Tuesday, January 15, 2013

my story about nursing

I realize most of you won't be interested in reading this post, and I'm okay with that! I want to put my story out there because I was totally caught off guard by how difficult nursing is. People say it's hard, but they don't tell you just how hard it truly is. I'm sure there's no way to ever be truly prepared, but if this helps just one new mom feel a little more sane....

When I was in the hospital I didn't have a lactation consultant help me until it was too late. The nurses were sweet and ready to help, but they didn't teach me how to nurse. And once I did see a lactation nurse? I didn't understand what they were trying to teach me. I felt stupid so I quit asking for help, which led to a major melt down at 2AM in the bathroom my 2nd night in the hospital. The nurse just happened to come in our room at that exact time to take Mia's vitals.... I felt so dumb! I thought they weren't going to let me take Mia home because what kind of mom cries in the bathroom at the hospital?? Ha! The nurse was really sweet and comforting but she couldn't figure out why I was so torn up. So the next morning I had a lactation nurse help me feed Mia a couple times before we left the hospital. I was feeling pretty confident that I had it all figured out, but once we got home we all fell apart again.
I was in so much pain because I was so torn up. We weren't sure if Mia was getting enough to eat because my milk hadn't come in yet. And Eric was at a loss of how to help either of us, so he kept asking me to quit nursing. He couldn't stand to see me in so much pain, and it was heart breaking to think about Mia being hungry. My friend gave me the # to her lactation nurse and told me to call her anytime. This lactation nurse was a life saver! She came to my home and really taught me AND Eric how to nurse. We both felt so much better after she left! But the pain was so great that I had to use a nipple shield until I could heal. Because of the shield, Mia wasn't getting enough to eat. The shield is great for some moms and babies, but having that barrier made it difficult for our feedings. I would nurse for an hour and Mia still wouldn't be satisfied! So I tried to ditch the shield once I was healed, but she wouldn't latch without it. The day of Mia's 2 week appointment, after plenty of begging from Eric, I gave Mia a bottle of breast milk (I pumped since day 1 of getting my milk but I was too proud to give Mia the milk in a bottle. Ridiculous, I know!) I bawled the whole time for unknown reasons. Looking back, it was the crazy hormones and my emotions were all over the place, but I thought I was failing because I liked giving her the bottle and HATED nursing.
At Mia's appointment we found out that she hadn't gained an ounce in those first 2 weeks. She hadn't even made it back to her birth weight. My doctor told me to nurse 15-20 minutes at the most, then offer her a bottle of breast milk after. It was such a relief to hear that I didn't have to nurse for an hour anymore! Formula is the next step if she doesn't gain any weight. But I'm so happy to say that we had to loosen Mia's diaper! Our baby girl is finally putting on a little chub :) I'm excited to go back and find out how much weight she has gained. And I'm even more happy to say that nursing has gone so much smoother in the last week and a half!! She latches fine without the nipple shield, but I did have to put up with quite a bit of fighting the first couple days of no shield. And she rarely needs the bottle after a feeding (but sometimes I do the bottle instead of nursing just to give us both a break, ha ha).
I was so incredibly shocked to find out how hard nursing was. The physical aspect of it is excruciating, but the emotional aspect? I can't believe how intense the emotions and hormones are! I wasn't expecting it to affect me. But I cried, I cursed, and I beat myself up all day, every day. I thought about quitting every second of the day but I didn't want to be a failure. But here's the thing... I wouldn't have been a failure if I had chosen to quit nursing. The only thing that matters is that baby is full and healthy and happy! I made my decision to continue nursing after lots of prayer and support from my friends and family. But I wish I could go back and erase all those self destructive thoughts I had about myself because nursing wasn't easy. It helped having a husband who cared so much, a supportive family, and friends who were quick to give me advice and encouragement! I hope I can help new moms who are struggling, as much as I was helped! But the main thing to always keep in mind... if nursing sucks it's not because YOU suck! Don't be afraid to make the decision that is best for your family, you won't be a failure either way!

42 comments:

Dee Stephens said...

Love this post. I need to put my story out there too. I have thought about it since I've had people email me about how I came to the decision not to nurse.
Glad you made it through. Tough is an understatement.

Katherine - Real Food Runner said...

I'm a doula - you're fine. :) Glad that you were able to do this for your precious baby!

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com/

Candace said...

I wrote about this too! Our story is almost similar. So glad you wrote about it. People need to read things like this:)

Court said...

ditto my friend. nursing is seriously more painful than childbirth! hoping to post my birth story/nursing woes soon!

Natalie said...

I'm glad nursing has turned around for you! I don't know any nursing mothers who haven't had problems. Nursing was a roller coaster for me I had a lazy eater/latcher from day 1 so nursing never happened for us. I pumped exclusively and when he developed a milk protein allergy I gave myself permission to be done. I hope to nurse my next child though.

Lindsay said...

I had no idea the emotional involvement, either! When I was pregnant, I didn't plan on anything other than breastfeeding. (Actually, I was one of those mean, bully moms who rolled my eyes at moms who formula fed. I regret that so much.) I didn't know anyone who DIDN'T breastfeed. So when I couldn't after a post-birth emergency (I had to be on very strong medications), I went a little bonkers. I'm talking locking myself in a room, sobbing, meltdowns all night long, asking how I could really be a woman and a mother and can't even nourish my child, etc. I would put the formula into Medela bottles so everyone who came to visit would think I was nursing. I'd lie about it to everyone. I was a MESS. I had to be on those medications to SURVIVE (I didn't even get to meet Ethan until he was 2 days old because of them and being in and out of consciousness during that time), and STILL I was so emotional that I thought I'd rather nurse than take them! Ugh. It was a horrible time period. I think it took me 8 months to get used to the idea of formula and having such a great mom support network now, I feel silly having ever gone through that. No one prepares you for the EMOTIONAL aspect, do they?!? It's insane.

oomph. said...

some women just don't have enough milk, period. doesn't make them a failure :)

i had no mixed feelings about giving my kids both my milk and the bottle from day one because i simply didn't have enough. plus the dads get to bond by feeding baby, too!

rockoomph.blogspot.com

Hannah/ Mommarazzi said...

I'm sorry to hear about your experience, while not as bad it was a very painful thing for me too. more physically. I thought any day I would wake up with no nipples. Excruciating. i am sure that this will help out a fellow momma with some encouragement!!

Hannah

Jessica said...

I'm so glad you shared your story! I had a very difficult experience too...I had such incredible pain when I nursed. They even put me on some medication, but it didn't help. I nursed for three weeks and every feeding I was crying and crying! Then I solely pumped for three months. I felt like such a failure...especially when we had to switch to only formula. Just know that whatever happens you are doing your very best as Mia's mother and that is all you can do!

Katie {Miss Dixie} said...

It's so good to hear real life stories as I prepare for our journey through nursing in several weeks. I'm glad yours has turned around!! xo

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am completely honest with new moms when they ask. Nursing is dang hard, exhausting, and sometimes it's just plain tedious and annoying. Oh and did I mention painful?! I had issues with BOTH of my boys. But I stuck with it, even through the frustration and it ended up working out great both times. You'd think for something so natural, it would be easier, right?? lol Proud of you, Mama!

Alyx said...

Love this. This pretty much confirmed that I am going to see a lactation consultant before I give birth. I've been really hesitant to do so, and very unsure. But THANK YOU for being honest, Courtney!

Shelley said...

I had a lot of issues too. Once you push past it though, it becomes sooo much better!!

Andrea said...

This post is SO accurate!! Love your honesty! This is so identical to my experience!

Ashley said...

I keep hearing how tough breastfeeding is, and I think it helps people not have high expectations for when they become pregnant and have a baby to feed. There's no right way to do it... like you said, whatever works for you and baby Mia! Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You can do it. :)

eliz said...

People have been posting how hard it is lately..I am getting a little scared. Hahaha At first I was like no breastfeeding for me...I wasn't breast fed. But I changed my mind (being pregnant has made me so much less selfish!). I am a bit scared though but there are way too many benefits not to try!

Kay Sour said...

Oh my goodness! I just posted about breast feeding today too. My little guy is only 5 days old and I have already had to give a bottle (of breast milk) because he just stayed ravenous! He is 10lbs! But your words are so true! My friend Megan Mackey sent me to read your post. Thanks for being so honest!

Kate @ Daffodils said...

It is tough, especially when you feel that pressure of being a 'failure' even though you aren't at all! I got an infection with my second baby and wasn't able to continue nursing anfterward. At first it embarrassed me, but 19 months later he is a happy, healthy and perfect little man~

kyna... said...

Such an awesomely honest post! I know a lot of new mom's will benefit from hearing this Court!
Kyna

Jessie said...

Yes, yes, I understand EVERYTHING! The pain, (when that milk comes in you look like a porn star, except it hurts!) the bleeding, and the worst part is the emotional roller coaster. I've done it twice now. The second time was much easier, but I still shed many tears over my new baby. Those hormones coupled with a lack of sleep is just plain crazy.

Good for you for sticking it out. I know you will enjoy the next months of nursing very much! (Especially when those prego pounds start melting away.)

Tara said...

It is difficult, but don't ever let yourself feel like a failure as long as you are doing your best to be a good mum to your precious baby. I was lucky, they wouldn't let me leave until my milk came through and then I had a consultant come in over and over again until I got it right. It takes practice for all of us babies and mummys alike. Your doing great.

Tara said...

It is difficult, but don't ever let yourself feel like a failure as long as you are doing your best to be a good mum to your precious baby. I was lucky, they wouldn't let me leave until my milk came through and then I had a consultant come in over and over again until I got it right. It takes practice for all of us babies and mummys alike. Your doing great.

Jasmyne! said...

LOVE this post, in all honesty nursing was ONE of the hardest things of "mommyhood" I have encountered so far! The love and support of my family I think was the reason I continued, like you said in the end you have to do whats best for your family!

Leslee said...

Hey Girl I totally agree with all of these comments. Breastfeeding is Rough! But bottle feeding helps Dad feel like he's helping out too!! I have a friend that has a baby with a heart issue so he isn't strong enough to latch on for long enough to eat, so she has had to pump for the past 6 months. She's a rock star but even pumping she feels like she is chained to that darn pump!
I just didn't produce enough milk and always had to supliment with formula from day one. Then I worked full time and couldn't keep up with my baby just by pumping. Everyone has their nursing battles! I also have a friend that chose NOT to nurse from day one because she had such a horrible experience with her first baby. We live in a day and age where the formula has everything in it your baby needs. yes breast milk is always better because it has the antibodies. But everyone is different. SO GLAD you are doing better and you and mia have figured it out. Enjoy those silent midnight hours you spend with that little angel. some people hate being up in the night....I always found it peacful once I was able to get the kid calmed down and eat :) Keep up the good work!!

Kari said...

Love this post!! I plan on breastfeeding as well and it's helpful for me to read stories like this..to know that it may not be all puppies and rainbows at first. ;)

Our hospital has 4 LCs that visit you throughout your visit and then meet with you after you bring the baby home, so hopefully that will help!

I'm a little nervous about it because I, obviously, haven't done this before, but I'm willing to give it a go!

I'm so glad it's going better for you!! You're doing great, mama!

Kari said...

Love this post!! I plan on breastfeeding as well and it's helpful for me to read stories like this..to know that it may not be all puppies and rainbows at first. ;)

Our hospital has 4 LCs that visit you throughout your visit and then meet with you after you bring the baby home, so hopefully that will help!

I'm a little nervous about it because I, obviously, haven't done this before, but I'm willing to give it a go!

I'm so glad it's going better for you!! You're doing great, mama!

Katie said...

So proud that you stuck it out girl!!! You are an amazing mommy to sweet Mia, don't ever forget that!! :)

nate and amy crandell said...

Amen Amen! Nursing was the worst pain I had ever felt in my whole LIFE! I always pump for a few months then formula. Thanks for sharing your story :) Proud of You!

Ariana Nelson said...

I am so glad to read that you're having more success with nursing, but it makes me feel horrible because I gave up :'(

Kendra L. said...

Sorry to hear you had such a hard time, but huge props to you for sticking it out! Nursing IS hard in so many ways. I don't think I ever got "normal" or good at nursing till my son was like 9 months old! Lactation consultants are amazing. I think part of the reason people don't tell you how hard it really is (at least for me) is because it's one of those things that everyone has a different experience and different problems and I hate to be another negative story teller and I can't say they'll have a similar experience either. I guess the key is in the delivery. You delivered your story well :)
You're doing a great job!

Anna & Kirby said...

I get choaked up reading this... So happy things turned around though :) you're a great mother!

Shay said...

I felt like I was pretty prepared emotionally for our sweet boy but man was I wrong- no one prepares you for the woes of nursing! Awesome that you hung on. You are an awesome mom!

Greta said...

Awwww - this is DEFINITELY something myself and SO many women can relate to. You can't learn breastfeeding until you actually do it, and most, if not all, first time mamas need lots of help. Every time a nurse came into my room I was asking questions, and I paged the lactation consultant about ten times. It was STILL hard to get the hang of. Thanks for this post that I'm sure will encourage many mamas!

Brittany Lew Whoo said...

i didn't even realize how hard it is, it makes me nervous for when i have to nurse! but you're inspiring as always.

Denise said...

Breastfeeding sounds absolutely terrible!! haha even so I still hope to breastfeed my next one! Here's to hoping!

Leslie said...

OH my gosh SO glad i read this! I went through the SAME exact thing when my son was born. Milk wasn't coming in, son wasn't latching and I cried ALL the time over it. For some reason I associated formula with failure. Thank goodness it eventually does get easier and I'm so glad you were able to find some help!! thanks for sharing your story :) hope things continue to get easier and easier for yall!

Tisha said...

Nursing IS difficult! I was lucky that my baby latched right in the delivery room, and my hospital had lactation consultants checking in all the time. But the first couple of weeks were excruciating. The baby is what the docs and nurses call a "barracuda feeder," which means he sucks really hard (so they expected me to experience pain!). I was really sore for a while, and there were times I would cry while feeding. My husband wanted to switch to the bottle too, but I really want to do pure breastfeeding for at least a month. It's gotten better but he gets hungry so quickly, so he's on there practically every hour sometimes. I've just accepted my role as a milk dispenser for now!

Just know that you're not alone. I would message my mommy friends at the start, and they all said that it would get better. And some of them reassured me that they cried too, others told me about how cracked their nips got.:s One even said that she would be nursing and her tears would be falling on her baby because she was in so much pain. I could totally relate!

ajs {of MN} said...

real truth and honesty is both comforting and appreciated more than you will know! i had SUCH a hard time emotionally with BF- i gave up... i had to allow myself to do what was right for baby and not me! i just think and hope that the next time will be better and might be a little more prepared and have more under my belt it what to expect/not expect!

Antoinette said...

Such an amazing honest post! I could relate to this so much as I had similar problems with breastfeeding in the beginning which thankfully I managed to overcome.

Deveny said...

This happens a lot more than I thought, because my story is close to yours. Nursing wasn't easy for me and my son was NOT interested in trying. Apparently I was the same as a baby as well. So after long days of trying and trying with nipple shields and not gaining weight, it was formula for us.
I pumped for a while but it took up so much time and wasn't the most comfortable thing that I stopped. And we were all happier for it. :)

Moms need to get over themselves that their way is the best way and just be happy when other moms/babies are happy and healthy.
Great post.

Autumn said...

I am a little worried about how much nursing will hurt. I keep hearing about these experiences and I am glad because it helps me know that when we have a baby...it just doesn't work out sometimes.

Kirsty and Seth said...

I loved reading this, especially as I had a bit of a rough time with breastfeeding and once I began to feel like I was getting somewhere, Caleb didn't want anything to do with me!! I blogged about it too -
http://kirstyandseth.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/breastfeeding-or-bottle-feeding.html

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