With Honest Feeding Stories, you’ll hear from parents like you about one of the most intimate and important experiences of family life. Happiness and heartbreak, serenity and struggle, joy and tears — it’s all here in their own words. Presented with our support and without judgment, these stories remind us that the choices we make to nourish our children are truly unique.
Breastfeeding was never even questioned when I was pregnant. I had the mentality that I would try my best and give it my all. Through the bloody, cracked nipples, the latching issues, the tears, exhaustion, and the overwhelming trial and error, we came out on the other side.
I was blessed to be able to work and stay at home with my daughter through the many weeks of getting breastfeeding down. I don’t know how women who only get six weeks to get this extraordinary bond down do it. It truly is a dance that has to be learned by mother and baby.
In the beginning, I was so determined. I went into the doctor’s office and pulled out my boob for all to see, as if I was proud, and then it all came crashing down. “Eleanor has a tiny lip tie,” the lactation consultant said to us, as she pulled and smashed my boob, watching my daughter just lightly suckle. The lactation consultant came over and “sandwiched my boob,” squeezing it with her cold hands to get my milk going, while I looked down at my beautiful newborn going at my boob with just a small mouth. I cringed when she just sucked on my nipple. As I was focused on my daughter trying to feed, the lactation consultant was trying to tell me they wanted to get Eleanor’s lip tie fixed. She handed me surgery brochures. My nipples turned beet red when Eleanor finally popped off of me, and I felt so defeated. Asking myself, Why? Why is this so freaking hard? What am I doing wrong? I was just trying to feed my poor daughter who had lost two pounds since birth, due to lack of milk. I cried in the doctor’s office, and my husband held me as the doctor looked at me as if it was all my fault.
She gave us a regimen of pumping and nursing. I was totally against surgery. It wasn’t 100% necessary, so I did all I could to work through the tough days. It was round the clock work. I would nurse her, and then pump after every feed. And then I would give her an extra syringe of pumped milk after every feed. Talk about tired, mentally exhausted, and feeling the most defeated I have ever felt. My husband also felt so helpless in my fits of rage and crying. He was ultimately supportive and helpful and did what he could when he could.
After almost two weeks of this regimen, we went back to the lactation consultant. My daughter had gained the weight back and more. The lactation consultant was so pleased and so proud of me, and so proud of my husband for his support. I had made it through my first hurdle. I cried many nights after, as my husband brought me a screaming baby for the hundredth time. She popped on and off my boob sometimes, not getting a full feed. So many pillows were used to try to get the right position for the both of us. Nothing seemed to be going right. I had taken the classes, I had read the books, I had seen a lactation consultant, yet nothing prepares you for the reality of it all.
Honestly, I don’t remember the exact day when it finally went right! The day Eleanor latched and it was harmony. Those early months really just run together, but one day, after weeks of struggle, tears and anguish every time she went to latch, it was harmony. One day I felt my let down and saw her gulp and swallow rather than lightly suckle. I cried and threw my head back and yelled, “Yes!” really loudly. She popped off looking up at me with milk coming out of the creases of her mouth. I then saw a stream of my milk spray everywhere. We both finally got the hang of this breastfeeding thing.
As mothers, we need to talk about how feeding can be a struggle — it is not as easy as it may seem. No matter what you choose or how you choose to feed your baby, I hope we can come together and support one another. Stop putting each other down for what we decide to feed our baby, or how we decide to do it, and instead build each other up. We are all mothers, we are all raising beautiful children in this crazy world and we need that support to get us through.
-Nisa, Virginia Beach, Virginia
This post was originally published on Nisa’s blog, Kitchenability.