(photo credit Jasmin Chen Photography)
Hi, I’m Nikki from The Yellow Magnolia. I’m currently a work-at-home mom starting my own children’s room design business and working hourly for other design firms. I have a two year old, Abram, and a 3 month old, Julip. When I am not working or taking care of the kids I blog about our life, adventures, and design/diy projects. I breastfed my children for a combined total of 20 days, but my husband credits me with four weeks.
I have read the breastfeeding diaries since the beginning, and have come to realize that everyone has their own “story”.
(photo credit Kelli Nicole Photography)
My story goes like this…
I chose to breastfeed because in my mind there was no other option; everyone in my family did it so I would too. I loved to read about the health benefits and bond you get from breastfeeding. I honestly didn’t even consider all of the challenges that may come my way or the fact that it might not even be possible. Unfortunately, I had to stop with both of my kids within two weeks of having them; doctor’s orders. It still tears me up, especially when everywhere you look you see the “breast is best” message.
Delivery was fairly easy for me; my second child was almost born on the car ride to the hospital.
When my first, Abram, was born I anxiously tried to get him to latch. He seemed to do ok, but within the first few hours the lactation consultant noticed he wasn’t really latching. She brought me a nipple shield and he did much better. The first night home he screamed all night and stopped having wet diapers. At the recommendation of his pediatrician, I would nurse him and then supplement until my milk came in. On day 5 it came in fast and I became engorged within hours. By the next morning I had double mastitis; it was so painful, but I was determined. I visited the lactation consultant and came up with solutions to reduce the swelling, worked on my son’s latch, and got an antibiotic from the doctor. For the next week I would try to feed my son while he screamed and refused to latch, then pump while massaging, ice, apply cabbage leaves, massage in a warm shower, and repeat. I was exhausted and by the end of the week I was drying up. I later realized that pumps don’t really work on me. I tried drinking Mother’s Milk Tea to increase my supply, but within days it was completely gone.
(photo credit Ryan Flores Photography)
My doctor ordered me to stop trying at the risk of hurting myself. I was so glad I did when I ended up in the ER that night with minor complications. It took awhile for me to forgive myself; I would read your posts and just cry. I ended up with post partum depression and every time something was wrong with my son I blamed myself. He had chronic ear infections and a chiropractor actually had the nerve to tell me that I should’ve breastfed to prevent them. I eventually realized that my son wasn’t sick because of me, and when I finally let myself off of the hook, I was surprised to discover that we had a wonderful bond. There is really nothing better than looking your baby in the eye and having them stop eating just to smile and talk to you.
When Abram was 15 months old I found out I was pregnant with Julip. I was completely panicked about it all; not the delivery, but trying to breastfeed. At nine months pregnant I had the mindset that I will try and I won’t blame myself if it doesn’t work. My daughter arrived 30 minutes after we pulled up at the hospital; I was so far along that I delivered her naturally. She latched right away and had a strong suck. I was thrilled! We met with the same lactation consultant, and everything looked great. I breastfed her for three days with my only complaint being sore nipples. I was normal!
Day 4: Engorgement
When I woke up that day I was so severely engorged that my daughter could barely latch. It was a Sunday, so while my husband called every other lactation consultant on the hospital’s list, I began doing the process that I remembered so vividly. I knew I needed to hurry before it got worse, but of course the pump got nothing out. I would have to push down on my breast just so my daughter could breath while she ate. A lactation consultant agreed to see us and just like the first time, I had “text book” engorgement. She checked the latch, baby weight, and pump; everything looked great. She then mentioned that if you are a sweaty person, you can hyper-lactate because they are sweat glands. I have hyperhydrosis. It was the answer to the question I had been asking for two years! I was hyper-lactating from the very beginning which caused a back up. I also realized that the pump would work IF I was feeding her on the other side. I was so hopeful.
The next day I woke with double mastitis. I was put on a 10 day antibiotic with a doctor’s order that if the infection didn’t go away by day 5, I would have to stop at the risk of it spreading to my blood. The next five days I did my routine of feeding her while pumping the other side, icing, cabbage leaves, and massaging…repeat. Five days later the infection was still there and I was devastated again. I was able to exclusively breastfeed her for 10 days.
Breastfeeding was an impossible task for me, but what was the most challenging was coming to terms with the way I needed to nourish my child. Honestly, I can prepare bottles with my eyes closed so formula (for me) was much easier than breastfeeding, but the emotions of it all right after your body has gone through so much can overwhelm you. We have always talked about three kids. I find myself hesitating because I don’t know if I can go through it again. Then I tell myself that this is just the journey I was supposed to take.
(photo credit Angelle Jumonville Photography)
If I could give others any advice, it would be to work with a lactation consultant before delivery and regularly afterward, but take it day by day and be open to a different path. Continue to take care of yourself, even if it means supplementing. Please ignore the people who will make assumptions that you just didn’t try hard enough. If you must stop for any reason, try not to blame yourself…in the words of Elsa, who just finished singing on my tv, “Let It Go”.
Thanks for letting me be part of such an amazing series with such strong momma’s! I really feel that although it is the most “natural” way for most, it is just not possible for all. Much like natural, medicated, or cesarean births; with all have our own story and need to be more supportive of every mom who is just trying to do her best! 🙂
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.
I am so sorry your story didn't go how you'd hoped. But I am so happy that you see the love and bond that you share with your children, regardless of how they get their nutrients. What a lovely family you have.
Caley-Jade Rosenberg says
This is an amazing story – so true and honest. It is sometimes comforting to know that often the "right way" doesn't work for everyone – it makes so many moms feel normal. Everyone has a unique story and one that works best for them and their baby. Well done Nikki – you tried your best and your babies are so well and strong.
Thank you for sharing your story. As you said, for something that is meant to be the most natural thing in the world, its so challenging for so many, and I think its so important for new mothers to hear that is doesn't necessarily feel all that natural. Your babies are adorable and look so content and loved. THAT is what is best, never mind the breast, love is best. xx
Nikki T says
Thanks ladies! I always get so nervous to share my story because I don't want it to sound negative. Instead, I want it to help others who just cannot do it feel better about themselves. Meg-made you are so right…LOVE is best!