Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Major Bummer

So. I've got some bad news. And it's not bad news that really affects anybody else in the world, but it's a big deal around here. It's something that feels like a secret, like I should be ashamed to tell the world...even though it doesn't affect anybody else. But it's not shameful, it shouldn't be, and I am writing about it so that I can get in the habit of being comfortable with the reality that I'm facing.

I am not breastfeeding my baby anymore.

I could tell you about all the lactation consultants who tried to help (there were FOUR), the ENT visits, the email chains with our pediatrician, phone calls to my mom and all my surrogate mothers here in Seattle, and I could tell you about how many tears I've cried over the last seven weeks of trying.trying.trying.

But what I need to practice, more than giving my laundry list of defenses, is getting settled into the fact that I am the mom. I am the mom who gets to decide what's best for my baby. I am the mom who gets to set an example for her kid by zooming out to see the big picture, the long-term outlook. In the grand scheme, this baby can't get what he needs to thrive, and my body can't give it to him. In the grand scheme, I'm going to face a lot of scrutiny from other people who question my decisions as a mom. I expect I'll hear from a few axe-grinding breastfeeding advocates in the next year, and that's going to be hard.

Here's how I'm gonna respond.

I love my kiddo, and I'm doing everything I can to show him just how much. And God bless Enfamil.


Maryann said...

I love you so much, Holly, and wish I could shield you from the people who will try to make you feel like your decision isn't the 'best' or 'right' one in their minds.

Though I am confident that anyone who knows you at ALL will know and COMPLETELY trust that you are doing what is best for Duncan. And for you! I LOVE YOU!

The Ingrams said...

I'm with Maryann - I want to shield you from any yucky comments too!

Honestly, you are the best one for the job of Duncan's mama and nobody else can make these sorts of decisions for his life. You are doing great! xoxo.

loverstreet said...

holly you are incredible. as a mom and as a woman. i love your honesty and so value that you are putting it out there. may we all be so bold and genuine.

a friend of mine from portland (who happens to be a writer w/ mcsweeny's so you know, she is uber-cool) had her daughter extremely premature and had to give up many of her visions of motherhood--including breastfeeding. this is one of her blog posts about it, with a few great links: http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com/?s=breastfeeding

while there is an alive and active pro-breastfeeding group that may like to condemn you without pausing to give grace, there are also hilarious moms who say "F it" and move on with doing what is best for their wee ones (i.e. not letting them starve due to pretentious agendas). as you are doing you brave, brave momma.

Brittney said...


I learned of your blog from my friend Shanna Funk-Winer. I wanted to share my breast feeding story with you:

when my first born, emma, was born i quickly tried, as everyone encouraged me to, to nurse her shortly after she was born, as to get us both used to this whole…thing. looking back now, i can only imagine how painful it was for her traumatized little face to even attempt to nurse. she wouldn't latch on. ever. during our stay in the hospital there was always a nurse, lactation consultant, my husband, or friend, hoovered over my chest trying to get the child to latch. she slept and slept and slept and i continued to try to feed a child that wanted nothing to do with colostrum. my back hurt in ways i could never have imagined from hunching over trying to position my boob into her mouth in just the right way, all while pinching alongside my nipple to release the milk, just like i was taught. i will not, for lack of making you vomit up your breakfast, go into detail of all the other ways i hurt. football hold, laying on my side, the boppy, my breast friend, nothing was working. she was losing weight and i was engorged. on the day we were to go home i remember being a massive amount of pain as she was sucking, and tiredly grimacing up to my sweet friends, nodding that i think she finally had it! only to look down and see a huge bruise a inch away from my nipple.

the next few days were filled with tears, pain, raging emotions, ice packs, long hot showers, force feeding and opinions from all surrounding me. my poor husband was probably wondering what in the world happened to his wife. i laid in bed, topless, aching and moaning as i attempted to get emma to latch on at all costs. no such luck. i broke out the pump and i would, ever so painfully, pump out these two measley ounces of breast milk. emma was still losing weight and i was recommended to wake her up every two hours to feed him. every two hours, you say? well it takes me two hours to do the whole process from start to finish. so i'll just keep nursing twenty four hours a day while spitting out the food i was trying to swallow from crying so hard.

Brittney said...

days turned into weeks which turned into months. it consumed my life. i would sweat profusely and feel like i was walking in the sahara, i was so parched. i hated breastfeeding, i didn't feel an emotional connection to my child while doing it. in fact, i felt a lot worse about myself and about emma while i nursed. every day was a new struggle. there was never a point in time where she would latch on, eat for ten minutes (or even twenty or thirty minutes) and be done. it was keeping her awake, keeping him latched on, repositioning, and latching again. for some absurd reason i nursed for four months. let me say that again, four MONTHS. i felt like i had to nurse her. like i would let a large amount of people down if i couldn't successfully breastfeed my child. i knew it was best for her and it was free.

i wish someone would have slapped me across the face. really, really hard. and then hand me a whole bunch of formula.

maybe i wasn't feeding my child the better milk when i stopped nursing but, i was a better mom. i was happier, i enjoyed my baby more. i felt better about myself and about my child. she enjoyed eating and left satisfied. something i could never say about nursing.

i am happy to say that i am now okay with being a formula feeding mom. more than okay actually, i am proud. i am proud i attempted and gave it my all. i feel no shame, not one ounce, for giving my child a large bottle of the powdery stuff. i am also happy to say that i breastfed my second child, harrison (14 months younger than emma), for three months. it wasn't easy, i didn't like it, and i still felt very down while nursing but, it wasn't nearly as traumatizing as with emma. i easily and happily made the transition to formula without any of the guilt i felt with emma. if and when we have more children i will try it again. only this time i will stop dead in my tracks if i start to walk down that dark road again. i am a happier and better mom because of my decision.

Holly said...

To my faithful commenting posse...

Your encouragement (and incredible story, Brittney!) is just what the doctor ordered. Writing it out was great practice for getting used to TRUSTING MY GUT.

There's another great post on mightygirl.com today about the link between breastfeeding and depression. And HOLY COW. The stories that are popping up are eye-opening and humbling. I didn't write about this part, mostly because I'm still sorting it all out, but I know that part of why I decided to stop breastfeeding is feeling myself slip toward depression from the stress of it all, and it's fascinating to hear about other women's similar experiences.

Here's to women lifting each other up instead of being crabby jerks! Let's stick together! Woot!