/c you blame yourself for every stupid ear infection.
Yes, breast is best, but making sure your baby is fed is also really good too.
You know I love you.

Anne

I had no problems breastfeeding - I know - I'm super-lucky and very grateful. But the minute I went back to work that was it - milk suppply dried up in a day, literally one day, despite still feeding early morning and evening. I think your body can only do so much and going back to work and having two children did it for mine. You do what you can do, everyone else, lactation consultants included can piss right off.

Love this blog by the way!

~Steph

Hey, I've been greatly enjoying your blog for the last month or so...even have you as a favorite on mine. :)

Anyway, I want to *very gently* tell you to let it go. It's not your fault. Feel no more guilt over it. My oldest (now 6) had medical issues. Low birth weight, hypoglycemic, in the NICU, didn't have the energy to nurse. I pumped every meal for him (other than a few times in the hospital) for the first month or so. The first time I gave him formula (because I wasn't getting much of a supply from the ole Pump 'N Style) I felt like the worst mother in the world! Add to that that I had him by emergency c-section (and you're supposed to do everything possible to NOT have a c-section, at least according to the pre-birth classes we took) and I pretty much felt like a failure from the get-go. Not a good way to start.

But I came to realize that, really, the ONLY thing that matters is having a healthy baby! Our sons were just fine on formula. It didn't hurt them at all. We gave them their bottles with as much love as anyone nursing.

So, seriously, please, let go of the guilt. You did the best you could (so did I). The second time around is SO much easier (my youngest is 3); you're more confident and actually know what the heck you're doing. And you realize that those little details (like the fact I had to have another c-section) don't matter in the long run.

Take care!!

~Steph

Hey, I've been greatly enjoying your blog for the last month or so...even have you as a favorite on mine. :)

Anyway, I want to *very gently* tell you to let it go. It's not your fault. Feel no more guilt over it. My oldest (now 6) had medical issues. Low birth weight, hypoglycemic, in the NICU, didn't have the energy to nurse. I pumped every meal for him (other than a few times in the hospital) for the first month or so. The first time I gave him formula (because I wasn't getting much of a supply from the ole Pump 'N Style) I felt like the worst mother in the world! Add to that that I had him by emergency c-section (and you're supposed to do everything possible to NOT have a c-section, at least according to the pre-birth classes we took) and I pretty much felt like a failure from the get-go. Not a good way to start.

But I came to realize that, really, the ONLY thing that matters is having a healthy baby! Our sons were just fine on formula. It didn't hurt them at all. We gave them their bottles with as much love as anyone nursing.

So, seriously, please, let go of the guilt. You did the best you could (so did I). The second time around is SO much easier (my youngest is 3); you're more confident and actually know what the heck you're doing. And you realize that those little details (like the fact I had to have another c-section) don't matter in the long run.

Take care!!

Hollis

This post is really resonating with me. I have a ten month-old son and I've been breastfeeding him successfully since he was born. The nursing has gone fine, I have lots of milk and a huge (27 lbs.) healthy boy. I am now trying to start weaning him, and I was stunned and, frankly, indignant to find that my reference-type breastfeeding books have about a page on how to wean. And that page? Is mostly about how to withstand social pressure to wean. What am I, in junior high and worried that the other girls are going to make fun of me for feeding my kid from a cup? I can't believe that still, at this stage of the game, the expert advice is so patronizing.

My son has never been willing to take a bottle, and since I work part-time and often from home (I'm a graduate student with some teaching responsibilities), I've been mostly able to accommodate him and have not tried any kind of serious pumping routine. I am now able to leave him with someone for up to 7 or 8 hours (though this gets a little uncomfortable for me), but for the first 6 months, 3 hours was his frantic, screaming limit during the day. Which meant that I was totally tethered.
Anyhow, as I get ready to wean my enormous child, I feel this lovely glimmer of hope that I am about to get some nice parts of my body and my life back. It is a really big deal to have someone depend on you for ALL his food so that every decision you make has to be weighed against your baby's needs (Want to get your hair cut after class? That will be one hour of crying for the baby. Want to sleep til 8? That will be 2 hours of hunger for baby, 2 hours of fussy baby for husband. Etc.). And that's not even to mention the toll that breastfeeding takes on your body. I think some women love it, perhaps because of the oxytocin, and of course because there are really lovely parts of breastfeeding. But I also find that the more he's eating, the more tired I am. The faster and more desperately I get hungry. And, obviously, the quicker my breasts are to fill to the point of discomfort.

Which is all a long-winded way to say that I wish that the conversation about breastfeeding could be a little more sophisticated, a little more attuned to the realities of mothering in the industrialized world, a little more forgiving.

Amalah

Yes guys, no Nazi talk. It's pretty gross.

And I did have one wonderful LC and one terrible one, so I also get antsy when people start slamming the profession as a whole.

I mean, they've got it tough, since they're dealing with the most jumpy and sensitive people on the planet, so even stuff they say to be helpful can get twisted around in our minds. (For example! When Ana mentioned many women successfully feeding with just one breast, she obviously meant it as encouragement, but the back part of my brain was all, "Well fuck, why couldn't I? I suck! Wah!")

KimAZ

Absolutely give your bad self a break! Nursing has to work for baby AND mother. Not a damn thing wrong with formula, and I'm so sorry you were made to feel otherwise. Damn lactation Nazis!

Danielle

What's best for your family is best for your family, and no one outside your family gets to have input or judge your decisions. My husband and I are currently trying to conceive (and getting judged like crazy for it because we're both still in gradschool, but if we wait until we're both out and tenured and I'm well over 35, we'll get judged like crazy for that, too) and I worry that I won't be able to nurse well because of the reckless piercings of my youth. If I need to supplement with formula because it's what my baby needs to be healthy, then that's what will happen. It's not a matter of breastfeeders being harder-core or whatever. That's silly and elitist. Besides, as I understand it, some benefits of breastfeeding like resistance to allergies don't require that you breastfeed exclusively, just that you do it some. And if that's not in the cards for someone either, that's fine, too. Your choice to share your experience with breastfeeding via your blog is an offer of information for others who may be in a similar situation not an invitation for people who don't understand all the particulars of your experience to judge you.

KimAZ

Okay, sorry--shouldn't have said the Nazi part. I had both a good one and bad one, too. The good ones are lovely and helpful and don't mind breastmilk and tears leaking all over them simultaneously.

Ana

It's hard to do something when you might not even know it is a possibility...

Thanks for sticking up for my profession. I am not naive enough to think that there aren't more than a few bad lactation consultants, but there are also a lot of good ones (many more than bad ones, I hope!).

And despite the challenging beginnings, there are many moms who go on to breastfeed, even if it is not exclusively, or for the length of time they would've hoped, who would not have been able to do as much as they got to without the help of a lactation consultant.

Again, best of luck!

Diane

Gosh, Amy. Maybe you'll think twice next time before going and getting fibrocystic breast disease!

I'm so sorry you've had to endure the drive-by commenters. You did the best you could for Noah, and anyone who can't see that just needs to get over themselves already. And it wasn't just "the best YOU could." It was the best ANYONE could in that situation. Including the know-it-alls.

Some People Call Me Mom

I really - like really, really hope that this time around you have a better experience. Besides, boobs or bottle - nourishment is nourishment.

I had an over 10lb porker this last child and we were told we weren't going to get to take him home because of failure to thrive. They tried to imply that I wasn't "doing it right" (nursing). Fact is all my boy wanted to do was sleep. He hadn't dropped dramatically in weight and I believe that it's much easier for some people to blame a poor first time mommy for whatever is "wrong". These particular kind souls didn't have a clue that he was my 4th baby - once they knew that they backed off.

You work with what you got and to the pits filled with rancid similac with those who take issue.

(always remember to duct in a lactation war)

Yeah, I'll own it. I made an amazingly bad pun.

yet another from the legions of Amys

I joined the party here too late to know about the trouble you had before. So before you started the recap, I was rolling my eyes and saying, "Ugh! People give up too easily!" Then I kept reading and realized you are a super-mama for trying so hard. Sometimes my inner Lactivist rears her ugly head. Luckily my bigger, more powerful Nice, Understanding Person usually tells her to shut the hell up.

Jeanelle

That all sounds so familiar...well, not the gimp boob part - I blame our "failure" on my son, although my doctor did mention something about flat nipples...My son had something up with his suck, it wasn't consistent and it was terribly lazy, meanwhile I was fighting a losing battle with the pump. I was devastated and felt pretty worthless. I was looking into all kinds of options to up my supply and acquiring more Post-partum depression with each day when my lac consultant said something that I will remember forever..."you have to do what is right for you so that you can enjoy your baby."

We started formula the next day - I wasn't enjoying my son and I desperately wanted to, so I did.

He still has the lazy mouth issue, we found out that he doesn't bite/chew normally and that seems to have delayed his speech.

And at the remote chance you're still reading after that long comment - I had a dream once that I gave birth to a goldfish and had to breastfeed it. And do you know what I carried it in? One of those bags that fish come in at fairs, hung it around my neck. Analyze that, right!

Jen

Thank you for sharing this story. I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed my daughter for nearly 15 months but I know that many women are not that lucky. I'm very, very pro-breastfeeding so I applaud your desire to give your baby the very best despite what that butcher of a doctor did to you. I'm also very much in favor of doing whatever you know is best for your child so I think you pretty much rock all the way around. It doesn't matter if this little guy (yes, I'm guessing a boy) gets breastmilk or formula, he is one lucky baby. And I hope that someday that doctor needs to have one of his testicles aspirated.

ellie

I say you sue that bastard. And I'm 1 year away from being a doctor myself (3rd year med student), and we're not supposed to say stuff like that. But really, if the statute of limitations or whatever (i'm no law student) isn't over, you could justifiably sue that doctor's ass for ruining your boob.

Ellen

Maybe your dream isn't so much about breastfeeding as about your FEELINGS/CONFIDENCE about breastfeeding this time? Like even if it's not "just the way you want it to be" you'll feel better/more ok about it? So even if the reality is just the same as it was last time (as you suggest it could be) you'll feel more ok about it. Or not!

E.

8,000 people will be saying the same thing I am, but I just thought I'd throw in my two cents. People suck, they make you sad, and generally deserve to be pushed into piles of dog poo. That being said, I am sometimes amazed at how people feel that they are certified to judge another person based on their choices or medical necessity to choose one manner of birth or feeding or whatever.

I was bottle fed, and I turned out ok - a little weird maybe, but I got into the ivy league and I'm mostly normal. (My mother also had medical reasons although hers was related to an accidental needle stick at work and infectious disease scares).

Good luck, godspeed, and if all else fails, keep something in your diaper bag that you can throw at annoying people.

Backpacking Dad

"Oh my god! How could you not just breastfeed?? You're a terrible mother if you don't breastfeed!"

"Oh my god! How could you breastfeed? You're a terrible mother if you don't use formula (it has DHNRAXYZ for eyes, nose and attitude development!)"

Comments like these were the reason that after my daughter was born my wife and I just set her loose in the kitchen to cook her own meals. Or possibly eat dirt.

marlena

Even if your boobs are not mangled by a horrible doctor, you can still have major unevenness. In my circle we call it "meal boob, snack boob." There is always one that is WAY bigger and produces much more milk than the other one. And snack boob always dries up first. You can basically support a kid on meal boob.

Sabrina

Eye-opening post. Thanks for sharing your story. Good luck with nursing your second. Even a little bit is better than none.

Believe it or not, as a nursing mother, I get judged, too. I nursed my oldest for 18 months and am still nursing my almost 11 month old. People (usually women) always ask "Why don't you just give her a bottle?" or "Don't you want your body back?" or "Isn't she a bit old to be nursing?" or "How can you do anything for yourself?" or "Aren't you worried that your boobs will shrink and droop?" or "I was given formula and I turned out just fine."

Don't get me started on the looks I'd get when I would discreeting nurse my infant in public.

Even worse, my peditrician is so old-school that he thinks breastfeeding is weird and has been pushing me to offer formula. (Thanks, but you can Similac.)

I'm not a martyr or a "hippie" or "Nazi" -- I'm a just a mom who happens to be in a position (freelance writer, great milk supply) to breastfeed. I don't judge those who don't, can't, or won't. Everyone has to do what's best for them and for their baby.

We need to stop judging either. The so-called lactivists need to stop being so judgemental and the formula moms need to realize that they can come across as defensive, petty, and snippy. Breast is best but if you can't or won't, don't try to rewrite the truth or attack an entire profession.

Sorry for the long post but why can't we all just get along????

Sabrina

I accidentally deleted the "You can keep your dusty sample cans of" [Similac] from the above post.

Just didn't people struggling to figure out what sort of weird pun that was. I did mention I was a writer and all . . .

Cecily T

So, lots of people can commiserate on the not-being-able-to-breastfeed front. I usually don't post unless I have something different to say, and I'm happy (har har) to say that you can commiserate with me on the crooked rack problem, oh, and yeah, the projectile milk. I had no special issues pre-baby, but I did have crazy oversupply (my family referred to me as 'the dairy' for the first 3 months PP). My boobs were like bowling balls and my tiny little peanut of a baby (6 lbs, 5oz) didn't need all the milk I was making. I got a wicked case of mastitis right off on the right, and also, she almost gnawed my nipple off on the right side. Between the pumping and the LC that assured me that if we could just get the latch right, it wouldn't hurt and would actually heal while she was nursing, it took about 6 weeks to close up. THEN, little girl wanted nothing to do with the right side, like it was dog poo or something. Hence, I've got like a D on the left, and my right, at 9 months PP and 6 months since the last pumping session, is at most a small B.

Here's to weaning and maybe finding a bra that fits for me, and easy, low-stress BF'ing for you!

all things BD

I credit my awesome pediatrician for getting me through not being able to nurse my firstborn. She was all for breastfeeding, it was great for the baby, blah blah blah.

Then I had such problems and had to go on medication that precluded breastfeeding anyway, and she was all, here's some great formula, it's perfect for your baby, it will give her all the nutrition she needs.

No stress, no judgment, just move on and take care of your baby the only way you can. Loved it. Loved her.

Kelly

I didn't actually read all the previous comments, so I'm sure someone has said this already, but what the hey... Just do what you have to do to keep the kid healthy. It irks me so to hear people talk like formula is of the devil and you are less of a mother somehow for putting it down your child's throat.

I, too, tried breastfeeding my first son and it ended in him losing lots of weight. Once I started supplementing he just didn't want breast anymore. So he had it off and on for just 2 months. My second son was breastfed/formula supplemented for his first 2 months and has been straight formula since then. They both are perfect. And that's all that counts in the end.

kim

Your mileage may vary, of course, but my story may give a little hope. In 2001 I had breast reduction. 2.2 pounds of tissue removed in total, and my surgeon told me breastfeeding would not be possible. At that stage of my life I didn't expect to ever have kids so I didn't care.

When I had my first child in 2005 my supply was not so great. My son lost too much weight, blah blah blah. I took boatloads of fenugreek and blessed thistle and managed to breastfeed him for a year. We supplemented with formula as needed, and fortunately he never had trouble switching from boob to bottle. We weighed him every day for six months though and the stress of that took it's toll. All my self-esteem was tied up in whether he gained or not. Ugh. I was an idiot.

I had another child in 2007. She's now two weeks shy of her first birthday and it's been soooo much easier. I did a little fenugreek early on but I have not needed to supplement at all. And she's 25 pounds! Clearly, we had some rebuilding of the pathways going on.

At this point my son was down to nursing twice a day and didn't really care much about one of them. He weaned on his own by the time he was 13 months old. This girl is nursing 4 times a day and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

mallory

Ana: Thanks for the BFAR link--it led me to lowmilksupply.com, which is just what I needed right now! I currently have to supplement with formula, but am determined to get back to exclusive breastfeeding.

Heidi

I get it....I totally get where you are at. My story may be different from yours but when I was 21 I had a breast reduction, I know that my surgeon at the time explained to me about not being able to breastfeed, or at least the possibilities would be diminished greatly with my decision to have the reduction, but I guess I didn't really grasp the ramifications of what I was about to go thru. I now have 4 boys, 3 pregnancies (1 set of twins in the middle) and each and every time I had a baby (or 2)I always tried to breast feed and supplement. Of course, boobs being boobs, at the first opportunity it seems that my supply would diminish. And this was from an already extremely diminished supply (severed milk ducts suck). I think the worst reaction I have always faced was the comments from the lactation consultants I would always talk to, in hopes that I would somehow get a miracle cure. They always seemed to give me this look of pity, like they felt sorry for me that I couldn't feed my baby the right way. Sorta rambling here, but at any rate, I just want you to feel peace on whatever your choices are, whether they are your choice or not....I think that its a blessing to give our babies what we can. You are a wonderful mom, no matter what...the fact that you care so much about it shows. Your baby will thrive from that love.
Always
Heidi

Danielle

{enter long sigh here.}

Your baby will be fine. I promise. But you already know that.

Some people seem to love to get new mothers {who are hormonal anyway} so paranoid and worried about things that ultimately will just be fine anyway.

It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.

Formula is fabulous. You do what you can and what feels right and what keeps everyone happy. Everyone happy - key words. At the end of the day, everyone is okay.

Jezer

Know what? I haven't even read the comments, but I'ma gonna tell you my story. I realize you didn't ask, but here goes anyway:
I had breast surgery in 2001, with Absolutely No Guarantee that I would ever be able to breastfeed. So, when I was pregnant with Al, I had the exact same attitude about it that you do now--if it works, awesome, if it doesn't, FINE. I still went to a breastfeeding class and read some books and massaged the hell out of those babies during that last week of pregnancy (I had also read that breast stimulation helps bring on the labor...don't know if that's true, but I was a day early...anyway...). Know what? Breastfeeding really was easy for us. I think it's because I didn't put any pressure on myself or Al, and by golly, we actually liked the time together. So much so that he still has to rub my boobs to go to sleep at night. TMI? Oopsy.

No matter what, it will be just fine.

ali

Jeez Louise. Who was the asshat with the "just breastfeed" driveby? Don't they obsessively read your archives like we all do?

Or is that just me?

Whatever. They're an asshat.

donna

ah yes, the pressure, being told you're wrong even when you know something is not right.

There is always an exception to the rule, why would it be different with Breastfeeding.

And, yes, some people do dry up, despite baby being latched on ALL THE TIME; typically it's hormonal - but it happens. Yes.It.Does!

Kristen

Hey, I'm totally all for going straight to bottle. My sister never breastfed, I have friends who didn't, and if I ever have a kid, I won't, either. I wasn't breastfed! We're all okay.

Point being--if breastfeeding is important to you, do what you can and don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work.

It's all okay. That's the thing: as women, we have choices.

Good luck to you, Amy.

rmcl

Amy:

Sorry that you had to go through that. I had a breast reduction and thus similar issues with breastfeeding. Would you mind posting the name of the good doctor? I live in DC and also have cysts and would love to know.

Marilyn

Why are we (women, that is) so judgmental of one another? It's hard work being a mom, without having other women knocking your decisions at every turn. Your plan sounds fine to me, you know best what you need to do. And don't EVER feel guilty for doing what's best for your baby. I'll be standing here, on the sidelines, wishing you the best.

Kimmers

There's nothing worse than a truly traumatizing doctor's visit. I went through a lot of OB/GYNs in my late teens and early twenties trying to diagnose my awful periods. The most memorable doctor (my first) on my first visit to discuss the issue randomly decided that I had Endometriosis and tried to rush me into surgery THAT DAY (luckily I freaked out and refused to go, because as it turns out, no I do NOT have Endometriosis). Next visit, he made me drink countless bottles of water so I could have an ultrasound, and when I showed up for my appointment, miserable and ready to burst, I was made to wait for OVER AN HOUR because the technician was taking a long break. (They actually tried to turn me away altogether and reschedule, but I flat out refused.) Then when she finally deigned to see me, the technician was clearly annoyed and rushed the wole process. On my third visit, my doctor started loudly discussing my sexual history in the middle of the crowded waiting room. I walked out of the office and burst into tears, and then I thought, why am I even here? Where the hell is my breaking point? Needless to say, I never went back, and a few doctors later I've found one I am very comforable with. Looking back on this now I'm smacking myself in the forehead for staying with the first guy for so long!

Kira

You will give this baby your best, just as you do with Noah.
And it will be more than enough, but won't always feel like it. I, for one, would sooner bite off my own tongue than add to THAT burden. I've got enough to do, carrying mine.

Jill (CDJ)

Oh honey (the second time I've used this as an opening to a comment tonight, by the way)... I was where you are during my pregnancy last year and my experience breast feeding my first wasn't nearly as dramatic or traumatic. The Boy and I quickly and easily came to an agreement that my boob wasn't going to cut it, but boy did I feel guilty. That's probably why he has asthma right? I gave up too easily because I was tired and a wuss. But you know what? I became such a better mother after I stopped. He was fine. I was more than fine. I could sleep and think about things other than breast milk. And honest to god I have never felt better about a decision... until it came time for me to make the decision again. Then all the old questions came back. And I had to go into therapy, bro! Therapy to get my head to a place where it was OK for me to not breastfeed my child even after my first son is perfectly healthy and thriving in every way (except for the asthma, which is practially non existent these days). Even after my brother and I and just about everyone I know never breastfed a second of their lives. We fuck ourselves up trying to be perfect in someone/everyone else's eyes and all we can -- or should -- do is do what we KNOW is best for ourselves and our baby and our family. Because who knows better than us? Not some random bitchy La Leche commenter. Not some lactation consultant who has nothing better to do than play with other people's boobs all day long. The most important thing I learned from my therapist is that I have to learn to trust my instincts and have confidence in my decisions. And I know that's easier said than done -- believe me I know that (if self doubt was an Olympic event, I'd have a gold medal), but trust your instincts and as much as I hate to say this because I do so love your blog, don't ask the Internet about this anymore because it will only fuck with your head. You know what's best. No one else does. Be strong sister!

Jayme

I sincerely apologize for my "Nazi" comment. It really was insensitive (and thoughtless... especially coming from a 1/2 Jewish girl!). This particular subject just gets me waaayyy to riled up and my fingers are faster than my brain sometimes. I'm sure there are some very sensitive and insightful lac counselors, I just never had the privilege of meeting one. Best of luck to you Amy!

Jill

I can't wait for the day when no mom has to feel guilty for not breastfeeding. I breastfed both my kids and frankly it's kind of a bitch, and I think people should do whatever the hell they damn well please and not feel a whit of negative anything about it.

Ellen

I'm so afraid to say this because I don't want to piss off you or your loyal readers and I'm just a lurker. But just in case it might help, I will. I have a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old and for me, it has been SUPREMELY easier to breastfeed the second baby. And thank god for that - because boobs are easily portable and if I had to try to fix a bottle or remember to bring water and formula when we go out, I'm pretty sure I would go off the deep end. Just my experience, but I share nonetheless. There are a lot of people that call themselves lactation consultants that are not board certified. They are probably really helpful to the average, typical mom who is just having some run of the mill trouble getting started with the breastfeeding. Then there are also "Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consulatants" or IBCLC - these people are TRULY a cut above the rest. IF you were interested in talking with someone ahead of time, there is a fabulous woman, Pat Shelley at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, who has a lot of experience with the less common "boob ailments." I have a friend who has ONE milk duct in ONE breast and she breastfed her kid until he was a little over a year with Pat's help and advice. Oh, and since there was some a little mention of supplemements for low milk supply, it's been my experience that "More Milk Plus" works a lot better than fenugreek alone. More Milk Plus has fenugreek plus a couple other things.

formula feeder

First of all, I seriously felt rage when I read about your doctor doing that to you.
Second, thank you for writing this. I think that getting to tell our story really does help some of the guilt, no matter how unfounded, go away.
I still feel guilty sometimes for not being able to breastfeed my son, who is now 14 months old. He latched on perfectly, but it was me who had the problems. My milk didn't even begin to come in until day 5. In fact, I never really saw any colostrum. On the morning of day 5 we went for his well-baby check up, and he had lost over a pound and was severely jaundiced. There was still no evidence of milk at this point. The nurse gave us a bottle of formula at the hospital, and instructed us to give it to him immediately, before we even went down to have his blood drawn for the jaundice tests. I sat and bawled in the hospital while he gulped down that first bottle. I've always thought formula was a great alternative, but it wasn't what I wanted, and I felt so guilty that my son was obviously starving.
We went home, and he went straight under the lights for two days. He was only allowed out for 30 minutes every 3 hours. We had to feed, change, and cuddle him in that short time, so there wasn't alot of time to have him latch on, especially when there was no milk. See, right after we came home from his check-up, I got sick. I don't know if it was a stomach bug, or stress, or a combination of it all, but I couldn't stop throwing up every 30 minutes. I tried to pump in between, but it didn't really work. On the evening of the 5th day I could feel my milk coming in, but I think that I got so severely dehydrated that it immediately dried up. Nothing.
Anyway, I had finally gotten rid of the guilt until this past week. My sister-in-law just had a baby, and of course her milk came in within 2 days despite a c-section. The baby is nursing really well. Added to that, my MIL is a big nursing advocate, and made sure to let me know that breastfeeding can work if you just keep trying, and that the only reason my son slept so well from the beginning is because I bottle fed him. I think she wears the fact that she didn't get any sleep for 3 straight years as a badge of honor. I guess I am feeling a bit jealous. Not pretty.
We plan on trying for another baby soon, and I am feeling so conflicted. I really want to breastfeed this next time, but I also enjoyed the freedom that came with bottle feeding. I also have a hard time convincing myself that breast really is best when I have such a wonderful, healthy, intelligent son.

Christina

AMEN, sister! It took my little one 9 weeks to decide to latch on. 9 weeks of pupming and feeling like the worst mother ever because of all of the PRESSURE. Isn't the point for the kid to thrive. Formula, milk...just feed it.

Korie B.

A friend referred me to your website waaaaay back when you were going through the booby crisis of 2005.
My daughter was born right before your sweet Noah and she never once latched on. It didn't matter how many lactation consultants I hired, Baby G. didn't want anything to do with it. I felt rejected and unworthy and incompetent. And then I found you.
You are the champion of those who just can't run with the whole breastfeeding thing. I applaud you & worship you & thank you profusely for giving me back my self-esteem.
Three cheers for Amy!
And her gimp boob!

formula feeder

Wow my first comment was long. But I have one more thing to add! Looking back, I can see that I should have tried some kind of supplement to see if my milk would have come back after disappearing on me. But, I simply didn't think of it due to the 3 day puke fest that ensued, and making sure someone was awake around the clock to watch our son while he was under the lights.(so the light didn't get in his eyes)
Also, I am thinking of establishing a relationship with a lactation consultant before I have the baby next time. But, I am scared to death to admit to them that a part of me really wants to bottle feed. Advice?

kathryn

No medical problems here, but I partook of the same angst-filled pumping game before the supply just dried up at five months. I felt terrible at the time. Thank god we learn though, huh? Pregnant with #2, I plan on just letting her take the lead and supplementing with the formula from day #1. Thanks for this post; very valuable real-life perspective on this emotion laden issue. I noticed that some folks still couldn't help but dispense "advice" on how to "fix" yourself so that you can better nurse- I swear, for some women its a compulsion. I just wish we could all just accept that a woman will do what is BEST for her child, and that covers a whole range of feeding options!

midlife mommy

Promising to cut yourself some slack was the most important thing that you said. We received the "failure to thrive" diagnosis as well. Totally sucks, and I remember it like it was yesterday. All you can do is try. And then move on, whether it works or not. As you now know, in the big scheme of things, it's not that important.

Shannymar

I'm going to spare you any advice or "do whatever works best for you because I said so" comments and just tell you holy freaking COW my boobs almost hurt just listening to your story about the booby needle situation!

I hope that it will be easier this time, that would be awesome! You're brave for sticking to it as long as you did the first time!

Eliz

Amy, you are so entertaining! I read religiously, but I think I've only commented about oh, once.

OK, I didn't read through ALL the comments, but I know there are some questionable LC's out there (who are usually formula hating and insensitive). I'm a doula so I've heard tell of quite a few! I had a REALLY awful time with my first and bfing (bleeding nipples are never good...), but since I had such a hard time the first time, I knew how to handle the problem when it recurred the second time.

Just curious, but did anyone ever tell you that you could just nurse on the left, and totally ignore the right, or always go to the right side last every time?

PS I have two boys, 4 and 10 months, and I LOVE IT!!

Colleen

is it bad for me to feel kinda good to know that even the wonderful, lovely, successful Amalah had some serious BF'ing issues? made me feel so much more normal...thank you for sharing.
In case you, or anyone else cares to read, here are mine:
http://www.wineplz.com/tag/breastfeeding/

Dawn B

My boobs and heart ache when reading your post. And like the first commenter said, your last line is perfect. Because as long as your baby, as you already know..duhh.., is healthy that's all that matters.
I wanted to also say, I have a similar situation when it came to breastfeeding both kids. Well, at least similar in the respect that my body wouldn't allow me too. I still beat myself up over it and probably because for the fact that my second child was born with a severe heart defect and she could (and still) use that breastmilk more than I'll ever realize.
But, she and my son were mainly formula-fed and they are as happy as happy can be. And it's kind of ironic because our daughter would have had to be given formula for all the extra calories anyway. No amount of breastmilk would have been enough. The debate will forever continue with the "which is better? breastfeeding or formula". But, sometimes boobs don't cooperate. And that's okay. Because we parents have many many..MANY other future things to worry about when it comes to raising our kids. lol
PS- Oh gosh I hope you don't read about the heart defect thing and get worried. It's a rare condition and she's thriving no matter what. Just make sure you get a good scan of the heart and chances are things will be A-OK. ;)

Katie

JEEEZUSSSS BLOOOODY CHRIST, I'm sorry Amy, I am a big fan of yours, I think you are absolutely great, I lurk here every day and I remember all your posts, especially those concerning breast feeding as I am some months behind you with my first-born. And what I cannot stand and what REALLY PISSES me off is all this stupid, typical WOMAN talk, of the sort you despise (as you clearly state even in this very blog), yet you yourself sometimes, probably unknowingly(!) practice! For God's sake, ladies, CALLING OUT TO ALL OF YOU who have had a baby, PLEASE for the love of God, leave off! It is every woman's choice if she chooses to breastfeed or not. Let's not chastise any woman for any choice she happens to make in this department, pleeeasssseee. Why should it bother anyone if I'm breastfeeding or not?? Who's business is it apart from mine and perhaps my partner's? We all know it can be a difficult time, especially with the first child, let us please give women the privacy they deserve and not ask them pointless questions such as "Are you breastfeeding?". What good does it do you to gain this knowledge? How do you know if the woman on the receiving end actually wishes to take on a topic which could be an extremely sensitive topic for her? Kudos to you if you choose to breastfeed, kudos to you if you choose to bottlefeed. Let's not make a big hoorah of it either way. Good luck, by the way, Amy - you are an amazing mum and woman, love your writing!

elisa

What a horrible "doctor"!! My boobs wince in pain just thinking about it. I'm so mad at him! I don't even know what he looks like-I just know he sucks!

And, amen on doing fantastic through the problems. Isn't that what parenting is about after all? Go you!

Caleal

I... I'm seriously sick to my stomach over the description of the other doctor... tearing around in there... I think that even getting *something* out of that side is a feat... and if it does improve itself, great. And if it doesn't, great. The baby will still eat.

This time, I hope you smack any of those lactation specialists who give you shit RIGHT in the mouth.

Courtney

Oh, Amalah, thanks for this. My boob doctor told me to expect an unproductive right tittie due to the fibrocystic bidness all up in it (and all the subsequent aspirations). I have never known of another woman with this diagnosis, so now I feel less weird. Or, more accurately, like maybe I have a weird sister in D.C. Thanks for the kinship.

laura

You rock, Amalah.

And for the record, lactation consultants will tell ANY nursing mother, regardless of her situation, to stick it out with the nursing. LCs are well-meaning, of course, but they're not at all sympathetic to the suggestion of formula. Though I was never diagnosed with any specific breast problem, I had low supply issues with my right breast as well, and--like you--I tried everything to bolster the supply. In the end, in spite of my tears and the fact that I stunk of fenugreek (Did your armpits smell like a Chicken Korma?), I wound up having to supplement. And in the end, quite honestly, it wasn't that big a deal. I hoped that the supply would be greater with my second child, and though it was greater, it still wasn't enough. And so again, we had to supplement. And again, I cried, but not quite as much as I did the first time. Happily, both of my children LOVED nursing (my daughter weaned at 20 months, while my son weaned at age two)and never rejected the breast (once they stopped going hungry), despite the LCs' dire assertions that the bottles would result in "nipple confusion." Anyway, whatever happens, enjoy the baby and have faith in yourself. Best of luck.

Suzanne

Amy, no matter how you feed your baby, it will be fine.

I felt like an overwhelming failure when I had to quit at seven weeks. In the emergency room at Holy Cross Hospital, while waiting for the vascular surgeon to come down to see me and how bad my DVT was. With a baby who didn't have any other food, because when we were out, mama put him to the boob.

It was a reality check. You do what you can do, and that's all you can do. If it works out, great. If not, well, you tried.

rachel

can you sue that crappy doctor? i don't know anything about the statute of limitations, but it seems like if you weren't aware of the impact of his fuck-up until now, then you could do it. not that i know anything about law besides those two business law classes that i took...but anyways, just a thought.

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