I wrote this poem after opening my freezer for the millionth time and seeing the bags of frozen milk stare back at me. I’m not sure why I’ve kept them frozen. Maybe as a reminder that I did it, I breastfed my baby on my terms!
Breastfeeding is a journey that not everyone gets to go on and it isn’t a one size fits all. My journey was different with all three kids.
I feel that if it wasn’t for the honesty of my doctor, the real talks with my friends, and the confidence in myself I had to pre-talk myself thru when I thought about breastfeeding, I probably would be so depressed and unable to be a mother to my children. Yes, the journey has been that bad and it really goes back getting the right information from people.
With my firstborn. I did lactation classes, got the best breast pump on the market, had all the supplies ready to breastfeed and then…. my milk never came in. They don’t explain that part to you. They tell you it takes a few days but they don’t discuss the events of it not ever coming in.
My son was starving and still lactation support encouraged me to keep trying. They said it would eventually come in. As a first-time mom, I believed them. They know best. My dad worried as my son suffered from jaundice and my mom finally said take her to get him some formula. And we did.
I kept going to see lactation support and they frowned at the sight of me bottle feeding formula to my newborn. I was shamed by them, the WIC office staff and worse some extended family members.
I went back to work feeling defeated. I felt like a horrible mother. I didn’t bond with my child because I listened to everyone tell me how I gave up breastfeeding. I got hit with postpartum depression.
With my second, 13 months later, I felt broken but still, I tried. This time I had some milk come in. I was excited I was getting 2oz and I was pumping it all but I celebrated my 2oz. Soon that depleted. I didn’t consult with a lactation supporter because I didn’t want to be told how I was giving up and how I wasn’t trying enough. I was exhausted with 2 kids under 2. But I kept trying for 2 months. I went from 2oz to 1oz to 1/2oz. I was ill and again I felt like I was falling into a depression. My husband supported me and we gave up at 2 months.
Nine years later I have a newborn. I mentally prepared myself and I said if it happens then it happens. It was hard in the hospital when they brought in the breast pump and nothing was coming out NOTHING. They encouraged me to keep pumping every 2hrs for 48hours this was my world. I was exhausted and I had nothing to show not one single drop. The nurse would come in and say “Nothing?” and eventually, my baby was formula fed. I was ok with that. We were exhausted
When I fell ill immediately after being released from the hospital, I saw my Doctor who looked me straight in the face and said Don’t feel pressured to breastfeed after I told her what was going on. She asked me about my past postpartum and breastfeeding journey. She said, Don’t stress yourself out we need you healthy or else how can you be a mom to your babies. She was real with it and I agreed. She said “I was shamed too and guess what? It didn’t happen with my first and I didn’t even try to breastfeed with my second and that doesn’t make me a bad mom.” Her words were real. So real! I needed that!
I think her words are what helped me breastfeed the 3 months I did try. I didn’t force it but I didn’t give up either. I knew to pay attention to the signs of exhaustion, frustration for both me and baby. I pumped for the most part and the most milk I ever got was 4oz in a day. It was the best 4oz and you better believe I fed my baby those 4oz until they became 3, then 2, then 1/2oz.
I wouldn’t have gotten 4oz that day if it wasn’t for the fenugreek, the tea, and the water I was taking. I was taking 5pills 3 times a day to make 4oz of milk in a day…. when that stopped working I got sad but then I had to remember my doctor’s words. She knew me and understood me. Even my friends shared words of encouragement because they went thru the same.
We don’t talk about it breastfeeding being difficult enough. About our milk never coming in. Breastfeeding is easy for some and that’s great but when it doesn’t work out for others we are met with such horrible judgment. We didn’t try, we gave up, we are not being great moms, our babies will suffer, they won’t be as smart as BF babies, I mean the comments are endless.
So I’m here to tell you from a mama of 3 sometimes you get 4 oz sometimes you get 2oz and sometimes… sometimes you don’t get anything. But that doesn’t make you less of a mom and that doesn’t mean your baby is malnourished or given less if you opt for formula. Love on your baby, give it all your love, a safe home, and a healthy life, that’s what makes you a damn good mom!