Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

Why I Hated Breastfeeding (And How That Changed) Part I
March 23, 2012, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Children, Motherhood | Tags: ,

I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding. I nurse my baby girl everywhere and do my best to promote breastfeeding and support nursing mamas.But, I never judge another mama for choosing to bottle-feed. Some mamas can’t breastfeed even after trying everything to produce enough milk for their baby. Sometimes circumstances make it almost impossible. I know this first hand…

When I was a few days away from delivering my first born, my mom came to stay.  “You’re going to LOVE breastfeeding,” she said. “It’s so special to bond with your baby that way. You’ll just love it.” Whether I was going to breastfeed or not hadn’t even crossed my mind. I knew I would love it. But I was WRONG. 

After birthing a perfect and healthy baby boy, I nursed him right away. It worked but…it wasn’t exactly intuitive. For the first day he nursed on and off and seemed to be latching well. He was sleepy and happy. But on the second day everything changed. He started to cry. ALL THE TIME. I didn’t know it then but I had just birthed what seemed to be the most colicky baby in existence. I would snuggle him and he would cry. I would nurse him and he would cry. Nothing would console him and HE WOULD NOT SLEEP. I continued to nurse him but he would latch and unlatch a thousand times during each feeding and about 30 seconds into a meal he would arch his back and start to scream. It was unbearable.

At his first pediatric appointment, I explained to the Dr., “He cries…like all the time. Even when everything should be ok! And he’s spitting up so much.” I was told, “Babies cry. Babies spit up. He’s fine.” “Well, sure,” I said, “but he cries so much that it just doesn’t seem right.” “Well, you’re a first time mom, so you’re just not used to it,” he retorted.

I kept nursing him, but it was horrible. We would both cry. It was clear: my baby hated to nurse. And I hated it, too.  After 5 weeks, I had to go back to work. So, I pumped dutifully and my son took the bottle pretty well. So well, in fact, that he didn’t want to feed at the breast ever again. So I pumped. I pumped and pumped and pumped some more. I was pumping about 3 hours a day which was more than I was sleeping because the child WOULD NOT SLEEP. At his next appointment, his weight gain was still good, but after describing his behavior again, the Dr. diagnosed him with reflux and prescribed Zantac (which did nothing).

By four months, I was a mess. Working full-time away from my baby was killing me. I would cry on my way to work knowing that I wouldn’t see him for 9 hours. And the sleep deprivation. Oh, the sleep deprivation! I was so exhausted that it hurt, physically hurt, to be awake. My whole body ached. I couldn’t think. My baby would sleep for an hour at a time, no more, and I was unraveling.

I hated nursing. My baby hated nursing. I was pumping more than I was sleeping. I just couldn’t do it anymore…

I wish the end of this story was that I perservered. I wish that I knew other breastfeeding mamas who had similar struggles to encourage me to keep going. I wish that I had been able to quit working and focus on my baby. I wish I had figured out sooner that the reflux and eczema my baby struggled with pointed to a milk allergy. Sadly, that’s not what happened. I switched to formula. The good news is that I had a second chance…

Part II coming soon! While you wait for it, check out Why I Breastfeed in Public: The Blessed Virgin Mary Does it!

Photo credit: Jade Pierce Photography (Jade does Lifestyle and Wedding Photography and she’s amazing.)

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I had a very similar experience! Mags would never latch and we had to use a nipple shield, which was incredibly frustrating, as the dog ate about a zillion of them. After about two months, I ended up just pumping full time and giving her breast milk that way. We did that until she was six months old and I’m sad to say I gave up…I was just too worn out. I’m really hoping that we do better in May when baby 2 comes along. Anyway, I’m anxious to hear part two of this post!!

Also, how do you know Jade?? She’s one of my good friends from college (and is completely amazing)…perchance we have more mutual friends! 🙂

Comment by ohblessyourheart

Small world! I know Jade through Jessica Studinka-Bullock. We met during Jessica’s wedding events and kept in touch during Jade’s pregnancy and beyond through FB. Just got to hang out with her in TX during our recent trip since she did all the wedding photography. Such a treat to see her. She’s the best.

Comment by carrotsformichaelmas

I’m always so glad to see more women willing to share their mothering/pregnancy struggles – not as a deterrent but as a way to share a bond as most women have one thing that they truly struggle with in motherhood that everyone claims will be “so easy and you’ll love it”.

I choose to bottlefeed from the beginning because we were unsure if my almost crippling antepartum depression would continue and turn into PPD (and what medications, etc. I might have need to go on if it did. Thank God that it went away almost immediately following birth) and haven’t felt guilty about it as I knew it was the right thing to do for my uncertain situation. But, it’s up there on my list of things that I’m definitely doing when #2 comes around, just under “enjoy being pregnant this time”.

I look forward to reading the rest of the story!

Comment by Molly W

p.s. our little boy is also our “Little Bear” =D

Comment by Molly W

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