Before we even decided to start trying to conceive, before my baby was even a twinkle in my eye, I KNEW I wanted to breastfeed exclusively. I had done my research and learned so much and I wanted what was best for my baby, of course. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months, and then continue breastfeeding for at least 2 years.
One day when I was researching it while newly pregnant, I discovered that I may not be ABLE to breastfeed. Like, at all. Nadda. Not a drop…
When I was 17 years old I had breast reduction surgery. At the time it was the best choice for me, and I still think so, but I regret it constantly now. My midwife and mother mentally (and kindly) prepared me for the fact that I may be unable to breastfeed. I was given resources, and suggestions, and anything I could need to do what I could to breastfeed.
After B was born I tried. She could latch. Her mouth was tiny, and her latch wasn’t perfect, but she could latch. She wasn’t getting anything/much, so she wouldn’t stay on. I tried pumping and got hardly anything at all, not even 1/4 ounce. We tried tube on the finger feeding, tube on the nipple feeding — everything we could. B hated the tube and could always feel it so she’d unlatch. Since she was in the NICU, they wouldn’t release her until she gained weight. The staff made me feel pressured, like my baby was starving and losing weight because of me. So we gave in, and began to formula feed her. Big mistake number 1. Eventually she gained weight and we got to bring her home.
I continued to try. I learned about the SNS system to supplement – wearing the milk around my neck and attaching the tubes to my nipples. It didn’t help. I went to a meeting with La Leche League and found out B may have a tongue tie. Immediately I made an appointment with the Cambridge Breastfeeding Clinic to get it snipped.
It didn’t help. Mother’s Milk tea didn’t help. Fenugreek did nothing but make my armpits smell like maple syrup (which sounds good but was actually just gross). Increasing my consumption of water didn’t increase my milk. Oatmeal just made my belly full. Lactation cookies were delicious, but failed. Domperidone didn’t increase production.. Nothing worked.
I was able to pump a little bit, maybe an once if I was lucky, so I’d give that to B whenever I could. I got some donor milk given to me and we used that up. Back to formula alone.. Then I got some more and we’re using that now. I am still pumping and getting my one ounce a day, if that. I’m still taking Domperidone daily because I’m worried if I stop that the one ounce I get every day will turn to nothing..
I’ve done a lot and tried a lot and struggled a lot. Every day I think about my failure and every day I feel sad. Some days more than others. Some days I cry. Some days I wish I had never had a breast reduction and that it was selfish of me, and now I’m not giving my daughter what is best for her because of that decision made over 10 years ago. My failure with breastfeeding has been and always will be my biggest hurdle. It beats out my birth story for most painful memory of my first time as a mother. Well, it is so far anyways.
I am going to try again with a different kind of SNS system. I’m not giving up yet, despite all of this. I promised myself and my baby that I’d try until she was 6 months old when we could begin baby led weaning and I would have more control over the ingredients entering her body. She’s only 4.5 months. It’s so close, but so far away.