More than Milk: A Breastfeeding Story

**Note: This entire experience was a bit difficult for me to write about. It took me some time to get to the point where I was ‘okay’ with it all. It was originally written at the beginning of this month…and I’m just now feeling ready to share it with all of you.**

 

Right now my precious baby girl is sound asleep after having just had a warm bottle of milk that didn’t come from my breast. No big deal, right? Right. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago the thought of that happening was a VERY. BIG. DEAL.

After two weeks of giving it the old college try, I stopped breastfeeding my newborn. That decision was an agonizing one because I wanted so badly to do what my body was designed to do and feed my child. For after all, I’d read and heard so many times that ‘breast milk is the best milk.’ The benefits of breastfeeding reads like a list of “things I would do after I won the lottery.” In fact, you can even call breast milk liquid gold! Every mom should breastfeed, because, well…you have to and you’re a loser if you don’t (granted, no one actually said that to me, but it’s the subliminal message that’s preached in virtually every piece of literature out there on how you should feed your baby).

Eight years ago I had a breast reduction and in doing so, I essentially made the decision then to be okay with not being able to breastfeed. But then I got pregnant and suddenly found myself with this intense desire to breastfeed, which I hadn’t expected. All I could do was literally wait until after I gave birth to see if I would in fact be able to breastfeed successfully. Well lo and behold, my milk came in two days after I delivered. Eureka! I had my own pot of liquid gold. I was so happy.

But then reality set in after I got home from the hospital. Breastfeeding is hard. And painful! And my baby wanted it. A LOT.  And pumping in between feedings caused my nipples to feel like they’d been caught up in a garbage disposal. On top of that my breasts started to become engorged which was a pain I had never known! I was hurting, stressed out, and beginning to have dreams of dancing bottles filled with formula. I agonized over what to do because I wanted to give up but felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for feeling that way. Essentially, though, I was in bad shape. The constant crying wasn’t good for me and certainly not for my baby. Something had to give.

Through the support of ‘my village’ I finally decided to try formula. I realized that doing what was best for my child included doing what was best for me too. And that, I felt, was switching to formula. For me, breastfeeding was just too hard and painful, and I was losing precious time enjoying my new baby because I was so distraught over the whole situation. In the end, I decided that although breast milk may be best, a happy, healthy mommy is better. My daughter deserves all of me, not just my milk. I am more than my milk!

I realized too, that when she’s my age, it won’t matter whether she was breast fed or not. Knowing that she had a mom that loved her is what will matter most. Plus, I was a formula fed baby and I’ve got a master’s degree – so there!

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Posted on January 17, 2011, in The Rattle: Everything Baby. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great post!

    Awww sorry to hear that. At least you gave it a try before knocking it out period. You know what works best for you, and this didn’t. I plan on breast feeding as well.

    How was your reduction? I plan on having one after I have my children. I wasn’t sure if it’d affect the BF’n. PLus, I know pregnancy can affect breast size.

  2. Thank you for your support, Kim! Breastfeeding truly does have a lot of rewards and benefits and I will try it again when we have another baby (waaaaayyyyy down the line! LOL). But for now, bottle feeding has worked out and my baby is happy and healthy which is most important to me.

    My reduction was a great experience. It was the best adult decision I had made for myself (at that point). I developed early so by 22 years old…I was beyond ready and tired of having big boobs! E-mail me if you have any questions…you know I’ll give you ALL the details! LOL

  3. Heather Gilmore

    Amber,
    I think you are just phenomenal! 🙂 I love you girl and fully support you! If you ever need anything, you know I’m here for you!

  4. Amber…thank you for this post. I am planning to breast feed as well. I am also planning to have a breast reduction after I have my kids. I too developed early and have been waiting for the day to do something about my two friends…LOL.

    • Breastfeeding is a special thing! Just take it one day at a time and I’m sure you’ll be fine. You can let me know, too, if you have any questions about having a reduction. I’m so glad I did AND was able to produce milk!

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