So breastfeeding didn’t work out… the world is still turning.
It took me a while for me to be okay with that, though. I got dealt a really crappy hand with my breastfeeding journey. I thought we had it down at the hospital, I really did. The truth is, though, S was REALLY small. I initially made a lot of milk – which I expected. I mean, I have the tatas for it; people told me that I’d have no problem… right?
Three days into bringing her home I felt like I had the flu. My breasts were hard as rocks and my mom told me it was totally normal and that it was just my milk really coming in. It wasn’t… I had mastitis. By the time the antibiotics worked, I had gotten an actual cold.
Now, there are a lot of breastfeeding advocates online and I don’t blame them. The problem I have with some of them are how they shame mothers who do not breastfeed. I can’t speak for all women but I tried EVERYTHING. I mean EVERY. THING.
I met (and still do) with a lactation specialist every single week.
Pumped between feedings, power pumped, pumped directly after feedings
Fed every hour – demand fed
Lactation herb capsules that made my armpits smell like maple syrup
Fed on one side while pumping on the other
Pumped while Riley fed her
Tested my thyroid
I even went on this medication called Reglan – whose side effects are drowsiness and depression.
Now, a side effect of depression on my already building postpartum depression was a ton of fun, lemme tell ya. I wanted to kill everyone and if I wasn’t in a fog feeding the tyrant, I wanted to slip into a deep coma every time I did get to close my eyes.
Breastfeeding is supposed to let off these good hormones that build a bond with your baby during each feed. Well, I dunno if it’s what I had, but there’s a thing called dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-Mer) where upon let down (when the milk starts coming in time to feed, happens about 2-3 times per feed) it gives them a feeling of dysphoria that causes a feeling of deep sadness or depression.
So… I literally cried when I would look at my sweet daughter every time I fed her – I couldn’t look at her. I wasn’t diagnosed with this but I’m gonna place a large bet on yes, I had that.
It took me a couple weeks to admit this to my lactation specialist because it made me feel like a terrible mother but she thanked me for telling her and she told me to only breastfeed when I felt like it (ended up being in the mornings just to bond with S for a bit) and then exclusively pump after that. We were supplementing with formula already because we figured out she wasn’t getting much from me. After exclusively pumping, we learned I was making about half what she needed per feeding even after everything we tried. Reglan brought me up a little bit but it went straight back down after 10 days and there was no way I was going back on that shit – I’d end up in jail.
The truth of the matter is, Scarlet was just too small to signal to my body what she needed from me because she couldn’t get it out before falling asleep- she would use way too much energy. This lead to my body making about half of what it planned on. Riley looked at me on Sunday morning and said “it’s okay to stop.” Then my lactation specialist (bless her) finally called it off last week. She told me to start weaning off already and spare my sanity. I made it two months and I’m proud of it. Riley didn’t need to give me the go ahead but it made me feel better to know I hadn’t let him down, too.
STOP SHAMING MOTHERS FOR FORMULA FEEDING. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH.
All of this that I just shared – literally the worst experience ever. I’d give birth every single day if I didn’t have to go through the first two weeks of my breastfeeding journey ever ever ever. Hell, I’d do my whole pregnancy over to avoid that. THAT’s how awful it was for me. So please, if you’re a woman who loved breastfeeding and marches down streets with signs that say “breast is best” that’s wonderful, but please, remember the women who aren’t as lucky as you. I’m just happy that my baby girl is healthy and thriving – I wouldn’t have been able to give her that. The best gift she has given her future sibling is that I know what I have to do to keep this from happening again… cause formula costs a fortune.