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

Meg

I think it's possible we were separated at birth. I have the same boob issues and had a very similar experience with a doctor who attempted to biopsy my lump without using an ultrasound. I'm literally scarred for life.

And breastfeeding. Oh breastfeeding. It was a horrible issue for me and I felt like I was failing my daughter and everyone was looking down on me and....looking back, I did what I could.

See? We're too much alike. You're awesome for realizing that you did the best for your kiddo and that's all you could do.

Jozet at Halushki

Here you go.

http://www.halushki.com/2006/09/lactivists-anonymous.html

Many smooches, Dearie.

Gry

Amy, not only should you cut yourself some slack, but I will too! Yay for both of us!

Btw, I'm making a prediction - you're having a girl! Do I get anything if I'm right? Will you get back to me in October?

NG

I love breastfeeding, I really do. I believe that "breast is best." (Do you like that? I just made that up.)

However, as mothers, it is our responsibility to do everything we can - use all resources at our disposal - to make sure our children grow and thrive as they should.

People who doggedly insist that you should be doing anything other than what you are doing without being in your shoes and/or considering the baby's best interest, need to be told where to go and how to get there.

I'll donate some rancid Similac if you'll let me throw a bottle.

Kristie

I have three kids; one I breastfed, two I bottle fed. Guess what? They are all three beautiful, genius (ok, well, that part's a stretch) happy, well-adjusted kids. I won't say "healthy" because ironically, the one I *did* breastfeed? Got cancer.

But my point to you is that in my opinion, do what is best for YOU and your entire family will be happiest. The heck with the opinion-pushers on either side.

Paula

Bravo! That's a healthy outlook on breastfeeding.

I recently had my 2nd child. I remember the crying, dissapointment with myself, and frustration over the pressure to breastfeed with my 1st child. This time I got a breast pump, a can of formula, and dug out my old nursing bras. Whatever she decided to do, I was ready. She is 3 weeks old today and thriving on a mix of bottle and breast (no latching; I had to pump it). I am sane, tearless, and happier this time around.

Again, Bravo to You!

TracyD

Wow. I am still holding my right boob in horror and pain. (Um, at work, so I hope no one approaches my desk for any reason...) I can not believe what that doctor did to you.

I am seven months pregnant with my second baby. I am cracking up at "GIVE SELF A BREAK FROM SELF; REMEMBER TO NOT LEAVE NEWBORN AT TARGET". Cutting myself a little slack this time around is my main goal. New moms can be so hard on themselves. Please try to take your own advice. Hopefully the internet will remind you of this advice when the hormones and the lack of sleep start getting to you....

Erin

I think the point were you were is the right place to be -- you know breastfeeding is best, you tried everything you could to do it successfully and if there were bona fide medical reasons it didn't work, then oh well. Giving up for selfish reasons because it was hard or uncomfortable or inconvenient, even when you know it's the very best thing, is inexcusable. But iving up because it's physically impossible ... well, what other choice was there? The kid had to eat! A combo is far better than no breastmilk at all, so hopefully it will come a little easier this time. Or not ... and that will be ok too.

vaiden

This is my standard response to the breastfeeding issue: Nobody polls the Harvard students at graduation to determine how many of them were breast-fed. By then (and really, by age 2) NOBODY CARES. Some women really need a hobby. Noah is awesome, I think we can all agree, so you do whatever with YOUR children that works for them, for you, and for your family.

Loth

Good for you. That's all I wanted to say!

Miss Britt

Extremists are never good. Even when their "lactivists".

Frema

First of all, can I just say it blows my mind that I'm actually able to contribute to conversations about babies? Kara will be four months old on the 17th, and seriously, it blows my mind.

Second, breastfeeding. Goodness gracious. I've been reading you for what feels like forever, and I felt so bad for you for all the boob struggles you went through. I didn't truly understand it until I was pregnant and then a mother myself, but oh, my heart went out to you. It was obvious to everyone you were doing a fantastic job.

I had high hopes for breastfeeding--read lots of books, chose a pediatrician who didn't seem like he'd encourage me to give up at the first sign of trouble, talked to my employer about a place to pump once I came back from maternity leave. And for the first few days of Kara's life, my 11-POUND DAUGHTER, OH MY GOD, nursed like a champ. The lactation consultant even said, "If everyone were as well prepared as you, I'd be out of a job."

Then, four days later, Kara's appetite increased ten-fold and my colostrum/transitional milk was not enough. She cried for six hours for something to eat and all I could do was offer my boobs, which were obviously not doing the trick, but all I could think of was The Experts who told me I'd be sabotaging breastfeeding forever if I gave her a bottle, especially this early on. By the time I came to my senses and allowed Luke to give her a half-ounce of formula, I was hysterical. It took me another six hours just to calm down and stop crying myself. It was awful.

We supplemented until she was five weeks old. Then it was formula all the way.

I have a lot of difficult feelings about that whole time. I'm mad at the consultants who, when I asked about pumping in the hospital, told me it wasn't necessary and that it would eventually "work out." I hate that I felt too embarrassed to keep asking for help, but having another woman smash your boob into your baby's mouth is a hard situation to keep going back to. And I feel so much pity for MYSELF, because damn, I was trying so hard, and it just wasn't working the way I thought it would.

For our next baby, I plan to try again, but like you, I'm going to go in to the situationw with the mindset of being kinder to myself and knowing no matter what happens, that baby will be fed and loved and receive the best I have to give, and it's OK if my version of "best" is different from someone else's.

Amalah, rock on with your bad self.

Manda

Ok, can I just say THANK YOU. I had supply issues when I was bf'ing too, and the lactation consultants made me feel like I was somehow abusing my child because I couldn't get enough milk to come out of my boobs. Well, I'm sorry, but pumping every 25 minutes followed by latching a kid every 15 minutes ALL DAY LONG doesn't work for me on a long term basis....
Sorry you had to deal with the same sort of nonsense...

I'll be a regular from now on. :)

Elaine

First, do give yourself a break. Parenting a toddler and an infant is hard (mine are 32 months and 6 months, right now).
But, you might be surprised with the breastfeeding. I have one breast that produces NO milk. Not a drop. First time around, I supplemented, went nuts with LCs, failure to thrvies, same thing you went through. It sucked. But you already know that.

But...second time - my one breast produces too much milk! It rocks. For the first 4 months or so, I pumped 12 ounces extra per day, until I finally ramped it down to produce the right amount of milk.

So, I tell you this only because sometimes good surprises happen. But if it doesn't happen to you? Formula is the reason babies in this country rarely starve. It's a good thing.

If you want to chat more, email me.

Sharon

Unfortunately, a more-open society (blogs, etc.) means people think they can open their mouths more. I don't think our mothers had to deal with non-relatives scorning their use of formula. The attitude was more, "If it's not your business, stay out of it." (In fact, my mom says formula was much more common, because people were skeeved to breastfeed in anything close to public.) It'd be nice if everyone who thought about making a comment on someone else's choices took a moment to think, "This person is not me and I might not know what's going on here." No one should have to write a long post explaining themselves -- especially when we find out you're holding out on great stories like office-peeing. :-)

Kirsty

Oh Amy, I know your (psychological) pain! I too felt a more or less total failure after my first daughter was born - first, she was born too early (8 months, tiny, weak, hypoglycemic, virtually comatose) and second my milk never came in. The Leche Ligue Nazis gave me hell about allowing the hospital staff to give Carla high-sugar content milk from a - aarrrgggghhh, horror - bottle. But I believe to this day it saved her life...The doctor said she was literally on the verge of a coma at one point. But I wouldn't give up the bf thing, so for a whole month (doesn't sound long, but I had to go back to work when Carla was 1 week old, so it felt like a lifetime to me) I pumped, drank ghastly herbal tea, ate lentils, ate fenugreek (bleurch)... Nothing. And then, because I couldn't stop crying at Carla's one month doctor's appointment, her doctor said "Just stop the breastfeeding, give her formula, she'll be fine, it's not the end of the world". And I did. And he was right. OK, the guilt, the feelings of failure were (are) still there, but oh, life became so much easier! Of course, here in France, breastfeeding is THE THING TO DO, so all around me I got the "but breast milk is so much better" cr*p, and then the "there's no such thing as milk that never comes in; you obviously didn't try hard enough" cr*p... But I survived. And when Lydie was born 2 years later, I half-heartedly tried to bf for a month (no pumping, no herbal tea, no fenugreek) but gave up quite willingly when it was obvious it just wasn't going to happen.
And the girls? Well, Carla was 6 at Christmas and is almost never ill, is the youngest in her class but with the best grades, she's bright and beautiful and perfect as far as I'm concerned.
Lydie will be 4 in 3 weeks and has been moved up a class at school (school starts young in France, but it's great, the kids love it and the routine is pretty cool and undemanding with loads of play time, rest time...) she's so bright, and she's just as beautiful and perfect, and even less prone to illness than her big sister.
So there. And the Leche Ligue can go f**k themselves as far as I'm concerned.
Do what you can and don't let other people make you feel guilty. Noah's a beautiful, perfect little boy - who needs to breastfeed? Great if you can, great, too, if you can't.
Good luck!

DimKnit

I say "do what works for you." Unless you're putting cigarettes out on your kids head. That doesn't work for anyone.

I am so tired of the judging. So tired. Most moms do the best they can with what they have. I worry about myself - my kids, my family. You don't want/can't breastfeed? OK. You think it's the best thing ever? Fine. IT DOESN'T MATTER!

I always said, "I'm going to do X until it doesn't make sense for us." And my boys are happy and healthy and (though I'm biased), pretty f*ing smart.

So do what makes sense for you. And good luck with it.

P.S. In my experience, the second was WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY easier. Totally freakin' awesome easy. I wish that for you, too! (And I think it's a girl.)

Elizabeth

You're some random woman out there on the internet with a funny website, and I wish I knew what to say to make this better.

Breastmilk does have some benefits that formula doesn't, but the main benefit is that it nourishes your baby and helps him grow, and formula totally does that. (And a lot of the other benefits are gained to some extent even with even partial breastfeeding.) You are a good mom for your babies. You want the best for them. But I hope you don't make yourself sick over this one. Noah is a happy and healthy little boy. You will do your best for your new baby, and that's all anyone can ask of you. Women who face even fewer obstacles than you have sometimes aren't able to breastfeed.

Dani

Our son was born premature and I pumped exclusively for about ten weeks. Let me tell you what having a child three months early and then not actually being able to bf does to your supply? Yeah it dries up. I too tried everything and was able to nurse for almost ten months. It was supplemented with formula and mostly because I had a ten week frozen supply built up and was double pumping literally twelve times a day.
Breastfeeding can be hard. And depending on the LC you get, you can have a great experience or a bitch that just tells you you're not trying hard enough.
Soldier on. Try your best and don't be disappointed if it doesn't go the way you want.

Kim

You know, in the age of people supposedly being all "it's your body. You can do with it as you will" there sure is quite a bit of garbage that women throw around at each other. I caught some just last night from a woman who was telling me that I need to nurse my kid until he is two or else all of the world's oil supply will dry up too and the carbon emissions will grow to epic proportions and the earth will melt and I will be the one responsible for it.

Sometimes, people need to just keep it.

The milk will come, or not. The world will not explode. You'll still be a great mom and you'll still be a source of deep encouragement to all of us. I'm so glad you're writing.

Declans mom

When my baby was born he was very close to 10 pounds and he never stopped crying. Finally one day about two weeks into it I gave him a bottle with 6 oz. and he drank the entire thing and slept all night. I thought, hey if I can give him a bottle and sleep all night or bf him and wake up every 2 hrs at night I am going to give him a bottle. He has been sleeping threw the night since he was 3 weeks old and is now 3 months old and weighs as much as a 6 month old. I don't feel guilty at all because I know that my body just can't produce the amount of food he needs and thats all there is to it. and anyone who tells me I am being lazy for not trying harder can just shuv it :)

Katie Kat

I personally never understood the HOLIER THAN THOU notion that one MUST breastfeed. Isn't the goal to FEED your child? If that isn't possible from your own body, then there are substitutes out there to help. I'm so sorry you had so much trouble and felt badly about it. In mah humble opinion, we all just do what we can to survive and keep our kiddos thriving.

I wasn't able to breastfeed B (my milk didn't even come in) because of surgery I'd had in the past (well, two, but who's counting?). I thought if my milk DID come in, I'd give it a try, but I was ready for bottles from day one. I wasn't offended when other Mom's nursed. I didn't lash out at them and call them "sexist" or "vulgar" for doing it in public. I didn't say "tsk, tsk, tsk." But when you DON'T breastfeed, it's like you are a monster with no conscience who doesn't care at all about her baby.

PEEPS IN DA WORLD -- CHILL THE FUCK OUT ON THIS ONE.

Do what you can. Be as comfortable and happy as YOU can and that will translate down to the bambino. If you can breastfeed this time, BRAVO! If you have to use bottles, then do! It's honestly not a sign of failure.

lizinsumner

Bless your boob-gimpy little heart! I only have one child - my son. When he was born, I had been working for 16 years at the company that I just hit my 30 year anniversary with. I knew that after the clock hit 8 weeks they'd demand my presence back at my desk. The day after my son was born, a "lactation nazi" woman showed up at my bedside, ostensibly to "teach" me to breastfeed. Jake (my son) was "latching-challenged", and my the end of the session, my nipples were bleeding. When the lactation nazi left, I asked my sister to run, not walk, to the nearest store that sold playtex nursers and buy them out for me. I never looked back. Jake was born at 7 lbs. 2 oz. and at his 2 week checkup he weighed almost 10 pounds - he ate ALL the time. The formula was expensive but at least I had a job to pay for it. He's 14 now and healthy as a horse and growing like a weed and still eating me out of house and home. So, please DO give yourself a break, and remember that there's SO much more to mothering than breast milk!! I'm behind you no matter which you end up with!

expatmum

God this takes me back. I had three kids in ten years and never managed to nurse any of them properly. I don't even have fibrous boobs. It was as if my body made these huge babies, struggled to get them out and then just gave up. Tears, guilt etc, but I eventually decided that I had really, really, tried. Can't really ask for more than that, and my kids are fine.

Janna

Gah, I hate all of this "you must breastfeed" business. I think what is best for the baby is to do what is least stressful for you, the Mommy. BTW- pumping sucks at work, it's embarrassing and no one understands that you can't just "put it off"- I was actually pumping as I read this. Good luck Amy, and do what works best for you!

Bethiclaus

I still remember emailing you about two weeks after Alliclaus was born because the breastfeeding. It was going so badly. And you were the only person I knew who hadn't told me how great it all was.

We've had Mimiclaus now and I can tell you that, for me, it's easier the second time around. Not because your supply will be better (mine isn't) or because your baby won't be gigantic this time (Mimiclaus is), but because you already know that formula isn't poison, that you may not be able to do it without supplementing and that your kids are great even with the formula combo.

Now I'm getting my comeuppance, though, for all the mean thoughts I had about the self-righteous breastfeeders. I thought they were all full of shit. But Mimiclaus really doesn't seem to want to drink from a bottle. Whatever.

Stacy

um, yeah...after reading that LC's (ana) comment, even though I've never been pregnant, I will make a big note to myself never to ever ever go to a Lactation Consultant. Shudder at the thought of getting a PC lecture while boob exposed. Also, Amy I'm sorry about your right breast, I truly don't think men understand the importance of women's breasts to their identities and motherhood in general.

Stacy

um, yeah...after reading that LC's (ana) comment, even though I've never been pregnant, I will make a big note to myself never to ever ever go to a Lactation Consultant. Shudder at the thought of getting a PC lecture while boob exposed. Also, Amy I'm sorry about your right breast, I truly don't think men understand the importance of women's breasts to their identities and motherhood in general.

Stacy

um, yeah...after reading that LC's (ana) comment, even though I've never been pregnant, I will make a big note to myself never to ever ever go to a Lactation Consultant. Shudder at the thought of getting a PC lecture while boob exposed. Also, Amy I'm sorry about your right breast, I truly don't think men understand the importance of women's breasts to their identities and motherhood in general.

lizneust

You know, the amazing thing is that stuff has been going on for decades. When I was born 40+ years ago, at the height of the hippie-back to nature-own your own goat for milk period, my Mom was committed to all things nature and Gaea. I was the first kid, and of course she was going to do natural childbirth. Except I was late. Really late. As in after three and half weeks pas the due date, her OB told her that if she didn't have the baby soon, he wasn't going to answer for viability. Because her cervix wasn't budging, they did a c-section. And she cried and cried, but realized a healthy (9 lb whopper) baby was better than nothing.

Then she tried to breast feed me. And tried and tried and tried. This is 1967, before the bottle was seen as evil outside of a few circles. And I failed to thrive. There are pictures of me at 3 weeks and I look skeletal. And she cried and cried. Finally she asked the pediatrician what women used to do if they didn't produce enough milk. And his answer was simple: they found a wet nurse, or the baby died. This was 1967, and yet we still have these same conversations.

Oh yeah, and I'm healthy, my grades were good, and my two brothers (also bottle fed) are damn geniuses, so there. There are so many things to berate yourself and others about. Loving your child the right way should not be one of them.

Nina

I kind of feel like throwing rancid Similac (or heart-shaped rocks! I'm a big fan of heart-shaped rocks!) at 1) that idiot ass-hat of a doctor who mutilated your boob. Seriously, can you sue him for malpractice? 2) anybody that gave you a hard time when Noah wouldn't take the boob anymore and 3) those stooopid lactation folks. I mean, breastfeeding is obviously great and all, but I think people get tunnel-vision. Seriously, anyone can see that you tried your very best (probably harder than you needed to, considering how hard you beat yourself up over it...agh, you poor thing...) and sometimes some women simply cannot breastfeed exclusively. That's just the way it is.

I hope that things are easier this time around...both with the boobs and the formula.

ambitious mrs

I think your plan sounds great. I think people put WAYYYYYY to much pressure on the breastfeeding issue. Obvioulsy Noah is a-okay.

Sils

Okay, so, I have a very, very "to each his own" attitude about most everything in life.

I was a formula baby, the only one right off the bat with my mother (everyone else was breastfed until she went back to work, apparently pumping was no so much an option in the 60's and 70's). I was allergic to breast milk. That's right. Let that sink in. I was allergic to the food that my mom was making me, and it made her feel like the poo.

I was a Similac Soy baby, and I'm fine.

Liz

You know what? Fuck the haters. I endured multiple surgeries and Clomid cycles and HSGs and finally IVF to have my very, very wanted baby. But I did not lactate. Maybe one ounce A DAY. TOTAL. Even after starting Domperidone I never got above 3 or 4 ounces a day. And I pumped ceaselessly for 6 months. So after crying so hard I was hoarse for about the first month of my baby's life (you know, instead of actually enjoying my hard-won motherhood), I cut myself a break. I didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes things don't work out the way we wish they would. The best we can do it figure out a way around the hiccup stop feeling guilty.

Mar

I love a catchy rhyme as much as the next person but "breast is best" has taken root and spawned a logical fallacy. People somehow have come to believe that because breast is best, not breast is somehow not just less than ideal, but harmful. Formula is a fine, good, excellent (even!) way to feed a baby. It's even a fine FIRST choice way to feed a baby. I feel terribly for the women who really want to breastfeed and can't, but there are plenty of excellent mothers who work just as hard to give their babies a happy healthy upbringing who simply don't like nursing, don't want to do it, and still manage to lovingly nourish their babies.

mama speak

Well now didn't you hit a nerve here.

I read this great article when I was BF'ing my 1st child, called good boob, bad boob. You will identify with it I have no doubt. I have a similar issue to you, my scar tissue is the result of a car accident when I was 3. Never really occured to me it would be an issue, cause I was 3! But when my left boob did what yours did I was so confused. WTF? I'm getting 10 oz on the rt side & at my very best 2 oz on my left. I'm also lop-sided, but it was all good. I had your current attitude from day 1 (actually related to my ability to sleep & therefore daddy's need to help me out) so I never stressed about it. It became more of an issue w/#2 as she couldn't have anything but mama due to a very severe case of reflux. But in the end it was fine & we were able to use pre-digested if we needed the back up. Both kids are growing and healthy and happy. And so is momama which, really is all that matters.

I'm glad you're feeling more confortable w/yourself and your babies. I'm so happy for you. It's going to be so good. Here's the link: http://www.hipmama.com/node/1978 You really should take a minute to read it, so funny and so fitting.

thora

I'm late in joining the Peanut Gallery - but I will tell you that my *not* flat nipples were labeled "flat" by the worthless RN at the hospital when I delivered my baby - and she didn't have time for me and my fervent desire to breast feed. I read the books, I knew the holds - but the baby hated my boobs.
Then the pediatrician said she didn't want Maddie drinking my milk because of the anticonvulsant I was on to prevent grand mal seizures. So I had a great out - but still felt a miserable failure because if you ask me if I breastfed? I'd say, "No, BECAUSE of the medicine." But the truth is I was already supplementing formula by day three and pumping milk for bottles; at least the machine got milk out of my tits.
Then the pediatrician said I could supplement one bottle of breast milk/day... I only had the wherewithal to pump for eight weeks - then my milk dried up; that was more difficult than I care to admit.

BUT NOW... I'm in nursing school and my damned undercover leleche league professor keeps insisting breast milk is ALWAYS best and doesn't concede that in some situations it's a) NOT and/or b) NOT POSSIBLE.

It's so ridiculous, this pressure to *be*.
Xx

Occidental Girl

I will join you in the pelting of the doctor's office with rancid Similac!

That makes me so mad that the doctor did that to you. And then you felt like it was your fault about not being able to nurse.

It's more guilt and crap heaped onto mothers who don't need it, who are working SO HARD and trying their best.

Let's throw some rotten tomatoes, too, and find that asshole's BMW in the parking lot while we're at it!

Gaby

Ok, this might be considered WAY off topic (and an excellent topic it is, Amy!), but I read through a good chunk of the comments and was struck by CecilyT's. When she mentioned having an overabundant milk supply, I remembered having read about the International Breast Milk Project. From an article on the Project, "It feeds infants whose mothers have HIV, which can be transmitted through breast milk, and those who live in areas where water is too dirty to mix with powdered formula."

The comments section isn't letting me post the link to that article, but I thought that if there were any women who read this post and thought, "Geez, I had the exact OPPOSITE problem!" or know others who have, perhaps they'd be interested in seeking out more information on this cause.

Amy, I hope you don't mind that I've presented a PSA on your blog, but when I read that comment, I felt a strong urge to spread the word.

jenn

Wow. This is an amazing post. I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now, and actually went through and read the archives to catch up.

My boobs hurt in sympathy. Seriously, where does that doctor live because I want to go and beat him.

katbliss

Our pediatrition gives away samples of formula... after a similar situation with my first, I stocked up on the freebies for my second. Lo and behold... nursing wasn't too great and I was so happy to have all that formula! Start stocking up now with those freebies. :)

Robyn

Second babies are SO MUCH FRICKIN EASIER!! I was so relaxed about everything - it was so great. Even though I was going through the same morning sickness, and the new high blood pressure drama, it was wonderful.

I was not able to breastfeed the first time around because NO MILK. I tried the fenugreek, the tea, the kneading, the pumping for 2 weeks while my baby hollered in hunger.

To this day I do not know what possesses people to pass judgement on you and make you feel like a bag of shit. Assholes, all of'em.

The second time around I had no reason to believe I would be any different, but I still gave it my best shot. I was really pissed off at one of the nurses though. I had gone through all of the pumping the first time around, and I remember how it came down to choices: Will I pump, or will I go to the bathroom? Will I pump, or will I eat? Will I pump, or will I sleep? I did not want to go through all of that agony again, and the nurse had the nerve to TELL ME WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO AFTER I TOLD HER I WAS NOT GOING TO DO IT. Can you believe that? Like I didn't know my boob from a hole in the ground, but she used a device that fed a tube with formula into the baby's mouth while she breastfed and it worked GREAT, therefore I would be doing it also even though I'm pretty sure I just heard myself say pretty clearly that I WASN'T INTERSTED. Like, I hadn't put any thought into it over the last 9 months!!

Phew. Glad to get that off my chest.

Ailis

OK, I don't even have kids yet but I'd say "go to hell" to anyone who tried to guilt trip me if I were in your situation, as the lactation folks did. Mothers clearly want to do what they think is best for their kid and it's usually best to have a happy mother. If you need to supplement, it's no one else's business. Hell, if you wanted to do all formula, that's your business too. I see all this judgmental stuff everyone on blogs and I hope that when I have a baby, I have the strength to listen to my heart and that of my husband...and tell others "thanks but no thanks" for their assvice.

Danielle

Yeah, I get that the single, emotionally stinted 19 year old doesn't really seem like the most likely candidate to know how you feel, but I kinda do. I'm desperately trying to get myself in line for a breast reduction (DDD's, baby!)and when I consulted with my plastic surgeon out of all his warnings about the proceedure there was only one that gave me pause.

It wasn't the horrific scarring that might never go away. It wasn't the decreased sensitivity in the, erm, you-knows. It wasn't the mind-rending pain post-op. It was the fact that I may never be able to breastfeed.

Yeowch. Currently I have no intention of ever giving birth, ever. But I'm not even 20 yet, so who knows? All I know is, I still want the reduction, and even without breastfeeding I know if I decide to have children I'll be just as good a mom with bottles as I would if I went au natural.

Meredith

Nursing my first baby was hell. And I tried it all, too. Pumping after each feeding. So much fenugreek that I could smell it coming out of my pores. The mommy guilt set in immediately because, seriously, why couldn't my body do one thing like it was supposed to?!
I cried constantly for two weeks, carting my newborn to the peditrician for weight checks and advice from the lactation nurse. Finally one day, the lactation nurse looked at me and said, "Formula is a billion dollar industry for a reason. It's good for your baby. Get over yourself and give this baby a bottle." And I did. And I nursed her successfully for nine more months.
The second baby? So much milk that I was constantly engorged. Oh how I love irony.

Erin

Nipple Confusion is my new favorite band name, if I ever form a band.

I am on boy #2 also and am with the previous poster on the whole "nursing is easier the second time around" thing. But I also think that I was more relaxed because I knew the formula supplements didn't kill my first kid, and I also had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the dueling lactation consultant-nursing staff situation. (Which is totally effed up - why is there no code in hospitals that these health professionals will back up the other ones, vs. leaving emotionally raw women open to conflicting advice regarding something that, clearly, based on the comments above, we all believe somehow defines our motherhood experience?)

In any case, I am now BF exclusively, vs. 50% formula last time. And you know what? I really preferred my husband doing half the feedings, but am now reluctant to cut back on the nursing because it feels like such a victory over last time. What an awesome reason - clearly we all have our own issues to work out on this topic!

Formula didn't seem to keep Noah from the pretty, and I doubt it will impact this next bambino either. Thanks for posting so honestly on so many charged topics swirling around the pregnancy-birth arena.

Andrea

And I was just wondering what it was I could do with the out-of-date formula sitting on my dining room table. It's that Next Step stuff for ages 9-24 months and it expires before my baby'll be 9 months. I could just send it to you to fling at people when they get high and mighty about your boobs, as if they're their boobs to critique.

I swear, people can be such asshats. Thank you for such an honest post. Maybe some poor mother who's a second or two away from crying in the ped's office waiting room will read this and realize there's no perfect way to do this, that the goal is a well fed baby. Sure breast is best, if it's possible. But there's no point browbeating women who have physical difficulties and are trying their hardest but still need to supplement with formula.

Or in my case, my boobs don't work AT ALL, so formula is IT, and I'm grateful to have an alternative to breast milk on the market so that my baby doesn't starve. Because I just don't think my three month old could tolerate the pizza I had last night. Something tells me feeding is a little more complicated than black and white and pepperoni.

Dawn

ABout the dreams...when I was preggo the first time, I had constant dreams that my baby would come of of the womb with a truck-driver vocabulary since mommy has a potty mouth and I was sure that she could hear (and would remember) everything I said, which was scary.

Brady

I've never been able to nurse. I have tried three times. It always ends up in a hysterical crying mess in which I hold a starving baby and wonder why I can't do something "everyone else can do". After I finally gave up, in both emotional and physical pain, and went to the store to buy formula a woman in line railed me for not nursing. I nearly balled in the check out line.
I hope you can nurse because you want to. But if you can't, your baby will be happy and healthy and will never know the difference. Best of Luck!

Muffy

Thank you for this post. I think its great that you put it out there how hard it is to make these choices for your child. How people who are well intentioned can still make the worst comments and they can still sting.

I will tell you that I had a hell of a time with my first with pumping, supplementing, and shields and whatnot. With my second, no issues. A complete breeze. Granted I didn't have any scarring but I struggled the entire time I nursed my first to keep up a supply and didn't even have to look at a pump the second time.

One thing to be prepared for, I didn't have this problem, but a friend did, is dealing with Noah while you try to feed the baby. Some kids get very jealous or needy.

Nursing may be easier this time for you because you're an old pro at this baby stuff and maybe a bit more relaxed but there is always another curve ball.

Lisa

Great entry...makes me sad. Sad that it's so easy for us to assume sometimes that what's "easy" or "right" for us HAS to be for everybody else too. And then we make pious, judgemental sounding "drive-by" offers of advice that only wound and cause more self-doubt or shame. Being a mother is the Olympics of self-doubting events, whether your child is 6 days old or 16, whether you breast or bottle feed, work/stay home...it't the hardest, best, as you say so well, most WORTH IT thing we can do and be. So sorry your experience has been so painful at times, and that others make it more so by thoughtlessly commenting. All the best to you, your boobs ( : and your...should I say TWO BOYS?

HeatherK

You'll figure it out. My second had issues and I wound up pumping exclusively and that was so not fun. The best thing I did this time around was rent one of those fancy medela baby weigh scales from a breastfeeding center, know how much the boy should be getting and finagle the rest on my own. My wish for you is that you will be able to enjoy feeding this babe more and worry less--however it goes.

Elisette

***SIGH*** Now every time you post a picture of yourself I'm going to be staring at your boobs trying to see the difference and you BROUGHT THAT ON YOURSELF.

First baby: 1 month nursing
Second baby: 7 months nursing

Good luck!

Rebecca

Seriously, cut yourself some slack. You tried your best, and he apparently is growing just fine -- he's obviously SO LOVED and so cared for, which is all that matters.

wwbd

I SOOOOO get it! I had a terrible bout of mastitis that resulted in scar tissue in both breasts (you can read about it here if you are terribly bored: http://anyaelizabeth.vox.com/library/post/great-expectations-part-2-breastfeeding.html
I don't really anticipate having another baby and part of that stems from my fear that I will have the same issues the second time and the at the scar tissue will only make everything worse.

Cut your self some slack! But I do hope that it's all smooth sailing on a ocean full of milk (or maybe a lake...fewer waves) with baby #2!

Good luck!

Reluctant Housewife

See? This makes me crazy. I don't understand why people have to make breastfeeding so political. Yes breastfeeding is good. Formula isn't horrible, though. Why do people feel they can shame women who are unable to breastfeed, or who have to supplement, or even who don't want to breastfeed. I wish they'd stop being so mcjudgy?

Good for you - whatever happens.

ellie

Elisette, why so insensitive? Do you want her to be self conscious about it?
I think we all have one bigger boob. My left one is kind of a gimp. And yet somehow has stretch marks on it, which is kind of a feat seeing as I'm a 32B, and always have been.

Haley-O

yeah, no pressure, Amalah! That's the way to go about it. Sorry bout your booooob! That whole thing sounds like it was painful and scary!!!

BD

Holy Cow. I hope that you really do remember to cut yourself some slack by the time that baby arrives. I did breastfeed my babies, but anyone that tries to guilt your sleep deprived self into thinking that formula is going to mess up your kid deserves NOT to be listened to.

Marnie

3 words: Do. What. Works. oh, 2 more: For. You.

I was fortunate to nurse exclusively for 6 months, but never got enough from pumping to help. We supplemented with formula for 2 more months. Then, it dried up. Just. like. that. Seriously, I never had any pain, it was just gone. My clue was that she started waking up in the middle of the night, screaming, and went straight for the boob. It took me 3 nights to figure out that she was starving, because she hadn't gotten enough from that last feeding. The first night we gave her formula, she slept through the night again, and I cried most of the night.

I also let her take naps on my chest until she was 6 months old; she rolled over early and started sleeping on her stomach even though I put her down every time on her back and I didn't (gasp) turn her back over in the middle of the night 'cause i think waking a sleeping baby should be a crime; I still make her PBJ's for dinner because she won't eat more than a bite of what we're having and I don't want her to starve; and so many other "I'm a horrible parent" things.

YOU are an awesome mom. And your kids will revel in your flexibility and "go with the flow"ness. Do. What. Works.

Stimey

Breastmilk does dry up. Mine did with my second child just before 6 months. I was nursing him just like I'd been, and he dropped two pounds. Everybody does their thing their own way. (Can't we all just get along?)

rebecca

i dunno, there are plenty of women who are dead sure of their baby's sex and end up wrong. baby name ideas for little boy / the girl you don't believe you're having? ;)

Denice

Nursing was just a nightmare for me too.

I had inverted nipples, and I didn't have enough milk for my 8 pound, 10.75 ounce newborn either. I tried EVERYTHING and still I could only dribble out an ounce out of each boob. So I would plaster my nipples with those stupid plastic nipple guards and make my screaming child nurse from me first before topping her up with a bottle after I went dry. Whenever she slept, I pumped instead of napping or getting anything done. I could sit there and pump for AN HOUR, and I would get half an ounce.

When she started sleeping through the night, I would set my alarm and get up a few times a night to pump, just to keep up my supply.

By the time she was three months old, I decided that this was STUPID! My baby just wanted to drink the bottle, my husband wanted to be able to feed her a bottle, and my stupid guilt was the only thing standing in the way of everyone's happiness - and a good night's sleep!

She's 14 months old now, and I have absolutely no regrets. If we have another baby, I will try breastfeeding again -- but if I don't have any luck I won't drag it out so long and I absolutely won't feel guilty!

Jamie AZ

Oh, I remember the bawling associated with trying to breastfeed my first son, too! I didn't have a breast disease nor massive scar tissue, but still he would not latch on at all. I tried the silicone breast sheild, which seemed to work, but I'd also been warned that if I used it too much, I'd inhibit my milk supply. Hogwash! It's too bad I listened to the 'expert' lactation consultant on that and not myself. In the end, I pumped and bottle fed for 8 weeks, until I just couldn't do it any longer. Baby boy number two latched on like a champ from the beginning. Such different babies! And such a different mommy - not quite so stressed about the whole breastfeeding thing and knowing that it will all turn out fine, whatever "fine" is. I'm glad you're in that same boat, Amalah!

Kate

As someone who read all about your pregnancy and breastfeeding last time, I can tell you that I never second guessed you about your ability to produce milk--I don't know jack shit about breast feeding, when you get right down to it. I just believed what you wrote.

But I can tell you that I never really understood so well what you were going through until just now. Great post.

On another note, you said that you would be staying home longer this time. It sort of read like you plan to go back to work; are you going back to an office job or did I read that wrong?

bellevelma

I find it sad that people care so much how we feed our children. I have to say, my son is in Kindergarten now and nobody ever asks me or him "How were you fed as an infant? Were you breast fed or bottle fed?" It's like your grades in elementary school, they don't matter so much. That's not what's getting you into college. There is no permanent record. The important thing is to feed the child, however you have to do it. And those who preach one way or the other because they know best... well, one day their children will grow up and they will come to realize nobody cares anymore. So do what you have to do and be at peace with it. Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise. By the way, your mention of fenugreek - oh that brought back memories...

Chantale

I have to say, milk DOES dry up. Even if you are still breastfeeding. I breastfed my son for 14.5 months, and then one day he freaked out. Screaming and crying, he pulled off the breast. He refused to latch again. There was no milk. I didn't change anything, but the milk was gone. So, it happens. He is now 22 months and has been taking toddler formula, and will continue until he is 2.

Lindz

I'm really sorry to read that post, lactation consultants are ..just man, determined, and yes,if you can breastfeed all power to you, but if you can't then the hell with it. I literally hate people who try to cram their beliefs down other peoples throats.
this time you will know, what is best for you and best for the baby. either way the baby will be fed!!

Dayna

I want to declare a National It Doesn't Matter if you Bottle or Breastfeed Day. Great if you can and want to, also fine if you don't.

I gave up 8 weeks in on Baby #1 because he was a stropping lad who ate, pooped, ate on an alarming whirlwind rotation and I was a zombie.

Babies #2 & #3 were premature twins so I pumped for 6 weeks, tried to get them to latch on in the NICU to no avail, thought that I could surely pump and then feed them bottles at home.. yes I can. But no, I couldn't.

Just had #4 4 months ago and she's a champion breastfeeder but I supplement too - when I'm at the stropping lad's baseball games, when I want a beer or two..

Just read that 1 in 5 babies under 1 suffer some form of abuse or neglect. Bottle feeding doesn't count. People who are interested in that discourse need to focus on something that matters.

Sarah

I think you've got a great plan. My cousin had very low supply (huge boobs, just like my mom, and both had very little actul milk). Her first breastfeeding experience was horrific, and her second was better, but not able to fully breastfeed. She's done a lot of work to come to terms with it (shes in public health, and is one of us perfectionist types), and her babies did great with a combo.

psumommy

Sigh.

I'm sorry you had so much trouble, such a terrible experience with the one LC, and OMG that doctor who mutilated your poor booby. I do wish you a much, MUCH better and more satisfying experience this time around, no matter what you choose or are able to do. Hugs, Amy.

Kimberly C

Very late to say: the person that said you should *just* breastfeed? I got all crazy and commented back to said person. And then you commented to them as well. And I was all worried that my internet best friend wouldn't like me anymore because I got all up in her business and should have just let her handle it. That said, My kid? totally rejected the left boobie, more from my idiocy than anything, probably, and now I have one big, one small. She still nurses from just one side, but she's only been doing that since starting food, really. The whole breastfeeding thing is tense, mostly because of the sensitivity of the participants- It totally sucks to think that YOU are at fault for something that is going on with your kid. Sorry that I wrote a novel in your comments.

Maddy

[off topic] I was checking your archives about speech delays and I just wanted to mention that although I learned sign language in England, now I'm in the States, it was difficult to adjust to American sign language - I think I just made it all the more confusing for them.
Best wishes

imagine community

That is such an incredible horror story, I'm feeling weak in my chair. I think I had a hysterosalpingogram from the same doctor, though.

I do hope breast and/or bottle feeding Number Two works out with less stress than with Noah. And I hope you continue having nice dreams.

An OB-GYN resident

While I wholeheartedly support a woman's right to feed her baby as she sees fit and applaud the healthy dialogue contained in these comments, I must point out an inconsistancy.

Several people have commented, "When they're five/ on the playground/ applying to college, it doesn't matter if they were breastfed."

Actually, it does. The benefits of breastfeeing last a lifetime. This is scientific fact. Children who are breatsfed tend to be slimmer, smarter, and healthier as a group. Are there exceptions? Yes. Can formula-fed chidlren be healthy, thin, smart, and happy? Of course. Should women be made to feel guilty for not breatsfeeding? Most definitely not.

But, please, ladies, don't pretend the benefits of breastfeeding are fleeting as that's an insult to science and the millions of women worldwide who go to the trouble of breastfeeding.

Good luck to you and your family!

An OB-GYN resident

While I wholeheartedly support a woman's right to feed her baby as she sees fit and applaud the healthy dialogue contained in these comments, I must point out an inconsistancy.

Several people have commented, "When they're five/ on the playground/ applying to college, it doesn't matter if they were breastfed."

Actually, it does. The benefits of breastfeeing last a lifetime. This is scientific fact. Children who are breatsfed tend to be slimmer, smarter, and healthier as a group. Are there exceptions? Yes. Can formula-fed chidlren be healthy, thin, smart, and happy? Of course. Should women be made to feel guilty for not breatsfeeding? Most definitely not.

But, please, ladies, don't pretend the benefits of breastfeeding are fleeting as that's an insult to science and the millions of women worldwide who go to the trouble of breastfeeding.

Good luck to you and your family!

Mary

I was lucky and didn't get much grief from friends/family when I stopped breastfeeding when my son was six months old.

My mother-in-law started to say something once (fucking hypocrite NEVER breastfed her two kids), but I told her "HEY! These aren't just two boobies out there flapping by themselves. They're attached to a real human being who has other stresses and things and places and stuff flying at a zillion miles an hour every day that have to be done, and dammit, the well has run dry! No more milk! Don't believe me? Come try to take a taste and see if you get anything out!"

She shut the hell up about it after that. Don't beat yourself up about it. My son was on formula at least part-time from day one and has turned out great.

Linda

There's nothing like the cry of a sweet, innocent, absolutely clueless baby to make a mother feel like a complete failure! I never dreamed of breast feeding when I was pregnant (dreaming requires sleep :/) but I did dream I left my daughter at Target. I think it was fueled by my first-time-pregnancy-geeIhavenocluewhatI'mdoing sleep deprived state. The joys of motherhood!

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