Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have to Be a Let Down

Did you know it is World Breastfeeding Month? So let’s talk about breastfeeding. And then let’s do a giveaway ;D

I weaned C in December 2012 when she was nine months old. At that time, I had been pumping almost exclusively for five months because my output was slow and she would get exasperated waiting for the milk she wanted ZOMG RIGHT THEN. I simply tolerated the pump. Pumping just was. It was part of my day, and since I was trying so hard to make a routine in my life with Wee Cee, I didn’t shorten or prolong any of my numerous daily sessions with it. Doing so would upset the precarious balance I had found, a balance I was afraid I’d topple if I even looked at my boobs the wrong way. They were a finicky duo.

The pump itself was small, but its size belied its prominence in my life. It droned when it was on and took up space on my coffee table when it was off. There were no breaks from it. When Cee was awake, I was doing God knows what with her. Feeding her bottles? I guess. Reading books and wondering if she was actually absorbing anything from them? Singing “Baby Beluga” 632 times a day so she’d stop crying? I think that’s what I did. Those days have bled together into a mishmash of tears co-mingled with joy. When she was asleep, I was hooked up, waiting for milk to drip into the little bags. I was lucky if I could get eight ounces from both sides combined in the span of 24 hours.

baby-formula

I have measured out my days in formula scoops.

The milk I expressed with that little pump only made up about 30% of the liquid she was getting. All the rest was supplemented with formula. Formula: it’s a wonderful concoction that I totally believe in, but I wanted to have enough breastmilk inside my freezer to feed 32 babies*, not a container of powder on top of the freezer. I knew that the first year was supposed to be hard, but I wanted something other than breastfeeding to be the thing that we struggled with. If breastfeeding could be easy, I’d (sort of) be OK with it if sleeping through the night or spitting up became our pet problem.

*When I first wrote that, it went, “I wanted to have enough breastmilk to feed 32 babies inside my freezer.” Lesson: proofread, but share the happy mistakes. Also, feed the 32 babies in your freezer.

So the pump busted at the end of December. I tried to fix it, but handilady I am not so we eventually chucked it and I took it as a sign from the ‘bove that breastfeeding was over for C and me. Here’s the part that absolutely kills me though: while I struggled with supply the entire time I breastfed C, never making enough for her to nurse entirely off breastmilk, the milk in my left boob just now dried up.

Just now.

Eight months later.

Come on, Universe. You’re not even funny.

On the first visit we ever took to the pediatrician after Cee was born, I knew her doctor was a keeper because she told me candidly that breastfeeding is not easy and that she has little patience for people who make it out to be an effortless act. Breastfeeding was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because I read my struggle as a sure sign that I was not equipped to be a mom. It wasn’t just my lack of supply that hit me when I was already down: it was the fact that only I could solve my problem and that I had to solve it right.then. Even flanked by a husband and a pediatrician who supported me, at the end of the day it was still just me pumping and hoping to God that my trial by fire with feeding my child was not emblematic of parenthood as a whole.

Sixteen months into her life, I am learning that it doesn’t get easier.

But that’s OK.

If it’s not breastfeeding, it’s something else that overwhelms me.

But that’s OK.

milk diariesI’m learning to take comfort in the fact that I’m not in a vacuum. Parenting is hard and getting food in your kid’s gullet is one of the biggest hurdles you may face, but you are not alone. We have all been there with you.

And now you’ve got Michael Jackson in your head. Sorry for that.

I recently read Milk Diaries, a collection of testimonial essays written by women who have also breastfed in one shape or another. In this volume edited by Maggie Singleton, (who has also written an excellent forward AND a great breastfeeding glossary to the book) I found candid stories by women who thought they knew what they were getting into when they were pregnant and still idealized breastfeeding but who, like me, faced their first big obstacle of parenthood when they brought their baby to their breast. No sugarcoating here, which I (and my doc) approve of.  The entire time I was reading it, I was thinking to myself that I wish I had had it by my side when I was pump pump pumping away. Would it have made the pinching of the pump hurt less? No. Would it have made my milk come in faster? HA. Reading it at that time, though, would have given me a bit of community. It would have made me know that though it doesn’t get easier, these challenges are nothing new and my worth as a parent is not measured in ounces of milk.

It’s not just you alone with your pump. It’s you and many, many other parents who have been where you are.

Because Maggie is awesome and committed to helping mothers through their own journeys with breastfeeding, she has generously agreed to give away a copy of Milk Diaries! The winner will have their choice of an ebook or hard copy. You have until Saturday, August 12 at midnight EST to enter the giveaway. This book makes a wonderful gift for new or expectant moms, so I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself or someone special in your life.

Click here to enter the Milk Diaries giveaway! By tweeting about the giveaway, you can enter DAILY until the giveaway closes.

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77 comments

  1. Everyone made it sound like it was going to be the most amazingly easy thing to do. Everyone made it sound like it was an obscenely taboo thing to do in public. Everyone made me feel like I had to go hide to feed my son, even in my HOUSE. And because he ate like he hadn’t eaten in years (he added 1.5 lbs in 2 weeks because he was eating so much – we never saw 9lbs, just went straight to the 10s), well, I gave up too early. I wish people didn’t say it was a piece of cake and it doesn’t hurt and that pumping is immensely difficult.
    Thanks for your candid words – hopefully people UNDERSTAND that though it’s natural, it’s not easy or pain-free.

    1. Kristin, your story sounds like one just out of the book! It would help if more moms got the “sugar free” story about breastfeeding. And I hear you with hiding… my hubs (trying to be nice and thoughtful?) closed all the blinds in the house so I wouldn’t be embarrassed. Um, hello, I just gave birth. Not much modesty left. I have heard a lot of moms say they would have tried harder/longer if they had read it. I’ve also heard a lot of moms, like Emily, say they feel a lot more validated after having read they weren’t the only ones who struggled. Your last sentence hit the nail on the head.

      1. I will be purchasing a copy of this book for my sister, who is less than 2 weeks out from her due date. I’m hoping this will help her through the beginning.
        I was less than shy about it – I nursed with my sisters and mom in the room with no problem, but we were living with my in-laws when my son was born and was told (in the roundabout way) that they weren’t comfortable with me nursing AT ALL – regardless of the fact that I was doing it in my room in the back of the house with the door closed. And if I dared nurse in the room with them (with a cover on), they usually left to “give me some privacy.” Next time: nursing whenever, wherever, and without shame. And hopefully for longer than 7 weeks.

        1. Wow! And I thought my dad was bad for wanting me to go in the other room. Thankfully my in-laws were totally cool about it and realized early on that if they wanted to see their first granddaughter when she wasn’t crying, they had better get used to me nursing in front of them. Congrats to your sister! Sure hope it helps her in some way.

    2. It certainly isn’t. I’m glad some people have had little or no trouble with it, but their experience certainly isn’t universal.

  2. I never understood why people would tell me that breastfeeding was easy because it was nature’s way of feeding a baby. I struggled with my first two during the early months. Squish got the hang of it immediately and it was pain-free, but my supply dropped off at 6 months. I was able to nurse each baby for two years, and I’m grateful, but I’d never tell ANYONE that it’s an easy process.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Thankfully I had talked to enough moms ahead of time to know it wasn’t going to be a cake walk; but I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you for nursing (or motherhood in general)! I’m glad you were able to make it work for you and your babies!

    2. Yeah, last I checked, nature is not perfect. Ask all the people who lived in Pompeii.

  3. My mom has told me the story of her attempts to breastfeed me countless times–she just couldn’t do it. She wanted to, and she tried, but it just wouldn’t happen. I think I turned out okay, so it’s not the end of the world. The stigma that you’re a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed is so dumb.

    1. My mom had a hard time figuring it all out, too, but finally “got it” by the time I came along (that’s the benefit to being the third kid I guess). One of the supposed perks of nursing is how healthy your baby will be, and I have to say that mine really have been healthy so far. That being said, my mom nursed me and I was like a walking ear infection the first three years of life. So who knows. Breastfeeding is certainly worth trying; but I agree that it’s too bad that moms are made out to feel like failures if it doesn’t work out. Hopefully Milk Diaries can help some moms make it work!

    2. I’d say you turned out pretty dang well! From all accounts, your mama was an incredible person too.

  4. Louise Allan · · Reply

    Congrats for sticking with breastfeeding for so long. I don’t know how you managed with all that hoo-ha for all those months. You’ve given your daughter a huge head start in life. Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it and I take my hat off to you. You’re going to hate me for saying this, but I am one of those mothers for whom breastfeeding did come quite naturally, eventually. At first, it was painful and I got mastitis, but that settled after about three weeks and second time around, it was much easier.

    The bottom line is, yes, breastfeeding is how nature intended it. Persist with it for as long as you can, but if you’re really struggling, don’t do it. It’s more important for your baby’s health to have a happy mother rather than one who is struggling to make enough milk to survive or one who is feeling guilty for formula-feeding. As you say, there are plenty of other hurdles to battle in this mothering business — we do need to go easy on ourselves from time-to-time!

    1. Exactly! I was fortunate to nurse my kiddos too, but breastfeeding didn’t come without its struggles (although I felt a bit puny complaining about my struggles after reading some of the other moms’ stories). I think your mental and emotional state as a mom is SOOO important… certainly more important than guilting yourself into doing something that’s not working. Hopefully Milk Diaries can help some moms make breastfeeding work (or work better); but more importantly, I hope it helps moms know they aren’t alone.

    2. I totally agree! When I was feeling bad about “weaning” her (if you can call “weaning” just stopping something she wasn’t interested in AT ALL), it was very consoling to me that through giving up the pump, I was making myself 1000% more emotionally available to her. I became a happier person, and I know she benefitted from it because babies are so in-tune with their parents’ overall demeanor.

  5. Seventeen years ago, I went through the hell that is being a mother who can’t breastfeed. My son and I were a lousy duo. He would fall asleep nursing; I didn’t have enough milk. I was supplementing within a month, because the pediatrician (who we had interviewed before) turned into a monster because my baby “wasn’t thriving.” He had lost weight and I felt like a failure. My sister, who was a cow (not in the fat sense), kept encouraging me to do this, do that. She even made me feed him in a restaurant, which I simply hated doing. I KNOW it’s supposed to be ok, but it wasn’t ok with me and that needs to be ok. Everything about breastfeeding was hard and I’m actually tearing up right now as I write this. I felt so horrible and angry at the same time.

    We switched pediatricians, driving into Chicago rather than having someone 10 minutes away. He was WONDERFUL; he made me feel like I was doing something great for my kid by giving him formula and continuing to try breast feeding. We still run into him and he is still wonderful. I miss him and that entire practice group. I could go on about them for hours!

    I did some research (by which I mean a lot of research before there was Google) and found that 5 percent of women just can’t breastfeed. Five percent. That’s more women than people who have Bipolar Disorder. I’m in that select group, so why wouldn’t I be in the five percent?

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am terribly sorry to admit that I think there’s not much chance that we in the Itty Bitty Milk Committee will ever be understood. The lactation lobby–and I do believe one could call it a lobby–is very powerful. It was hell not being able to breastfeed and being made to feel less of everything because of it seventeen years ago and, from what I see, it doesn’t look like it’s changed much.

    Still, we in the five percent can keep speaking up.

    1. Um, were you ME in a past life? Now in my case, it was low milk supply mixed with a colicky baby mixed with a pediatrician who didn’t believe in colic and also wrote “failure to thrive” on my daughter’s medical records. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about me or the baby.

      I, too, FINALLY found a WONDERFUL pediatrician who is thankfully nearby. SO validating.

      Your comment made me think of this excerpt my friend Amy’s “milk diary.”

      “The world crumbled around me. Like I said before, I don’t like to give up. I felt like such a failure as a mom. Buying formula was unheard of for me. So I decided to pump again. Back to crying and pumping and having constant stabbing pain in my nipples. It hurt so badly that I had to push Noah away and could not hold him. It was at that point I decided, with much pain and guilt, to quit pumping and go with formula. Not just any formula either…oh no. Caleb required the most expensive formula because he had reflux. Good times all around our house. I always wanted to explain why I was buying formula and not nursing. I felt like less of a woman and mom and judged by others who didn’t know what I went through.”

      She found out (like you did) that she had a rare but very real issue that made nursing close to impossible. I wish moms would be less judgmental (of themselves and others) and realize we are all trying our best.

    2. I am totally on board with you about feeling misunderstood by the lactation lobby. I was on both sides of the fence: I really struggled with breastfeeding with my first, but was able to with my second. As a new mom who gave up breastfeeding after a month, I felt guilt and shame…and that was mostly placed on me by what was supposed to be breastfeeding SUPPORT. I didn’t find books or groups very supportive at all. Thankfully, my pediatrician was supportive of my decision to stop, and I eventually got over it on my time by realizing how healthy and beautiful my daughter was on formula…and how much I finally enjoyed feeding time. That helped me the second time around. Even though I did end up breastfeeding my second, I only did it for as long as it worked for ME and HIM…not because of what some outside authority on babies said. And I supplemented with formula. And I felt damn good about it. Even though I was technically a “breastfeeding mother,” I still get very defensive and upset with the “elitist” attitude that comes from many breastfeeding communities…especially La Leche League. But “Milk Diaries” isn’t like that…and I know because Maggie allowed me to put my own story in the book. She was so committed to getting so many different views of breastfeeding so that every mom could find their own experience in there somewhere. I wish this book had been around for you (and for me!), so you could have seen that there are so many other mothers like you…who are great mothers…and whose babies are just fine. And it’s not just the five percent who can’t do it…but many others who also choose not to for various reasons. They all have a voice, and they shouldn’t be made to feel lesser. (P.S. I find more and more reasons why I just love you!)

      1. Oh, if we could all only be kind to each other. As parents, we have so much more that we can share. And, geez, thanks. Definitely want to take a look at Milk Diaries some day.

    3. Having a good doctor is SO important. We (I) also interviewed C’s pediatrician before she was born, but the questions you ask them before you’re a parent often have absolutely no bearing on what life will be like when they have actually come into the world. If I had had a bad doc, I would have lost it. She was the one person (other than B, who in a lot of ways was just as shell-shocked as I was) who made me feel like I was not horrible for using formula. Shame on these doctors who see breast feeding through rosé-colored glasses and guilt mothers into continuing something that is not working.

  6. After my son was born, I had very low blood pressure so I had to be lying down. The nurse brought the baby to me to try breastfeeding and just kind of plopped him on my chest. My son didn’t know what the feck to do and I could barely move since I just a c-section and all I could think was “this is so natural.”

    1. Bahahahaha! Supplemental nursing systems, pumps, nursing pads, trying to learn to breastfeed after major surgery.. the epitome of natural, right?

    2. I think they call that “the hot dog hold.”

  7. Yes, Emily, it’s time you blew the lid off this powder keg with a hard hitting journalistic expose. Breastfeeding is indeed not easy, despite what the books say. I’ll skip over the accounts of my breast feeding experiences to when as part of my work I started attending the new mothers support group at Baptist hospital. The majority of the time was taken up with breast feeding questions from crying first time mamas. Luckily there was a sweet, kind lactation consultant at every meeting. I learned so many things from them which had I maybe known, I might have had a less hellish experience.

    1. Thank God for sweet, kind lactation consultants… unlike “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon” that my friend Kelly encountered : ) Support is essential. Especially support that doesn’t say, “well it shouldn’t hurt b/c it’s natural.”

      I wish I had had Emily’s hard hitting journalistic expose when I was compiling the book… would have gone well with some of the others : )

      P.S. I just hopped over to your blog and LOVE LOVE LOVE your The Opposing Path, or Kerfluffle and Flow post!

      1. I totally agree! I needed help and I knew it; I just couldn’t find any! I called the pediatrician’s office to ask about a pump and they said, ” Oh we rent one out, but somebody’s got it right now.” Too bad! This was in the dark ages, by the way. And thanks for reading my post ! Kerfluffle and Flow is a reference to the movie Hustle and Flow, if you are interested in useless trivia.

    2. That would have been me crying in there. Breast feeding can really feel isolating when it’s just you and a baby chomping away on your poor little nipples. I mean, I used to watch late-night episodes of Shee-Ra and He-Man (yes, that is a thing) when I nursed C at 3AM, and not even the Princess of Power could raise my spirits.

      1. I was amazed at how much better the little mamas started to look after a couple of group meetings. The lactation consultants were so nurturing and encouraging, and the Moms all supported one another.

  8. I nursed three babies, for a total of 39 months. It’s a wonder I have breasts left! Later, I worked as a lactation consultant, and NEVER told any woman I worked with that it was going to be easy, or would get easy… It’s not a given. Mastitis, adjusting to new babies (oh the pain!), teething (oh the teeth!), weening and all of it, it is truly a labor of love, but so, so rewarding when it works. I was so fortunate that I could have fed those 32 babies, though watch what you wish for… engorgement is no joke, and I was not happy about it at the time. The first time (with our first baby) that Smart Guy spilled 6 golden ounces, that I had painstakingly hand pumped (this was back in the ancient days!), and cracked “don’t cry over spilled milk,” as I balled… I nearly killed my babies father!

    You know I’m a big fan Emily; but, this is an exceptional post. Tender, funny, and on the mark. Great writing, as always, and wonderful perspectives. Love it!

    1. I wish you had been around when I was first starting out. And your story about crying over spilled milk reminds me of how delicately I would hold that liquid gold. Don’t.spill.a.DROP! I actually threw out a bunch of good milk before I knew that you could refrigerate and then freeze. Ugh. Glad to hear the baby’s father made it despite!

      1. Yep, made 2 more after that… but there were some moments. Kudos on your book Maggie! I should have addressed my comment to you, but thought Emily would be answering comments. (talk about not reading what came before…) Great title and wonderful support for woman who are in it now. Way to go!

        1. Awwww… thanks! It took a lot of voices to make Milk Diaries what it has become. I sure hope it can help some new moms not have to struggle quite so much!

    2. Thank you! I really enjoyed writing this one because I think I’m right at the moment in C’s life when I can look back on breastfeeding and realize that while it was hard, I did as best I could. That’s something to glean a little pride from. If I ever have another baybay, will you be my lactation consultant? I think this is why Skype was invented ;D

      1. For sure! We’ll meet and greet, no matter even if it’s over milk. ;-) You should feel great about what you did for C— we all do our best, and no one else should make you feel otherwise.

  9. Thanks for sharing this, Em. Obviously, I don’t have kids yet and have never experienced this myself, but I’m so grateful for your honesty. I’m sure that almost every woman would love to have the most idyllic breastfeeding experience, but the truth is that it doesn’t always work that way. I am sure that knowing this beforehand would help so many women better deal with the emotional impact of whatever awaits them after the birth. Also, I love you:)

    1. If I hadn’t had friends like Emily to tell me their stories beforehand, I wouldn’t have made it past the hospital. It’s good to have real, honest friends to give you perspective : ) Yep, Emily rocks!

    2. I wuv you too! (Spellcheck want to change that to “I SUV you.” I disagree, Spellcheck. I, if anything, compact car Cameron.)

  10. When I was pregnant I decided I was going to breastfeed. I was going to do it and be the best at it!! I was going to be happy to be awake every 2 hours while my husband slept and I was going to be ok with sore nipples! I WAS NOT!! Fortunately for me I had an oversupply. So this meant that I had many, Many, MANY occasions I would wind up with a soaking wet shirt. Yes I wore pads, but if it was time to feed those udders would start shooting out the milk whether my son was hungry or not.
    My husband was amazing. He got up every time our son cried. He changed the diaper and would hand off baby and grab me a snack and glass of water and make sure I had everything I needed before heading back for a nap while I fed. I was sore from child birth. I was sore from nursing. I was tired from lack of sleep. Yet I still felt the need to be awake when visitors stopped by. I was ill that I was not some type of super woman. Angry that I couldn’t do it all with a smile on my face.
    I had a cousin that had breastfed twins and she said it was tough. She should have clarified! I felt like a failure because she breastfed twins and had no trouble and I was having trouble with one! It was after I had been breastfeeding for about 6 months that she finally told me how awful it was for her. I often wonder if she had told me in the beginning would I have felt so alone at not being able to do it all with a smile! I had no one close to me to speak honestly with me about it. Just those that said “if its that bad just quit”.
    The first time my little family of 3 were out to eat my mother in law was with us. When my son began crying I knew he was hungry and began getting my nursing cover and burp cloth together. My MIL asked if I wanted her to take a chair into the bathroom so I could sit down. I was so confused. She then said “ya know, so you can feed him with some privacy”. I asked her if I should also take my lunch in there “ya know, for privacy”. It was the first cross word I had spoken to her in the 13 years I had known her. She never once made any reference to me feeding my son in a bathroom again.
    As my son got a little older he had gotten so accustomed to never being covered to nurse at home so he would not allow a cover anymore. So I found myself having to walk away from people in order to feed. I was amazed at the number of mothers that would see me feeding and tell me their stories. It did help me that while I had no one close to talk about it with I did have a “family” of other mommies that really and truly “got it”.

    1. I remember wanting to be supermom, too. I was armed and dangerous after all the books I read and meetings I attended. I was READY! … And then L came along and crushed my tender-baby-at-mother’s-breast-blissfully-happy worldview to pieces.

      I LOVE that you told your MIL how it was, too! I’m glad she listened.

      I couldn’t figure out how to use the cover up I had to save my life (I like to say I’m just spatially challenged), and blankets never stayed on. Once I finally did get a cover up that worked, I also got my second child who loved to flip it up at all the wrong moments. Good times.

    2. I think a lot of seasoned moms who are done with breastfeeding or at least further along with it may make it out to be easy to newer moms who are struggling with it because they might think, in some way, that it’s encouraging even though it’s not at all. I found myself doing the same thing to my cousin who had her son when my daughter was about 6MO. She told me how hard it was and I tried to be chipper and uplifting, telling her it would get better. Surprise, surprise: it didn’t get better for her OR for me. This is why it’s so important for us all to just be honest about the whole ordeal. No one really benefits with these allusions that breastfeeding is all sunshine and lollipops (except maybe the makers of sunshine and lollipops.)

  11. I remember wanting to be supermom, too. I was armed and dangerous after all the books I read and meetings I attended. I was READY! … And then L came along and crushed my tender-baby-at-mother’s-breast-blissfully-happy worldview to pieces.

    I LOVE that you told your MIL how it was, too! I’m glad she listened.

    I couldn’t figure out how to use the cover up I had to save my life (I like to say I’m just spatially challenged), and blankets never stayed on. Once I finally did get a cover up that worked, I also got my second child who loved to flip it up at all the wrong moments. Good times.

  12. My sisters both breastfed their kids.
    I occasionally tape bandaids over my nipples so they don’t chafe.
    (Just kidding.)
    (As far as you know.)

    1. Please tell me they’re Hello Kitty band aids just so I can complete the mental picture.

      1. Sorry, Muppets.
        (I ran out of Harry Potter.)

        1. EVEN BETTER. ;D

        2. Also, congratulations for being the only man to comment on this post. I feel like I should award you with something, Guap ;D

          1. Your company is award enough.

            But I’d not say no if you were giving away cars.

  13. I’m on month seven of pump pump pump. Guess what I’m doing right now? :)

    Great post!

    1. Say hi to the pump for me. We go back. Way back.

  14. Emily, my sweet dear, THANK YOU for doing this post. I could go on and on about what a wonderful book “Milk Diaries” is, but then I would have to post a disclaimer that I may have a story in there…so I’m biased. But I am proud to pass this book onto people for more reasons than that. The fact that my story IS in there proves that Maggie was committed to finding all different points on the breastfeeding spectrum. Regardless of her experience, be it fairly easy or incredibly hard, every mother will be able to find herself in at least some of the stories. Me, I formula-fed my first baby after breastfeeding failures and breastfed the second (in addition to supplementing with formula). And the only reason I was successful the second time around is because I had learned on my own to be gentle with myself and understand that no matter HOW I fed my baby, it only mattered that I DID feed my baby. But there are voices in there to cheer on the mom who wants to be a full-throttle exclusive breastfeeder, the mom who wants to nurse into toddler-hood, the mom who is trying to nurse multiples, the mom who finds she just can’t do it despite best intentions, and the mom who does it but hates it all the while. And Emily, your story would have been a perfect addition to the book! And I’m glad to know those 32 babies in the freezer would have been fed. Thank you for taking the time to read book, share your story, and spread the word. You rock…but you already know I think that!

    1. It was absolutely my pleasure to share my own breastfeeding story! I’m so glad y’all have put this book together. There can never be too many resources when it comes to breastfeeding support. We all need each other because feeding our babies can be so isolating. Love ya, Kels!

    2. Yep… what she said! Kelly, you are (still) my biggest fan : )

      1. I find that my groupie tendencies are very strong.

  15. NICI ROBERSON · · Reply

    I myself struggle with BF, My daughter was 8 weeks early and I felt like if she was going to fight for her life I was going to fight to make sure she had the best nutrition, being so early and in the NCU for 6 weeks, my milk had a lack of production I struggled a lot to produce milk, and Breastfeeding felt so natural and a great way for me to hold and bond with her.. I went through the breast pump blues, the booby blues, and nothing seemed to work.. so your story was enlightening.. its nice to hear other moms stories and I will def. look into the book :) thanks for the share!

    1. My pleasure, Nici. My cousin just had a baby who was very early too (in the NICU for several weeks), and she had similar thoughts about breastfeeding her little gal. It’s kind of like, you will do whatever you can to just make sure you’re doing what’s best for them in terms of getting milk, even if it’s super hard.

    2. Now THAT’s determination! I’m glad Emily’s story could help : ) Rachel & Zoe’s “milk diary” story sound very familiar to yours… hopefully they can help, too. Soldier on, mom!

  16. Ah breastfeeding… it’s great for people that can do it – but it’s hell for those of us that are unable – and it’s hard to listen to people talk about how much better their babies are b/c they breast feed – which makes the ones that would like to but cannot feel even worse about it. I tried – but nothing… but I did enjoy having my baby latch on just for the closeness even if I was drier than sand bag!

    1. I feel for you. Putting this book together REALLY opened my eyes to all the struggles and issues moms can face when trying to breastfeed. I especially got mad when (after pouring my heart out about how hard it was) a mom would tell me how long they breastfed, like it was some Girl Scout badge I would never earn b/c I never had enough milk to give. Can’t we all just get along!

      1. I know what you mean – we’ll get our own badge for being understanding & accepting of whatever someone can manage. I’m glad people are realizing it’s not all roses and sunshine for everyone!

  17. Hey Emily,
    This is unrelated but I needed to put it somewhere:
    Just wanted you to know I nominated you for The Sweetest Blogger Award since you’re one of my favorite bloggers.
    You can check it out here: http://theokayestmom.org/2013/08/06/me-sweet/
    Thank you for telling your story so well!
    Emily

    1. Thank you, Em! I appreciate it!

  18. Aw, heck…from having pumped 10 months with our Downs baby to effortlessly nursing in public (much to the chagrin of the proper Southerners in places like the Toyota service department waiting room or bank lobby), to another one on mostly formula, ya know, they ALL turn out A-OKAY!! As always, great post, Ms. Em!

    1. Well done, Southern Sea Muse. My friend pumped for 6m for her son with CP. What a champ!

      1. Thank you! We moms do what we have to do…whether it’s pumping, formula or nursing in a public bathroom stall. Or in a busy Toyota dealership. Way to go for your friend!

    2. They do turn out OK! Babies are way more resilient than we give them credit for ;D

  19. This is a perfect post, Emily. I had just commented earlier on another blog friend’s initiative in support of the feeding choices women make (http://www.schoolofsmock.com/2013/08/04/i-support-you-nicole/) and I told her that guilt and motherhood so often come hand in hand and that the last thing we moms need is other people (other moms, often) making us feel even more guilty. I love your pediatrician’s approach and I love yours. :-)

    1. Thank you! Our pediatrician was sent from the Heavens. There is really nothing more encouraging than having a doctor who you can trust and who sees the world in a way that aligns with the way we see the world. Thanks for reading, lady! ;D

  20. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

    I went into breastfeeding thinking I might struggle a bit, but I had no idea how hard it would actually be. And, when I reached out for help, people would tell me things like, “Oh, it finally got better now that my baby is 6 months old.” And, I was like, 6 MONTHS? Of this?? The way I struggled with breastfeeding really made me resent Sonia in those first weeks. I dreaded every single feeding. Granted, I had some PPD stuff going on, but I think it was also the pressure and the misinformation and the general lack of support, even from people in the breastfeeding community. I felt guilty for a long time after I switched to formula, like I gave up too quickly, but now I feel good. Sonia is vibrant and healthy–no permanent damage done. I reclaimed my sanity, so you know, that’s awesome. Even though it didn’t work out for me, I still encourage people to try. I mean, I only made it for a few weeks, but in those few weeks, I made milk! In my body! And it came out of my boob! And it fed my baby! That’s freaking amazing. That experience–whether it’s for a day or a year–really is amazing, even if I was too emotionally/mentally out of it to realize it at the time.

    1. Y’know, if it offers any consolation, when we switched to formula and I felt bad about it, I often thought a lot about you guys and looked at the amazingly vibrant little girl who was Sonia and knew that I wasn’t poisoning C. You both were a big encouragement to me, and I doubt you even knew it ;D

  21. the queen is currently breast feeding our little prince, and after struggling with the pain and worrying about proper latching for the first couple weeks, she wished that someone would have said something up front other than “it doesn’t hurt if it’s being done properly,” which was an outright lie. It was going to hurt for a couple weeks and then it would get better. If someone had told her that ahead of time she would have felt better about it, she would have felt less alone, she would have none that every other mother had gone through the same thing… of course, she only found out all that after it had stopped hurting, and was left to wonder why no one says the truth up front.

    1. I’m sorry she struggled with it too. It is so bizarre to me how people tend to deny the fact that breastfeeding is hard and try to convince new moms that THEY are doing something wrong if they struggle with it. That’s just a lie, and moms need as much support as they can get, especially in the realm of breastfeeding. She is extremely lucky that she has a supportive husband who understands the challenges she’s facing. Did you enter to win the book? I bet she’s love it ;D

      1. I didn’t enter because the queen already has that book. :-D And she highly recommends it too.
        And it’s not just me. She’s found a whole giant support network through la leche league and some other local groups. Paying it forward, even though she is no longer having any problems, she keeps going to the meetups to provide support to the people who need it. It’s really an amazing community.

  22. No, breastfeeding is not easy! Fortunately for me, my problems were not with supply (probably could have fed the 32 babies in the freezer!0 but with newborn latching which we eventually overcome so I was able to feed for quite a while in both children’s cases. I was also fortunate to have non-judgemental support from my family doctor and the Australian Breastfeeding Association (who are often criticised for being very agenda driven but I struck 2 counsellors who were not at all like that). The midwives at the hospital drove me mad though, ie, they seemed to treat all the mothers like incompetent idiots.

    1. Ugh! I hate that the midwives treated you like that! I can empathize; the doctor who delivered my daughter was a nightmare who treated me like a child who needed a good talking-to. It was the nurses who I loved.

  23. Keelin and I definitely had a hard time starting out. It took her a little over a week to really latch, so I was expressing and feeding her with a spoon/bottle. Thankfully we eventually got the hang of it and nursed for 13 months. I definitely remember feeling really useless and like I was doing it wrong for a while. Especially when the lactation consultant at the hospital came in and shoved Keelin’s face into my boob. Because that works. La Leche League meetings helped me at least realize that I wasn’t the only one struggling and even though it was a little awkward sitting in a room with strangers and their tatas, I was thankful I gave it a shot. It’s definitely not easy and I’m praying my next one will be a little smoother starting out. At least I’ll know what it feels like to get it right going in!

    1. So true! If we have another baby, I am going to try BFing again because I feel like now I’m more equipped to deal with the struggles. I know the challenge (and awesomeness) of it going in ;)

  24. […] Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have to be a Let Down […]

  25. […] Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have to Be a Let Down (notthehardestpart.com) […]

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