Monday, September 12, 2011

The final farewell

 Ahh, the post I've been dreading...

Well many of you have asked how breastfeeding is going.  Well as of last Wednesday it's not anymore, but first let me give you a brief recap of the past couple weeks.  A little bit over a week ago we went to see OT/ST and the therapist did confirm that essentially her suck sucks.  There are two components that allow a baby to get milk from the breast- suction and compression.  However, compression is all that is needed to get milk from a bottle.  She wasn't getting milk from me because she lacked the coordination and stamina to suck (she also had trouble getting milk from the SNS for the same reason), but she could easily compress to get milk from the bottle.  So the therapist gave us some exercises to do help strengthen and work on her suck.  We've been working on those while continuing to try to nurse.  And for a week each time I tried to put her to the breast she screams.  SCREAMS.  This is really not her normal temperament.  She's a very easy baby.  She's quiet and alert most of the time.  She goes to sleep easily at night and sleeps well.  She doesn't really fuss or cry much at all, except now when I'm trying to get her to nurse.

I can't handle the screams.  Each time I take it personally that my child is rejecting me.  I'm her mother.  I have what she needs.  I know that breast milk is the best thing for her.  Yet, she rejects it each time; it breaks my heart.  And makes me angry, angry at God.  The bible speaks of mothers nursing their children.  Its natural- its how our bodies were created to work.  I would imagine that people with cancer, autoimmune diseases, etc have had similar thoughts or frustrations about their bodies not "working correctly" at one point or another.  I realize that we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin and as a result of the fall our bodies (among other things) do not work as they were created to.  This is a prime example and reminder of that for me right now.  I have prayed and many other's have prayed for her to nurse.  Yet, the Lord has not answered our prayers.  However, I do trust and believe that God is Sovereign and although He doesn't always answer my prayers in the way that I would like I know that He is my Father, He knows what is best for me, and He gives good gifts to His children. (Matthew 7:11, Romans 8:28)  To God be the glory.

I've struggled with bitterness too.  You see, Phoebe was nursing just fine before we had to start supplementing her with formula from a bottle.  Granted she was sucking incorrectly, so she wasn't getting enough, but she was latching and sucking.  She was capable.  But then after getting the bottle for so long she started to refuse to latch when she's hungry and its time to eat.  I realize she needed the formula and it was a necessary at the time, but it does now make me bitter that she got used to the bottle.  I wanted her to latch and nurse so badly.  One because I equated it with being a good mother and two because I thought if she would latch and suck correctly, she would stimulate my body to produce more milk than the pump and increase my supply (which is still low).

So last Wednesday morning was the final straw.  I've had my ups and downs, but overall I've been pretty stressed and frustrated about her not nursing.  Wednesday morning I cracked and yelled at her for not being able/willing to nurse.  Well like I said want be a good mom, but I'm pretty sure that being frustrated and yelling at your baby doesn't fall into that category.  So at that point I decided that we were done.  I spent more waking hours on Wednesday crying than not crying.  I somewhat feel like I'm in mourning.  I'm mourning the loss of breastfeeding.  Not only did I want her to get the nourishment of breast milk exclusively for the first six months (as the WHO and CDC recommends) but I wanted that bonding experience for me too.

A week later, it still makes me sad that she won't nurse.  I mean what do babies do?  They eat and they sleep.  If I can't even feed my own child then what kind of mother am I?  Now, I know intellectually that this is silly and I'm sure it sounds absurd.  Yet, it's a lie I have struggled not to believe.

I also feel like I've failed.  (Even though its not all me.  I do realize that she plays a major part in breastfeeding as well.) I am a perfectionist.   I've never failed anything significant.  Maybe a silly quiz in school here or there, but nothing big.  If I wanted something or set my mind to something I've always been able to work hard enough to achieve it.  But with this, I've worked hard and I've given it all that I am capable of and it still hasn't worked out the way I wanted.  And that drives me crazy.  These past several weeks have revealed more of my sin and reminded me that I am not in control.  I can work all I want, but if something is not in God's plans for me or my family I cannot make those things happen.  (Proverbs 19:21)  I have a feeling this will not be the last time the Lord will have to remind me of this truth...

Over the weekend a friend asked me if I felt relief after I had decided not to try to nurse Phoebe anymore.  I answered no.  I was still just sad.  But now after almost a week I will say it has been somewhat of a relief and weight off my shoulders.  I've been able to enjoy my sweet baby girl and even take a few more pictures :)

Looking rather mischievous


  1. Oh Jen, your post breaks my heart. I know the feeling of frustration and sadness when you believe your "body has failed." You ARE a wonderful mother and one who loves her God and her child very, very much. I pray ever time you look at your baby girl's face your pain fades to joy. She is just SO beautiful. I recently read these words by Anne Steele, ‎"...To thee I tell each rising grief, for thou alone canst heal, thy word can bring a sweet relief for every pain I feel." God takes away the pain of His children.

  2. Jen I'm so sorry that you've been going through all of this. I know the past couple weeks have been so hard for you, and I just hate that.

    However you have completely made the right decision. It is not worth it for you to be stressed all the time. Breastfeeding doesn't make women great moms... it's so much more than that. You are a wonderful mom and that shows by how hard you tried to make this work. Emery has strep at the moment but maybe in a couple weeks we can come visit y'all again!! Talk to you soon!

  3. Hi there. I am a friend of Leah's. First of all I have to say that your daughter is absolutely darling! She has so much hair and such pretty eyes.

    I just wanted to say that I completely understand how you feel. Although, when I stopped breastfeeding my first born, I actually did feel a huge sense of relief. I remember holding him for that first bottle of formula and feeling SO excited that I could happily enjoy his feedings. I could gaze at his eyes and watch him fill his belly without the stress and tears from breastfeeding. You can read my experience here:

    I have had another baby since then, and breastfeeding could not have been easier! It just showed me that I did not have control over my first attempt and there's nothing I could have done to make it work. When it works, it just works. And when it doesn't, it's not worth the emotional turmoil. Your future children may nurse just fine and you know what? You will feel NO differently about your future children as your first born. It is a complete LIE that you bond more with a breastfed baby, and I know this for a fact because I now have one formula fed and one breastfed baby!

    My formula fed baby is the healthiest kid out of anyone we know... and literally all my friends' babies were breastfed. He was a healthier baby than my breastfed baby.

    Please believe and write it in your heart that you are the BEST mom for her. She will thrive and grow and be healthy and you should not let yourself look back with regret. I will pray for you to find peace and move FORWARD just enjoying every little smile and every pound she packs on. Congrats on your first little blessing!!


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