This is not so bad,
I thought. I don’t know what all the fuss
is about. I’d just given birth to my first son and we were giving breastfeeding
a go. I wouldn’t say it was comfortable, but he latched on and tried to get all
he could from me those first few times. We took our little bundle of joy home,
having satisfied the nurses that we were on the road to success as far as
And we did have success those first few months. When I went
back to work after two months, I had a nice supply ready for him and the nanny.
I was able to pump enough to keep him satisfied and my supply in the freezer
fully stocked. He took to a bottle with little fuss and all seemed right with
My friends who were having babies at the same time had
struggled in the beginning. They had seen lactation specialists and used nipple
shields while I was breezing through this whole breastfeeding thing with no
problems. I thought I’d be nursing my son until he was at least a year old. I’d
save money on formula and give my son the best nourishment possible.
But by the fourth month I was singing a different tune.
During my son’s third month my milk supply started
to go down. I wasn’t sure why. I took supplements. I tried to eat and drink
more. No matter what I did I was not able to feed my son enough or pump enough
to keep him happy. When we had to start supplementing with formula, I was
devastated. Here I was, the mom who had had it easy to begin with, and now I was
failing. Miserably. By the start of my son’s fifth month he was
completely off breast milk and on formula.
This was not how it was supposed to happen, I thought. Everyone talked
about having trouble breastfeeding in the beginning, not after a successful
start. My friends who had trouble in the beginning were now successfully
nursing their babies through their first year. They were the “good moms” giving
their babies exactly what they needed. But not me. I couldn’t even get my boy to six months.
I beat myself up about this for months. I compared myself to
other moms, wondering what I had done wrong. Did I not eat enough? Did I go
back to work too soon?
When my second son was born I was determined to do better. I
ate well. I drank loads of water. By this point I was working at home, so I
didn’t need to pump at all. My son had access to me whenever he needed a drink.
We hit the four-month mark and I was still going strong. I was content, if not
a little bogged down by the fact that I couldn’t leave my son for more than two to three hours at a time, something I had gotten used to after my difficulties feeding
No one ever told me I could have trouble later on with my supply. It’s just not talked about.
But at eight months I began to see a change in my milk supply.
My youngest son, who had started eating solids, but still preferred to nurse
for most of his nutrition, wasn’t getting enough. He would suck and suck, but
he was never full. I began to despair again. On the one hand I was thrilled I
had made it to eight months. On the other hand, I questioned if I had done everything
right this time around. Why couldn’t I produce enough for this baby? We soon
got him on a bottle and started supplementing with formula. By nine months he
was finished with breastfeeding. He was getting what he wanted from the bottle
without having to work so hard.
I was happy my baby was getting what he needed, and I slowly began to experience the freedom that comes with a baby not attached to me anymore. Being able to leave the house for more than a few hours worked wonders on erasing some of that despair I initially experienced.
The second time around, I recovered from my son weaning before I was ready much more quickly. I beat myself up for maybe a week, but I knew I had done the best I could. I had seen his big brother thrive after only four months of breastfeeding, so I knew this little guy would be OK. Better yet, we were still dealing with night feedings, and I was all too happy to hand him over to his father with a bottle at 3 a.m. so I could start to catch up on more than eight months of sleep.
Yes, I was devastated when I couldn’t nurse both of my boys
to their 1-year-old mark. No one ever told me I could have trouble later on
with my supply. It’s just not talked about. You only hear about the people who
have trouble while they are in the hospital or that first month before they get
into a groove with their baby.
After a while I realized that this is just what my body
could do. It wasn’t my fault. It certainly wasn’t either of my sons’ faults. My
boys are thriving, learning at a normal (even rapid sometimes) pace. They are
athletic, strong, love to read, have healthy appetites and play pretty well
with others (there is only so much you can expect from a toddler). I’ve
accepted that the first year of breastfeeding wasn’t exactly the way I
had planned, but in the end, we all came out OK. I hope other moms have found
the same thing.
We can only do the best we can for our kids, and sometimes nature
has a way of forcing us to figure out how to deal with what we have been given.