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It's like this, and like that....

I started this blog in an effort to track my experiences with pregnancy and beyond. Writing is therapeutic. Kind of like talking to myself without the people in WalMart thinking I'm crazy. If you find some entertainment in this along the way, then even better!

This is one woman's journey through unfathomable hunger, vivid sex dreams and a bulging belly...from conception to birth in 9 months or less...

Breastfeeding from the world of a 2 week old mother....

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Ok so here is the deal, the problem I see with breastfeeding is the complete lack of knowledge most of us have about it. Maybe not most of us, but at least me.

When I was pregnant I assumed of course, like many other women, that I would breastfeed with no issue. I never really put any thought into the pros and cons of breast over formula feeding, and admittedly even now I haven't done the research necessary to effectively comment on either method. However, I know the drill. I know the benefits of giving your baby the boobie juice, and why so many of us just blindly enter motherhood with the assumption that we'll be feeding our babes from the very body they were created and grown inside of. I attended a child birth class, which included 3 hours on breastfeeding and walked out of there thinking "obviously" and never thought any further.

And herein lies the problem. I, like many, assumed breastfeeding was a no brainer and I for one, was wrong. At least I was wrong for myself.

The thing is, I do not recall anyone at anytime ever telling me that I would need to have my child attached to my body for at LEAST 6 hours of every day, or in the case of my child closer to 9. I don't remember hearing about latching troubles, or the fact that those first few weeks would be excruciating while your nipples toughened up. I don't think anyone talked much to me about bleeding nipples, or rock hard breasts that shy away from the delicate shower spray. And I definitely know no one told me about the guilt, stress and fatigue 1 bad breastfeeding day would create.

Like I said, I went to 3 hours of breastfeeding class. I sat in a poorly lit community centre room, with photos circa 1967 spread across the walls of latched on chubby babies sucking happily from their mothers breast. Me, the hubs and 14 other sweaty soon to be families crammed into this room, to be enlightened about this thing they call breastfeeding. I listened to a hairy, crunchy woman excitedly detail every benefit of the boobie juice to us, while highlighting the bonding and loveyness that come from such an amazing time. I held a 4 ounce doll to my clothed breast, a doll who didn't move and didn't cry and didn't have a mind or insatiable hunger of her own, and practiced the different holds. I watched a video of 3 hour old babes bobbing their way over to their mothers breast and latching on like champs, just like that (I am now convinced they filmed 10,000 babies to get those 8 to do that so effortlessly, and just neglected to mention that part). I played a game in which we put a series of photos in order from start to finish, showing a successful feed. I got a pamphlet which showed me the holds again, and further reiterated why I am only a good mother if I feed from the breast.

That was all well and good. At 37 weeks pregnant, perhaps that was all I could handle, but the class was seriously misleading. What it didn't tell me was the challenge of getting a dopey newborn to open her mouth wide enough for me to shove my cantaloupe sized breast into it. It didn't talk too much about how to get a good latch, just briefly showed what one looked like...and that shit isn't easy my friends. They told me how if done properly, breastfeeding doesn't hurt, but they didn't tell me what to do when it hurt like someone was holding a hot fire poker against my nipple. They told me to buy nipple cream, in case my nipples cracked but they didn't tell me that by crack they may mean bleed so heavily it would cause my 5 day old baby to vomit green chunks (of partially digested blood, I later learned), and send us on a trip through the emergency room.

My point is this - those of us who choose and are able to feed from the breast need more than just support in the form of "it's good for your baby and your wallet", and more even than all the support we so desperately need to feed without ridicule in public. We need reality. We need lactation people at the hospital to come for a visit and show us what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. Not just burnt out nurses who handle babies like pot roasts, latch them for you and move on. We need to hear how hard it is in the beginning, and how absolutely devastating it will feel when things aren't going the way they are "supposed to". We need to hear that breastfeeding a baby is a serious time commitment, which lasts around the clock and sometimes seems like it will never end.

I am infinitely lucky to be supported by an AMAZING group of people - men and women, on Twitter and through this blog who have been there with me, at 3am, when I'm crying and screaming and needing help, but not everyone has that. I've got friends who have chosen to formula feed for various reasons, from convenience through to a sheer and painful inability to produce enough milk, and I'm not going to lie lately, I've been a little envious. I shouldn't be I know it's not an easy choice, but I've got milk and a kid who wants to non-stop eat, so to me I have less reason to consider formula. I know I can make the switch at any time I like, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered it. But I'm stubborn, and poor and I truly do believe in the benefits of breast milk.

I've committed to 6 months, and I'm learning that I'll need to take that 1 day at a time. It isn't easy, and it isn't always hard but when your breasts are aching, your baby is fighting you and you have not slept more than a total of 6 hours in the last 15 days, things just seem impossible. When your baby screams at you in hunger, but refuses to latch on and looks at your with desperation, it seems like you will surely go crazy before you reach 6 weeks, let alone 6 months. When you sit lonely in the dark, trying to rationalize with a 2 week old infant that if she eats she can sleep, and if she sleeps she will feel better, makes you question if the craziness started around 6 days.

So to all of you who have fought the breastfeeding battle and won, I commend you. You are my inspiration and I thank you for your support. I think you are super women who have come through this challenge and truly done something wonderful for your children. I had no idea how hard it was, NO idea. I really thought I'd just put her on the boob and away we'd go. I want it to be easy, but right now it's still a struggle. My stubborn nature will ensure I keep on keeping on, at least a little bit longer. And I hope I am able to join you on the other side of this insanity as a successful breast feeder.

That said, to those of you who have formula fed out of necessity or sanity sake, I respect and commend you as well. Because I, like Mandy am a fan of feeding babies. And I don't think formula is evil. My niece and my BFF's daughter were both fed formula and are both two of the raddest kids EVER. I know now more than ever how hard breast feeding is, and like I said, I'm one of the lucky ones that this works for. I cannot imagine where I'd be if I had inverted nipples or a low supply or any of the other many things that plague many a breast feeding wanna be. Actually, that's not true, I know where I'd be. I'd be locked up somewhere with padded walls, crying over my inadequacy and feeling like a horrible person. And not because I should, but just because that it was happens more times than not.

So that's my piece on breastfeeding, from a 2 week veteran. Hardly as profound as what The Feminist Breeder posted, which broke the internets and was reposted, tweeted and Facebooked linked an unprecedented amount of times. Nor is it as heartfelt, candid and lets face it cute as that of Miss Mandy, who really just wants us to feed our babies and stop arguing about it. It's not even as Switzerland as Jill from Baby Rabies response to the above two ladies. But it's real, and it's coming from a new mom who is reeling and overwhelmed by all the insanity of late. And I hope it helps the rest of you mommy's to be know that it is effing HARD and you will feel like quitting, but if you want to do it, and you have your own reasons for it, you can! And if you don't want to do it or you simply cannot, then don't. And do not spend 1 minute feeling guilty about it, because it really won't get you anywhere and us new mommies? We have enough guilt about everything else without adding to it.

(As an aside, as I wrote this post this morning there was a knock on my door. And the hubs came back up the stairs with a small case, 6 cans, of Enfamil. Which the post man delivered especially for me. No pressure though, cause at 4am when the nips be burning and the babe be crying, I won't be tempted to just give it a shot).

22 comments to Breastfeeding from the world of a 2 week old mother....:

Shell said...

It IS hard and it does hurt like hell at first. Hang in there, though. If you can get through this first part, it DOES become easier. Just not from the start.

Accustomed Chaos said...

Beautiful post! I formula fed my older 2 children for different reasons with full intent to bf - but couldnt. My third is now 14 months old and we are still breastfeeding. Your post resonates with me so much because I know exactly how that feels. Bfing is hard!

What I feel is worst is what you talked about - the education is just not there - there is no REAL talk about what actually happens, what can happen and that it can get better.

We should never feel guilty for what we have chosen for our kids either - you will get hate from the ppl who think formula is evil if that is your route for feeding or you will get hate from the ppl who think bfing is gross. All you can do is surround yourself with real people who will support what you are doing and to believe in yourself.

Sending you big virtual hugs - i understand!!

Devan @ Accustomed Chaos

Sarcastica said...

I remember thinking THE SAME THINGS. Have you tried pumping and bottle feeding breastmilk? It will help make your boobies feel better (relieve some of the amount you have lol) and allow you to pass off a feeding a day to your hubs or something :) maybe a night time feeding? Ya know?

That's what I did and it worked :) You could also pump off and mix a bottle of half breastmilk and half formula. There are TONS of options for ya hun!

You're doing an amazing job, and whatever you do you do! I'm for feeding babies too. Nolan went on formula at four months (long story) so I've done it both ways :)

~~Lina~~ said...

Follow your heart. It gets easier. I am breast feeding my soon to be 7month old daughter. It's going great. I stoped nursing my first daughter when she was 5-6months and i always wished I would have breastfed her longer.
It is HARD in the begining when you both have to learn how to do it. But once you, your baby and your body all get it together it will all work out for you.
Sending you a hug! Keep going, you are doing great mama!

Lori Kittelberg said...

Wow - I so could have written this three yrs ago. I still recall the frustration when my son would turn his head the wrong flippin' way (away from the nipple) when trying to latch. Funny at 1pm - not so much at 1am. You are dead on about the education issue. You're doing an awesome job Brandee.

Suzanne said...

I too was committed to 6 months and counted down every.single.second of it for the first 3 of them. It took us that long to FINALLY get the hang of breastfeeding (plus clear up a case of thrush I suffered through for two weeks before I realized what it was). And then I had the mysterious bleeding from my boobs that caused 2 emergency room visits because I thought the BABY was bleeding internally.

But now, at 12 full months, I am a testament to the fact that it can be done. Not only are we still nursing, but my baby has only take 1 bottle (still breastmilk) ever in his life. It helps that I learned to nurse in public, it helps that I have a whole network other nursing mamas, it helps that my baby is a fast and efficient eater, but mostly I just had to take it one day at a time. Which is just what you're doing. Stay strong mama! You're amazing!

Anonymous said...

Holla! Breastfeeding IS hard. I wrote a post about it too but mine wasn't as good as any of those you listed.

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog from a friend.
Awesome post.
I am a soon to be mother (come september) and I plan on breastfeeding, I have been told it is tricky, but I did not know half of the things you have posted about, and I am quite worried now.

Sounds like your doing a great job hanging in there. :)

Michelle Jeanette said...

When the nurses tell you, "if they are latched properly it shouldn't hurt"... BULLLL SHITTTTT. My baby latched properly from the start. (Yea, I was lucky).. and I wanted to pluck my eyes out every single time I fed him, because it hurt so bad. I'd be awake at 3 am just crying as I fed him, praying for the moment he let go and my nipple would be free. It took until he was about 4 weeks old for my nipples to "toughen" and now it doesn't hurt at all.

And, as your milk matures, and your baby gets a little older, she wont be on you for as long, my son is 6 weeks and it only takes about 10 minutes to feed him now, where as before, he was on each side for about 20-30 minutes at a time, EACH boob. ugh.

Hang in there..

dinslage said...

I can almost hear myself in this post. I had the hardest time getting started too, but once everything is worked out, it truly gets easier. I have been able to successfully breastfeed my daughter for a year.

It's amazing how much stuff everyone forgets to tell you when you're going to have a baby. I think the myth of "all babies do is eat, sleep, and poop" ranks right up there with "breastfeeding is easy"! Total lies!!! haha

Hang in there... you can do this!!

Bitsy Baby Photography said...

Found you on Mandy's blog whom I found on the UBP =) Loved this post, just feed them!! Stop by and see me at Bitsy Baby. ~~Rita

Netty Cakes said...

Oh hun, I'm with ya 100%, nobody tells you the truth about it, all you hear is how wonderful and great for bebe it is.


Emmie B said...

Mama, it is hard at times. This time around I'm just LAZY. After almost 7 months with Hudson,I figured even with twins it was a no-brainer. I hope it gets better and it will. I'll be on twitter at 3 AM for support when you need it.

Anonymous said...

Well said! I totally can relate. My baby (now 10 weeks) was a CONSTANT NURSER in the beginning. I'm talking about regular feedings that lasted over an hour. I didn't know if I could take it. So I took it one hour at a time. Now it works. Occasionally she'll get frustrated and I see glimpses of the beginning, the soreness, but they are few and far between.

BTW I had my husband hide the cans of formula so "generously" mailed to us. I'll donate them at some point, but for now they remain in an unknown place.

Anonymous said...

i could not agree more that breastfeeding activists exaggerate the good points and supposed ease of nursing! speaking as someone who also had a VERY rough start to breastfeeding (and wound up exclusively pumping for 8 months because my kid kept trying to bite my nipples off) i can honestly say that SO MUCH of what i read & was told regarding breastfeeding made it sound far, far easier than it really is.

the attitude seems to be, that if you're willing to do it, you CAN breastfeed. also that if you're doing it "right" it won't hurt. well, you, myself, mandy and the MANY readers who've commented on that post would beg to differ. in fact Poppy bit me so much and so frequently, i had chronic pain in both nipples the ENTIRE eight months i breastfed. the ONLY thing that made it better was weaning! did i do something "wrong"? no! i carefully followed the same advice as any other new mom. i just happened to have a kid with a snap-jaw reflex. and how can that be helped?

eh, i know this is a ramble. but it's just my way of saying i SO feel for you! you were led NOT to anticipate problems and here you are facing so many difficulties at every turn. i'm so sorry you're having such a hard time. i really do feel for you - and i for one NEVER underestimate how terribly hard nursing can be.

thinking of you! hang in there, mama! xoxoxo.

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is the first time I have read your blog, and I can sooo relate. My girl is 10 months old now and at the start, bfing SUCKED. I would have rather gone through labour again. She ate all.the.time. and slept while she did it. But after 4 weeks things got better. And better. And she still bf's now. And it is wonderful.

I did have to feed her formula for 2 days -- or rather the hubs did (I was in the hospital). And it was ok. She didn't really love it. But she went right back to bfing as soon as I was back. So what I am saying is that if things get really bad and you truly just need a break, use the Enfamil if you need to (of course if it is right for you).

Good luck, things will get better. I'm off to read your archives!


Anonymous said...

Today is the first time I have ventured into your blog land. Lovely Leah over at simplyfabulousnow.wordpress.com sent me your way. Your blog is fantastic and I absolutely adore your sense of humour. All the best.

Nikki said...

When I say I understand, I UNDERSTAND! No one told me, you might not make as much milk and will have to supplement. As naive as it sounds, I was still under the impression that if you had big boobs, you could make more milk. Boy, was I wrong! Love your blog and will be coming back!

Sheila said...

I'm right there with you! Mine will be two weeks tomorrow, and let me tell you, nursing is WAY harder than my mother made it look. I did get lactation consultants in the hospital, too. The first one woke me at 3 a.m., when I'd delivered 4 hours before, to explain that the baby wouldn't likely eat till midmorning. Uh, thanks for the urgent update! The second tried to latch the baby on about twice, told me I had flat nipples (they don't look flat to me!) and gave me a nipple shield. The third told me the shield would decrease my supply, but now that the baby was used to it, I would have a very hard time weaning him off it. Ugh. I'm still stuck with this shield, which is inconvenient and also seems to make it more painful.

I read your post to distract me from the OUCH OUCH HOLY CRAP KIDDO pain of latching on. He's doing it right, but it still hurts for the first minute or so. And that's now that we have the hang of it a bit better. The low point, I guess, was when he rooted and looked starving, then when I offered the breast, was all "NOOOO! Not the BREAST! Are you trying to POISON me, mother?" and tried to latch on my arm. Or would throw up his arms in front of his face and scratch my sore nipples.

Then there were engorgement (Oh My Gosh I Look Like a Porn Star But This Hurts), blocked ducts everywhere (felt like I was carrying around bags of marbles), and letdown at all the most inconvenient times. They always both let down together, so I have to nurse with a burp cloth on the other side or else the milk drips down and soaks the baby's outfit.

But things are already better -- the pain and the annoying shield are all that's left of my woes, pretty much -- and I hope they will continue to get better. They do say that the worst part is the first six weeks.

TheFeministBreeder said...

Oh, I so wish I could just send you all the posts from right after I had Jules and then you could see the detailed accounts of me wallowing deep in the pits of despair and then being pulled back up again by my lovely friends.

Remember how I said I was writing a love letter to you on my blog? Well, I really am. I'm not going to make you read through my old posts - instead, I'm giving you (and all new moms who read my post) the high lights so you can (hopefully) make a little sense of this madness.

(and I know you don't want to hear this but it absolutely has to be said - cesareans make for a much rougher start to the breastfeeding relationship. We cannot remove the birth experience from the equation because so many mothers don't understand how their births will affect this process, and the fact that they should seriously seek EXTRA EXTRA help after a rough birth. Babies born 100% naturally can actually crawl to the mother's breast and self-latch, providing a very good start to lactation. Scheduled cesareans mean your body didn't get the message that the baby was coming, and therefore didn't make the hormones that kick start the process as well. It all goes together and we've gotta talk about that too - especially how to recover and repair that.)

Breanna said...

I have the SAME exact feelings as you on breastfeeding...it will be 6 months on the 26th and it has NOT been an easy road. And I had no supply issues, no nipple issues, no medical issues but it was so overwhelming and time consuming and frustrating and when you are exhausted beyond belief it is MISERABLE. NO ONE ever told me how hard breast feeding is...EVER. Not in the clasess i took, not the women I talked too..not even friends. I wish I would have known, maybe I wouldn't have felt like such a crazy lady for not loving every second of breastfeeding and not getting the bonding feeling everyone told me so much about. Hang in there it really does get soooo much easier (about 8 weeks for me) and your baby will soon not nurse around the clock and you can feel like you can breathe again!

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