Get off me you suckling little leech
As you may or may not have guessed, this post is about breastfeeding.
When trying to think of a topic for today, I was texting with my friend Mary. She suggested a post on breastfeeding, and I thought “why the hell not? It’s cheap, sustainable, and quality food. If I can include a joke about poop or farts, it meets all my posting criteria”!
Let me preface this post by saying it will be about my experiences only. It’s not a comprehensive “how to”, nor is it intended to be a health resource. Got those kinds of questions? Contact a lactation consultant or the Le Lache League. Also, this post will not boob slap you if you didn’t/couldn’t breastfeed. I’m not judging your choices. While the composition of breast milk is best for baby, a crying and depressed mom who feels like a failure each time they nurse their child is not best for mom. Or baby. Society places enough pressure on women and moms. The last thing we need is to feel bad about what we do with our breasts.
I nursed Jack until he was 2 years and 4 months old. I never intended for it to go that long, but that’s how it ended up working out for us. Our road to extended breastfeeding was long, exhausting, painful, and hard. The first thing I always tell new moms is that it is ok to hate breastfeeding. It seems so natural – you have a nipple, and your new little baby has a mouth. These things should just click and you should just be able to lay around and blissfully watch your child nurse.
Or, if you were in my shoes, it’s more like you would cry and want to throw up each and every time you realized that this screaming beast wanted to eat. And they ALWAYS want to eat. I birthed a child with a 99th percentile head without so much as a Tylenol, but I would beg for a boob epidural for over a month after Jack was born.
I am fairly convinced that my child was born with a full set of teeth. It felt like an angry piranha was trying to drain my will to live; one painful ounce at a time. I saw multiple lactation consultants, hounded the local Le Lache League and my doula incessantly, and all agreed that the latch was fine. The problem was that my kid had a suction so powerful that my boob was like a seagull in the path of a jet engine. A lactation consultant at the hospital put her finger in Jack’s mouth to test his latch. She went to remove it, and ended up dragging him to the other end of the bassinet because he refused to let go. He bruised her finger. My kid was a pit bull, and the world was his pork chop.
Each time I nursed in the first two and a half months, I thought “this is it. I’m done after this one”. I had given it my best shot, but I was sore, tired, and just done. Maybe I was too delirious to remember that I planned to quit, but that “last feeding” just didn’t come. One magical day around week nine, Jack latched on, and I realized I hadn’t gritted my teeth, my toes weren’t curled, and there was no desire to throw up in my mouth. “This is it”, I thought, “I’ve got it. We’re golden”!
And then life and God chose to humble me and Jack was diagnosed with a dairy allergy.
I had an oversupply issue from the start, and as a result had pumped 300 plus ounces in 13 shorts weeks. Like the good hoarding momma squirrel that I was, my freezer was stocked to the hilt! The dairy allergy meant all that milk had to be thrown out. And I was no longer allowed to eat dairy.
I cried. I yelled. I cursed. After a good pity party, and an hour of ugly crying, I found a very deserving new momma through my doula to donate it all to.
The next few months were a blur as all days with a new baby are. There was a case of mastitis, clogged ducts, and milk blisters that made me think that I would make a great POW. After all that pain, nothing could break me! Water boarding? Bitch, please. I’ve pumped at full volume until the blister popped and blood shot out of my boob. Put your thumb screws away sir and go home. You’re only getting my name and rank.
Eventually, things improved – they got less painful, and we hit our rhythm. Around 7 months, my supply tanked, but I fought it ever ounce of the way with Mother’s Milk Tea, oatmeal, fenugreek, etc.
Because I worked full time, I pumped in cars, closets, bathrooms, dark corners – anywhere I could get a moment of privacy. Jack had a voracious appetite and needed 20-25 ounces per day while I was at work. Combine all the early morning and multiple night-time nursing, and I felt like Jack was getting his needs served.
By 7 (ish) months, breastfeeding and pumping were just part of my life. It was no longer (too) stressful, nor was it painful any more (thank the lord). It was finally enjoyable. It took me over half of a year to get why moms did this for so long.
If you made it this far, chances are you’re:
a) a fellow momma
b) an anticipatory momma
c) working on being a momma
d) an incredibly supportive husband/dad
e) a pervert who entered the search “boobs and pork chops” in to Google
If b, c, or d motivated you to read all of this, I really hope you walk away with the idea that even if breastfeeding isn’t an “instant match” for you, that’s ok. You don’t have to love it. You may not be “good” at it. You may hate it. Or you may be a boob rockstar (like my lucky jerk sister). Whatever “role” you find yourself playing, please know that you aren’t alone. You aren’t a bad mom because you can’t get your kid to latch. This shit can be hard work. If you have any questions about experiences, I’m always willing to help if I can. Helping others avoid what I went through beings me great joy.
Feel free to shoot me an email anytime with questions about this. I’m an open book.
Perverts of course need not apply.
I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and really look forward to your posts. I’ve just been reading some of your older post, whilst avoiding doing my housework, and wanted to thank you for this breastfeeding post. I, agonisingly, fed my son for five weeks where I would cry during most feeds because it was so painful. Three lactation consultants, an OB and local doctor all couldn’t work out why. I wonder now if my little monster also had a very strong suck and whether that was our problem. Regardless, I do love having my boobs feel like they belong to me again and he is a very happy, bottle fed, four month old.
Thanks for not being a BF nazi and having such an inclusive blog.
Went through 4 months of hell with the first baby, never worked out. It was nice when his pediatrician informed me she “donated at least 40 oz EXTRA to the milk bank every week”. With the second baby, I was determined I would do this, and did for 19 months. Third, easier, even with a nurse who wanted to bring me a “nice, clean bottle” for her. Same nurse just happened to be a staph carrier, who gave the baby staff in both eyes. Antibiotic was measured in drops, and it only took two people to get drops in her eyes.
There should be something like a Golden Boob award for those who suffer for “the cause”. I think I would just settle for another diamond, a big one.
I had a hard time breastfeeding too. I eventually switched my son over to formula around 6mths…he was just being introduced to baby foods (and loved them) so I didn’t feel “bad” or “guilty.” Your post is a great read. I don’t think I have ever read anything that makes me smile, cringe,laugh and cry–all at the same time. Thanks for posting.
When my daughter was breastfeeding, the ped said there was no such thing as a dairy allergy to what I was eating. Funny how my going off dairy anyway fixed her problems! Sounds like they diagnose it a little more often these days. Glad to hear it. 🙂
Ugh, I’m sorry you had that experience! My ped was super supportive of the dairy allergy “theory”, even after the blood tests came back as negative. Pfft, that test didn’t know what it was talking about.
I loved this. 🙂 I breastfed my daughter until around 18 months. She is 3.5 now and I still miss it so much! We had a little trouble with her latching on right away, and she didn’t eat for very long periods of time it seemed, but we had a relatively easy time of it and I am SO grateful!!! As “easy” as it was, the first month was hell. Getting used to having a little person sucking on you all freaking day about drove me insane. But one day magically it was just normal and I loved it and things were great from then on. I know I am lucky in the fact that we had no real problems, and I really feel blessed that we could do it for as long as we did. I feel so much for women that have troubles. 🙁 I am glad you got it straightened out (eventually :)) and extended breastfeeding is awesome too. 🙂
I’m dying of blebs… Did you ever get those?? I can’t win. 7 weeks in. I’m working on my over supply and powerful letdown. How do I overcome freaking blebs?
What exactly are blebs? It sounds like how Cartman from South Park would said “boobs”. I’ll do my best to help, but have never heard of these!
lol “perverts that typed boob and porkchop…” i try to tell new moms all the time to just try breastfeeding and keep trying because for me it sucked(ha) at first but then we fell into a rhythm and it was smooth sailing for 13 months. Also for moms not to feel pressured, you can get advice all day long but it ultimately comes down to what works for you not your neighbor or her mom or the kid down the street.
Exactly! Spoken like someone who has been down the hard road, but came out the other side.