Adventures in Breastfeeding -Wendy

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with Breastfeeding. This post is by a dear friend Wendy. Here’s what she had to share with us:

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My name is Wendy, wife to Adam, mother to Patton, this is my breastfeeding story.

I always get compliments on being a planner, I planned the conceiving of our son, planned my pregnancy, planned my leave, planned the delivery, and it was a given that I planned to breastfeed. Things don’t always go as planned though.

Patton entered this world in what I describe as a sitcom delivery.  Being a first time mom I think the hospital staff expected me to be barely dilated and not at all as far along as I was.  The nurses kept telling me I wasn’t ready to push and it wasn’t time.  When they finally checked my progress in triage the nurse literally yelled “She’s having a baby! NOW!”  From the time they checked me in to the time I was holding my son to my breast was 27 minutes.

Like every first time breast feeder I had no clue what I was doing.  You just put your boob in his mouth and he eats right?  It hurt.  God it hurt.  That is something you cannot prepare yourself for.  The Lactation Consultants came and visited, teaching us holds, and how to adjust his jaw, and tips for daddy.  They came several times a day for three days.  Every time describing what it feels like when your milk comes in, the heaviness, the tingling, the leaking.  All while still promising that I still had time, that my milk would come in, that my body would do what it was meant to do.  It didn’t.

At Patton’s first well baby check he hadn’t gained any weight back, in fact he was losing.  Rapidly.  I was so heartbroken but still kept thinking that my body would eventually start producing milk.  After his first appointment I went directly to the Lactation Consultant at Highline.  I got set up with medical grade pump, stacks of books, La Leche meeting information, a list of herbs and natural foods to try.  Producing breast milk became all I thought about.  I power pumped, pumped and nursed simultaneously, pumped then nursed, nursed then pumped.  Nothing.  The most milk I ever got was ONE OUNCE.

My day started with a plate of steel cut oats. Water.  Mother’s milk tea.  Fenugreek and fennel, more water, prayer and meditation. Then off to visit the Lactation Consultants.  Every day for almost my entire maternity leave.  I tried drinking a Guinness.  Nothing.  My son was described as being a lazy nurser.  He would fall asleep at the breast, whatever I would do, strip him, tickle him, put a cold rag on his face, he would still fall asleep.  At least someone was sleeping because it wasn’t me.

By this point we were going in for weigh ins every other day to see if maybe he had gained any weight.  At two and a half weeks old my son had gone from just under 8 pounds at birth to 6 pounds.  At the appointment where he weighed in at 6 pounds I was told by his Pediatrician that either we would supplement right that second or we would all be heading to Children’s Hospital.  Now I don’t know if she can legally say or do that and I don’t care to hear if she can legally say or do that.

I sat in the examing room with my tiny son laying across my lap, to small to even fit in his cloth diapers and thought “I don’t even care anymore, I have to feed my son and if his food comes from a can than so be it.”  I cried as his Pediatrician prepared the bottle for me and I cried as I put this artificial nipple in his mouth.  And then I cried even harder as his eyes opened and he sucked down those two ounces of formula.  It was the first time he had ever even looked fully awake while he ate.  I still cry thinking about it and I am crying as I write this.

Patton went from being a sleepy baby to being a fully alert and happy baby almost overnight.  We still kept trying to breastfeed for at least another month even though he wasn’t really getting any milk from me so a few days after I went back to work I returned that monstrosity of a pump, bought some super cute silicone bottles and owned it.

I am a formula feeder.  I am also a cloth diaperer.  Co-sleeper.  Avid reader.  Music lover.  Gardener.  Mother.  Wife.  Sister.  Breast feeding advocate.  I am all of these things.  And I nourish my child, mentally and physically.  Even though his milk came from a can.”


19 thoughts on “Adventures in Breastfeeding -Wendy

  1. I nursed Aaron for 3 months before surrendering to “the can”. He had gone from a happy healthy breast fed baby to a miserable cranky baby in a matter of a few days, and I had no idea what was going on! I felt as if I was failing him and he was rejecting me. I went to lc’s and went to see doctors as to why he would all of a sudden give up my milk! Why would he all of a sudden arch his back and scream every time I brought him to my breast? I broke down when I told my husband to go buy that first can of formula. I pumped and nursed as often as he would let me for a month! Finally I took a test and realized WTF?!? I was pregnant! Low and behold my milk had changed to colostrum already at 4 weeks pregnant and he was not into that at all! It took me weeks to turn over in my head that he was again happy and healthy and in turn, I was happy and healthy again!

  2. Wendy, you are clearly a good mother. It doesn’t always work the way we planned, and it’s always like a kick in the gut. Bless you for being open about your story. No one ever told me that breast feeding would take work, and it took the rug right the hell out from under me when my girl and I had troubles. This is another one of those facts that moms need to be more open about! Good on you for being proud of being able to feed your babe, no matter where his milk comes from!
    And Jill, thank you for providing a way for mamas to share their stories!

  3. Oh, I’m a teary mess over here. Very brave of you to share your story Wendy! Breastfeeding didn’t work out for me and my little one either. After multiple visits to a lactation consultant as well as visits to a chiropractor for my daughter in hopes of helping her to latch, I ended up succumbing to the pump. I pumped for a year and now at 17 months she takes soy formula in her bottle because she has lactose issues. I got plenty of flack for not nursing and also equally as much backlash about being “crazy” for pumping for so long. Now I’m hearing it over her “still” using a bottle twice a day…

    We mamas really need to support each other and stick together no matter what- pump, breast, formula, we are all just trying to do what’s best for our children. And a little support can really go a long way.

    Thanks again for posting this beautiful story.

  4. Sigh! Thank you so much for sharing this Wendy. I tried for 6 months to feed my second baby after feeding my first without a hitch for 15 months when she called it quits. Four months into formula feeding I’m still reeling from the disbelief that it was so hard. I used to judge women with bottles feeding their babies. I assumed they were uneducated or hadn’t tried hard enough. I’m so ashamed for being smug enough to have had these thoughts before experiencing difficulties myself. I hate bottle feeding and wish for nothing more than to be able to breastfeed my baby. Never again will I judge another mum feeding her baby and doing the best she possibly can. I really feel for you, your baby is lucky to have a mum like you. xx

  5. What an emotional experience! A discovery of selflessness comes with motherhood, and you, Wendy, are an amazing example of this.

  6. Same thing happend to me. I took my daughter in for her 2day exam and doc said she was dehydrated and needed to be hospitalized if doesn’t get better… I had to suppliment.. and that didn’t work. Felt like such a failure when doctor asked me is this your 1st child. Cried for days thinking I couldnt feed her enough I made her ill. Had to realize there’s nothing wrong w/bottle. Still hold her when I feed so it’s the same bond. . thanks for sharing.. I realize now after hearing a few similar stories I wasn’t the only one nor was I a failure. 😉 stay strong.

  7. Your story sounds very similar to mine with my first son. I never felt like my milk came in and my son was never satisfied after nursing. On our first night home I was determined not to supplement with formula like the nurses had talked me into in the hospital bc he wld not stop crying and he was losing weight. So I nursed him for hrs. Straight. And ended up giving him formula at 4am when he was still not satisfied and I was tired beyond tired. The next morning he threw up blood lots of lots of blood clots. We took him to the ER and the nurse asked to see my nipples. They were GONE! He sucked them off I’m not kidding all that was left was clear fatty bubbly tissue It looked so weird. I remember seeing stuff on his lips but thought it was peeling nursing lips. Nope it was my skin in off my nipple. So I was instructed to pump until I healed even tho I didn’t feel any pain. So I pumped and pumped and pumped and I never got more than a ounce. I ate oats, fenugreek (I smelled like syrup) I pumped ever 2 hrs 24/7. For 4months and I never got more than a ounce from both sides. I told myself that at least he was getting 1oz from me every 2 hrs.
    After 4m I sadly gave up.
    But I’ve had 2 more boys and I had no issues with my milk supply or breastfeeding them. So I just want to say it happens but it doesn’t mean it will be like that for all your babies. Just incase the first has deterred anyone from giving it a try again.
    And btw my nipples came back to normal after 10days.

    • Thanks for posting this. I am worried that the same thing will happen with my future children since I had trouble nursing my first. You’ve made me realize that I’m not doomed to have breastfeeding problems in the future.

  8. I got really emotional reading this. When Wendy talked about her baby’s eyes lighting made me think of the video when Salma Hayek breastfed that african baby and the little baby’s eyes lit up to getting nutrients. Wendy definitely isn’t a failure at all. She’s a strong mama that has the best intentions for her little one. xo

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I wish this story had been around when I had my son, Ryan. I had a similar experience with breastfeeding, but I gave in to formula a lot sooner. Before Ryan’s first appointment, I had began giving him formula. When he was just a few days old, I decided to give him a bottle. I felt INCREDIBLY guilty. My mother had breastfed myself and my brother and sister for 12 months exclusive, and there I was ready to give up after less than a week. The next morning, I called the lactation consultant who told me to follow a routine of breastfeeding Ryan, immediately pumping for 20 minutes while my husband gave him the previously pumped milk, and finishing with formula. All I did was feed Ryan…at least that’s how it felt. I was determined to do whatever I could to breastfeed my little boy. I tried the special foods and pumped until I was numb, but nothing worked. I went back to work 4 months after I delivered and quit breastfeeding shortly after. As a high school Special Education teacher, my time is very valuable. I spent my planning period and 20 minute lunches pumping. Most of the time, I got less than an ounce, which Ryan would finish in one gulp. I pumped in the nurse’s office. She was also a new mom who had trouble with breastfeeding too. Each day, I would show her how much I pumped and cry. It just wasn’t worth it. I breastfed for as long as I could. I attribute Ryan’s healthiness to my breastfeeding, even though it was minimal. He is rarely sick even when he is around people who have colds. I’m proud to say that my little boy turned 10 months old on Saturday and has made the transition to toddler formula.

  10. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing. As an adoptive mom who desperately tried to induce lactation- and pumps only 3 ounces a day for my little man- sometimes it feels weird to share my breastfeeding advocacy. So sorry your journey caused you so much pain. But thanks for sharing— you can’t always judge a mama by what she feeds her baby!

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. I am a humongous breastfeeding advocate. My son is five months old and I loved beret feeding him. He ate well, we both enjoyed the close contact and the breast could always calm him. Unfortunately, I got mastitis 3 times that lead to 3 breast abscesses that had to be surgically drained and packed daily. After my third abcess both my surgeon and obgyn strongly pressed me to stop breastfeeding because my health was suffering. Through many thoughts and prayers I decided that I would stop. I was heart broken. The hardest thing was when my son was hungry but cried for an hour because he didn’t want the bottle. It’s now been 3 weeks and Tyler takes the bottle with no complaint and we get as close as possible while feeding. I think that may help me more then him. For any others of you that have to stop breastfeeding remember that any amount of breastmilk helps your baby.

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