Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Booby Trap

Posted by Anonymous.

My daughter is 11 years old. When she was born, she refused to nurse, would not, could not latch on. The nurses at the hospital threw up their hands, the first lactation consultant told me "it must feel terrible to have your own baby rejecting you", the second lactation consultant showed up forty eight minutes late, after telling me not to pump until she got there and not to feed my baby so that I was engorged and my daughter was starving and it was not a good day. I cried a lot back then. I cried and I told my husband that I wasn't worth of being a mother. Because I had never heard of a woman being unable to breastfeed her own child. That was unnatural. That was fucked up. It destroyed me for weeks. I pumped and I fingerfed my daughter through tubings but I was hollow. I'd never know such pain, at a time when I was supposed to be so happy. I made bargains with God. "Let me nurse," I pleaded. "Let me nurse and I'll cop to breast cancer in a decade." I meant the treatable, curable kind of cancer, of course, but really, I was out of my mind. It hurt so much. So much.

A parade of lactation consultants went through my house.

"Your nipples are inverted," one told me. "You should have been wearing nipple re-inverting shields throughout your pregnancy," she admonished.

"You definitely have enough milk. A nursing mother has enough milk to feed the Red Army." I didn't want to feed the Red Army. I wanted to feed my daughter.

I'm sure that I had a healthy dose of postpartum depression thrown in as well, but whenever I think back to that time, I catch my breath. Because it's been over 11 years. And the memory is still sharp.


Issa said...

I hate it that people make new mothers feel so bad. Sigh. I wish people could support each other.

I said this to someone last night on Twitter and I completely meant it. Take a room full of HS seniors, or a room full of adults...you can't tell which were breast fed or formula fed. There is no mark, no obvious sign. Just a room full of people.

For what it's worth: I tried for two weeks with my first and it just didn't work for me. All she did was scream, my milk never really came in. I was slowly losing my mind. For a while I even hated her. Then I just stopped. I started giving her formula and never looked back. I have three amazing, caring, healthy, intelligent children. All of whom were formula fed.


Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

It's been almost three years for me and I still feel that pain and...well...hatred at my body. I also had a parade of lactation consultants, midwives, nurses, and doctors. Only my problem was different...I never made milk. I never felt my milk come in, never got engorged. Never leaked. Nothing. No matter what we did to "fix" the situation....that was that.

agirlnamedmel said...

I have been there, at first they thought my nipples were too big for my little babies mouth but then they realized (after 8 WEEKS!)that my underactive thyroid was keeping my body from producing enough milk. There were tears, weekly visits/payments to the lactation consultant, medication, stress, screaming hungry baby, SNS tube feeding although I am ok with the switching to formula I feel like I'll never get back that time that could've been happier had I realized it was ok to step back and do what was best for US.

Candy said...

Your entire generation got the shaft once they started kicking you guys out of the hospital so fast. Sending new moms home before their milk has even come in is just bound to end up in frustrated moms and screaming babies. I'm so sorry you went through that. I'm sure your bond with your daughter is just as strong as it would be if she had breastfed. You loved her. She knows that.

Anonymous said...

Gah. Another thing we have in common. Only after giving birth to my first child was I aware that my nipples were inverted. I was hooked up to an industrial size pump, that we rented, with little result. My nurse was equally as mean.

From the girl that drank Chardonnay from a plastic cup while inhaling hot dogs, that one July day with you.

Megan said...

Ah, the old inverted nipple trick. My son was nine weeks early and spent over a month in the hospital being fed through an NG tube, then with a bottle under the supervision of a speech therapist. All breast milk pumped from me.

When it came time for the real thing, he latched on, sucked twice and then let go and looked at me as if to say, "Lady, these things are broken." They tried to tell me my nipples were inverted, blah, blah, blah, but the truth was he just didn't want to do the work. He was hungry. I pumped for a while, then couldn't keep up with the kid's appetite and switched to formula.

I know how you felt. And it's been about 11 years for me too.

No one should be allowed to make us feel defective for things that are not our fault.

geenalyn said...

I know how you feel. With my first, 9 yrs ago now, my milk never came in. I didn't get engorged, i didn't leak, my breasts weren't painful. I wanted so badly to breastfeed my daughter and when i would put her to my breast she would scream. At 3 days old we took her to the ER because she would not eat, we ended up having to bottle feed her formula. 2.5 yrs later, i had twins and wanted to bf...this time I had a little milk come in but not enough to feed even one baby. For various reasons I initally wasn't allowed to bf, so i pumped. I would pump every 2 hrs and by the end of the day I would have only pumped 4 oz total, this happened 11 mos later with the birth of my son as well. I pumped for months with my twins and son just so they would get a little bit of bm, a feeding a day usually. Looking back, it wasn't worth it but I was so tired of seeing my body as a failure, that at least producing that one feeding was something.

selzach said...

I understand. Neither of my two kids would stay latched. Number one was a preemie and it was too much work. Even bottle feeding was a struggle. Number two latched beautifully just after birth and I thought everything would be fine. He never would stay latched for more than a couple of minutes after that and was always hungry. I visited with multiple lactation consultants with both kids, tried the supplemental nursers and nipple shields. In the end I just pumped for both of them.

I still play the "what if?" game. What if I tried harder? What if I never offered a bottle to #2?

Anonymous said...

I am not a mother but have watched several that I know be beat up over the fact that they could not breast feed. People were so judgemental of them because they were bottle feeding and formula feeding their child. I agree with the first comment, you can't tell who was breast fed and who was not. People should try to be more understanding and not so hurtful about this issue.

Personally I don't plan to breastfeed because I know I'll have to work and it would be too much to deal with to pump all day. Its a choice, just like anything else in life.

The Spicers said...

Such unnecessary guilt!
I breastfed my first child for about 10 days and then gave it up it was so awful. I didn't even attempt to nurse the second time and everything went so much better. The lactation consultants were brutal to me.

Anonymous said...

I felt guilty because I just plain hated breastfeeding.

LibraryGirl62 said...

Seriously, could we be meaner to each other? The bottom line is to do what is right for you~not lactation specialist or Drs or other mothers or our mothers or strangers on the street. Feed your baby whichever way works for you, causes you and the child the least emotional and physical upheaval and ENJOY them should be our message. Not torture ourselves and be guilt ridden. Enjoy your happy healthy child~you deserve it!

Unknown said...

I hate the guilt that breastfeeding has on us moms. For me, it was supply. I know, I know, all moms have enough milk for their babies. i didn't. Good latch, good suck, perfect nipples, not enough milk. For all 3 of them. I even took meds to try to help it along. So then I introduced the dreaded formula and supplemented. My kids are happy, healthy and thriving. Yet, everytime I hear the word breastfeeding, I get a lump in my throat. I still feel guilty. I shouldn't, but I do.

Anonymous said...

I bottle fed. You would have thought I was feeding my child rot-gut liquor for all the dirty looks and comments that I got from other mothers. About how my kids would have higher IQs if I breastfed. About how I would "love it if I just tried it." I made a decision that was right for me and my child. I don't feel guilty, but I still carry around all these bad feelings from all the badgering.

You're a good Mom. You did nothing wrong. And don't let anyone tell you "everyone can do it," because not everyone can.

Jane said...

I had a little cry for you.

I only managed to breast feed after one-on-one help for an hour daily for more than a week. Only got that help cos my kids were in a hospital nursery and that hospital had a truly marvelous lactation woman. And she gave me nipple shields. Which OTHER nurses went on to criticise, pretty vehemently.

What a minefield.

An older male friend said to me one day that he never ceases to marvel at all the different ways that mothers are criticised and blamed for a vast array of things. And I think the whole breast feeding thing is just a very large and soft target for this inclination.

Anonymous said...

This breaks my heart because it is so simliar to the experience I had. But eventually, my son and I got it. Inverted nipples and all. And I let him wean naturally and everything ended up being just fine, no thanks to the nurses - save one amazing lactation consultant who stood by me with great support. So sorry to hear your experience was so rough.

Awesome Mom said...

I have failed to nurse all three of my kids and each one hurts deep. It also makes me wonder if I should torture myself and my baby if I have a fourth child or if I should save myself the grief and frustration and not even try. It was amazing how much more I enjoyed my baby once I stopped trying to get them to nurse.

Anonymous said...

The first lactation nurse you saw should have been slapped. Then slapped again.

I hate that women treat other women this way for something that DOESN'T come naturally for so many... it's why babies used to need wet nurses, fail to thrive and even die before formula was invented.

I couldn't breastfeed any of my three. I tried; it didn't work; I pumped for a bit to supplement their formula; but I refuse to feel guilty about it. All three of my children are unnaturally healthy ... seriously, incredibly rarely under the weather .... and I believe that's because I just got on with it and did the best I could for them, which is all any of us can do.

I hope you find some peace from seeing the healthy 11 year old you now have in your life and knowing YOU did that.

Unknown said...

I feel so bad for you, especially since you are still carrying this around after 11 years. Obviously you did something right. You have a beautiful 11 year old daughter. Give yourself some credit.

I hate that women and especially mothers can be so judgemental and hurtful to each other. Everything we go through as women and mothers should make us realize everyone is unique. So many can see this and make adjustments for our children, but not for each other.

One thing I have learned as a mother is that there is no right and wrong with your choices in raising your child. You do what works and what is right for you and your child. No one but you knows.

Please to all women and mothers out there, stop judging. Your way is not the right way for everyone. Being hurtful to another mother can leave deep scares.

I hope the best for you, enjoy your daughter. Hugs

Anonymous said...

I was lucky with my daughters. I nudged their cheeks with a nipple, they latched on, and that was that. My older girl would cry when offered a bottle, wouldn't consider drinking from a bottle until she was 9 months old.
One of my best friend's baby had trouble nursing. I feel so guilty for thinking she must be doing something wrong. She wasn't. She didn't have enough milk for the little guy.
Loving and feeding our babies by any means is a blessing. I wish all of us were okay with that.
Ame in TN

Rachael said...

I'm so sorry. I was unable to breastfeed my son, my body just didn't make milk. I wish someone had prepared me in some way for the possibility that could even happen, I had no idea. It hurt my heart, and giving up trying was like mourning a loss. I'm sorry that happened to you, it shouldn't happen to anyone.

Pollyanna said...

OHMYWORD, i am so sorry. This happened to me as well. We had a multitude of problems going on-my son was born with pneomonia so he couldn't latch on because his breathing was so labored. BUT, it took them days to listen to me that something was wrong with him. THEN I did not produce milk. I pumped for 5 straight days and got an ounce. For real. And the guilt. The guilt was horrible. I did eventually nurse him--I HATED BREASTFEEDING--but we always had to supplement with formula because I didn't make enough milk to feed a gnat let alone a human baby.

Anyway, I am sorry this happened to you. And I hope you can let the guilt go. You are not a bad mother. You are not defective. Your body and mine just didn't realize that we had a job to nourish human life once we gave birth. And that's why I'm glad that somebody invented formula. 'Cuz our kids didn't starve. And we loved them. And isn't that what counts?

Hugs to you!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I desperately wanted to breast feed when I became a mother. The problem is that NOBODY tells you how hard it is and you think it's like the movies - as soon as the baby is born, you bring it to your nipple and you live happily ever after. Not for me! I never got engorged and rarely leaked and have never made enough to satisfy my babies. My 1st was a premie and I have large breasts and flat nipples and it was just plain hard. She wouldn't latch on to me but she would to my sister who was breast feeding at the time. I felt like such a failure and spent about $250 on a breast pump. It was so time consuming to pump and then feed around the clock. Baby #2 same story. He was a premie and I went to lactation consultants and was never successful. I felt like a bad mother. Baby #3 I was determined to breast feed and it would literally take about 10 minutes to get her to latch on. Needlees to say, I had to bottle feed her in public. Once again a felt like a failure and bad mother. I cried so much. Now, baby #4 is 3 months old. I wanted to breast feed, but after pumping for a few weeks gave up because I had to supplement him with so much formula is was pointless. I hate telling people that he is formula fed - I feel like such a failure. I know my family thinks I should breast feed exclusively and that makes me feel bad sometimes. I wish women didn't feel this way! It's not right!
Please, don't feel guilty. Unless you abuse your child, you are as good of a mother as one that breast feeds!

Dawn said...

I could have written that post. My daughter is 9 and I have never really gotten over the fact that I couldn't nurse her. I was a wreck after she was born and the guilt, guilt, guilt, that the nurses made me feel was unbelievable. I still feel it.
She's a great girl though, smart as a whip. I really thought at the time she was going to grow horns or a tail or something if I formula fed her.
It's like the sting of a slap, the memory of it never goes away.