Saturday, November 7, 2009

To Breastfeed or To Bottle Feed Part Two

After a week of trying to breastfeed and no luck, Tyler and I were off to our first lactation consultation. We met the nurses and lactation specialist who were there to "help" us and who seemed nice enough. We headed into the room where they promptly asked me to remove my shirt, handed me a breastfriend pillow (they explained that the boppy is crap for nursing), and grabbed my week old baby and stripped him naked. Zander became pissed and I tensed up. They were throwing so much information at us and shoving my screaming baby into all of these different positions that I began to feel like I made a mistake coming. The lactation lady asked Tyler to take pictures so we could remember how to do it at home. Then she asked us to show her how to do what they showed us. Every question I had was answered with an extremely condescending tone, and at one point she even yelled at me when I was trying to do what they showed us. She said "How can he eat like that!!!" I started crying from exhaustion and pure embarrassment (I was there for help, hello). She said "Oh god, don't tell me you're crying because the baby is crying." First of all who cares if I was, I was a first time mom, instead I yelled back "I'm crying because you're yelling at ME and I'm trying to learn." I wanted to add "You Ugly Witch!)
After that, Tyler grabbed his screaming baby and gave me a big hug, looked at the lady and said "Let's go." She looked so embarrassed and apologized. From that moment on she was more human. We began trying again, this time however they added a supplemental nursing system, most often known as the SNS. This is a tiny tube that they attach to your nipple that you wear around your neck, that gives the baby some formula while stimulating your milk production. Zander latched beautifully with this attached and we were thrilled. We began to see a silver lining.
The lactation specialist was excited to see that this was working too, however expressed that she would like more of a jump start to my milk production and had us rent a hospital grade pump, recommended some herbs, and had us buy the breastfriend pillow. The pump came in a giant green container, we called it the "BEAST." We were put on a strict regimen of offering my breast with the SNS, then supplementing with the bottle, via Tyler, and then pumping each boob for 10 minutes while I watched Tyler feed my baby. She wanted me to do this atleast 8 times a day. Now remember Zander was so new so he would eat every 1.5 to 2 hours. This entire process was taking atleast a half hour.
I wanted to breastfeed so badly that I became obsessed with this process. I was so strict with the regimen, that on mother's day, I did'nt get out of my rocking chair except to pee. There was one problem that Tyler and I were noticing, each time I tried to pump, there was never any milk...none...dry as a bone. I trudged on because I kept thinking everyone's milk comes in eventually, it has to.
Three, four, five days went by and nothing, not one drop of milk when pumping. My nipples were cracking, peeling, bleeding but I kept doing it. Finally, I lost my mind and just started crying and I couldn't stop. Tyler was getting to hold my newborn baby all the time and bond with him during bottle time, and All I was able to do was torture him with work. They would sit there all cozied up together, Tyler would sing and Zander was happy. I was jealous and realized that I couldn't take it anymore. I was suppose to be able to nourish my baby, bond and snuggle. I was a wreck, I called my mom and my sister and they both told me to stop it, to give him the bottle and be ok with it.
I felt so defeated, I wanted to nurse but I couldn't. I felt like I was letting my baby down and my husband. I wanted to provide what I knew would be the best food for Zander and I knew how important that was to Tyler. But I also knew that I could no longer do what I was doing. Finally after some real soul searching and talking with Tyler, who by the way was 100% behind me on whatever, we both decided our baby was to be bottle fed.
After we decided it felt so good to have a definitive answer. I felt free, we returned the green beast (mostly because I didn't want to look at it again) bought some bottles, Tyler researched what would be the best formula for our boy, and we were on our way. Since then, except for writing this, I haven't looked back.
My mother arrived the next week to spend a week babying us and she was so happy to see me looking comfortable and happy. She admitted that she was worried about me because of our previous conversations. One day when she was here I started to explain to her exactly what I had been through and showed her what were were doing and we both began to laugh hysterically. She said "Oh my god Tammy, no wonder you were miserable." At that moment, laughing about it, I felt healed. I'll never forget it (I'm actually tearing up right now remembering it).
Zander is thriving, growing, happy, and healthy. He is a gift to Tyler and I. The big bad container of formula is our friend not our enemy. We love our bottles so much, he kicks his legs when he sees it coming. What I've learned from my experience is 1) Lactation women are self righteous bitches, 2) to give myself a break and remember as long as I'm trying to be the best mom I can, then I am being the BEST mom to Zander and 3) to never judge someone else's decisions about mothering because you never know what they have been threw in their life.


  1. Oh man! I can't believe what a witch the lactation consultant was to you! Yikes! I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that. Having a newborn is stressful enough, I can't imagine! But just think how much easier it will be with the next one, knowing what you know now. Zander couldn't be more healthy or beautiful.

    One thing I wish I had that you have- I wish Cameron could feed the baby. Especially in the middle of the night. It's such a great way to bond. My kids have never taken bottles, but I wish they could sometimes. I also wish that I could go somewhere without the baby, knowing that someone else could feed her. You're lucky! I don't have to wash bottles, but I would trade that for some more flexibility in my life.

  2. Babies need their mommies. That's more important to them than anything else. What a stressful time you went through. Breastfeeding at the beginning is hard enough even when it goes smoothly!I bet Zander was so happy to be able to peacefully cuddle up with his mommy. And you forgot to add the bit about the clueless carpet cleaner dude.

    Oh, and funny enough, I actually had a wonderful lactation consultant. You know how I feel about my birthing experience. From my end, nearly everyone else in the hospital was a self-righteous bitch!

  3. I am so sorry that it was so hard when you first had Zander. It is hard to let go of all those expectations, and just be the best mother that you can be. I love you very much! You are a WONDERFUL MOTHER! Love Michele

  4. So... when do your blog readers get to see the family in their Halloween costumes? I want to see how cute Zander was.

  5. You are generous with your heart in sharing this experience. Lactation is not as important as having a bond with your baby boy. He knows he is loved by his mommy and his daddy. Great teamwork, even through the lactation specialist experience.
    Zander is a lucky boy to have parents who love each other and who love him beyond measure.