Breastfeeding: Easier Said than Done

posted in: My Life, Opinion, Parenting 50 comments

I need to get something off my chest.  The chest that has my boobs on it that fed all my children and still feed Violet.  Breastfeeding is easier said than done.  Violet is probably my last child (*weeping*) and I feel like I should share my journey as she is 14 months old and will start to wean in the coming months.

It has come to my attention time and time again that many people assume I (and many other women) stuck with breastfeeding because it must have just clicked for me.  I hear things like “I wish it had been so easy for me” and I want to respond, but I know whatever I say will come out sounding like I am obsessed with other women’s lactation decisions.  I am not.

I have no problem with mothers making the choice to breastfeed or formula feed.  I totally get that some mothers cannot breastfeed and wish they could.  I understand that certain work scenarios make it almost impossible to maintain a milk supply.  There are so many reasons why breastfeeding may or not work for a woman.  I am not commenting on or judging those reasons.  I promise. 

Here’s the thing though…

Please don’t look at me and assume this breastfeeding thing is all easy and sweet.  Because breastfeeding is the one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.   It is also one of the things I am most proud of and I will never regret going through what I have in order to nurse my children. 

I, like many people, said I was going to breastfeed my children.  I was sure of it.  My mom breastfed all of us and never mentioned it being hard.  I figured it might take a couple days but then everything would be wonderful.  I did not fully understand it all or what it would take, but I read the books and went to the classes and said “I’m going to do that.”

No matter what happened, I did that and I am still doing it.  Some days I can’t believe it.  I thought about giving up.  It was that hard.

In the Beginning…and After the Beginning

In September of 2006 Sophia was born.  My milk came in right away, so fast that she could not latch on when I held her in the moments after she was born.  She would simply slide off.  I spent the days in the hospital crying through the night while lactation consultants came in and tried every position to help my firstborn to eat.  She got some milk while I was in the strangest positions and while it was painful, I could actually squeeze milk into her small mouth.   My lactation consultant advised me to come in 2 days after we went home.  Everyone thought that I just got my milk early and that after the normal engorgement everything would work itself out. 

When I got to the LC’s office I had a low grade fever and my breasts were as hard as rocks.  I had a small red area on one side and as I cringed in pain while holding Sophia’s mouth to my breast to eat, the LC informed me that I was most likely already experiencing mastitis from being unable to empty the milk and from the strange way that Sophia had to eat so that she would not drown in milk.  I am not kidding, if she did not clench down and take one gulp at a time her little face would be covered in milk.  It was terrible for her as she ended up choking and spitting and upset.  It was awful for me as I wondered what to do and felt completely embarrassed.  The two of us were constantly dripping.  I went home with a call into my OB for antibiotics and a scale to measure how much milk Sophia was actually getting.  Turns out if you cover the baby in milk not a lot goes in.

It did not take long to figure out that I was struggling with hyperlactation.  I had weekly appointments with the LC for a couple of months.  I made WAY too much milk.  It’s funny because some people find breastfeeding hard because they have to nurse or pump so much to keep supply up.  I had to do a crazy routine of block feeding combined with minimal pumping and then a once a day pump out to keep my supply from building up and getting me sick. 

Sophia and I finally figured out our own little complicated routine.  I cherish the moments I have spent nursing each of my children and do not regret at all my decision to stick with it.  However, my overproduction was not improving.  I had mastitis multiple times, constantly struggled with plugged ducts and was completely exhausted and overwhelmed by breastfeeding in my first few months of motherhood.

Besides being sick, I never really thought about the fact that my husband could not breastfeed.  No one’s can, unfortunately.  It was all my boobs…all the time.  We could not get Sophia to take a bottle and with our crazy weighing and recording and pumping schedule there was little Ross could do to help.  Why take a bottle when the milk came so much faster from the boob?  Nothing worked.  There is a joke that Brittany does nights.  I have been up for so long at all hours of the morning that it is true.  I do nights. Ross does give backrubs, bless his heart.

Back to Work

When Sophia was 14 weeks old, I went back to work with my pump.  I never went anywhere without a pump.  I had the hand pump for my purse (still do) and the big double electric for work.  My team and boss were aware that I was breastfeeding, but man was it hard.  I had to pump every three hours or risk a very embarrassing situation at work.  I took calls from the little room I pumped in.  I sat attached to those plastic cups with my blackberry in hand, trying to keep up with my days.  At the end of that day I had two coolers full of small bottles of milk.  We all thought that with me at work she would learn to take the bottle quickly.  We were all wrong.

Sophia did something called reverse cycling, where instead of learning to sleep through the night and eat during the day, the baby holds out during the day, content to get all of their nutrition directly from their mama.  She would have only a few sips at daycare and then nurse every couple of hours all night long.  She ate almost constantly from 6 to 10 p.m. and then every 3 hours until I left for work.  Honestly, it was grueling.  Also, our freezer was completely full of milk that she never drank.

I told everyone I knew that I was devoted to breastfeeding 100% and not to give me the option to give up.    Things were so hard that even my husband Ross, who fully supported me, told me he would still be proud of me if I gave up.  He was worried about me.  I was too, but each day things got a little tiny bit easier and I told myself that motherhood would require many battles and many sacrifices.  This was just one of them. 

Finally at around 7 months old, Sophia took a bottle.  Finally, she was drinking all that milk I pumped.  It felt like a miracle.  She started to sleep through the night and I started to feel like a human being again.

I ended up quitting my job.  I am so lucky that I was able to do that, but it made me so sad.  I love working and I was good at what I did.  I just needed to focus on being a mom and on feeling better.  Very soon after leaving my job I was feeling like a human again and I was pregnant again.

While I never wrestled with reverse cycling again, breastfeeding did not get easier the 2ndand3rd time around.

All My Children

As it turns out…none of my kids were big bottle fans.  Miles started learning to drink from a sippy at 6 months old and Violet has actually never wanted anything to do with one.  Yes, we tried it right away and kept trying.  Yes, we had babysitters try.  She is a no go.  She would not even try standard sippies until recently.  Just the boob.  Always the boob. 

All of my kids had to be weighed at each feeding to see how much milk they were getting, much like babies nursing from low milk supply or with latch issues. 

I continue to struggle with hyperlactation andhadmy last bout of mastitis just a couple months ago.  My LC is my friend now.  We got close.

I continue to leak milk each and every day.  I had to put pads in to write this post.  Violet is 14 months old and the furthest I have been from her is a party we went to 15 miles from my house.   While I have gotten the crazy spray under control (it used to shoot across the room) this is not ideal in any way. 

All of my children learned to nurse with a lot of work and patience.  It is a beautiful thing for me to feed them.  It just didn’t come “naturally” at all.

Breastfeeding Blues

I don’t think this is an actual term, but man do I feel like a fish out of water sometimes.   I have a lot of friends who had babies at the same time as me and a few that breastfed and a lot that did not, at least not past a month or so.  When you are breastfeeding, especially with a bottle hating baby, there are no breaks.  I am not invited to girls weekends.  We have missed couples getaways and anything that involves not bringing the baby.  Sometimes I just want to stop, but I don’t feel like it’s the right time and honestly, if Violet is my last, I am not ready to give up this time we have together.  I do want a night away with Ross or with friends, but we are just not ready.

Right Now

Things are easier now.  Violet is a good eater and my hyperlactation is as under control as it can be.  For the first time, I do not have to pump anymore, and I couldn’t be more excited to feel less like a cow and more like a lady.  While Violet still eats throughout the night we have a schedule and hey, she’s a cute addition to any blogging conference.  We will go on vacation alone at some point.  My other children self-weaned.  I think perhaps it was because things change when you are pregnant and my supply diminished, allowing me to cut out feedings.  I’m not preggers so at this point she is still getting lots of yummy milk.  Why wean?  As she gets busier I think she will drop some daytime feedings and I do hope that she starts to sleep through the night.  All in all, we are good. 

My Choice

I know that this is my choice.  At any time I could be done and say goodbye to breastfeeding.   I’m not looking for anyone to feel bad for me, just to share my story.  For me, as long as I could nurse my children, I was going to do it.   Many people are shocked that I kept breastfeeding.  Even my pediatrician suggested it was okay if I stop.  I never asked for anyone else to approve of my choice but I did ask them to support it.   While I make jokes about my struggles I have never really expressed how hard it was.   Most breastfeeding moms I talk to have struggled at some point and know what a challenge it can be to stick with it until it starts to feel natural and fit in your life.  I know I am not alone.

Breastfeeding my children is a gift.  Despite the battles, I would not make a different choice if I could.  Believe me, there are parenting areas in which I take the easy road.  This is just one where I decided to fight for my choice.  And I was lucky enough to win.

My Point (If there is one)

Yes, this is my story.  All moms have one.  It sometimes feels like because of the formula vs. breast milk war breastfeeding moms are not allowed to express their story for fear of offending a mom who could not or chose not to breastfeed.  Motherhood is hard no matter what choices you make in breastfeeding or anything else.   Motherhood is not a competition.  Sharing our different choices and journeys is important.    Maybe telling my story will allow another mom who is struggling to stick with it.  Maybe it will simply make people aware that the pride a breastfeeding mom feels is not because she is looking down on anyone else, but because she is happy with herself and this accomplishment.  Maybe my story will upset some people.  I sincerely hope not. 

I am that mom who is really proud of myself for sticking with it.  Because while breastfeeding my kids is one of the most amazing things I have ever done, I have something to tell you.     

It’s not all nips and giggles.

Brittany
I'm Brittany. I believe that simple is best and that smiling can make or break a day. I love being a woman, a wife and a mother. I like to make pretty things and making things with big tools. I am a huge fan of good design. I love to travel. Hugs make me happy. I share my life, experiences, tips and tutorials in the hope that this community can find a whole lot of awesome together.
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50 comments… add one

  • March 18, 2011 Liz @ Loving Mom

    What a wonderfully honest post. I am reading it as I prepare to go pump at work. No one really did tell me how hard it would be to breast feed (to afraid to scare me off I bet) but it is hard. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be with over supply issues. I personally have pumping issues – no matter what I do or what I try I can never pump even close to what they need – but we have found what works for us, and all of my kids received supplemental formula very early on, and not once have I felt guilty for it!!

    There is so much sacrifice involved in breastfeeding – so much time that it takes and so many things that have to be given up just to even try to succeed. It is worth it, and whether I make it just 1 more month or 11 I’ll be happy I did it as long as I could.

    Great post Mama!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Loukia

    It was an amazing experience for me, too. I only breastfed each baby for six months, and it was hard for me to stop, but I loved the entire experience.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      I am so glad you had such a positive experience. For me, the good is so good but the bad was just so bad. It really was so hard for me. I really do feel like it is hard to share the whole positive experience without upsetting someone who did not breastfeed. I wish the whole discussion was easier but it is so emtional for so many moms.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Melisa

    Amen to this! I think even those if us that breastfeed need to be able to tell others that it is indeed hard and not all nips and giggles! My son nursed for 2 years and now I have a 2 week old that is going strong…
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Yes! We need to be able to talk about without fear that it will upset people or make new moms hesitant to start. The more honesty the better. In my opinion, it is good for women to hear that sometimes, if you work through all the hard stuff, things can be wonderful. So many women lose their support network when it gets hard and end up with a low milk supply from supplementing and then unable to continue. I was so blessed to have my husband and mother and LC who all said I could do it and stuck with me through the tears. It was worth it.

      Congrats on your new baby!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Candice

    As one of those moms who wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t/didn’t, thank you for writing this. This is definitely a side to breastfeeding that is not told often enough. I know all bf’ing moms struggle, but I always figured those struggled occurred in the first few months when everyone is learning and at the end when the mom wants the baby to stop and is struggling to wean OR when the baby weans and the mom is sad. It hadn’t occurred to me that it could be an ongoing struggle while still being something you love and are proud of accomplishing.

    You are lucky for the support you have, too. I wish I had that support. Nate is 10 mths old now and I still cry when I wonder if I could’ve bf if I gave it just a few more days, if someone like an LC had been around to push me and support me.

    Have you ever thought about becoming a LC? Sounds like you’d make a great one, I think. :)

    Thanks again for sharing. Wonderful, wonderful post.
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Candice, I actually thought about you when I was writing this. I could not have done this without support and a lot of co-pays :) A lot of moms stop because they don’t have that support and can’t ever see a successful end. I’m like Dory…”Just Keep Nursing” is all I said to myself, day in and day out. I guess looking back, it was the most important thing for me. For many moms it is not. Either way is fine. I just wanted to tell my story because it is something that I am proud of and I am so glad that it did not upset you!

      Please don’t cry sweetie. Nate is precious and doing just fine! Looking back won’t do any good, and I know you struggled with additional issues due to your surgery right? You are a FANTASTIC mommy!

      And yep, I’ve thought about becoming an LC but it’s too many hours and after talking to my LC it can be very discouraging with how many people choose not to do it. Anyway, when would I have time? I did volunteer to come in and talk to some bfing classes, so we will see how that goes!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Jamie

    I’m glad you wrote this post. Breastfeeding isn’t easy even if it is easy (if that makes sense). For me, I can never really offer any advice to anyone. I had some over supply problems in the beginning that regulated themselves (I only feed off of one side per feeding), I had the beginnings of thrush a time or two (easy to identify and treated with a vinegar/water solution), and the beginnings of a clogged duct twice. I can pump as much as I want (or don’t want) and it’s a simple process, physically.

    That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s not, but I think it’s worth the struggle. If for no other reason than we’ve saved thousands of dollars.

    Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Saint Tigerlily

    Ugh. Oh man. Ok, so at the insistance of my husband AND therapist I recently owned up to the fact that even with constant pumping at work and after feedings at home and in the middle of the night when Nico was sleeping I still was only JUST barely making enough milk and that is WITH reducing his intake to 5 oz bottles which made me feel guilty and terrible. I went to my pediatrician with a list of options: milk banks, homemade goat milk formula, etc., and she was (and this is really her style, and doesn’t quite gel with mine) dismissive of the other options I had listed (hospital grade pump? working from home one day a week?) and made it clear that the only option she found acceptable was to at least supplement with formula.

    Now we are doing that and I am so not on board. I won’t let the formula in the house. It is only half his bottle three times a day and ONLY at the daycare. I’m miserable over it. I blame myself. And there is just nothing anyone can say to make me feel other than a huge, horrible, selfish failure.

    I’m eating oats. I’m hydrating. I’m taking Fenugreek and Milk Thistle and Mother’s Milk. I’m meditating. I’m nursing at home and those moments when Nico and can connect are sweeter to me now than ever – particularly the 4:30 feeding, which they will have to pry from my cold dead hands, as it is the only time my 8 month old boy just settles down and nurses and tickles the fingertips of his free hand on my face and arm and stomach and makes little happy puppy wimpers. It is bliss.

    AND NOW, like they are physic or something, my boobs have decided to drop supply yet again. And I’m only pumping 1.5 in a sitting, three times a day, when I need to be pumping 3 (and was pumping 4-5). I’m baffled. I’m upset. I’m sick to my stomach over it. I’m fishing around for all different ways to blame myself or my work or any unfortunate soul near enough.

    I am angry at my breasts.
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      First sweetheart, I wish I still had that freezer full of milk. I would fed-ex it to you. No joke. Second, I wish you had my LC. She has worked with so many women on underproduction issues. I will shoot your comment to her and shee if she has any suggestions. While it will not help your sleep, have you thought of nursing Nico more at night? Lots of hard core bfing mamas who go back to work actually choose to reverse cycle. Just a thought. Babies can almost always make more milk than the pump. It sucks but they just suck better.

      I totally know about hating my breasts. For the opposite reason, mine have been my enemy.

      I too will be dead before I give up my 3 am with Violet and she is 14 months old. The tickles, the coos and the love. She is a little baby all over again and that time is sacred and precious! My pediatrician has opinions on this too. He is starting to really rub me the wrong way.

      Do not blame yourself. You are doing everything you can. I’ll let you know what my LC says.

      Hugs mama! You rock!

      Reply
      • March 18, 2011 Saint Tigerlily

        I meant “psychic” by the way…but I think you got that.

        Any info from the LC would be awesome. Thank you!

        And thanks, need those hugs.

        Stupid boobs.
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        • March 18, 2011 Bethany Adams

          I was only able to breastfeed for 3 months, and at the end, I only produced .5 ounce. I didn’t even notice when I dried up. I had 2 LCs tell me it was hopeless after trying everything, and I cried for at least the first week every time I had to give my daughter formula. I hated my breasts. But you know, my daughter is 8 months old now. She has been sick once, a very minor cold, and isn’t overweight. It will be okay!!!!!

          I know I can’t really say anything to help you not feel like a failure, but I want you to know that I’ve been where you are and it does get better. Do you think you could find a pediatrician who is willing to look at other options? If the goats milk formula makes you feel better, go for it. I don’t know why people feel so intensely about how other mothers feed their children. It should be your family’s decision.

          I hope you are able to find good support, no matter how it ends up working out.
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  • March 18, 2011 Alex

    I actually have a post entitled: The Breastfeeding Blues ! It’s all about how I’m glad that I breast fed but it didn’t help me bond especially with my second child. I did it. But I didn’t enjoy it. Thanks for talking about how it’s hard for some of us who DO breast feed!)

    (here’s the link — don’t feel obligated but I hate when people tell me they have a related post but don’t link to it. Searching for it is annoying:
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  • March 18, 2011 Mary

    What a wonderful post. I’m so glad that you shared your story. Breastfeeding is incredibly hard but at the same time so rewarding. I’ve been nursing my children for 3 1/2 years straight (including two years of nursing two at once) and there have been many times I wanted to quit. It can be painful, frustrating and just plain exhausting. But of course, it is an enormous blessing as well. Like you, I don’t look down on other parents at all for making different choices for their families. But I am proud of myself for sticking with this commitment because I know it is the right thing for my children and myself.

    I was lucky enough to have a doula that also did childbirth and childcare education but even she did not touch on this subject. I have felt like a failure so many times for it not coming easy. I remember my crazy ugly crying over it when my firstborn couldn’t latch properly. I would sob to my husband that I couldn’t even manage to feed my child the way nature intended. But after weeks of pumping and visits to the LC we got it worked out. I wish there were more resources that let moms know up front how hard it will be at times. I’d like to think that wouldn’t discourage moms from trying, but rather brace them for the challenges.

    I don’t even bother telling my pediatrician about nursing anymore. I used to would mention it expecting a “way to go!” only to get the blank smile and head nod. You and Violet will know when the time is right to quit. Also? How is she fourteen months already?! Weren’t you just pregnant yesterday?

    Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Kari

    Thank you for writing this. It’s wonderfully written. I ,too, have had many of your same issues and have breastfed all my children to 20 mos and alike you said – it isn’t easy, but ultimately worth it. But I do think this story needs to be shared and I do think you would make an EXCELLENT LC. :) One of my main reasons for wanting to become a certified nurse midwife is to give the support and knowledge and help to everyone who might not know how to do these things, wether it’s breastfeeding or natural birth or any of the thousand of decisions in between. If people can realize it won’t always be easy but like you, if people take baby steps, they can surprise themselves and have options they didn’t think they could do. Good job in putting your story out!

    Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Bethany Adams

    Thank you for writing this article. I’m one of the women who had supply problems, but I wasn’t offended by this. I think they don’t do enough to prepare you for any problems, even when you take a class. I had two classes, and never once did they mention these things. They didn’t mention under supply much except to say that a LC could fix it (boy, wasn’t I later surprised to find out they couldn’t always), and the only thing she said about over supply was that if we were one of the “lucky ones” with this, to let her know so we could donate milk. Clearly, you don’t feel especially “lucky” with this issue. :/

    Maybe they are afraid to scare us off, but I think that is counterproductive. When we get blindsided by the problems, it makes it easier to quit. I’m proud of the three months I did have because I know many people would have given up after a couple of weeks in my situation. I don’t blame them or look down on them for that just because I’m proud of my own actions. We all make the choices that we find best for our families.
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Good for you Bethany! There is not enough help available and certainly I agree that there should be more education up front. Even starting with every baby will not latch on would be awesome. Anyhoo, there is actually a difference between hyperlactation and oversupply. The reason this stinks is because it is not controllable and does not go away. It causes real problems and while milk can certainly be donated – the key is to keep from getting really sick and to be able to feed your baby. Thanks so much for your comment!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Kmama

    Breastfeeding was not easy for me. In fact, with my first son, I had to give up and go to formula feeding. It was easier with my second, but I never really liked it at all. It always felt like a chore to me. And while my son did take bottles (I also worked and had to pump at work), he refused formula, so when my supply started dwindling at about the time he was 10.5 months old, we were in dire straights. He took his first bottle of whole milk the Monday of the week he turned 1 year old. He liked it. And I then did a huge celebratory dance and had a big alcoholic drink. :-)
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Good for you! Violet hates cows milk no matter how lovely I maake it sound. Ugh. Breastfeeding is not easy and not everyone likes it. That’s for sure. I know people who were actually totally grossed out by it. It is harder I think when you go back to work because the pump is a chore – no doubt about it!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Mama Fuss

    Wow, I thought I had on oversupply. I still have to wear breast pads every night, (baby is nearly 7 mos) though mostly I can get away without them during the day, since he eats every 2.5-3 hours. I’m impressed that you stuck with it and I commend you!

    I’ve done a lot better the 2nd time around. I nursed my daughter until she was almost 10 mos old and self-weaned. (sort of. Now that I know more, I blame my moronic pediatrician for telling me I needed to introduce formula in a sippy cup at 6 mos.) I’m still going strong w/ my son and things are just EASIER, but there are still times when I’m like “you want to eat AGAIN?” It’s not easy. It would be WAY easier to give him a bottle, especially when we are out and about. But this is one thing I can do for him that is all me… But sometimes it’s HARD. Incredibly hard. Especially in those early days.
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Good for you sweetie! Like me you are just sticking to your choice and as long as that makes you happy then go for it! It is hard, and we are allowed to say that!

      And hello – does anyone else notice how moronic so many pediatricians are about breastfeeding??? Not all of course, but I see a trend!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Mara

    This takes me back. I had such mixed feelings about nursing. I knew what I was doing was amazing, and frankly I was amazed by my body – but like you, X didn’t take a bottle and all of a sudden I was captive! I had to steal away during the work day to nurse my baby. At the site of a bottle she would go bananas, it was painful for my husband and my mother (our caregiver at the time). Ultimately she weaned to a cup, but it was long hard and very stressful. In the end we learned she wasn’t getting enough to drink and we had a couple of tough months until things clicked and we found a method of milk delivery that was acceptable. Ultimately I weaned her at 9 months, when preggo with P….

    P was an entirely different story. A great eater! I couldn pump emough. I couldn’t keep up. We had to start supplementing with formula at her babysitter (it happens Blythie!), and she weaned herself to solids and formula at 6 months. I was heart broken. So quickly she didn’t want me anymore.

    Like you, I suffered with overactive boobs. It is only now, 12 months later that I finally feel like my body has recovered. I still have one boob that is fighting for dear life. I honestly think that just the sight of a newborn and I could be lactating again. Is that NORMAL?! Argh. Crazy body.

    Anyhow, thanks for posting… your frankness is refreshing.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      I hear you. I am afraid I might lactate forever. Given how much I want another baby, I think that would just kill me! Being captive is hard. I know I am so lucky to be able to breastfeed my kids but I really just want to scream sometimes…I can’t even go more than a few miles away on a date!

      We still actually worry about Violet getting enough milk. She hates cows milk (as all my kids do) but she also sucks at using a cup. We will keep trying but I am not quite sure what the right thing to do is?

      Crazy body. Crazy babies. I am with you hon.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Kimberly

    I am pretty certain that I had hyperlactation. I soaked through at least 4 hospital gowns during labour. The nurses and OB couldn’t believe it. My son latched on like a pro but i had to stop because I had an allergic reaction to the epidural which required a month long course of steroids. They weren’t sure how long the steroids would have stayed in my system so they told me to stop. Thing is I was both soooooo happy but felt so guilty for giving it up. I hated breastfeeding. Hated. However I felt lime such a failure. I was also in the deepest throes of postpartum depression and anxiety hell. I was literally fighting for my life. 2 years AFTER breastfeeding, my breasts still leak and yes I can shoot milk across the room and I still leak when I hear a baby cry. It’s the worst around periods. Thing is I still take medication for postpartum depression so my hormones are all over the place!

    I still haven’t forgiven myself for quiting. Hearing stories like yours and how you stuck it out gives me hope that the next time I will be more prepared and that yes it is hard for ALL moms. And if I can’t then it’s ok too.
    Thank you for sharing your story in a way that isn’t pro this or that. It’s a choice and you nailed it respectfully ;) I’m tweeting this.
    @momgosomething
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  • March 18, 2011 Beth

    Bravo! I truly enjoyed reading “the other side of the coin” as it were. In another century I would have had to hire a nursemaid for my kiddo. (Hard to believe he’s all grown up now.) Flat nipples (me), high palate (him), and my milk NEVER did come in convinced everybody that we needed to go to a bottle when Josiah was 2 weeks old, jaundiced, and losing weight way too fast. I grieved the loss but it was what was best for my one and only baby. I tried again (rented a pump) a short time later (once he had gained some weight) but no matter what … no milk.

    Interestingly enough … I often felt judged for not breastfeeding. It’s interesting to me that the tables have turned people now seem to judge women for breastfeeding at all or for doing it too long.

    We all have our own unique stories behind our choices, don’t we.
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    • March 18, 2011 Beth

      Sorry about the double interesting. I usually try to clean my writing up better than that. It’s been a LONG day!
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      We do and I never expected judgement for breastfeeding. It is not the same ind of judgement at all. It is more like a rule that you can’t talk about breastfeeding because that means you are all against people who dont/ That’s why I made it so clear that it not the case. I am nor for or against anybody’s choice, I am just proud of my own strength here.

      And hehe in another century I suppose I could have been a nursemaid. My family were farmers – I am sure they would have loved the extra money!

      Reply
  • March 18, 2011 Yuliya

    I am so glad you wrote you story. I just know it will help someone, and if these things are at all genetic it will help your daughters one day. I have had recurrent bouts of clogged ducts mastisis with this baby (I should really write my story down too), and I’m pretty bummed to hear you say that it happened with your next two kiddos, I was just being wildly optimistic and thinking it wouldn’t happen again…but at least I know what to do next time and who I can email to commiserate!
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  • March 18, 2011 Bryna

    I had a friend recently say, as I whipped my shield and breast out to feed my daughter, “I wish I could’ve done that. It’s so much easier.” And yes, at this point it is. I’m glad you wrote this because it wasn’t ALWAYS this easy! She said, “Didn’t you get tired when she ate every 1-2 hours?” Um, yeah… Of course I did. But I stuck it out. And dealt with the mastitis and burning (still not sure) and other ‘glorys’ of breastfeeding. SO, yes, easy now. Easy the whole time… hell no!

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  • March 18, 2011 IASoupMama

    My Violet was a reverse-cycler, non-bottle baby, too. And I was working full-time. And sleeping in a rocking chair, nursing a sleeping child all.night.long for 14 months before we put the kibosh to night-time feedings. She weaned at 29 months.

    Now I’m gearing up for a new challenge: tandem nursing the twins that will arrive in the next 5 or so weeks… gulp…

    Trying to nuse Milo, my first, was a disaster. He injured me so badly… I was pumping blood instead of milk. Gave up then because he wasn’t a vampire.

    Excellent post — loved it!!
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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      I am dying and why do I keep forgetting that we both have a Violet and a Milo (we call Miles that). Get ready for the two! I see the football hold in your future :)

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  • March 18, 2011 Jenn

    Thanks for sharing the other side of the coin! I was one that struggled to just barely get enough to feed my daughter and was always jealous of the ladies that talked about how much milk they were producing. I was also committed to breastfeeding my daughter for as long as she wanted, but again on the other side of the spectrum, we struggled with latch issues, nursing strikes, and biting. It was more me than her that kept us nursing for 13 months.

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    • March 18, 2011 Brittany

      Of course it was more you! And you know how hard breastfeeding can be. That’s really why I wrote this. I tink not enough people know that sometimes it is hard and we still stick with it. I am jealous of the ladies who make lots of milk. Just not this much. I was really sick and even got internal thrush – the most painful thing I have ever experienced bar none due to the ridiculous milk situation and the really bad way my kids have to latch on to prevent milk all over them :)

      13 months! You are a rockstar!

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  • March 18, 2011 IASoupMama

    My Violet was a reverse-cycler, non-bottle baby, too. And I was working full-time. And sleeping in a rocking chair, nursing a sleeping child all.night.long for 14 months before we put the kibosh to night-time feedings. She weaned at 29 months.

    Now I’m gearing up for a new challenge: tandem nursing the twins that will arrive in the next 5 or so weeks… gulp…

    Trying to nurse Milo, my first, was a disaster. He injured me so badly… I was pumping blood instead of milk. Gave up then because he wasn’t a vampire.

    Excellent post — loved it!!
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  • March 18, 2011 angela

    Thank you for sharing :) BFing is one of those things that can be so touchy for people, because there is such an emotional component to doing it/not doing it. I like the part where you talk about being proud of yourself is not about judging other people. I am so happy I was able to breastfeed my kids (although my daughter also had some formula), but I sometimes feel guilty talking about it!
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  • March 18, 2011 Katy

    Thanks for posting this today…I needed it. Elizabeth is an aggressive and fussy nurser….she latches and gives it all she’s got for a minute and then wants to switch sides. We do this 6 or 7 times for some feedings. I’m also not making enough for all her bottles when I work (even though I work p/t) . So she’s had to have some formula. Some days I wonder if it’s worth all the trouble, but I’m too cheap to put her on formula full time. I just pray she’s like my son and has no issues switching to cow’s milk when she turn 1.

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    • March 20, 2011 Brittany

      Good luck! Violet hates cows milk. Most babies love it though so I am hoping that Elizabeth does! Pumping is so hard, I know. Don;t worry about giving her formula sometimes. You do what you have to do and you are trying your best! You rock!

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  • March 19, 2011 Jennifer Bullock

    I am so thankful for this post!! I too have friends who had babies at the same time and have stopped nursing and I feel lonely in the breastfeeding circle. Baby C is the same exact way, she is a boob girl, no bottles, we’ve just started trying cows milk though because I’m planning on going to Type-A without the kiddos, but we’ll see what happens. Anyway, I want to congratulate you for hanging in there even with all the issues, it’s an amazing feat and takes a lot of energy both mentally and physically.

    Thanks for a great post!

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    • March 20, 2011 Brittany

      Isn’t is strange? Month my month there are fewer people to bond with over this and it is sad. I’ll be at Type A with the whole fam!

      And thank you for the lovely compliment!

      Reply
  • March 19, 2011 Kelly

    Thank you so much for sharing your story – I loved reading it.

    I gave up on breastfeeding (too early, I think) because of so many difficulties…and now that I look back I don’t even think they were that terrible! But I didn’t get/have the support I needed…what would have made all the difference.

    It is so important to have these stories – the inspiration, the honesty…I felt exactly like you before my daughter was born – that it would take a few days, but otherwise it would be easy. How little we know… :)

    I do hope that breastfeeding is easier for a lot of mums out there; I greatly admire the ones who do push through in spite of difficulty (whether it be great or small). Your conclusion is so true – we need to share our stories and we need to support each other…it’s the only way all of us are going to make it through! :)
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    • March 20, 2011 Brittany

      Thank you so much. Yes, I think real support and pre-birth education are the real things missing. We think it is going to happen so easily and naturally and then we don’t know where to go when it doesn’t.

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  • March 19, 2011 Carla

    I loved your story! I breastfed my kids until they were both about 18 months. I had a very hard start with my first but we got past that and it got better. With the second it was easier. That is the one thing I really miss about having a baby other than snuggling them and knowing they needed me the most. I loved just sitting there holding my boys knowing I was giving them my best. Any other Mom who breastfed knows this. It’s a special bond you have with your baby that no one else can have. I was so passionate about breastfeeding that I was planning on becoming an LC. I think about one day going back to work and wonder what I could do and I keep coming back to that. Maybe one day I will.
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    • March 20, 2011 Brittany

      Do it! The world needs more good LC’s! Especially one’s who have been through a tough time bfing!

      Reply
  • What a wonderful, heart-felt post about the struggle to breastfeed. I admire your tenacity and don’t think I have ever read a post about having too much milk in such detail.

    I get so sad when I read that moms feel lonely, moms that breastfeed and moms that formula feed. That’s why I started writing about my breastfeeding experience — to let moms know what worked for me and to offer a lot of (free) resources.

    Lately, I have been writing a lot about extended breastfeeding because my little boy still hasn’t weaned from nursing at home and to fall asleep, and he’s over 4 years old now :) But I wouldn’t change it for the world. As your youngest child is probably the last one, L will most likely be my only child, so I cherish every last moment I get to breastfeed him.

    Dagmar ~ Dagmar’s momsense
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  • April 4, 2011 gina

    ohhh…we have a lot in common! hyperlactation was such a struggle for me as well. we worked through it (but it took awhile) and i just weaned my 3rd who is also 14 months…bittersweet indeed. saw you are going to Mom 2.o – i would love to connect with you there!

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  • May 7, 2011 Deborah McKinney

    I loved reading this because although I breastfed both my children I never found it easy, either!! There were many tears and painful moments. But I was determined and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so glad I did it. Kudos to you!

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  • May 9, 2011 Jaclyn

    I just read your blog. I have been breast feeding for almost a year. My first will be one on May 18th at which point the plan is to ween and get some of my life back. I just wanted to thank you for allowing me a moment to feel proud of myself for getting to this point. Over the past year I have heard a lot of, “Ew, why are you doing that?” and “Why don’t you just ween him off already?” and “Oh, I wish it had been that easy for me to breastfeed.” I returned to work when Alex was 12 weeks old and have been attached to a pump ever since. It wasn’t easy, it was down right exhausting. I hope I have the energy to do this for future children as well. While I have my supporters, they are few and far between. So thank you for reminding me that I have indeed accomplished something here. One small victory in a lifetime of many battles.

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  • June 10, 2011 Becky

    I had an overactive letdown until my supply regulated at around 6 weeks and it was horrible seeing my son practically choke on the milk as it came out. This wasn’t my biggest problem with breastfeeding though – I was in so much pain those first few weeks that I really didn’t think I would achieve my target of reaching 6 months. My nipples were horribly sensitive, they cracked after every feed and putting him back on was excruciating. I remember gripping my hubby’s hands as tears poured down my face while my son fed. I didn’t believe that breastfeeding could ever be that happy experience so many mums rave about.

    Luckily, I was stubborn in my desire to succeed and after the first month my nipples toughened up. I’m pleased to say my son is almost a year old now and our nursing relationship is still going strong. I’ve sailed past the 6 month minimum I wanted to achieve and will happily let him wean when he’s ready. And I can honestly now say it is a fantastic experience!
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  • October 12, 2013 Aurora T. Agee

    Well, I guess I was one of the lucky ones because breastfeeding was not a problem for me. I don’t know what stores some of these women shop at, but I didn’t have to spend “a thousand dollars” or even close to it for breastfeeding “accessories”! A rocking chair, a pillow, an inexpensive breast pump (yes they have them!) and that was about it. Sorry, but it sounds like too much overanalyzing and whining to me!
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