Monday, August 8, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 2! Something You Regret Not Having Done Last Year

I'm going to alter this one to be: Something you regret not having done in the last 12 months, as we're well past the new year.

I really regret not trying harder at breast-feeding. With all the hubbub of World Breastfeeding Week, I have really felt attacked by "lactivists" recently. Yes, I made the decision to formula feed Monkey. But I also felt, at the time, that I had really given breast-feeding a fair shot.

We tried to exclusively breast-feed for six weeks. We had some major roadblocks: I had a breast reduction in 2003, 7 years and a few weeks before Monkey was born. During the procedure, the surgeon made an incision that looks like an anchor, he started on my side, almost as high as my armpit, and cut under my breast all the way around to the other side, and then made an incision from the middle of the under-side of my breast up and around my nipple, on both sides. The purpose of cutting around the nipples (removing them) was to make them proportionate to the rest of my breast post-reduction. This, of course, resulted in severed nerves, which makes breast-feeding VERY difficult. Even 7 years post-op, the nerves on my left breast hadn't fully healed, meaning Monkey was never able to establish a good latch on the left side. This meant that I was trying to exclusively breast-feed a very frustrated baby on just one breast. Add in reduced supply because of the tissue that was removed during my reduction - there's no way to know what kind of tissue is being removed, as everything (except fat) looks the same - and, well, you can see the problem!

On top of those issues, I also had a spinal headache for 5 days after delivery, which greatly affected my initial supply. During the placement and use of my epidural, the needle punctured a small hole in the tissue surrounding my spinal column, and I was leaking spinal fluid, the stuff that keeps your brain in suspension. I eventually had to have a blood patch, a simple procedure in which a nurse draws blood from your arm (she took A LOT of blood - 20 CCs) while an anesthesiologist reopens the epidural site. The blood is then inserted into the site and coagulates around the leak; basically a blood band-aid. While spinal headaches are not uncommon, one as bad as mine is VERY rare; my mom (who was a labor and delivery nurse for 16 years) had never seen a blood patch until mine. In the days between coming home from the hospital and returning for a blood patch, I progressed from having what felt like a dehydration/caffeine-withdrawal fueled headache, to hardly being able to lift my head to look someone in the eye, to not being able to get out of bed and walk on two feet - the day of my blood patch, someone had to hold me up or I'd have to crawl on all fours. I had a CT scan just before the blood patch was performed, and the doctor said my brain was essentially resting against my skull, matter to bone. Try to breast-feed when you can't lift your head up; it's not easy.

Breast-feeding is hard work. I really don't feel like I was prepared for it; I felt that it would just come naturally, and for some women - and babies - it does. This time, I know what to prepare for. I know that it hurts like hell; that bloody, chapped nipples are normal; that owning a comfy chair is a must, as that's where you basically live while establishing breast-feeding and supply; that drinking lots and lots and LOTS of water is not an option.

The fact is: I feed my baby. She's healthy and happy and growing and developing just like she should be. Yes, I regret not trying harder at breast-feeding, but I know that we have an awesome relationship despite, maybe even in spite of, all the difficulties breast-feeding threw our way.

And I know that I have a second chance with Niblet. Here's to hoping she's not a pirhana like her big sister!


  1. I really hate when moms use BFing to shame other moms or make them feel inferior. There really are circumstances in which it just. doesn't. work. out. Don't beat yourself up about it! Hugs!

  2. I completely agree with you Georgina! Definitely don't beat yourself up over it! I don't understand why everyone feels that their way of parenting is the best, and attack others that can't or don't necessarily do things the way that they do. Everybody's different and everybody's baby is different!

    I felt very guilty about choosing to FF, but initially, the decision was pretty much made for me, as I physically could not do it, and we had to pretty much force feed our daughter and monitor her intake very very closely. We decided to continue FF because with all my healing from surgery and everything else, it was just the right choice for all of us, and my husband got that bonding time with her, which helped me rest and heal. More hugs! :)

    New follower btw :)