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Friday, April 27, 2012

Get off me you suckling little leech

As you may or may not have guessed, this post is about breastfeeding.

When trying to think of a topic for today, I was texting with my friend Mary.  She suggested a post on breastfeeding, and I though "why the hell not?  It's cheap, sustainable, and quality food.  If I can include a joke about poop or farts, it meets all my posting criteria"!

Let me preface this post by saying it will be about my experiences only.  It's not a comprehensive "how to", nor is it intended to be a health resource.  Got those kinds of quesitons?  Contact a lactation consultant or the Le Lache League.  Also, this post will not boob slap you if you didn't/couldn't breastfeed.  I'm not judging your choices.  While the composition of breast milk is best for baby, a crying and depressed mom who feels like a failure each time they nurse their child is not best for mom.  Or baby.  Society places enough pressure on women and moms.  The last thing we need is to feel bad about what you do with our breasts.

I nursed Jack until he was 2 years and 4 months old.  I never intended for it to go that long, but that's how it ended up working out for us.  Our road to extended breastfeeding was long, exhausting, painful, and hard.  The first thing I always tell new moms is that it is ok to hate breastfeeding.  It seems so natural - you have a nipple, and your new little baby has a mouth.  These things should just click and you should just be able to lay around and blissfully watch your child nurse.

Or, if you were in my shoes, it's more like you would cry and want to throw up each and every time you realized that this screaming beast wanted to eat.  And they ALWAYS want to eat.  I birthed a child with a 99th percentile head without so much as a Tylenol, but I would beg for a boob epidural for over a month after Jack was born.

I am fairly convinced that my child was born with a full set of teeth.  It felt like an angry pirahana was tring to drain my will to live; one painful ounce at a time.  I saw multiple lactation consultants, hounded the local Le Lache League and my doula incessantly, and all agreed that the latch was fine.  The problem was that my kid had a suction so powerful that my boob was like a seagull in the path of a jet engine.  A lactation consultant at the hospital put her finger in Jack's mouth to test his latch.  She went to remove it, and ended up dragging him to the other end of the bassinet because he refused to let go.  He bruised her finger.  My kid was a pit bull, and the world was his pork chop.

Each time I nursed in the first two and a half months, I thought "this is it.  I'm done after this one".  I had given it my best shot, but I was sore, tired, and just done.  Maybe I was too delirious to remember that I planned to quit, but that "last nursing" just didn't come.  One magical day around week 9, Jack latched on and I realized I hadn't gritted my teeth, my toes weren't curled, and there was not desire to throw up in my mouth.  "This is it", I thought, "I've got it.  We're golden"!

And then life and god chose to humble me and Jack was diagnosed with a dairy allergy.

Well then.

I had an oversupply issue from the start, and as a result had pumped 300 plus ounces in 13 shorts weeks.  Like the good hoarding momma squirrel that I was, my freezer was stocked to the hilt!  The dairy allergy meant all that milk had to be thrown out.  And I was no longer allowed to eat dairy.

Well then.

I cried.  I yelled.  I cursed.  After a good pity party, and an hour of ugly crying, I found a very deserving new momma through my doula to donate it all to.

The next few months were a blur as all days with a new baby are.  There was a case of mastitis, clogged ducts, and milk blisters that made me think that I would make a great POW.  After all that pain, nothing could break me!  Water boarding?  Bitch, please.  I've pumped at full volume until the blister poppped and blood shot out of my boob.  Put your thumb screws away sir and go home.  You're only getting my name and rank.

Eventually, things improved - they got less painful, and we hit our rhythm.  Around 7 months, my supply tanked, but I fought it ever ounce of the way with Mother's Milk Tea, oatmeal, fenugreek, etc.

Because I worked fulltime, I pumped in cars, closets, bathrooms, dark corners - anywhere I could get a moment of privacy.  Jack had a voracious appetite and needed 20-25 ounces per day while I was at work.  Combine all the early morning and multiple night-time nursing, and I felt like Jack was getting his needs served.

By 7 (ish) months, breastfeeding and pumping were just part of my life.  It was no longer (too) stressful, nor was it painful any more (thank the lord).  It was finally enjoyable.  It took me over half of a year to get why moms did this for so long.

If you made it this far, chances are you're:
a) a fellow momma
b) an anticipatory momma
c) working on being a momma
d) an incredibly supportive husband/dad
e) a pervert who entered the search "boobs and pork chops" in to Google

If b, c, or d motivated you to read all of this, I really hope you walk away with the idea that even if breastfeeding isn't an "instant match" for you, that's ok.  You don't have to love it.  You may not be "good" at it.  You may hate it.  Or you may be a boob rockstar (like my lucky ass sister).  Whatever "role" you find yourself playing, please know that you aren't alone.  You aren't a bad mom becase you can't get your kid to latch.  This shit can be hard work.  If you have any questions about experiences, I'm always willing to help if I can.  Helping others avoid what I went through beings me great joy.

Feel free to shoot me an email anytime with questions about this.  I'm an open book.

Perverts of course need not apply.

51 comments:

  1. I have 6 children and attempted breast feeding with each one. It did not always work out but when it did it was great however it seems at about 9 months my milk would dry up. I am having my last baby in july this year and plan to breast feed and after reading this I'm going to try to feed past 9 months. With the last one it was so depressing for me when I just was not producing. I tried fenugreek, red rasberry leaf, and one other I can not remember right now... Also tried pumping... Alot... I felt like my boobs were constantly attached to either a baby or a machine.. It seemed I knew how a dairy cow felt. Lol. I also got the milk blisters and write those are PAINFUL!! I'm praying the experience with this one is better and I just encourage moms who had a difficult time with one child to try again if your having another because each time is different. It did not just get better for me, my first was bad because she was 9#9oz at birth and I was only 19 so I fed her for about a month b4 giving up, then the second was a bit better, the third was great and then the 4th and 5th were terrible! Cracks, bleeding, pain, just bad, then the 6th was great till I dried up...
    You have inspired me to try even harder with this baby. :-)

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    1. Was it blessed thistle you tried?

      I'm so impressed you kept it up for 6 kids!!!! Good luck with #7!

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  2. You are hillarious! I am a first time mom to and my little guy is 14 months. We are still BF'ing when we are home together. I NEVER intended to still be doing it -- I was one of those that thought breastfeeding a 'child' after the infancy stage was WEIRD! But, once you start, it's like crack --I can't stop. It is just too easy and convenient. I was happy to stop pumping at work around 1 yr, when I started transition cow milk into the diet, but still, when we are together, it's the boob!

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    1. I threw myself a party when I stopped pumping at work - also 12 months! Such a great day!

      After 1 year, Jack only nursed in the am and right before bed.

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  3. Great motivation! I had a hard first few months because he wouldn't latch, he used a bottle first so we had to convince him that boob was just as good. With the help of a nipple shield that I could not leave home with out, a lactation consultant and a very supportive husband we got through the first two months and now we've made it to 9. He is rougher than most babies (or so I'm told) because he learned on a bottle first, and now that he has teeth it is hard some days, but with only 3 months until cow's milk I'm trying to hold on. Usually my motivation is walking down the baby aisle and seeing the price of formula, today this post helped. Thank you!

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    1. Oh the nipple shield saved us! I had to use it for weeks, and I hated leaving the house with it because it was so freaking awkward!!!

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  4. My son had the dairy allergy as well. I gave up all dairy from about the time he was 3 weeks old until he was 9 months, then I was able to gradually re-introduce it. (But I have found that I just don't like ice cream that much anymore, I was desperate for it when I couldn't have it, now it is just okay.) We BF'd until he was 15 months. I was willing to go longer and very sad when he stopped nursing, but he just couldn't be bothered to sit still long enough to nurse. He'd make the sign for milk and go to the fridge or bring me his cup. From stories I hear I should be thankful that he did it on his timeline and I didn't end up deciding he was done.

    The pumping is no fun and counted my stash obsessively so I could stop pumping at the earliest possible moment. I think I stopped right about 11 months and I was so relieved. I was sick of the Mother's Milk tea.

    There does tend to be a 9 month slump in milk production, if you just keep at it will usually come up a bit. I used Mother's Milk Tea and extra pumping sessions to get through it, then after a few weeks my supply rebounded.

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    1. Dairy allergies BLOW. I would sniff the pizza of coworkers and just drool at cheese in general.

      The MMT wasn't too bad if I put a ton of honey in it, but I wasn't a fan in general!

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  5. I breastfeed the first 3 months of my son's life. One day he was done - he didn't want to breastfeed. I don't know what changed but his doctor told me to starve him until he went back to breastfeeding. I thought that was too cruel so I gave up breastfeeding. This same boy was eating solids at 4-5 months and didn't want to even consider a bottle past a year. He's 15 and healthy so that's all that mattered.

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    1. Jack did that around 14 weeks. With help, I found out it was a nursing strike (does this sound familiar: http://www.babycenter.com/0_nursing-strike_8490.bc). I had to give him a pumped bottle until he pulled his head out of his ass and wanted to nurse again.

      I can't believe your ped told you to starve him!

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  6. I don't understand what's wrong with googling boobs and pork chops.

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  7. The first part of this post coulda been a page out of my journal. My daughter was a pirahna too! My first weeks were filled with wanting to vomit from a Hooveresque latch and painful pumping due to incorrect flange size. By 5 weeks both of the boobs were bleeding, cracked, tired, stretched out and the crying baby made the nips become innies! It was terrible! Mix in colic, her dairy allergy, and my lack of sleep, I was ready to remove my boobs all together. But we made it... she's now almost 8 months and we exclusively BF... even with 4 teeth! Someday soon she'll bite me and I'll have a refresher course on the first 5 weeks. Until then, thanks for the laugh!! :)

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    1. WTG! The whole thing about teeth is that every time another one comes in, the latch changes for a week or so. Beyond annoying!!

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  8. I will never forget the first time my son bit me and I bled and bled and bled. I was pumping while at work and bleeding into the pump. I had finagled bandaids on my nipple to stop the bleeding. I was crying because I thought I had to dump the milk because it had blood in it. Then my sister said, "If he was eating off of you right now, you wouldn't know he'd be eating blood too, right?" Right. But I tell you, that was my only worst experience I had with breastfeeding. :)

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    1. You know, I dumped the "strawberry milk" I pumped, but what your friend said makes total sense!

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  9. I was right there with you-- everyone said his latch was "good", I couldn't stand the horrible, horrible pain for the first seven or eight weeks. Nothing like having your clothes stained with bloody milk. Ugh. Glad I stuck it out, but shocked that I did. It was SO much worse than labor.

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    1. I hear you on the labor part! At least with labor, it was over somewhat quickly. ;-D

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  10. I certainly appreciate the reality check - I know the whole birth/delivery/early days of newborn aren't going to be a cakewalk (I'm 6 mo. pregnant with my first). But, I think this post pretty much sealed the deal for me. I will not be breastfeeding.

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    1. I say whatever you decide is best, is best! I will say this (and I'm not necessarily talking about breastfeeding), just make sure you keep your options open for anything kid related. We have ideas in our head of how things should be, and they could change when the kiddo is actually born.

      I know way more people in real life who loved BF'ing and had an easy time with it.

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    2. Just want to say that yes there are alot of horror stories here but you should also look at how each one of us stuck it out, and why you may ask, because its good for your baby, way cheaper than formula and above all it is a special bond, when it goes right it just feels looker you are giving your baby something that NO ONE else can. You have time to just sit and watch your baby nurse and I dont know how to say or express the joy you get. I understand if you dont feel like its for you however please PLEASE dont let any story make you decide not to try it. You can always go to formula but once your milk is dry its not so easy to change your mind. Maybe just TRY. Just once or twice or for a day or a week but please try. I will tell you that my children that did take to it and breast fed longer are much heather and have fewer doctor visits. :-)

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  11. My experience with my first was awesome...right up until I started not pumping enough and got pregnant and my supply tanked. We had to stop around 9.5 months and I cried. I got over it eventually and learned that you can bond over a bottle or a boob.

    My experience with my second was so much better, especially with pumping. Well, that and not having the whole pregnancy thing to deal with.

    It can be beyond frustrating, impossibly hard, and stressful. It can also be an amazing experience. It can be all these things in the same day.

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  12. I'm sorry, but this is just about the funniest thing I've ever read - your delivery i awesome and I seriously hope that you write a book about life in general, but please include this post!!!! Of course, it's not about a funny matter and I am sorry that you had such a painful and difficult time - OUCH, seriously.

    I can only identify with part: when I was expecting my daughter I went hole-hog with the idea of breastfeeding. Took a class, rented a pump, yee-haw! I have always had ENORMOUS breasts. I mean HUGE!! When I saw a plastic surgeon in my twenties, he told me to wait so that I could breastfeed. OK... so I did. Until I was 35 for my dear baby. After she was born (and hungry almost immediately) we tried. Nada. Called in a lactation consultant. She had my poor husband standing on the heating unit behind me holding onto the poor baby, while I had to lift (with BOTH hands) my breast to get it to the right angle and not smother her. The nurse also had to pitch in - it was like we were playing twister. We tried this for 20 minutes with the little one screaming her head off. Nothing. We tried and tried. I pumped and pumped. Never did one drop ever come - my nipples weren't even big enough for her to get in her mouth. It was ridiculous and when I delivered the pump back to the local LLL and was told that I must have been doing something wrong, I cried and then got mad. (Apparently the same thing happened with my mom and her mom - would have been nice to have gotten an alert, but...) Anyway, this was such a hugely refreshing post and SO great to read a success story that doesn't talk down to mom's who weren't able (or just didn't want to) do it!

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    1. You sound EXACTLY like a friend of mine. She has huge boobs and had similar struggles! It was like having to use the 5 finger hand thing from Kill Bill to have to get that kid to latch on.

      I want to punch whomever at your LLL who told you that it was your fault. F them!

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  13. "My kid was a pit bull, and the world was his pork chop." LOL!

    Glad my experience has been better than this so far (10 months)! Sounds pretty gnarly, but that's awesome that you kept it up! Your posts are so fun to read!

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    1. So glad that your experience was better! IRL, I know way more people who had it easier than had a tough time. Blessings!

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  14. I needed to hear this. I'm in my two week wait right now (after iui) and plan on breast feeding. I'm glad to know if it isn't all skittles and rainbows there is still hope!

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    1. You will be in our prayers for sure!!!!

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  15. I love that you aren't boob slapping moms. I wasn't sure if I wanted to breastfeed but gave it a shot. It worked well for all three of my kids. I felt guilty for having such an easy time, but when I went back to work pumping constantly just didn't work in my schedule or environment. So I supplemented. Some people judged me. I tell them to shut up. Like you said, miserable and stressed out mom isn't good for mom or baby. We still were very successful nursing when we were together. I think more moms need to just support each other's decisions.

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    1. I don't get people's obsession with other people's business and reproductive parts! Leave us the hell alone and mind yo' business. ;-D

      Pumping SUCKS. My friend Elaina (she responded up above) named her pump "Pump Vader".

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  16. I just stumbled onto your blog today and have to say: I love it!!! Your sense of humor is great and it helps to bring some levity to situations that could otherwise make you sit in a corner and cry -- which I did when I attempted to breastfeed my son. I especially appreciated these lines: "While the composition of breast milk is best for baby, a crying and depressed mom who feels like a failure each time they nurse their child is not best for mom. Or baby. Society places enough pressure on women and moms. The last thing we need is to feel bad about what you do with our breasts." Before I had my son, I thought for sure I'd breastfeed. I was somewhat delusional about how "easy" it would be. I breastfed for about 2 months. My son had extreme difficulty latching, was colicky (i.e. cried for about 18 hours straight EVERY day), had dairy and soy intolerance, seemingly constant thrush for us both, mastitis for me...UGH. I was so depressed and telling myself I had to breastfeed because it was best for him. My mom and husband were supportive, but could see I was not doing myself any favors, so they eventually suggested I bottle feed. It took me a few weeks to accept that this may be the only thing that would work for us. And once I did give up breastfeeding, both my son and I began to enjoy feedings and we were finally able to bond the way I had always imagined. And the fact that it wasn't with a boob in his mouth didn't matter as much as I thought it would. So, anyway, thanks for writing about this. And I can't wait to read more from you!!

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  17. Oh WOW! That IS a nightmare! It was the worst experience of my life and the most painful! And I almost went through a natural delivery without epidural... things got VERY complicated for me while giving birth but luckily they decided to take me for an emergency c-section.
    After that the doc was always smiling at me and telling me "You gave birth 2 times in a day".
    Then the "fun" part begun. It was more painful than the whole c-section and labor together! At first I didn't feel much but then I started having fever and getting very very depressed. But I said all that shall pass and I will feel better soon. As the pain continued with every meal and my baby still needed bottle supplements and I started to doubt the quantity of milk I had... after one month it almost COMPLETELY vanished and I was on the edge of despair. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding at the same time!
    Thant's when I decided enough is enough. I wasn't going to raise my son as an angry frustrated and sleep deprived mummy and we fully switched on bottle feeding. Things went pretty smooth from there on... he's 13 months and still bottle feeding happily.

    I am glad to read this post. I wish I read it in my moments of desperation and depression. Most of the articles you find on the internet make you feel like a bad mom, incapable of taking care of your baby or worse, a monster! I even read posts where they were cursing mothers that don't breastfeed!
    My situation (like many others I believe) was not something I wanted... sometimes things just don't work the way you want them to.

    Thanks for this post and I hope many new mommies come here to read it.

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    1. I'm so sorry it was so rough for you! It sounds like the whole birthing experience was so stressful and scary. And then to add bf'ing shit on top of it? Ugh.

      I want to kick women in the clam who say things that make others feel bad about their breastfeeding choices. We don't know the other person's story, and there is no reason to judge.

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  18. This blog made laugh so much! Thank you so much for this!! My little boy is almost six months and I'm still continuing to breastfeed!!

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    1. Way to go! Once it becomes second nature, it's so much easier.

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  19. This is freakin hilarious. I fought tooth & nail to breastfeed. We ended up using an at-breast supplementer (think juice box w/ formula being drunk at the same time as nursing) until 7 months. I finally threw in the towel and still feel OH so guilty about it whenever I spend much time thinking about it. I'm just a really stubborn, determined person, and failure was not an option. There's some condition involving an extreme lack of breast tissue = me. I secretly scream in my head when women complain about mastitis. I'm sure it's no picnic, but I'd much rather have had too much milk and had my own issues than starving my poor girl. She was fine, just didn't gain much weight in the beginning. I hear from a lot of people that it's better the next time, so we'll try again and see. I'm just nervous that since I know the convenience of formula, I'll give up breastfeeding sooner if it doesn't work out. Time will tell, I guess.

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    1. Mom guilt is a whore. I'm sorry you have that guilt hanging over your head, but my goodness it sounds like you went out fighting like hell!

      My thoughts and prayers will be with you for next time! May it be a walk in the (nipple) park.

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  20. I was so happy to read your post. I struggled with breastfeeding with both my kids but stuck it out. Our son was born unable to latch. I saw 5 lactation consultants who blamed me, my technique and my breasts before the 6th one looked in his mouth. He was completely tongue-tied (short frenulum). At this point, I had been pumping every hour and my husband had been feeing him with a capillary tube so he wouldn't get used to a bottle. I used to cry and cry that *I* couldn't feed my baby. The day we found a doctor to snip his frenulum he latched and we were off. He self-weaned at 19 months.

    My daughter was the uber-nurser from 20 minutes after birth. So much so that she had cracked both my nipples before we got home from the hospital. We sat in the sun bare-chested together (she was a wee bit jaundiced) and got through it. She was an amazingly voracious child who also self-weaned at 19 months. Just sat up and said 'no nurse, night night mommy'. I was so proud of all of us for sticking with it.

    Two weeks after my daughter weaned, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A month after that, I had a double mastectomy. I cannot tell you how happy I was to have had the opportunity to make the choices I did for my two kids. A lot of people gave me grief about it, but it was absolutely the correct decision for all of us.

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    1. They said Jack was a little tongue tied, but not enough for the surgery. Looking back I wonder if it was worse than I was told?

      I'm so glad you had that opportunity! My prayers are with you that you're healthy and in remission.

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  21. I'm dying of blebs... Did you ever get those?? I can't win. 7 weeks in. I'm working on my over supply and powerful letdown. How do I overcome freaking blebs?

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    1. What exactly are blebs? It sounds like how Cartman from South Park would said "boobs". I'll do my best to help, but have never heard of these!

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  22. lol "perverts that typed boob and porkchop..." i try to tell new moms all the time to just try breastfeeding and keep trying because for me it sucked(ha) at first but then we fell into a rhythm and it was smooth sailing for 13 months. Also for moms not to feel pressured, you can get advice all day long but it ultimately comes down to what works for you not your neighbor or her mom or the kid down the street.

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    1. Exactly! Spoken like someone who has been down the hard road, but came out the other side.

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  23. I loved this. :) I breastfed my daughter until around 18 months. She is 3.5 now and I still miss it so much! We had a little trouble with her latching on right away, and she didn't eat for very long periods of time it seemed, but we had a relatively easy time of it and I am SO grateful!!! As "easy" as it was, the first month was hell. Getting used to having a little person sucking on you all freaking day about drove me insane. But one day magically it was just normal and I loved it and things were great from then on. I know I am lucky in the fact that we had no real problems, and I really feel blessed that we could do it for as long as we did. I feel so much for women that have troubles. :( I am glad you got it straightened out (eventually :)) and extended breastfeeding is awesome too. :)

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  24. When my daughter was breastfeeding, the ped said there was no such thing as a dairy allergy to what I was eating. Funny how my going off dairy anyway fixed her problems! Sounds like they diagnose it a little more often these days. Glad to hear it. :)

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    1. Ugh, I'm sorry you had that experience! My ped was super supportive of the dairy allergy "theory", even after the blood tests came back as negative. Pfft, that test didn't know what it was talking about.

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  25. I had a hard time breastfeeding too. I eventually switched my son over to formula around 6mths...he was just being introduced to baby foods (and loved them) so I didn't feel "bad" or "guilty." Your post is a great read. I don't think I have ever read anything that makes me smile, cringe,laugh and cry--all at the same time. Thanks for posting.

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  26. Went through 4 months of hell with the first baby, never worked out. It was nice when his pediatrician informed me she "donated at least 40 oz EXTRA to the milk bank every week". With the second baby, I was determined I would do this, and did for 19 months. Third, easier, even with a nurse who wanted to bring me a "nice, clean bottle" for her. Same nurse just happened to be a staph carrier, who gave the baby staff in both eyes. Antibiotic was measured in drops, and it only took two people to get drops in her eyes.

    There should be something like a Golden Boob award for those who suffer for "the cause". I think I would just settle for another diamond, a big one.

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  27. I've been reading your blog for a few months now and really look forward to your posts. I've just been reading some of your older post, whilst avoiding doing my housework, and wanted to thank you for this breastfeeding post. I, agonisingly, fed my son for five weeks where I would cry during most feeds because it was so painful. Three lactation consultants, an OB and local doctor all couldn't work out why. I wonder now if my little monster also had a very strong suck and whether that was our problem. Regardless, I do love having my boobs feel like they belong to me again and he is a very happy, bottle fed, four month old.
    Thanks for not being a BF nazi and having such an inclusive blog.

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills!

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