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Boobs

October 4, 2012

Now that I have your attention, let’s get serious and call them by their grown up name.
Breasts.

Now boys, if you think this is going to be a saucy story, it’s not, so stop reading now.

NOTE: If you don’t want to become intimately acquainted with my mammaries and what they’ve been up to over the past 2 months, you too should stop reading now.

Breasts are awesome. I’m definitely a fan. I have all their albums 😉
Ask any newborn baby, and I’m sure they’d tell you the same. When Mia was a few weeks old, I’d watch her dreaming; she’d smile and make like she was feeding (most babies do this). I SWEAR if I could be in her head it would have been walls of boobies. That’s a babies happy place.

Moobies

As a Primal/Paleo warrior, and as a mother who wants to do the best for her child, I chose to breastfeed. Knowing that this was the one thing I had ZERO experience in, I enlisted the help of a lactation consultant prior to birth, watched every video and read every book like the little nerd I am. Everything, everywhere from every angle reminded me about how breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do for your baby.
Natural- yes.
Easy- hells no. Not for me.

It seemed from the get-go like every obstacle possible was thrown in between my boobies and my baby. Here’s the list

1. Considerable blood loss during c-section delayed my milk “coming in” (your body finds it more important to recover from blood loss than produce milk)
2. Pickle had an immature sucking reflex and a tongue tie

3. Apparently my nipples aren’t ideal for breastfeeding?! WTF???!! They don’t stick out enough. Who knew that there were better nipples than others?! I’ve never had any complaints before. I think they look…like nipples! But that only ADDED to my troubles.

My final day in hospital rolled around and after 72 hours of breastfeeding coaching and assistance, I felt like I was ready for the big game. Ready to fly solo.

* any breast shyness I MAY have had before going into hospital swiftly evaporated over those 72 hours. As each new midwife came on shift, they would show me a different way to hold the baby, shape the breast, help the flow… I have never had more people handle my lady bits than in my time in hospital. My nipples were not my own. Nurse one would hand express (crazy shit), Nurse Two would pull the baby off and tell me my latch was wrong, and try all sorts of ways to get her on right. Nurse 378 attached me to a pump that resembled something you’d find on a farm. In the end there, the cleaning lady could have walked in and I would have asked “HEY! Do you want to cop a feel? “. EVERYBODY had had a crack

I was nursing standing up, eating an apple with one hand. I felt like I had this shit in the bag.
UNTIL the big head honcho of midwives came back after her 3 days off. The only experience I had with her was 2 hours after my section, when the airconditioning wasn’t working in my room, and nor was my nurses buzzer.
Apparently that was my fault, and giving me the room next door (with everything in working order) was an inconvenience! As soon as she left, a much nicer nurse sorted us out 🙂

ANYHOW

So Nurse Subtle as a Meat Axe barges in and says “who told you to feed like that?” (remembering this is after 3 days of EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IN THE HOSPITAL telling me how to feed)
I said “I took a bit from here and a bit from there, and this is what works beat for us”
At which point she told me a) I was doing it all wrong b) there was only one way and it was HER way and let’s not forget c) if i didn’t do it her way, my way would eventually fail, the baby would starve and I would be a bad mother
I’m not even kidding.
She then yanked my little one around by her shoulders and squeezed my parts and pieces into HER way of feeding, and it JUST DIDNT WORK
She frowned, tutted and lectured another hour and then left.

Prior to her visit, I was beyond excited to go home, felt like I was sorted and confident and ready to breastfeed the heck out of my baby.
After that I was TERRIFIED.

We went home. We slept. When Mia woke up for her late night feed, and I awoke in pain to feed her, all I could think about was the conversation with Nurse Expert. I tried every which way to get her to feed – after half an hour and tears from both of us, we succeeded.
This dance of dread was repeated every night, 6 or 7 times a night for a week.

Daddy and Pickle in the Chair of Doom

We got her tongue tie resolved, which improved things a bit.
By Mia’s 3rd week, she was feeding for 45minutes every hour. You do the math. my eyes were falling out of my head, my nipples were so painful every feeding was like attaching a car battery to the bloody things, and each time my little darling fell asleep I would quietly cry with her in my arms in the feeding chair. The Chair of Doom.

I felt like I’d be stuck there with my stupid boobs and my hungry baby FOREVER.

In the cold hours of the early morning, after another horrific feed, I crawled into bed, woke Tim, and broke down.
“I can’t do this any more! I’m quitting. I’m a failure”.
I had the car keys in my hand and was ready to drive to the nearest 24 hour supermarket, buy a bottle and formula, and be done with it.
That, or hurt myself. It was such a raw, painful, horrible emotion, and I had no idea how to handle it.
My calm, collected man hugged me and told me to sleep on it. He assured me I was a wonderful mama and knew what I was doing.

The next morning I pushed nurse butt face out of my mind and fed Baby MY way. And it worked!!!
Suddenly I was able to be the earth mother I wanted to be.
I wrapped my little munchkin in a sling and wore her everywhere. FED her everywhere.
Hidden in the privacy of the sling she fed ;
While I coached
As we watched the Cairns Festival parade
Whilst I walked through town
When I ate at a restaurant

I felt empowered and happy- but still exhausted. This baby was CONSTANTLY attached to my bosom.
She would fall asleep, wake, feed, repeat, every hour, on the hour.

Our child nurse showed up week 4 to weigh her and we discovered that she was almost 2lbs below her birth weight.
For all the feeding I was doing, my precious was STARVING.

He ordered me to pump when I wasn’t feeding, and top up every feed with an expressed bottle or baby would be in trouble.

So I did.
Weighing day came around again.
She had gained about a wet nappies worth.
So I was told to supplement every feed with formula.

I was DEVASTATED. My tits were as useless as… Well… Tits on a bull

Useless

I cried the rest of that day
The ONE thing I was supposed to do for my child I had failed at.

I begrudgingly bought the formula. I did as I was told.
And WHAT THE HELL
My baby slept for TWO HOURS that night. Then another 2.5
The next day she had her eyes open more than she had ever.
She was alert. She was happy. She was content.
She slept longer, and she gained weight like a champ.

We kept up the breastfeeding, my nipples felt like new, and a BIG positive to come from the negatives, it meant Tim could now take one feed- I could sleep from 8pm till 1am if I wanted 🙂
I was rested, baby had a bellyful, and we were happy.

During this time I tried everything I could to increase my supply

HERE’S THE LIST:
Prescription drugs
Hospital Grade pumps
Fenugreek pills (I swallowed so many I started to smell like maple syrup…not a bad side effect, I guess!)
Mothers milk tea
Lactation cookies
GALLONS of water
Beer (this was a last resort, and meant I couldn’t feed for another 2 hours after, so wasn’t ideal)

Nothing really worked. Things might improve for a day, then back to the slow trickle.
Every time another mother told me about her leaking breasts, or how her supply was so copious the baby nearly DROWNED in her boob juice, I swear to jeebus I wanted to PUNCH HER RIGHT IN THE FACE.
I was SO envious.
And every breastfeeding nazi (and yes, I have encountered many) that asked me “are you SURE you’ve tried everything” or “you DO know breast is best, RIGHT?”  I wanted to PUNCH HER/HIM RIGHT IN THE FACE.

And then I wanted to cry.
I’ve done a lot of crying of the milk that HASN’T spilt over the past 2 months.
Let’s roll forward to 2 weeks ago. I started training again. I was warned by my obgyn that this could be the final straw, as high intensity exercise can adversely effect milk supply. For my own sanity I chose to risk it. 
Then I got sick with tonsilitis and a chest infection.
For one whole day I stayed in bed sick. I didn’t breastfeed or pump.

The next day I got up to give Mia a feed and there was NOTHING.
I dragged out the pump and could not even produce a drop.

That was a week ago. It was a sad day, but I’ve come to terms with it, I guess.
It still hurts every time someone asks if I’m breastfeeding…I wanted to more than anything, but it just didn’t work out.
I try and explain to some women, but if you didn’t struggle to feed, you’ll find it hard to understand.
As the nurse said in the hospital recently “you tried your little bum off for her for 8 weeks. 8 weeks of breast is better than none. Stop beating yourself up”

I wouldn’t yet call myself a PROUD formula feeder, but I am happy.
Mia is not only thriving, but at our last check up the lovely doc said she is advanced for her age 😉 Woohoo we cooked up a clever kid 😉

PLEASE don’t judge Mummies when you see them bottle feeding their little one. There are a MILLION reasons why they may have chosen to do this. I say this because I was a bottle feeding judger. Only silently, but I made assumptions all the same.
For that I’m sorry.

However you choose to feed your wee ones; booby, expressed milk, formula, wet nurse WHATEVER. As long as they (and also important, YOU) are happy, you’re doing a great job.
HOORAY FOR BOOBIES, and HOORAY FOR MUMMIES.

Content after a successful feed in the Chair of Doom

Have an awesome weekend, kids

xx

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2012 8:51 am

    Fanatical followers of any doctrine are not at all attractive. And yes I am aware that there’s a certain degree of hypocrisy in that, but damn it, CrossFit is the best way to train,and Paleo/Primal/Zone or combination thereof is the best way to eat!

    • October 30, 2012 3:00 am

      so true. My body has never felt more vital than this week, actually, as I am nearing the end of my Whole 30 challenge. So there ya go!

  2. soph permalink
    October 30, 2012 2:56 am

    I’ve been fed with formula… of course I’m not the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most successful, the best athlete in the world… but TBH it’s not too bad … ;P
    so yes, stop beating yourself up, you tried and that’s all what matters ! much love to you Jojo. love your blog xx

    • October 30, 2012 2:58 am

      Aw thanks, Soph! I was fed a mix of both formula and breast, and yeah I guess I’m not too bad 😉 Love you lots my little formula fed machine. You’re amazing! xoxo

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