Breastfeeding is Really Hard | Ask Your Dad Blog

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breastfeeding is Really Hard

by Mom (Stevie)

This post has been a long time coming. When we had Captain, John said “You should write a post about breastfeeding”. And I said “You're right, I should.”

When I was having a hard time with it, I said “Maybe I could write a blog post about the difficulties I'm having. I’m sure others can relate,” and John said “You’re right. You should.”

When I gave up breastfeeding, I said “I’m not writing that post. It’s too hard.”

So this post has had many versions. I've basically gone through every level of acceptance. The first post was fun but unfinished. The second was whiny. The third was angsty. The fourth was depressing. The fifth version had the word "nipple" in it so often that even I began to feel awkward. So here it is, all laid out.

I said from the beginning that I would breastfeed Captain as long as I could. I breastfed Duchess for almost a year and loved it. It was hard in the beginning with Duchess. It was very, very hard. I had to adjust both physically and mentally. Not only is it incredibly painful in the beginning, it takes a toll on your body the entire time you are breastfeeding. Sure, you lose some baby weight faster. But your hormones are out.of.control. Your gums are sensitive. Your boobs are VERY sensitive. In fact, they are off limits to everything but your baby. And emotionally, you have to decide what you are comfortable with. Will you breastfeed in front of friends? Family? In public? What will you do if the baby gets hungry at the restaurant and you don’t have a cover? You basically have a full year of these physical and mental challenges.


Iron = FE, Man = Male, therefore Iron Man = Female

I didn't have that with Captain. I was a breast feeding champ. I knew when my milk was going to come in and how to prepare for it. I knew that I was going to soak through every bra/shirt combination I had. So I stocked up on bra pads. Costco-sized boxes of bra pads. I had no qualms about breastfeeding in front of anyone. We’re in the mall and Captain is hungry? Done. No cover? Who cares?  I had it DOWN. It was an art, really.

But there was something different about my breastfeeding adventure with Captain – exhaustion. Home life was hectic with a newborn and a toddler. I had a new job this time around. A job I love but definitely a job with more stress and more responsibility. It was harder to get away to pump. I quickly fell behind in my “stash” and found myself resenting the daycare when they gave him four bottles of milk and I’d only pumped three that day. At seven months, I finally just made the decision to stop pumping at work and let him get formula at daycare. It was definitely an easier decision to make with Captain than with Duchess. Duchess was on formula exclusively at the very end, for about a month. It took 11 months to convince myself that I wasn't a terrible mother for letting her have formula. It took much less time with Captain.

So we worked with that plan and it was great. For about a month. And then….biting. Oh lord the biting. I don’t remember having that problem with Duchess. But with Captain, that kid is like an alligator. Seriously, have you ever seen an alligator lock their jaw on a prey and do the barrel roll of death? That’s my kid. He drew blood on many an occasion.

I finally had come to the end. I was having anxiety attacks the entire time I was nursing him. Just waiting for him to bite with those little sharp baby teeth. I had to quit nursing. That was really hard for me. You see, I had actually said months earlier that I would be willing to go as long as 18 months with Captain (whereas I put the cutoff at one year with Duchess). I knew what I was doing, and I was good at it. But then life happened. I cried my tears and held my boy close and apologized profusely (all while whispering “really this is your fault, kid”).

But then do you know what happened? With the help of my friends and that husband of mine, I realized that I’m awesome. I nursed my kid for 8 months. He got a damn good start to life. So to all those mamas out there are struggling with nursing: you’re a good mom. If you keep on with it, you’re a good mom. If you need to supplement here and there, you’re a good mom. If you've never nursed at all, you’re a good mom.

Just keep being awesome. High f*cking five. You ladies all rock.

Love, Mom (Stevie)

P.S. Also, here are some tears for you all. (This post is not sponsored by Johnson's, it's just a great commercial) 




P.S.S. John wants me to remind you to follow Ask Your Dad on Facebook. He works really hard to make it a fun and engaging community that doesn't just spam your news feed with cat pictures. 

24 comments:

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    1. Thank YOU for reading it!

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  2. I read the blog & never comment but this hit home with me. I expected breast feeding the 2nd time around to be a breeze and it was...at first. I drove myself crazy trying to increase my milk supply so I wouldn't need to give formula. I pumped like crazy once I supplemented because part of me hoped he would hate the formula. I cried many nights because I couldn't give my baby what he needed. Then one day 7 months in, I realized I was a good mom for doing what was best for my son & if that meant formula then so be it. We all struggle & it's good to know we're not alone! Fabulous post.

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    1. We are two peas, man. It was such a breeze in the beginning with Captain. I seriously thought "I could totally go 18 months with this!". Then my body just said LOL NOPE. And the decline started. But all mommy-guilt aside, isn't it kind of freeing when you finally make the decision to just let go? And then realize that your baby is still thriving and everyone is happy?

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  3. The Boog will be a year old here in a couple weeks and I'm STILL butthurt about only making it 3.5 months exclusive and another three weeks supplementing after that. I know I did everything I could and that a TON of factors contributed to our having to stop, none of which were really my fault. I don't feel guilty. I'm just bummed on it, ya know? I tried really hard and absolutely wrecked my boobs in the process and I'm still just kind of mad at the universe for kickin' me in my lady nards on that one... mostly because there's a 98% chance this was my only shot at it.

    You're the raddest, Stevie, and thanks a ton for writing this. I'm gonna go watch some Captain videos with The Boog now so she'll stop whining about how tired she is. <3

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    1. Oh Katie. I love you. YOu had me at the universe kicking you in the your lady nards.

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  4. You're a stud. I loved breastfeeding and wanted to go longer than the year that I did for each. And I wanted to be able to fill up bottles for the freezer at the rapid pace that all my other moo cow mommy friends seemed to be able to do, but I only seemed to make enough for my babies at the breast, and not store some for the sitter (or when I wanted some wine, dammit). Bottom line is that moms gotta do what they gotta do, and should NEVER feel judgment or awkwardness for baring a nipple (or opting for a bottle). Just be the best mom to your kiddos. That's all that matters to them, and everyone else can take a flying leap if they say otherwise.

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    1. As always, my dear friend, you are spot on. I have mommy friends that are producing enough to donate milk to the NICU babies. I couldn't make enough for my baby and now I have guilt about not saving the sick babies. How did that happen?

      I try my best not to be a judgy mom (sometimes it's unavoidable). But when a mom makes a decision for her kids out of a place of love, it's probably the right decision.

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  5. I also had to give up early with my second one, who was also a little chomper! She lived. ;)

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    1. They do live. But in 20 years I plan on telling Captain that I only nursed him 8 months instead of 12. I'll report back on how the conversation goes.

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  6. Thanks for this post! I love how you two work together on the writing! I loved breastfeeding, I did it for 11 months with my daughter but I was really tired in the end. I used to say that with 6 months I would be more than happy, but as another person said I was producing way too much milk everyday and I felt bad for wanting to stop. But pumping every 3-4 hours at work was too much! So when the milk start decreasing I didnt do anything, I just let it took it course. Anyways, being able to do it for almost a year was a blessing, I love the convinience of breastfeeding all together, and once I started with formula I missed it so much, running around with no bottles, water or milk was such a blessing. I really hope I can do the same with my second, but it has to make both, the baby and the mother happy, otherwise is not worth it! We ALL Rock regarless, breastfeeding or not, we are willing to die for our kids and that is awesome!!!

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    1. I definitely miss the convenience of breastfeeding. Way too many times we've gone out and I realize I didn't pack any bottles or formula. And you hit the nail on the head with "it has to make both the mother and the baby happy". When it came down to it, I was just stressed all the time. Once I finally let go, I could focus on other things. Like cuddling. I was a good nurser. But I'm a rockstar cuddler.

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  7. *Standing ovation* Wonderful. All of mine are teenagers, the oldest out on his own. I tried to breastfeed, I really did. But for unknown reasons, between 3 - 6 weeks with each of them, I stopped lactating. The cause was never determined.

    Oh the guilt. The harsh, horrific guilt. It took some time, but I reconciled - I can't breastfeed. But all of my babies are healthy, snarky, and full on good kids.

    We all have our own paths as parents. No one path is the right, and only, way. You did a great job, and I'm glad you realize that :)

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    1. I was never breastfed and I think I turned out alright :)

      But I know what you mean about the mom-guilt. It's rough. Especially when I see so many of my mom friends just excelling at the whole "lactating for their offspring" thing. But we did good, T.J. We did good.

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  8. Stevie,
    When we had our two kids my wife breastfed for 6 months each, until the little chompers broke through the gums.
    One afternoon her BFF was visiting, with her firstborn, and I had a couple of my single guy friends over. Well, the baby was hungry, so my wife's friend just whipped out a boob and started nursing him, never missing a beat in the conversation. My single guy friends were appalled, and even after explaining to them that mother nature put those things on a woman's chest to feed our kids, not to be toys for grown boys, they still were so embarrassed they had to leave.

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    1. Ha! We had a few of those. Luckily, most of our friends are in the same stage of their lives as we are, so all the men folk were used to nursing. They didn't see boobs as boobs anymore, they were clearly milk-providers. But there were a handful of times where our non-child-rearing friends came over and felt uncomfortable. In fact, we had waited over an hour for one couple to come over once. Then Captain got hungry about 10 minutes after they got there and our friend said "whelp! Time to go!"

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  9. Thank you for this one! I had to quit at only 8 weeks because my little guy needed surgery and then special formula due to a medical condition. It broke my heart that I was able to produce tons and tons of milk for him but then he couldn't have it. Our situation was unique in that breast milk wasn't the best option for him. It has had to accept that though. As a first time mom I didn't realize that mommyhood meant lots of guilt! And lots of learning to let go of that guilt. Especially today as I dropped him off at day care for the first time. Sigh.

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    1. Ah, that's rough! But you did the right thing! I'm a firm believer that an informed decision, made from a place of love, is the right decision. You did what you needed to for your little dude and he will thank you for it someday. And yes, mommyhood is just full of the guilts. Breastfeeding is a big one. And daycare. Oh man the daycare. It took a long time for me to be ok with myself for deciding to work outside the home. And to this day I feel guilty sometimes. It will never end. But I think all that guilt just means we are making lots of decisions out of love :)

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  10. What a great post! It's been 9 months since I stopped BF a month earlier than I'd planned b/c of my little biter. I don't think about how I felt during that transition often but this post brought those feelings right back. It's so great to hear from other women who really get it. And also nice to be reminded that all of us moms rock.

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  11. I can feel your angst. My daughter started out in NICU and HAD to be on formula, so I pumped so that I could breastfeed when she came home. I had to pay for a lactation consultant to come to my house to "teach us" because it wasn't going well. That went well for a few days and then she was readmitted to the hospital. Then I got a horrible case of mastitis. So horrible it required surgery, a three day hospital stay and a daily visit from a nurse for after care.

    Due to the situation (unable to feed with one breast) and the incredible pain from her incidentally touching the "bad boob" while breastfeeding on the other breast. We had to give it up completely. I continue to pump "the good boob" and was finally able to resume with "bad boob" (they weren't even sure the milk would come back to that one, but it did, just not in the volume as before). By then it had been 6 weeks of surgery recovery and a full 3 months since she was born and I was returning to work. I exclusively pumped for the next 9 months & bottle fed her breast milk, supplemented with formula when necessary. It was a long, arduous road filled with many ups and downs.

    So while definitely not the same situation, a situation that gives me empathy for your experience. Thanks for sharing & sorry my comment was so long. :)

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  12. If you breastfed for a day, you did your baby good. You may not have made it 12 months but you made it 8 frickin' months! That's roughly 240 days nursing 4, 5, 6…10 times a day! That's a whole LOTTA good. Well done woman, well done.

    PS. I love, love, LOVE this blog. LOVE. It provided me the perspective on parenting lately when I needed it most and for that I am genuinely grateful. I adore you two. Of course I blog as well and dropped a link to yours in my latest rant. You just help keep me laughing through it all so keep on keeping on … and thank you.

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  13. I think there's only one other dude who commented here, so let me double that number. Let me just say, I love it when spouses take a turn on the blog, and you're every bit the writer that John is, which is way cool. Great post. I don't have a lot more to add that you haven't said, so I'll just say that this is a great message to send, especially to moms. Do your very best, cry sincere tears at the things you wish you could do better, but then respect yourself for how really freaking awesome you are, and all the things that go right. If there wasn't heartache in raising kids, we wouldn't find it so meaningful, and we probably wouldn't try so hard. But that heartache should never overshadow the empowerment. Cheers!

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  14. I'm a first-time mom and my son is just 8 weeks old. We're doing ok with breastfeeding so far, but man, are you right about it taking a massive toll on your body. I'm swimming in hormones and have been crying at the drop of a hat - motherhood so far has been very lonely (even with an incredibly supportive husband and my mom staying with us these first few months to help), but reading posts like this one brings me a lot of comfort. So, thank you for taking the time to write this and for putting it out there. I don't know why everyone and their dog is allowed to weigh in on your choices as a parent in our culture (is this just an American thing?), or why we turn this judge-y attitude on ourselves and rip ourselves apart for not being some insane notion of the 'perfect' parent, but you are right. You are awesome. You are a good mom. You have happy, healthy kids that know they are loved. I am awesome. I am a good mom. High f*ckin' five.

    p.s. I come back to this page almost every day to watch the Johnson & Johnson commercial and cry (the good kind).

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  15. You ARE awesome! What a deeply moving post, the hindsight you have on your experience is so incredible. It would be a great honour if you wanted to link up with our blog hop! http://andoverbfmums.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/say-milk-spider-hand.html?m=1

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