Monday, February 2, 2009

Let's hear it for the girls!

This post is a part of a weekly feature called Tuesday's Tribute - the one time each week that Jay and Deb challenge bloggers to write about something other than ourselves, to shine the light elsewhere for a change. If you only have the time to check out one other Tuesday's Tribute this week, make sure it's Jay's because he's up to something pretty cool over on his blog. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy!

Tuesday's Tribute
A Jay and Deb Production.

This week my tribute is to "The Girls."

I won't beat around the bush. "The Girls" is pretty much just code talk for my boobs.

Now, I know Tuesday's Tribute is all about paying tribute to someone/something other than yourself, so I'm clearly stating here that this is a tribute to my boobs (oh my gosh, this is making me laugh just typing it...). BUT, you need to understand that we've been through a lot together, so in order for you to fully comprehend why they're worthy of their very own tribute, I need to share our journey with you.

After breast feeding for 9 months, "The Girls" are finally mine again, and I've got a few things weighing on my mind about the whole issue of being done.

You must understand that I am a very determined and goal-oriented woman. So, before Kaylee was even born, I had my mind set on breast feeding her for 12 months. No ifs, ands, or buts. It's what the experts recommended, so doggonnit, that's what I was going to do for my baby.

THAT was when I was just a silly little pregnant lady who didn't know squat about what to expect when it came to breastfeeding. I was naively ignorant and terribly optimistic.

Call me crazy, but I thought this is how it would go down: I would manage to make it through the labor and delivery of my child, and as soon as she was born, they'd put her on my belly, I'd get to cuddle her, and she would instinctively latch on with no problems. That's what the 80 bazillion books I read about told me should happen. If there were problems (highly doubtful), I'd just have the nurse help me and that would be that. We'd return home after 24 hours in the hospital, I'd nurse her every 2-3 hours, and life would be fine and dandy.

Ha ha ha ha ha. Silly little pregnant woman.

Here's how it actually went down...

We DID make it through the labor and delivery just fine. She didn't latch on at first, and to be honest, I wasn't too worried initially. It happens. So what, right? Well, it wasn't just a one-time deal. She wouldn't latch. Period. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I couldn't breastfeed my own baby. Of course I knew it wasn't my fault, but I still blamed myself. It was something I'd thought about and hoped for the past 9 months. I cried. and cried. and cried.

Every 2 to 3 hours we'd attempt to get her to latch for 15 minutes, and when it didn't work, we resorted to "finger feeding" Kaylee. It involves using syringes and tiny little tubes to feed the baby. You line up the end of the tube with the tip of your finger and then slowly push the milk/formula out of the syringe. It's supposed to help babies develop a stronger sucking reflex. Here's a visual for you because it's pretty hard to picture otherwise. Please excuse my puffy and shiny 2-week postpartum face.

We had a routine labor and delivery, so I could have gone home after 24 hours, but since she wasn't nursing, it was recommended that we stay 48 hours to get extra support and help with it before we went home.

We should have just gone home. All it did was exhaust me and frustrate me more. God bless all the people who tried to help us. At times, there were 3 nurses in there at once. They were so patient with me and wanted to help us make it work so badly. But, it just. didn't. work.

I began to develop a really good relationship with the lactation consultant, and by the time we were discharged home, I had decided that I would pump for Kaylee until she was able to latch, however long it took.

So, after 48 hours, we went home. Thus began my love/hate relationship with pumping.

Meet Mr. Medelapumpinstyleadvanced (I figured we spent enough time together that he was worthy of having a "Mr." put in front of his name) - my 5th appendage for the first two months of Kaylee's life.

Now, don't get all crazy and go buy one for yourself just for the sake of having a little extra fun. I mean, I know that this picture makes you want to hook it up to your boobs and have a grand ol' time just pumpin' away. Trust me. It frickin' SUCKS to be hooked up to it and it's not fun. Really. You will literally feel like a dairy cow. Plus, if you want to spend $300 to have fun, figure out a better way to spend your money (but if you will need a pump, I'm telling you this one is the best there is).

At first, I loved Mr. M. He made it possible for my baby to get breast milk. But, it wasn't long and I started to despise this damn machine.

We had a date every 3 hours around the clock for 2 months solid. I began to dread it. And I began to have problems.

When you pump all the friggin' time, it's not as effective as having a baby nurse, so it can cause a host of problems. Not only that, but I was producing enough milk to literally feed two babies - which I was actually doing (Go check out this website - it's amazing. Women who have a surplus milk supply can donate their extra milk to premature babies who need all the extra immunities and goodies that are only found in breast milk). With the pumping and the oversupply combined, I got chronic clogged milk ducts and even a damn boob infection. Can you believe that? And I didn't think I'd have any issues whatsoever.

So, in addition to being attached to that effing pump for what felt like 24 hours a day, I was now doing warm compresses and a host of other remedies to make the clogged ducts go away. At one point I remember thinking the pain was worse than contractions (I'm pretty sure I was just overreacting because contractions are indescribably painful).

By now you're probably wondering why the hell I didn't just give her formula. I don't know. I really don't know. It would have made my life a lot easier.

In addition to Mr. M. I had accumulated what my lactation consultant termed lots of "paraphernalia" - product upon product to help Kaylee latch on. Some stuff helped - sometimes. But mostly, it didn't work. And because I love torturing myself, I was still 100% committed to pumping for her.

We met with the lactation consultant every week and checked Kaylee's weight 1-2 times/week. She was steadily gaining, so that made me feel good. I knew that what I was providing her with was making her itsy bitsy little self grow big and strong. But I was still really, really sad about not being able to nurse her. The lactation consultant told me that babies usually latch on by 8 weeks. That seemed like an eternity.

But, wouldn't you know. My sweet little girl decided on the day she turned 8 weeks old that it was high time she latched, and we never had an issue with it from that day forward. I was absolutely thrilled.

I went back to work after 3 months, and I pumped at work. It worked out quite nicely. I used my two daily 15 minute breaks to go pump, and I'd read a book or a magazine, or doze off. It was a nice, quiet part of my day that I looked forward to. (By the way - here's my shameless plug for the The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies - and How You Can, Too. It's a phenomenal book written by 2 IBM employees who pumped at work. If you are going to pump at work or know someone who is, this book is an absolute MUST). Eventually, though - I got sick of it. Real sick of it. So, one day I just quit pumping. It was fabulous!

I continued to nurse Kaylee while I was at home, and I pumped a bit at home so she could still get milk while she was at the babysitter's, but eventually the supply wasn't keeping up with the demand, and I had to supplement with formula.

I have nothing at all against formula, but we had been on such an emotional roller coaster with the breast feeding that I really, really, really struggled with having to supplement her with formula. I think it brought those feelings of failure/Mommy guilt right back. I felt like I was failing to provide enough for my baby.

Thankfully, I got over that. I realized it just wasn't worth the stress, and Kaylee didn't give a rip what she ate.

Then, we hit another fork in our nursing road. Kaylee got a tooth. And then another tooth. Click here for a humorous little ditty about our first biting incident.

Along with the occasional bite, we were starting to battle what I called boob-induced ADD. Every time I'd sit down to nurse her, she'd latch on and then pop off and look at the light on the ceiling and start to say, "Ooooh! Oooooh! Oooooh!" just as if I'd presented her with her very own pony. But then she'd latch back on. Approximately 6.3 seconds later she would notice the window blinds and decided they looked fun to bat at.

It was getting to be a bit much. You've heard the phrase, "Shit or get off the pot," right? In my head I kept thinking, "Eat or get off the boob!"

So, when I realized how frustrated I was getting 95% of the time I was nursing her, I realized it was time to be done. My goal of 12 months had just gotten tossed out the window, and that was okay.

To be honest, I'm feeling really good about my decision, and sometimes I question whether or not that's how I *should* feel or not. I always thought I'd be really sad about being done. But, I'm not. I'm pretty happy to have my boobs back. Even if they don't feel like my boobs. Let's just say I'll definitely be trading my nursing bra in for a push-up bra...Just doesn't seem fair...after all I did with these boobs they go from making me look like Pamela Anderson to looking like a 4th grader. Well, SHIT. Shit, shit, shit. What can you do? Now I know why some women get boob jobs after they have babies. And I no longer judge them.

So, boobs. I salute you. You have done an incredible job. You've provided for two sweet babies and helped them grow, you've survived an uncanny amount of time with the pump, and you persevered through terrible, horrible, no good, very bad clogs and infections, and you never leaked on me in public. You are my heroes. You deserve a good pick-me-up, and a much-needed rest. So, soon and very soon we will go on an excursion to Victoria's Secret (a.k.a. Wal-Mart because that's what I can afford - but you DESERVE to go to Vicky's Place...) to get you a new wardrobe since you've downsized. Enjoy that rest while it lasts because I'll be calling on you again in a few years. I hope you're up to the task. And if you're not, then screw you. I'll just buy formula.


Tenakim said...

amen- I went throught similar trials. After being a relative failure for #1 & 2, I fnally had the confidence to nurse #3 & 4 for 1 yr each. I've never thanked them for that!

Sera said...

Glad to hear another mama can relate. It really does do a number on your confidence when it doesn't work out, doesn't it? I'm so glad it worked for #'s 3 and 4. Good for you. :)

Beth said...

Nursing a baby is so much harder than it seems! I nursed my first one for about 3 weeks. I just couldn't get enough milk in for him. For my second one, I planned to nurse for a couple of months. After 13 months, I finally weaned him.

Somehow, things never go quite like you plan. Great story! And I've gotta use that "shit or get off the pot" line more often.

Deb said...

oh my... this brought back such memories (not very pleasant ones, either!). your boobs do deserve their very own tribute! well done!

Young Momma said...

Cute blog! Nice tribute! lol

Sera said...

And this is why I write what I write. It seems like there are so many moms out there who have struggled with breast feeding, yet somehow the majority of us go in to it expecting it to be easy because someone/something made us think it would be that way. Of course there are people who don't have issues with it and it is easy for them. That's great for them, but the rest of us need to know we're not alone and we're not freaks!

April said...

All three of mine latched on the second they were born. Problem was, I didn't make enough milk. I tried for 2 months with the 2 older ones. That's feeding them and pumping (very time consuming) and I still couldn't feed them enough. With the youngest, I did it for 2 weeks. I couldn't be that occupied with a 2 year old running around. I felt guilty the first time around but not the second or third. It was truly out of my control. Only good thing was that I never got engorged.
Great post.

kelly said...

I also breast fed my daughter for 8.5 months. I had a love/hate relationship with my breast pump. Some days it was the BEST invention in the world and other days I wanted to throw it up against the wall! Go spoil your girls and buy them some TAR-JAY bras!!

Jenners said...

I salute you and you just love your little girl to pieces to go through that. I must confess I had a terrible time and only made it 6 weeks before my husband begged me to stop. The Girls definitely deserve a rest, a lovely new outfit and well, some rest. I hope Kaylee appreciates some day what you went through for her!

Great post Sera!

Sera said...

Alright alright, who is it that's writing these books about breastfeeding anyway? Look how many of us had problems in one form or another. And the primary focus of the books are always on methods, techniques, benefits, etc., but do you notice how little room is spent on the problems? No wonder we feel bad when it doesn't work out...

Kudos to all of you who attempted it.

John, Jessica and Emma said...

Oh I love it!!! That was a great tribute!!! I was the same with going 1 year, but made it almost 8 months. I had a low supply, but stopped right when Emma was getting her first tooth and was biting... OUCH!!!

Wendy said...

I'm so glad you're at peace and you have your boobies back! **Bowing to the girls** I really look forward to the day I get mine back too.

Honey Mommy said...

Breast feeding was a nightmare for me! Nothing seemed to work. After pumping for a few months I finally just gave up... and I still have a healthy boy! Now if only I hadn't had to feel so guilty about the whole thing!

angie said...

Excellent last line. OH how this brought back memories. I nursed my first 3 children until 14-16 months each. Too long. My first bit all the time too. Then, my twins came along. After their NICU stay, they would NOT latch on. So I pumped around the clock, like you for 6.5 months. Now, after a few months I only produced 2/3 of the milk they consummed so they were getting formula, but still I pumped, for who knows why. I felt so guilty when I stopped. And now I don't know what I was thinking. My "friends" gave me the finger for my efforts, too. They will never be the same. :)

Sera said...

You are all so awesome. Thanks for all the sweet comments, and for sharing your stories and struggles as well. :)

Shanna said...

Awesome post! And I too salute your boobs because I couldn't do it for more than a few weeks. Granted it had more to do with me than my boobs...but still. You are AWESOME! 9 months WOW!

Congrats on having them back for a while ;)

Anonymous said...

Well, you already know my story... it's amazing how many women struggle with this and the guilt is out of this world! Now that I'm fully weaned, I really wonder why I was so worked up about it. Do you remember the facebook chat we had while we were struggling with clogs and fears of formula? :)

Glad you have your girls back and feel good about it. And yeah, I never thought I'd say this, but I wish my girls were like they were pre-pregnancy.


MoziEsmé said...

Sweet tribute! Sounds like quite the adventure. I had no problem with the latch-on, but never success with pumping - maybe cuz I didn't spend the $300! So I was tied to baby 100% of the time and resented all you pumpers :)

Yer Mom said...


Forget WalMart! You and "The Girls" deserve Vicky's Place! Give me a call and I'll drive all of you to the mall.

Sera said...

I love my mommy. :) Giving "all of us" a ride to the mall...

Sera said...

Ruth - yep. I remember that chat very well. Man, when we were in the middle of it, it was just so miserable and we couldn't see it any other way, huh? And it was like it would never end. I'm really hoping the lesson we learned the first time around will help us next time. I hope...

EdenSky said...

Great post. It's amazing how many of us have trouble breastfeeding. That whole "it's the most natural thing in the world..." line is a load of crap and formula is NOT evil! If I have learned one thing as a parent it's not to bother making plans, bacause life never goes the way you think it will. I weaned my first daughter at 6 months and practically threw a party because I was so glad to be done, then I nursed my second for over a year. Que sera sera right?

Kasey said...

That really brought back the memories, like you I was determined to make it work. Luckily things were a lot easier the second time around.

Pam said...

I think it's time a book is written about the reality of breastfeeding from Moms like all of you. It's great you're being honest about the things you've gone through.