Bethany is one of the girls who works at Nappy Shoppe. She has been with us since 2012. Her son Hendrik was born in late 2011. Originally from Illinois, she moved down to the DFW area while pregnant with Hendrik. In doing so, she took herself away from all her known resources. This is her story, and as she states in it, she fully expects a different outcome with her next baby, because now she has made friends in the area, including her co-workers at Nappy Shoppe. She shares her story in the hopes that it helps others feel better when not everything goes according to plan. Bethany is a wonderful mother. Read on for her story …
Bethany and her husband Travis, and her son Hendrik.
I, like so many moms-to-be, whole heartedly assumed I would breastfeed until my child weaned himself. I abhorred formula and bottles. I had lovely Bravado nursing bras and tank tops and nursing pads and the Boppy pillow (the My Brest Friend is better, in my opinion, by the way). I read probably half a dozen breastfeeding books, chatted online with other lactating mommies, and went to La Leche League every time the doors were open. I was ready.
When my baby was finally born, unfortunately it was via cesarean section. I was devastated, and we can go ahead and subtract 10 points from my Crunchy Mama Scale. Luckily, he was so healthy, plump and beautiful. We initiated breastfeeding as soon as we could. I had been told that I would need a nipple shield, and blindly took the advice. I was never even encouraged to attempt a latch without it. By the time we left the hospital, I was so engorged, I literally could not place my arms by my side. My maternity top I wore home from the hospital was stretched so tightly I thought it would burst at the seams.
So we nursed, and nursed and nursed, as newborns do, every 1.5- 2 hours or so. The pain was excruciating, and only got worse as the days and weeks wore on. I remember having permanent knots in my stomach dreading the next feeding and crying the entire time he nursed. My husband gave me sips of ice water to distract from the pain. I went to the weekly breastfeeding groups, thank God, because the lovely lactation nurse caught my mastitis in its very early stages. I was placed on a round of antibiotics, which cured the infection, but not the pain. I went to the nurse practitioner at the pediatrician’s office for help with the latch, which was fine when someone was helping me, but not so much when I was alone. Same for La Leche meetings; I could get a good latch with assistance, but when we got home it was a different story.
The point of this post is not to discourage anyone from going to a lactation nurse or La Leche meetings, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am confident that had I not had that support, I would’ve had to stop breastfeeding much sooner than I did. The support groups are there. Find them. Go to them. Call them. Just do it.
Hendrik at around 10 months.
The final straw was early one morning, before the sun was even up, after yet another unsuccessful latch, I pumped. My breasts felt like gigantic bags of marbles. I had warm compresses on each breast as I pumped. I pumped for 20 minutes and got a combined half of an ounce. I gave in and called my doctor. He is a wonderful man who knows me and the desires of my heart as a mother. He said, “Bethany, it’s time to stop. Your baby will be fine. You’ve done all you can do and it’s draining you physically and emotionally. You need to be happy and healthy for your baby. It will be ok”. My heart was broken. I still say that was probably the worst day of my life. Dramatic or not, that’s how I felt. As devastated as I was, and really still am, over the end of my nursing days, it was almost like I was ready for someone to tell me that it would be alright.
And I gave my sweet baby boy his first bottle of formula. Gasp!!! And you know what? He couldn’t have cared less. I know a lot of babies will not take a bottle, and I am so grateful that my little guy did. It’s like he knew I couldn’t, at that point, handle one more hurdle.
Yes, formula is expensive. Yes, it’s full of ‘chemicals’. Yes, I miss that skin to skin bond with him. But I don’t miss the pain, the tears or the ever-present anxiety and dread of the next feeding session. So I’ve done the best I can with what I have.
We loved doing skin-to-skin time in the Moby wrap. Oh, heavenly! I loved to snuggle up with him, fresh and warm from his bath, wrapped closely next to my non-lactating breasts. When feeding him his bottles, I would hold him in the cradle hold as if I was nursing, often with the support of the Boppy pillow, and kiss his sweet forehead. Never once did I ever prop his bottle under his chin and walk away. Never did I purchase that horrible contraption that hangs from the handle of the car seat and holds the bottle in the baby’s mouth. We don’t practice co-sleeping, and I don’t have any issue with anyone who does; it just wasn’t right for our family. But we do love to babywear and we enjoy that special physical closeness so much.
I’ve learned so much in this first year of motherhood.
#1: Don’t judge. You don’t know what you don’t know. Everyone you meet is facing some sort of battle.
#2: I now know that my breastfeeding issues were probably due to overproduction. Being new to the area, I didn’t know all of the resources I had. I have so many more experienced moms, lactation consultants and La Leche friends now, and I can call them at any time I have a question. I also recently learned about milk sharing. There are two wonderful groups with chapters in the North Texas area; Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets. There are lots of lactating mommies out there who would’ve been happy to donate milk to my baby in our time of need.
#3: Attachment parenting doesn’t always have to be so black and white. I love the theory and support it fully, but what happens when one portion of it fails? What about moms who’ve had breast surgeries and cannot breastfeed? What about parents who have serious back issues and cannot baby wear? Can they still be attached parents? YES, YES, YES.
Bethany and “Santa” with baby Hendrik at 1 year old.
For me, being an attached parent means attending to your baby’s needs as quickly and as lovingly as possible. Breastfeed if you can, it really is the best. Not to mention cheapest and most hassle-free (ugh washing bottles and toting formula powder everywhere!!). Babywear if you can. Co-sleep if it’s right for you. But please don’t judge. We’re all in this together, learning, trying to be the best parents we can be and we love our little ones to the ends of the earth. At least I do. :)