Boobs and Bottles

Posted on: August 11, 2012

I recently gave birth for the second time.  We had a little boy we named Myles and although he can be ornery in the middle of the night when he’s hungry, he is a sweet baby.  He does what all babies do: eat, sleep, poop and repeat.  It’s the first part that has inspired this blog post after a long stretch of silence.  Let me start at the beginning so you will get the full picture here:

Our son Jackson was born three years ago and I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted to take care of and raise our baby.  The most important of those was how I was going to feed Mr. Jackson…by boob alone (just think of all the money we’d be saving).  Breastfeeding is a very natural thing so I figured I’d just pop my nipple in his mouth and rivers of milk would flow and nourish my sweet baby.  Well, that’s not exactly what happened.  To begin with, he didn’t have much interest in latching on to my breast.  The hospital had a handy-dandy lactation coach on call that came by to help me figure out how to get my brand new bundle of joy to latch.  (Side note: I used to be quite shy about showing my body but all that went out the window once I went into labor)  So here comes this nice lady with her pamphlets and her advice asking me to show her what the situation was.  I flinched a little but quickly decided my modesty (privacy really) had to go because baby needed to eat (oh to be young again when the only one who had seen my naked body was my husband.  But I digress.).  I proceeded to show her how he rooted around but pulled away when I put him on my nipple and then proceeded to fuss at me.  I didn’t understand!  This was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world and here I was failing at it.  Hormones were raging and I was feeling like a failure.  I honestly thought she was laughing at me on the inside. (Who is this woman and why can’t she get the easiest of easy things right?!)  So then, to my horror, she grabs my boob and Jacksons little (still cone-shaped) head and proceeds to do the same thing I was just trying to do with no success.  This disappoints me because it’s not working and he’s not eating but secretly I’m smirking see you can’t get it either.  She tells me to keep trying and eventually I get him to latch briefly enough to give me hope.  A friend of mine had told me that if I had trouble (she knew something I didn’t) to not feel bad about supplementing with formula because the most important thing was that the baby got to eat.  So I told the nurses to go ahead and feed him in the nursery while I took a catnap.  I was, obviously, exhausted from 23 hours of labor and 9 months of growing and carrying around this tiny human.  Once I got home I took out my breast pump to try and get the milk flowing (thinking that was the issue).  I barely got anything pumped out.  I kept trying to get him to latch and kept pumping hoping it would inspire my milk to start flowing.  But no such luck.  Luckily we had the formula to fall back on.  I can’t imagine what I would do if I lived in a time when there was no formula and all I had to rely on was my breast (which wasn’t working like I’ve always been told it would).  That scared me.  I wouldn’t want my baby to starve.  After much trying and frustration and it not working, Bill and I made the decision that formula was what our baby would be eating.  I mean, what else was I going to give him if I wasn’t producing any alternatives.  I have to admit, I felt like a failure.  That is, until I started talking to my other mom friends and found out it’s not as easy as it’s made out to be.  It wasn’t just me who had trouble.  Jackson thrived and grew right on schedule which eased my guilt-stricken mind.  Now he’s three years old, smart, strong, healthy and very active.  No damage done.  Go figure!

With this baby, which we now know is Myles, I was determined to try to breastfeed again.  I thought hey maybe second time’s the charm.  Myles did the same rooting around and pulling away and fussing at first.  Although I was at a different hospital this time, they also had a lactation consultant.  This one smelled of cigarettes and perfume (one of my pet peeves).  She was nice enough and did the same thing of having me show her what was going on and yes, she even grabbed my boob and the baby’s head and tried her hand and getting him to latch with no luck.  She told me to keep trying and she’d check in with me the next day.  The first 24 hours it’s ok if the baby doesn’t eat because they have enough of what they need leftover from being in the womb.  Still, I wanted to get this figured out soon and feed my baby.  Then a new nurse came on shift who was…let’s say eccentric.  She asked how things were going and I told her I was having trouble breastfeeding and she proceeded to tell me of her experience with milking horses.  Yes, she said horses.  That was not a typo.  I gave Bill a look out of the corner of my eye and he too was surprised.  She said those poor baby foals couldn’t get milk from the momma horse for some reason so she got all up in there and figured out how to milk the horse and put it in a bottle to feed the foal.  I’m of course horrified thinking she’s going to try to milk me like a horse.  Again, hormones raging AND I’ve got a nut job taking care of me.  I’m having horrible visions of her pulling on my boobs like teets on a cow. OMG!  She finally leaves and I look at Bill eyes wide with fear about what she will do when she returns.  It was not pretty!  But, feeling the pressure to feed my baby I let her give it a try.  I show her how he won’t latch and she grabs my boob and proceeds to pull and yank while holding Myles’ head and pushing it into my boob.  I looked at Bill feeling mortified that she’s man-handling me and Myles this way.  She finally stops and leaves (she’s got another idea) and I hold Myles close and tell him I’m sorry the crazy lady upset him.  I try again on my own a little later and low and behold he decides to latch.  He stayed on there for a good 15 minutes before I go to switch to the other one.  I had just gotten him latched on again when she returns with a dropper and some sort of sugar water.  I told her I had gotten him to latch but she insisted on showing me how this could help.  She had me take him off and she dropped some of the glucose on my nipple and put him to it.  Of course he latched.  He had figured it out already and who doesn’t like sugar.  I was annoyed but I just nodded and let her feel like she helped until she finally left.  I don’t like to be mean.  What I wanted to say was something along the lines of “stay away from my boobs you crazy horse lady!”  But I didn’t.  I was polite and breathed a sigh of relief when she left.  Her shift ended thank goodness and the lactation consultant came back in later on.  I started to have trouble getting him to latch again and she said she had a trick with formula.  She comes back with a little bottle of formula and proceeds to drop a little on my nipple and sure enough he goes for it.  He doesn’t stay latched for long though.  He tasted formula and wanted more.  After that he won’t latch on unless there’s formula involved.  After I got home I kept trying to latch and again got my breast pump out to see if I could keep the milk flowing.  I actually pumped an ounce at first so I knew the milk was there.  He drank that and then we gave him formula so he would have enough.  At that point they’re supposed to be eating 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours.  I kept working with him to latch and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t.  I kept pumping and got up to 2 ounces.  But then I had to go to the hospital.  I was having some problems which turned out to be endometritis (inflamation of the lining of the uterus) and also a urinary track infection.  They had to put me on antibiotics.  I asked the doctor if I could breastfeed while on the meds and he said to be on the safe side I should basically pump and dump.  Not wanting my milk to dry up I continued to pump and we fed Myles formula.  We had to switch him to the sensitive version because he was a little gassy/fussy.  I started to notice a decrease in the amount that I was able to pump.  After a couple of days I only had a few drops.  I googled the antibiotic I was on and sure enough other women had experienced their milk drying up while taking it.  I hoped that it would return after my 10 days on the antibiotic were up so I continued to pump.  In the middle of all this my pump broke and I had to get a new one.  Once I was off the antibiotics I tried to breastfeed again and Myles just wasn’t having it.  We had the wide nipple bottles to help decrease “nipple confusion” but I guess that didn’t matter.  He wasn’t having it.  After a couple of days I found out my milk was not coming back.  So, here we were again with only one option…formula.  Bill reminded me of how well Jackson turned out and he was on formula.  Myles is now a month old and he’s doing great.  He’s thriving and growing just like he should.

I noticed an increase in articles and posts on Facebook about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding.  Evidently lawmakers in New York want to lock up the formula at hospitals in order to “encourage breastfeeding”.  The free samples of Similac they give to new mothers are to be banned.  They’re even going to be tracking the amount of formula used.  Who the hell came up with this idea and thought it was a good one?  Not only are lawmakers and special interest groups trying to tell us what to do with our uterus but now they’re telling us what to do with our boobs.  Why do people think they have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies?  And it’s not just men telling us how we should feed our babies.  Some women are also telling us that the breast is best and formula is basically the work of the devil.  How can something that provides nutrition (certified by the FDA) and sustenance for our babies be seen as wrong?  Not that we should have to justify the use of formula, but there are various reasons why mothers and fathers turn to formula.  I’ve given you my example.  Other examples are health issues, medication issues, and some women have no interest in breast feeding.  And you know what, that’s their right.  As long as the baby is getting fed and is healthy then all is right with the world.  I read in one article that there’s no scientific evidence that breastmilk is any better for baby than formula.  I have two healthy boys to prove that formula fed babies turn out just fine.  So, to all the haters out there I say keep your opinions about my body and my baby to yourself.  Women (and men) should be supporting each other, not giving each other guilt trips and pointing fingers.  Good parents know what’s best for their babies and their families.  

On the flip side there is also a debate about breastfeeding in public.  I find it hilarious that people are outraged at mothers feeding their babies out in the open (although usually covered by a blanket) but they’re all about some boobs in a sexy halter top walking around in public.  This goes to show you it’s not about what’s best for baby, it’s about people feeling they have the right to tell others what choices to make with their own bodies.  It’s about the right to privacy because if we can’t make private decisions about whether or not to have kids, when to have kids, and how to feed our children, then we are not the free country we claim to be.  Instead of invading women’s privacy, let’s focus on fixing our economy and educating our future generations.


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