When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

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I had every intention of breastfeeding.  In all the baby gear I amassed while I was pregnant, I didn’t even have one bottle.  As a SAHM, I wouldn’t need bottles, right?

But then our twin girls were born six weeks early.  By multiples standards, that’s not too bad, really…but there was NICU time, and concerns over weight gain.  Although I pumped just a couple or hours after they were born, they were given several bottles of formula by the time I saw them the following day.

This was not how I’d planned things.

I kept at a rigorous pumping schedule.  To my dismay, I wasn’t getting much milk.  I drank water by the liter.  I ate lots of calories.  I eventually took prescription and herbal supplements.  I never got more than a couple of ounces.

Still, I breastfed the girls with the help of the lactation consultants at the hospital.  Weight checks before and after breastfeeding, though, showed they weren’t transferring any / very much milk.  I was encouraged to pump / breastfeed the girls, but I was told I had to supplement with formula.

Still determined to give my girls the gift of breast milk, I breastfed a baby, then bottle-fed that baby (to make sure she got the calories she needed), and then I pumped (to try to increase my supply)…six to eight times a day.

It was exhausting, of course…but it also felt very demoralizing at times.  Why couldn’t my body respond to the needs of my tiny babies???

After lots and lots of frustrated tears, I finally set a goal of three months.  I would give my girls every ounce I could for three months.  That would carry them through cold and flu season.  By that time, they should be on the growth curve.

After that time, my girls were formula fed.

As I look back, four years later, this is still an incredibly emotional subject for me.

I am not writing this to ask what I could have done differently.  Could I have done something to be more successful in nursing?  To have upheld the “breast is best” ideology I believed to my core?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  I don’t know.

To be perfectly honest, I still look with some degree of awe and jealousy at the moms I see breastfeeding their babies poolside, or at the coffee shop…my best friend nursing her precious newborn on the couch in my living room.

Four years later, though, I’m getting through the guilt.  I am finally to the point of looking beyond the sustenance our girls got during their infanthood, and that’s a big step for me.

My amazing girls are healthy, vibrant, curious, sometimes mischievous.  I know things won’t always go exactly as I’d like them to, but above all, I want them always to see a mama who loves them heart and soul for exactly who they are.  There’s great value in that “sustenance”, too.

MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls, A and B.  She blogs about their adventures at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)

  • An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
  • It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
  • Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
  • Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
  • My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
  • Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
  • So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
  • Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
  • Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
  • When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
  • Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
  • The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
  • Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship. Her article can also be found at her blog:
  • Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
  • Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
  • Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
  • Quitting Breastfeeding — Jen W at How Do You Do It? share a letter she wrote to her boys, three years ago exactly, the day she quit breastfeeding after 9 months.
  • A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.

10 thoughts on “When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned

  1. I can TOTALLY relate. My story is very similar and my girls are also healthy and vibrant. But I still sometimes mourn the loss of the breast feeding relationship I always envisioned. At my lowest, most desperate times while attempting to nurse, I sometimes wished I had only one baby. But after letting it go, suddenly the clouds lifted and I was able to enjoy my precious babies and live again-disconnected from the pump! They’re five now and I’m so thankful and grateful to have twins! I feel like I got so lucky.

    • Thank you for your note, Alison. I can so relate. I remember just crying, thinking…what if my babies had been born in the jungles somewhere…would my body have responded then? What was I doing wrong? I finally rationalized that, in the jungles, premature twins might not have survived. Ultimately, it’s all relative, but that was definitely a very tough period of time.

      Like you, once I finally moved forward, things did seem better, easier, with less guilt and much more enjoyment. We are blessed with healthy, happy babies, and I, too, feel so incredibly lucky.

      Best to you and your sweet girls!!!

  2. I’m so impressed that you kept up with breastfeeding for those 3 months. You know how extraordinary your girls are, and it’s in no small part thanks to their mommy.

    The awe and jealousy: boy, do I understand that. It’s the same with women who carry their babies to term. When I hear a pregnant woman say, “I can’t wait to be done being pregnant,” or “I wish this baby would hurry up and get here,” I want to scream at them to be thankful that they can carry their child to term.

  3. Pingback: Working Mom Nursing Twins | How Do You Do It?

  4. Pingback: Honoring the Journey | The Touch of Life

  5. Pingback: An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment | Natural Parents Network

  6. Pingback: Quitting Breastfeeding - How Do You Do It?

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