Monday, July 24, 2006

From Tupperware to Dried Up Raisins

I have to start by saying that with both of my children I was committed to nursing.

I mean COMMITTED.

C-O-M-M-I-T-T-E-D.


I planned to nurse each of them for at least a year.

When my first child was born, he nursed constantly and I'm not speaking metaphorically here. I'm talking about great four hour stretches of time that were consecutive, like six of them in a row, every day.

Despite his great latch and powerful suck, my milk did not come in for twelve days.

Twelve!


That is a very high number.


Particularly when I explain that for all 288
of those hours (TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT!!!), my husband and I had to work together to strap a complex little catheter thingy onto my (left and then right and then left and then right...) breast so that The Mayor would receive a slow drip of formula while he nursed, yet still nurse long enough to stimulate milk production.

I drank Fenugreek tea, I took Fenugreek supplements, consumed every form of "Mommy's Milk Enhancer," put cabbage leaves in my nursing bra, took hot showers that turned my uncooperative vessels into glowing red orbs and finally resorted to taking a prescription drug - one that has nothing to do with lactation, but had a side effect of stimulating breast milk.

Keep in mind that I did all of this for the twelve days immediately following -- giving birth -- for the first time -- to a TEN POUND child -- who passed THROUGH MY HOO HOO -- after THIRTY some odd hours of labor.

So I want things to be CLEAR between us...

I was, as I have mentioned, committed to nursing.


Once my milk finally did come in, I exclusively nursed The Mayor. I didn't give him formula.

Though he gained weight well, I never had great milk flow and always felt like I wasn't producing enough. When I went back to work and had to start pumping I pumped far more frequently than he would have nursed just to keep up with his needs. (Did I mention he started life at ten pounds? Ten pounds! Can you say "VORACIOUS APPETITE?")

When The Mayor was six months old, the vessels formerly known as "My Boobs," performing daily under the name "My Tupperware" at the time, announced that they were through, finished, kaput, DONE. My breast milk dried up completely. Just like that.

My Tupperware announced that they would hence forth be known as "The Raisinettes."

Wrinkled.

Dry.

As it turned out, I was already pregnant with Rooster Girl at the time so I decided to let it go. I knew that some women nursed while pregnant, but figured my body was trying to tell me something and that I would listen.
The Mayor drank formula from the age of six months to one year.

With Rooster, the milk came in relatively normally, but I never had a very strong supply. Again I had to fight to produce enough for her. I DID fight and I fed her breast milk exclusively for the first six months of her life.

And then...

MY MILK DRIED UP.


Period.

Same as before.

The End.

It was gone, just as it had been with The Mayor.

So Rooster Girl began drinking formula at six months of age just like her brother.

I know breast milk is better for the child, that it is easier (no packing or cleaning of bottles, etc.) and it's free. I know all of this.

Which is why I get awfully tired of being told so when women see me giving Rooster a bottle or hear that I use formula.

If I could still be nursing, I WOULD still be nursing.

What is important, and really meaningful, is that I am feeding my daughter. I am sustaining her life.

My boobs did not want to continue to participate no matter how much I smacked them around. Or threatened them. Or counted to three.

They were resolute. "Sorry. We are the artists FORMERLY known as Tupperware."


I wish women would all be kinder to one another on this subject recognizing that not all actions are choices and that no one needs any help feeling disappointed, guilty or more like a failure.

27 comments:

Mel said...

Holy mascarponing twinkie, yes!!!!
I tried to nurse both girls... got thrush with the firstborn and dried up before I could actually get back to it with her. Total time nursed? One month. With the second child, I had no problems nursing, but then one day the boobs, they just quit. Total time nursed? Two months.
In both cases I wept, felt bitter and inadequate and like a terrible mother.
And then one day a well-meaning lady tried to tell me I should be nursing, that formula did this thing and that thing that wasn't good for the baby.
I pretty much blew up on her, gave her my history, and told her that the next time she saw a young mom doing something that she, well-meaning lady, did not like, she should stick it in her own ear and shut up, because life is not cut-and-dried or black-and-white.
After that, I didn't feel nearly as bad anymore. Maybe it was confronting the judgmental person who was verbalizing the words that my inner Judge had been smacking me with, I don't know. But listen, we have very little control over the boobal destiny, so why beat ourselves (or others) up for it?
[/rant]

liberalbanana said...

Now I'm no mom, but I've read enough blogs written by mothers to know that looking down on someone who is bottle-feeding is TOTALLY unacceptable!!! It blows my mind that these other women think that it's somehow their business to state that you should be doing X, Y, and Z. Where do they get off? I don't know. But it's disturbing. If it bothers them that much, they should all just remember that even if they are such and such benefits to breastfeeding, not every woman can! So SHUT IT, Judgemental Mommies!

carmachu said...

Breast feeding is great for the kids. And cheaper to boot than formula.

However

Yeah, like I alluded to in the last comments, not ever child, nor every mother can or will breast.Some kids take to fish to water. Some kids dont(I remember my wife in breast feeding class after birth. Sarah was a duck to water, the baby next to her wouldnt no matter how hard the mother tried, poor mom).

Same with moms. While its great, some mom's are just like yourself: they CANT.

*shrug*

Here's a question for you joy: have you run into any, as we call them, "breast feeding nazis?"

My wife is friends with one. She still breast feed her kid up to the ages of 5+ and beyond.....these folks are SCARY....

Natsthename said...

Nursing isn't as easy or trouble-free as some women would lead you to believe. I knew a woman who was a leader in a La Leche group and who was very vocal about what was right for babies,etc. She used to irk me, since she deemed herself the baby expert and didn't take into consideration ANYTHING about the family situations or the mom's choice, or extenuating circumstances. It drove me nuts.

Each family must make their own decision and be willing to change their decisions due to circumstances without feeling they need to explain it to everyone.

That said, I love the previous commenter's term "boobal destiny." LOL. My destiny is sagging badly these days! ;)

carmachu said...

"So SHUT IT, Judgemental Mommies!"


So to recap, its bad to be judgemental, but your being judgemental about other folks being judgemental over breast feeding.

Yours is ok, theirs is not?


News flash, everyone is judgemental. Its just a matter of approach and tact.

blessedmomx3 said...

AMEN to Joy and Mel! I felt horrible for not being able to keep up with the supply for two babies. I did almost allll those things you said except cabbage leaves, but I read about it. I took the nasty supplements, drank liquids til I was drowning, took long warm showers, used compresses, everything. I even took a couple of prescriptions that were over $100 bucks a bottle.

Between the complications of preemies not being strong eaters, the body not kicking in sometimes when you give birth 6 weeks early, the high volume needed, and my "utter" exhaustion, I just couldn't do it. Didn't stop stupid women from telling me how easily it worked for them.

I kept up the charade for three months having to supplement with formula the entire time.

By the time they were four months old, I was pregnant AGAIN! I nursed him knowing that was what was best for him. That's pretty much an all day ordeal with a newborn and supplemented him, too. It was too hard to have him attached to my chest all day long while I was trying to chase after two 1 year olds. I don't even think I made it to 3 months. My goal with both was at least 6 months.

Oh well. All three children are healthy, bright, and vibrant. I don't think I should have felt so guilty about it. I've pretty much decided that if we're blessed enough to have four, I'm not going to nurse at all. Maybe just 6 weeks. See? I'm already guilting myself into it again.

Anyway, you both are obviously loving and nurturing mothers or it wouldn't bother you so much that you couldn't share that experience with your children for longer. People should understand it's not necessarily a selfish choice to use formula.

Sayre said...

My best friend wanted to breast feed because she "should" according to her MIL and husband. But she couldn't. Didn't even make it a week either time. I don't know if it was biological or the stress of dealing with those two... breastfeeding twits, but she went formula and everyone was happy - except the twits. Her kids are healthy and happy; she's healthy and happy - and THAT is what counts.

melissa b. said...

I am so aware that situations are different and people/biology/kids/families/support/living situations/etc. are all different.

I breastfed exclusively and had relatively little problems. I was also very young with uncomplicated pregnancies and a mother, aunt, and grandmother who all breastfed because we come from poor farming stock.

Point being, I had serious help on my side.

I hate that every last one of us has felt the insane pressures and dealt with the judgment of other women for all of our decisions and situations.

I HATE the loss of tact so many women feel when it comes to parenting. You are so dead on with this post, thank you!

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

I totally agree with you. I am all for breastfeeding for as long as you can. And you did!!! So that is a wonderful gift for your children. And you did it for six months each, which is a long time.

I nursed my son exclusively for six months and then continued until he was 13 mos. He was and is underweight. Like below the second percentile. i had a pediatrician tell me I made skim milk and that;s why my kid is skinny. So see, you can't win? People will judge you every which way.

You did great. Feel proud.

Amen on women being kinder!

Lisa

Nikki said...

I was able to breat feed Superbaby a grand total of two sessions. TWO.

I felt terrible. Like I had sone something while I was pregnant to make him unable to breast feed.

I have only had two ladies give me the breast milk lecture, they shut up when I told them he could have died from breast feeding.

I couldn't believe they did it because at the time Connor was still hooked up to his portible monitors and such.

I was sitting in the Dr's office with a book back filled with just his medical equipment and back up supplies and cords were coming out of his clothes, etc, and she started in on me.

Being me usual tactful self - I told her to shut the hell up.

In hindsight, I regret it, but I didn't need to be lecture to by someone 10 years younger and had buck teeth.

The other lady was actually quite nice. She asked me why I didn't breast feed, she didn't take the approach of why I should. SHE had tact.

I need to figure out where I can get some of that. LOL

Nah, never mind, life would be to boring LOL!

kevin said...

This has absolutely nothing to do with boobs or breast milk, but I recenlty added a Flickr thingy on my site because I was inspired by you.

Now if you could only inspire me to breastfeed, I might spend less on this gee-dee effing formula.

Irish Church Lady :) said...

I hear ya about breastfeeding troubles. Only mine had a happy ending. She was a C section and I lost alot of blood because my uterus tore and was borderline needing a transfusion, so I wasn't in great shape. Came home from the hospital exhausted, because it seems like they expect you to do so much at the hospital for your baby even though you have had a C section. Didn't get much help from the nurses with the b/f either. Got cracked and sore nipples ~ problem was poor latch. Was in excruciating pain. Developed a severe case of mastitis which wouldn't clear up with oral antibiotics so I ended up back in hospital for a week with her when she was 3 weeks old. Even my obstetrician wanted me to quit but he reluctantly admitted me. However my pediatrician was great and came to visit me everyday in hospital (he only came twice during that week). This time I knew I had to get serious about getting rest, my MIL and FIL came to stay and look after my 3 step kids. Sought help from La Leche league with the latch problem after that. It slowly got better. Never had a problem with milk shortage. I ended up b/f her for 3+ years because #1) I had such an awful childbirth and first few months with the mastitis I became very determined and once it worked no way I was going to stop that and more importantly #2) it was becoming pretty clear that she would be my first and only birth child so I wanted to prolong the baby phase as long as she wanted. So call me a breastfeeding nazi. There's always more to the story though than first appearances as you can see and I gotta respect that.

Good post! Had me laughing as always!

Blonde Vigilante said...

Tell those bitches to mind their own damned business. That's crap and even they know it.

Anyway, my mother wanted to breast feed me, but she was unable to for one reason or another. I'm now 25...I have a college degree and a great job. I live on my own and pay all of my own bills etc. Her not breastfeeding me had absolutely ZERO effect on my development.

floosen said...

FYI, the pediatrician down the street is an allergy specialist and he says babies get all the good stuff they need in 9 weeks, then all of the rest of the good stuff BM offers at 6 months. The rest of the time it's just nutrition. So you scored. Maybe the tupperware knew...

Love ya,

Fran
(a reforming judgemental mama--aren't we all? It's good meditation practice!)

Marie said...

My son wouldn't take to the boob. I pumped. I bled. I cried. I knew the hospital's lactation phone # by heart. They knew me. I hired an in-home lactation lady. I cried some more. My granola crunchy mother-in-law looked over my shoulder. I cried more and more. Repeat all this for a few weeks...

Then? I decided that my son needed a Mom who wasn't crying & obsessing about his lack of breast love. We stopped all that, and he survived and thrived on formula. It all works out in the end, no matter what you do...

Kevin Charnas said...

YEAH YOU ASSHOLES! LEAVE JESSICA ALONE! People can be so damn judgemental and they seldom, SELDOM have any idea of what they're talking about. If people would just wait to make any kind of remark until they had all, ALL the information and even then, there's no need to be so judgemental. It's no one's business anyway.

The EXACT thing happened to me Jessica, with Gomez and Wednesday! Can you believe it?

Marcie said...

With my first baby I breast fed for two weeks before developing the most excruciating blood blister like things on my nipples. I would cry right before she latched on, anticipating the pain. I finally gave up. I've since been told that that kind of pain was normal and got the feeling what they really meant to say was that I was a wimp who just needed to suck it up and stick with it. The day I quit breastfeeding was such a relief and I felt I could finally start enjoying my baby. She is a happy, healthy 12 year old. Can't tell she was bottle fed;)
I like it when Mothers give each other a break. We are all tough enough on ourselves.

Panda said...

Yes! YES! Same problems - no matter how much I tried I just couldnt produce enough for Spudly and he wasnt gaining enough weight. I still feel crap about it even though I'm doing half and half and he's thriving.

lildb said...

I applaud your words. nothing irks me more than judgy mcjudgepants bastards who run around wagging their fingers at everyone for not doing stuff the right way. as though there's only one way to do something right.

gah.

julia said...

I'm all for breastfeeding, but becoming a mother is stressful enough and if you can't do it, you can't do it. If you don't want to do it, you don't want to do it.

Just feed the child. That's all. Bottle, boob, whatever. It's food. Formula is not whiskey. You aren't giving your child lead paint chips by feeding them formula. You're feeding them. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure that 99.9% of them recommend feeding children. Just a hunch....

floosen said...

P.S. For those of you considering not trying the second time around (if you choose to have a second child), I have found it *much* easier to feed this time. It was so painful the first time and it's not this time. No pressure, but I was anticipating it being horrible again and it hasn't been.

Fran.

Mama C said...

The same thing happened to me. With Colby, we had a hard time with the latching on and all that. But, at 6 months, I just dried up. With Bennett, the latching was easier, but at only 5 months I dried up. I was so disappointed, and felt like less of a mommy. Then I realized that I still loved him, even if my body had betrayed me. If there's a next time, I'll do it again, but if it doesn't work, I won't feel too bad. Don't let those women make you feel bad!

Just telling it like it is said...

hahahahah...this made me laugh..raisons...soooo funny...I totally understand what you are saying...however some of us have the opposite happen to them...(cough) ummm I nursed my son for 6 months...he is now 11 yrs old (and a almost bigger than my 5'4 stature)and I still have some milk...I know crazy..believe me people he hasn't nursed in like 10 1/2 years...I go to the doctor..doctor what is wrong with me..we do test..your normal???

what the fugde?? and there you have it..my secret...I felt the need to share...

Your Aunt Nancy said...

I support breast-feeding as much as the next dame, but you weren't breastfed and I think you turned out damned good!

Dirty Butter said...

This whole la leche thing is such a hoot. When I decided to breast feed our daughter it was all but unheard of. It was such a hippy thing to do in those days, and the nurses were not overly enthused, but they obliged. I'm not sure there even were such things as breast pumps, but if there were, I never used one. Without any encouragement, I quit when she got her first tooth, and she had digestive problems for a long time after.

Nowadays, people get really offended if they think you're not pumping and feeding from your own body, as if it's any of their business!! Everybody knows that the baby is better off with mother's milk, if that's possible, but it's just not a stranger's place to butt in on this family decision IMVHO.

You tickle the daylights out of me. You can take the simplest bodily function and turn it into a full page post that is so hilarious!!



PS: I'd like for you, and your readers, to do me a big favor and check out my new post on our Yesterday's Memories blog, and help me out with a special request.

michele said...

I'm glad to see that you are getting so much support for your post. My first daughter ate all the time and I wasn't producing enough so I gave up after the first month. The second one had "failure to thrive" she actually grew a couple inches but gained no wait, the doctor made me give her formula.

When people talk about breast feeding being the only way, I point to two healthy daughters. One of them got near perfect attendance cert. from school.

I really can't stand the us vs. them dynamic this creates.

Theresa said...

Weird. My first (and only) born was also a ten-pound boy and my milk also took a loooong time to come on in, the door's open. I also used those catheter thingies to stimulate milk production. However, once my milk was trickling, I kept supplementing with formula. Nurse first, then formula. We went about 14 months that way. I wonder if I'd gone with straight breastmilk, if my boobs would have dried up earlier, too. I can also say the whole formula nazi thing freaked me out. I would hide my bottle feeding in the house and nurse him in public. Again. Weird.