Tuesday, March 22, 2011

White Flag

I am not a quitter. In fact, I am so stubborn that I will fight most things out until the end. I always have to have the last word. That is how I roll. I am a hot-headed, determined mess and I usually like to win. I am an AWFUL loser and don't like to lose at all...hence why I hardly ever compete in anything. :) In a nut-shell, I tend to be a fire-ball at 4'11".

But, this time I quit. The white flag has been thrown up with my head dropped in defeat. I lost. I give-in.

However, I am not sure who I "lost" to. Society? Other mom's judgments? The 'norm'?

What in the world am I talking about you ask.....breastfeeding. Yes, this post is about breastfeeding. So, if you are a boy or a person who has no interest in the world of booby milk - you can stop now.

Why in the world am I posting about this? Few reasons. Mostly to get it off my chest. Literally. Also for the same reason I blogged about my miscarriage this time last year. Not many people talk about it. And, as I lay awake all night long harping over this decision I read many mother-forums and was appalled at women who were referred to as "booby-nazis" and how they treated moms that were quitting. Their words made me feel awful. So, I am here to share my story and hope to not be judged. As a friend and lactation consultant told me, it is not for everyone. And I fall to that category.

I had to quit breastfeeding with Louisa as well. Although she was 4 months old and I quit simply because I just dried up. No other choice. But this time it was harder for me. Here I am with a 5 week-old and plenty of milk - yet I am making the decision to dry that milk and stop. Do you see why I was up all night crying and praying about this decision and why I cannot stop second-guessing myself?

From the get-go with Nash I had problems breastfeeding. If there was a nursing hurdle, I have crossed it. Let me just list them out.
  • Poor latch due to Nash being tongue-tied. This was solved by his frenulectomy, but unfortunately, the damage to my nipples had already been done.
  • Bleeding, cracked, raw nipples that were so sore I couldn't have anything brush up next to them or even near them. My toes curl in pain as my sweet little boy would try to feed. They are still the same way, 5 weeks out.
  • Oversupply which led to a very unhappy baby and very uncomfortable momma.
  • Engorgement, which led to clogged ducts which led to Mastitis. This was quite possibly one of the most painful things....until I got Thrush.
  • Thanks to the antibiotics I took to rid my boobs of the infection, I got Thrush. I still have it and have had it for almost 2 weeks now. It is awful. I feel as though my boobs are on fire. My nipples sting like I have 20 bees on each one stinging one after the other. When my milk lets down I swear I have shards of glass shooting through my boobs. Lovely, right. Not to mention the pain it causes when he nurses.
  • Oh, did I mention that he is irritable as all get-out when on breast-milk and I have eliminated dairy and any other 'irritants' from my diet? This is a girl that drinks milk like it is my job.
So, here I am...5 weeks out post-partum and even after giving my boobs a 'break' from nursing while I pumped for a week to try and let my nipples heal, I let Nash nurse twice yesterday and I am back to square one with the pain, bleeding, raw-ness, etc. This is not a ride in the park. This hurts like hell to be quite frank.

So, last night I decided I would go back to pumping and feeding him the breast-milk in the bottle and try to stick out the pain from the Thrush and cracked nipples as well. Then, I pumped this (on the right, on left is from a few days ago).

No, that isn't strawberry milk. And no, that isn't the first time that has happened. That is breast-milk mixed with the blood from my nipples. Awful. I have tried every cream/ointment known to man to fix this problem but they have yet to heal. So, with this...I started to cry. I have been battling what to do for a few weeks now as we had a trial run on formula and the child did amazing. BUT breast-milk is best and I have it, so why quit? This is what kept me up all night, in addition to a sweet little boy that thinks 3 am is party time. Reminds me of my college days, his Momma sure did love late-night. :)

So, I had to put it all into perspective.

A few weeks ago when I was recovering from Mastitis I had a moment in which I said (as I was writhing in pain), "is this worth it to me?" That was my first questioning. Then I told myself that the ME didn't matter. It was the baby that mattered. And yes, since breast-milk is best...it mattered to him. So - I stopped thinking about quitting and put on my big-girl britches for the bazillionth time in a few weeks.

Then, as I began to eliminate most everything from my diet as my child would scream and writhe in pain after eating (mind you I put him on reflux meds in case, although I don't feel that is the issue) I started to wonder, "is this worth it to him?" Sounds silly, I know...but you start to wonder - especially after you see him do amazing on formula. I began to beat myself up. What was I eating? What had I drank that was bothering him? Why was my breast-milk doing this? Is he getting enough? Is the blood from my nipples bothering him? And then, I trucked on as I felt the pressure of society in that breast-milk is best. We were going to make it work.

And then last night, as I was crying I remembered this afternoon when I was trying to get Nash latched on to feed and Louisa was talking to me and asking me questions. I was in so much pain from the latch that my toes were curling, I was sweating, border-line nauseous and Nash was latching on, then pulling off repeatedly to the point where tears started to well in my eyes. I was stressed to the max and in so much pain and then I did something I am not proud of. I snapped at Louisa. Like it was her fault. I screamed at her and told her to go to her room. When I saw her face and her walk slowly out of the room with her head ducked I wanted to cry again. It didn't dawn on me at the time, but last night it did. And this was one of my deciding factors. I didn't say is it worth it to me or him, but I asked myself..."is this working for us?" And my answer was no. It wasn't. Because sadly enough, that wasn't the first time that had happened and I promised to never let it happen again.

So, with that one bit on my mind - I cried and I started to pray. I needed a sign that would help me in my decision. I needed to know that I wasn't being selfish or doing the wrong thing. And it came to me in the next pumping. For the 3rd time in a row, I pumped 'strawberry milk' and endured a pain so awful that my toes curled and I almost threw up. That was my sign.

A happy mom equals a happy baby. So, with this in mind...I woke up this morning and put cabbage leaves in my bra. Still crying the whole time. I know this is the right choice for my family, but it is still such a hard choice to make. Will I be judged by those who never had any issues breast-feeding? Will I regret this in the long run? Will my child be okay in the long run? And opening the freezer and seeing bags of frozen booby milk, I feel a little better. He will be getting breast-milk for the next month or so, so I cannot beat myself up too much, right?

Thanks for letting me vent. I am not great at decisions. Especially big ones. I always second-guess myself. I tried really, really hard and fought through so many issues that I know I gave it my best...I just need to remind myself of that.

So, as I sit here and type and keep turning around to see if one of my labradors is tooting, I am reminded that no....it is just the cabbage in my bra stinking to high-heavens. I am thankful for the most amazing friends and lactation consultants that have held my hand in this journey. I am going to try my best to get on with it and not let any judging bother me. I will put my pump away and look forward to putting away the breast pads as well. We can do this, and we will make it. And it will work for our FAMILY.

Strange how quickly one extra child changes the mix. You suddenly go from figuring out what works for them to figuring out what works for the FAMILY. There is no 'I' in team, right?

Vent session over, maybe in this blog I have helped someone who is in my shoes. That would make me feel better. Most of all, I got it off my chest. My online boob-therapy. I will try to promise to never again take up a novel about boobs. My husband will probably die of embarrassment that I just wrote all of this - but as a Mom, modesty goes out the window.

I have another post in the works that is fun and has some pictures, and hopefully soon I will get to finishing it and posting. But, for now...I will go and load the dishwasher and run some laundry and continue to blame the stench on the pooches. :)

Hehe, looks like he has his hands up in surrender too. :)


Megan said...

First of all I would like to tell you congratulations on your precious little boy! Second, you are totally right, you have to do what is best for your family. I give you major props for even trying after your obstacles and your 'strawberry milk' makes me just hurt for you. OUCH! I love reading your blog, you are such great writer so whatever you write...I will keep reading! =)

Meredith Clinton said...

Both of my babies are/were formula fed. I had struggles with the first and then just decided like you that it wasn't for us/me the second time. Good for you for letting it out! Nash will be a happy healthy baby on formula! Hang in there in the coming months you will love watching your two kiddos play and interact with eachother. Makes it all worth it!

B said...

You did all you could and there is no shame in surrendering. I had horrible mastitis and experienced that toe-curling pain when he latched, so I totally feel your pain. I decided then if I got through it and it was smooth sailing after, then I'd keep going. And if it came back or I got something else, then I was done.

Ashley said...

Please do not beat yourself up. You made the right choice. I can not breast feed because I have to take migraine meds. My OB told me "You have to be a mommy first". I never looked back. No guilt. I am pregnant with my third child. My first two are beautiful, strong and healthy w/out breast milk. Praying for you!

Jason said...


All that really matters at the end of the day is that the baby has been fed & is growing- don't beat yourself up!! As nurses, we feel much more pressure than we should on the entire breastmilk issue. My firstborn was formula fed & is a great happy, smart little man!!

Nicole Hindman

Brad, Amy, and Bes said...

GIRL! My toes were curling just reading! I nursed Bes for 5 weeks and threw in the towel... well, because I was exhausted and needed to sleep for like 2 days straight... so I called my mom... she came over, we wrapped my chest in an ace bandage, popped some Lortab (I kid you not) and I slept and she gave Bes... a bottle... and she lived!! Oh I cried and beat myself up about it but it was what had to be done because I was at a breaking point... and come Friday I pray that it works out better 2nd time around... but if not, oh well. =) You are NOT a failure... I repeat, you are NOT a failure... why are we so hard on ourselves!?! Love you friend and think you are fab as a nursing mama or not... which makes me wonder... how's the whole cloth diaper thing going because that in of itself is downright heroic.

me weber said...

I agree... happy mommy makes happy baby/family... no matter what the subject at hand. You have so much more to offer your baby boy than just breast milk. He is one lucky fellow to have a mama like you that loves him, his sister, and his daddy like crazy.

Katie Peavley said...

GIRL! You just took me right down memory lane! The thrush, the toe curling, the strawberry milk, the snapping at toddler... ALL of it. I remember sitting there knowing needed to pump (I was an over supplier as well) and wasn't letting Wyatt (who was passing the thrush back and forth with me when I nursed) anywhere near my chest... Would sit there and have to count to myself to actually TURN THE PUMP ON! It was awful. I nursed Addison (well pumped... I was working) for 9 months... So stopping at 4 months with Wyatt (before the trash it was do-able-ish... Just troubled with the whole drowning Wyatt when he tried to eat :-( ) I felt like a failure. BUT... there's NO WAY on God's green earth I was going to continue to do that to any of us! Good for you girl... He'll be fine and you won't be in pain!

Jessa said...

He is beautiful.

You are a champion and an amazing Mama. Clearly.

The Greenes (Robert, Kate and William) said...

the best thing for our babies and chilrens is a happy and sane momma!!! that took me a while to learn but the best thing i can do for my kids is be good to me! regarding breastfeeding... i did the same with lauren - girl loved some formula and i would say she is absolutely perfect :) proud of you! enjoy enjoy enjoy! remember your motto "let it be!" :)

meredith said...

amy...amy tucker (i'm her sis in law) sent this post to me...and i have to say that if i could hug you from louisiana, i would! like so many others that have commented here, i too have experienced ALL these things. mommies go through so much...and then like the cherry on top...we add guilt to our daily routine!
just from reading your blog, it is evident that you love, love, love those babies of yours...and that is what truly matters the most!
know that you have a cheering squad all over the south...and i'd be willing to help you take anyone down that offers an unkind word!!! ha,ha,ha!
from one mother to another...keep your chin up...and know that you are giving your best!
enjoy those newbie snuggles...i miss then so much!

meredith price

p.s. you are hilarious, by the way!!!! :)

Amanda Jones said...

Wow....bless your heart! I'm sorry you had so many challenges and I'm even more sorry you are concerned about what others think! You did the best you could and I'm impressed you gave it your sll despite the horrible pain. I just thought I had challenges with my first, but your story has put me in my place...mine was a cake walk compared to yours.
If you still had an oversupply I bet he was getting a lot of foremilk and not much hindmilk and that's probably why he was fussy and why the reflux meds didn't work....it wouldn't have mattered what you ate.
I'm all about breastfeeding but don't feel quilty one bit, your right....a baby needs a happy mommy!
To be honest you would feel some quilt at 5 weeks, 5 months, 1 year....we moms just do that to ourselves. I just had to wean Chase at 14 months since this pregnancy dried my milk up and I felt bad because I didn't feel like he was ready....we are just too hard on ourselves!
You should be proud of yourself!!
BTW.....he is some kind of cute!!