MomBenI breastfed my newborn son in the Target dressing room today.  My tiny boy, the one who lost ounce after ounce in the hospital, is now over ten pounds.  Why?  Because I have nursed him in restaurants, in the front seat of my car, in the recliner, in bed, on the floor, curled up on my friend’s couch, and in the Mommy Room at Babies R Us.  I have nursed him in the preschool library and at the picnic table next to the garden.  I’m like the “Got Milk?” version of a Dr. Seuss book.  “I can nurse you here and there, I can nurse you everywhere!”.

I have nursed my son for 5 weeks and 4 days.  That is long enough to know that I owe all of you breastfeeding moms an apology.  I am sorry that I hated  you because you had it so easy.  I’ve been to the other side, and I’m back to report that there’s nothing easy about breastfeeding.  Shhh….real breastfeeding advocates aren’t supposed to tell you that, but I’m only a tourist.  An imposter.  So you can trust me when I say that sometimes breastfeeding is magic, and sometimes it well, sucks.

I used to be a formula mom.  When my first son was born, I tried desperately to nurse him.  I pumped, I used supplements, I sobbed in the shower and cursed the breasts that were filled with shame and regret, but not a drop of milk.  Max’s belly suffered from GI issues that made him vomit and choke.  Formula ended up saving him, and I learned to stuff my sadness into my back pocket and take pride in feeding him with love.  Max was my first baby, and my first lesson in how mommy guilt could strip your confidence and make you doubt everything that you thought was true.   I fed Max with formula, because it was my body, my mental health, and my choice.  But the pain never went away.  I was proud to be a formula advocate, but I couldn’t let go of the hope that I might be able to nurse my next baby.

Somewhere at the intersection of failure and regret, I started to hate moms who breastfed.  I hated that it was easy for them.  I hated that they didn’t have to lug around a huge diaper bag with bottles and powder.  I hated that they could feed their babies for free, that their pregnancy weight just fell off, that their babies never had to wait for the bubbles in a bottle to dissipate or for the formula to reach the right temperature.  “You have it so easy” I thought.  “Damn you, because formula is so hard for me.”

And then Ben was suddenly in my arms, and sucking like a tiny piranha at my breast.  Our doulas spent the first 48 hours of Ben’s life sitting next to me on the hospital bed.  They cupped my suddenly ginormous double D’s, squished them into “sandwiches”, pulled his tiny rosebud mouth on to my breasts and held him there as he figured it out.  They gently nudged my shoulders back, put pillows under my arms, and made sure that I was eating and drinking.  My mom and my husband encouraged me to keep going, and took care of everything else so that I could simply sit and nurse.  But even with all of the help, even with all of the determination, even though I fought like hell to see straight through the fog of my pain meds, Ben still lost weight.  I was failing at the most natural thing in the world, before we had a chance to even begin.

When the lactation specialist arrived on the third day of our hospital stay, the pediatrician had already told her that I would need to supplement with formula.  I started crying before she even opened her mouth.  Fuck you, I thought.  Fuck you and your pump and your weight charts and your fake concern.  Just leave me and my baby alone.  My tears were hot and fell fast down my cheeks and onto my chest, dropping like rain on Ben’s soft little head as it burrowed into my empty breasts.  Even though I could barely speak, I told her my plan.  I would nurse Ben.  Just nurse him.  And then I would give him any colostrum that I had pumped, but I would only do it through a supplemental nursing system, so that he would still be at my breast.  And then, only then, we would give him formula.  Only through the supplemental nursing system.  And only until my own milk came in.  The lactation specialist looked down at my tiny boy, and back up at me.  “It’s going to be fine” she said.  “Formula isn’t the end of the world”.  The formula mom in me wanted to jump up and hug her for realizing that feeding with love was the most important thing.  But I wasn’t a formula mom anymore.  I was a breastfeeding mom.  I was a mother who was still hoping and praying that milk would fill my breasts, so I squeaked out “No, you see…you don’t understand.  I couldn’t breastfeed my first son”.  This is a big deal lady!  Didn’t you read my article on the Huffington Post?! I wanted to scream at her, to will my body to jump from the bed and throw the adorable little formula bottles in the trash.  But I simply cried.  And thanked her.  And watched her walk away.

I don’t hate formula, I’m grateful for it.  It saved Max’s life.  He is brilliant, and strong, and beautiful, and healthy, and formula was the right choice for us then.  But moms have the right to choose.  I wanted to try.  I wanted a chance.  I wanted to be in charge, and why couldn’t I be?  I was finally brave enough to say that I would make the decisions for my baby, and I was absolutely sure that I could get Ben back up to birth weight on my own terms.  I would nurse him.  I would do my best.

And so it began.  Our nursing dance.  I put Ben to my breast around the clock.  His latch was terrible, we worked on it.  My technique was terrible, we worked on it.  We kept going.  I can’t tell you exactly when my milk “came in”, but I can tell you about our leaky ceiling.  I was standing at the sink in my bathroom, peering at my reflection in the mirror through a haze of postpartum Vicodin.  Something was leaking from the ceiling and onto my feet.  Damn our landlords, I thought.  This house has been one disaster after another!  I hate this house.  I hate that everything goes wrong here.  I hate that we can’t fix it because it doesn’t belong to us.  I hate that…

And suddenly I realized that the leak in our roof was milk.  Watery white, it ran like a tiny river that came from my breasts.  Running down my swollen belly and dripping onto my feet.  I was making milk.  Milk!  If you have never struggled with breastfeeding, then you can not possibly understand this moment.  If your milk was plentiful, if you never had a panic attack in the formula aisle at Babies R Us, if you never looked longingly at a mom sitting in a café feeding her baby with ease, then you might snicker a little when you hear me say this, but…..I started laughing.  Laughing like a crazy person, high on Vicodin, watching my breasts leak all over the floor.  I tried to figure out how to make the milk stop , because I needed every last drop to feed my baby and I wasn’t sure if I’d have any left after this.  I didn’t want to waste it, I wanted to save it in a Medela bottle or wake my sleeping son and let it drip in his mouth.  I felt slightly insane.  Because each drop that fell was a drop more than I had ever had before, and suddenly I understood the magic of watching your body produce something that allows your baby to live and grow and thrive.  Breastmilk really was magic, even though it was making my bathroom tiles a sticky mess.  There was magic in my boobs, people.  I had a superpower.  I could sustain life, and nourish my child, with just my body.  I was all that he needed.  Just me, my leaky boobs, and maybe seven nursing pillows.

Do I sound familiar yet?  Don’t mistake me for a lactivist.  A lactivist would be doing a much better job of this breastfeeding thing.  Her nipples wouldn’t be cracked and swollen, and she wouldn’t cry every time that her baby loses his latch.  Please don’t think that I have a political breastfeeding agenda or a desire to normalize nursing in public.  If I was a breastfeeding hero I would know how to properly lift the damn “hooter hider” nursing cover so that it didn’t smother my baby yet still draped perfectly over my exposed nipple.  Instead, Ben practically sweats to death underneath it, and most of the time it falls to the ground as I try to use one hand to push my breast in his mouth and the other hand to wrangle my 4 year old.   Breastfeeding is kicking my ass.  It’s not easy, it doesn’t always feel natural, and for me, it hurts like hell.  Where were the rainbows and unicorns and happy nursing fairies that you all kept telling me about?

Somewhere in between a 3 am nursing session and surfing the internet for “nursing camisole size large” I realized that I had misunderstood all of you breastfeeding moms.  When you chanted “What’s your superpower? I make milk!”, I used to secretly scream at you to go fuck yourself.  “Oh look!  My little angel is milk drunk!” you’d coo.  And I’d want to puke.  There was nothing cute about posting a picture of your baby drooling milk out of their mouth while fast asleep.  It all just seemed so self-congratulatory and boastful to me.  Until I realized how damn hard it is to actually succeed at breastfeeding.  It’s not easy to nourish your child with every last calorie that you make.  It’s upsetting to feel the weight of being responsible for a tiny human being 24/7.  To not share that burden with anyone else.  To be afraid to leave the room, more or less actually go out of the house alone, because your precious child could starve to death when you are the only one who knows how to feed him.  Three billion things can go wrong when you breastfeed.  It might be free, but I’ve paid more money to lactation consultants, doulas, and Babies R Us in the last month then I ever spent on formula.  But even with a bad latch, tongue tie, thrush, a clogged duct, and a crazy oversupply, I still think that nursing this little boy is the most amazing magic that I’ve ever felt in my life.  I am the only thing that is keeping my child alive right now.  You’re damn right that’s a superpower.  And it scares the hell out of me.

For the last 5 weeks, I have felt like a tourist in a foreign land.  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is my guidebook.  My suitcase is packed with nursing tanks and bras, loose shirts and disposable nursing pads.  I’ve been watching closely to see how the locals do it.  Do they use a nursing cover?  Do they lower their shirt to cover the top of their boob, or let it all hang out?  Do they burp their baby in between sides, or at the end?  I don’t speak the language, and I’m a first-time visitor.  I have no idea what I’m doing, and most of the time, I’m not doing it well.  But I’ve mastered the art of faking it.  When we ventured out as a family for the first time a few weeks ago, Max suddenly yelled from the back seat “Mom!  You can’t feed brother at the restaurant!!”, and my heart sank.  Was my 4 year old really going to be embarrassed that I was about to nurse in public??  “Why not honey?” I asked, holding my breath.  “Cause you forgot your PILLOW!” he yelled, and I started to laugh.  Out in the world, I do not have My Brest Friend.  I do not always have an extra set of hands.  But I do have courage, and I never thought that the downy head and fluttery smile of a ten pound baby would give me such a stockpile of strength.

Five weeks in, and our doulas still visit at least once a week to help me work on breastfeeding.  We’ve had dates with lactation consultants and my OB.  I’ve crowd-sourced the cause of my ongoing breast pain on Facebook and Twitter.  My nipples are thrashed, and my breasts ache constantly.  Don’t tell me that means I’m not “doing it right”.  I know that already.  We’re a work in progress.

But when the pediatrician looks up from her checklist at Ben’s well visit and asks “Are you bottle-feeding?”, I proudly reply “No.  He’s exclusively breastfed.”  I shout it from the rafters, just like all of you did.  This time, I don’t have to give qualifiers.  My cheeks do not flush with shame as I stumble over excuses like “He gets some breastmilk and some formula, I mean, like half and half…or maybe 25% breastmilk…I mean, I try to pump, but I don’t really get anything when I do.”  This time, my breasts make milk.  That is my superpower.  I have worked too hard at this to keep quiet.  I have endured too much pain and too much sadness, to ever feel shame about feeding my son in public.  I have come too far to quit.  I have fed Ben with love, and I am proud of every ounce that he has gained.  I did this, just like all of you breastfeeding mamas.  And I will scream it out loud so that everyone knows how much we’ve overcome.  That’s not boastful.  That is climbing a mountain and doing a fist pump when you turn around at the top and realize that you made it.

Tonight, I will be awake at 3 am, feeding my baby.  The light of the Super Moon will cascade through my window and dance over the outline of my tiny boy wearing 0-3 month pajamas.  I will listen to the noises that he makes as he smacks and slurps and squirms at my chest.  I will run my hand slowly across his forehead and down his back, pulling him closer to me just as I did with his big brother.  I might not know what I’m doing, but I am confident that I am feeding him with love.  And when he pulls his head away from my breast and his little body relaxes against the pillow that still helps me to position him, I will watch the river of watery white milk cascade down his soft cheek and onto the collar of his jammies.  “He’s milk drunk” I’ll laugh, and I will say a silent prayer of thanks that it was my body, my breasts, and my choices that made him that way.




46 Replies to “Milk Drunk”

  1. I am local to the Bay area too. When you feel up to it try going to La Leche League meeting. They are everywhere. They are awesome because you get to be in a room with other moms nursing so everyone is a resource for tips and tricks and nobody cares that you stare. I am still nursing my toddler and honestly there is no right or wrong way to feed your child. We are all different so it’s only natural that there are many ways to provide nourishment for them. Also, just wait until your baby gets sick or a shot, you will quickly find another awesome use for BM…it cures all boo boos!

  2. I loved this post! Your story is so, so similar to my own (right down even to the Bay Area and 2 boys part!). Breastfeeding my first didn’t pan out either, despite meeting with 3 lactation consultants, and lots of pain and pumping and tears. I was determined to breastfeed Sam, my second. Now he’s 14 months old and we’re still going. I am so grateful to have experienced both feeding scenarios to have a full appreciation of the struggle from every angle. Getting breastfeeding on track with Sam was absolutely one of THE HARDEST experiences of my life but, like you, I was determined to make it happen and eventually id did. Also, somebody gave me this nursing cover as a gift and I love it: The fact that it fits like a poncho keeps it from falling off. It worked really well for me!

  3. Your story made me cry, mostly happy tears:) my first baby was a premie and I was only 15. I wanted to nurse but had no support, no knowelage. I pumped for 5 weeks before giving up and have lived with that guilt ever since ( she’s 27 now) I understand the love/ hate relationship with formula, with nursing moms. My next daughter I had horribly sore nipples, I would cry as I nursed, she had my blood in her stool.. And began to supplement at 3 weeks, because of the pain. i was so sad, i did not want a repeat, i wx ted desperately to breastfeed! luckily my midwife was persistantwith her help, I used nipple shields while nursing, and black tea bags between nursing to heal my cracked nipples. We worked on forcing her tiny mouth OPEN, and what felt like choking her with my nipple, but it worked! We nursed for 14 mos :), with my third daughter, it was like a fairy tale, easy peasy, we nursed for three lovely years . I would give anything to be able to go back and mentor my young self so that I could have given my oldest daughter the gift of my milk did longer than 5 weeks, but I cannot. So I try to encourage moms as best I can, I smile at them when I see them nursing in cars, in restaurants, at the mall etc . I tell them it is really hard at first, then gets progressively easier and easier …. Just keep going 🙂

  4. This was an amazing post! I’m sending it to all of my pregnant girlfriends, because I wish I had something like this to read in the middle of the night while trying to breastfeed my baby. Your story made me laugh and cry…. breastfeeding was such a journey for me with my first baby who was born in October. We successfully made it 6 months but the stress of work tanked my supply. The guilt I felt that I could no longer feed my baby brought me so much anxiety and depression. Finally it was the week that it took me a week to pump one 6oz bottle that I decided to throw in the pump and formula feed my baby. I do think I spent more money on trying to make nursing work than on formula feeding (so far) but lactation support in the Bay doesn’t come cheap!

    Hang in there, continue nursing your sweet baby boy! I found a lot of great support at CPMC if you ever need additional support, they also have a really great nursing room if you are shopping on California Street.

  5. I’m so happy breastfeeding is working out for you this time. It definitely is a fight at times but so rewarding every single day. Knowing you made those chunky legs and cheeks is amazing. It was my experience that one day everything just clicked…the latch was perfect, the position was perfect, and my supply regulated.

    I’m sitting here crying, really. This is so beautiful.
    The ‘leaking-ceiling-moment’ – I can totally relate. Aren’t you so proud of your body, of what it can do?
    Wonderful, wonderful post, thank you.

  7. I am so stinkin’ proud of you, and a little bit envious! My story was EXACTLY like your first, and I hope and pray my next will be just like this exact post. Best wishes to you, and if you are interested, I make nursing camis. You can check out my etsy shop “FluffyBabyShop”. 🙂

  8. This is a beautiful piece. I’ve never read your blog before, but I’ll be sure to come back. My son is a teenager now, but those first few months came back crystal clear as I read your words. There is nothing easy about breastfeeding, but when it finally does work, it’s magic. Congratulations on doing what you needed to for your eldest, and on doing the same for your youngest. They are lucky boys, and there is so much fun ahead of you. Keep up the great work!

  9. I love your stories, you don’t try and hide the reality of it all. I am so happy that you experienced breastfeeding. It is such a beautiful thing. I breastfeed 2 of my 3 and it was such a bonding experience.

  10. Oh, honey, I’m so glad it’s going well! I had a really hard time nursing my little boy, at first, and I succumbed to formula (and felt overly guilty about it in my new-mom stage) with the supplemental nursing system in the hospital. YAY for you – whatever is making you feel good and baby boy thrive. 🙂

  11. I am very happy for you that you are making the milk for Ben and he is thriving. My nursing experience was similar with a very sore back, trouble feeling like my baby was going to smother unless I held up the top half of my breast to see that their noses had a opening for air. My nipples cracked and bleed and it was very stressful and made me into some sort of sleep deprived monster (feeding every 2 hours with a screaming newborn).
    I breast fed my second child (now just over 7 weeks old) for 4 weeks while supplementing with formula, so I wouldn’t be that monster and resent staying in my house 24/7 for the first few weeks because I would either need a feeding place or a bathroom constantly. I did buy a new pump and I liked it because it is faster (keeping my back from aching) and I know how much milk is really there (not much in my case)and it didn’t make my nipples sore! I am glad that I fed him some breast milk and still kept my sanity to enjoy my maternity leave with both my kids.
    I still struggle with resenting moms that seem to make milk like Prairie Farms, but I am happy that I am enjoying my first weeks as a new mom with less anxiety, pain and isolation than the first time around.

  12. Rock on, breastfeeder! I struggled with low supply while I nursed my babies, spent untold fortunes renting hospital-grade pumps, daily fistfuls of supplements (18 fenugreek tablets a day!), you name it. Totally worth it. My husband calls me the world’s unluckiest breastfeeder…breastfeeding makes me GAIN weight (long story); no matter what, my supply is a constant struggle, I had too much of some chemical in my milk with my second baby and had to scald the milk to kill it off each time I pumped…didn’t know that until several months in and had to throw out my whole frozen back-up supply. Awful. Breastfeeding kicked my ass, too, but I made it through and so will you. Way to go!

  13. gorgeous, honest, refreshing post. you GO momma!! breastfeeding IS hard – even for those of us who “have it easy” with an abundant supply and good latching baby… my second baby (now 13.5mos) is a great nurser, and even better since having her lip-tie and tongue-tie revised at 9mos old, although we started off a little rocky (due to an unknown heart defect which required open heart surgery at 11wks old)… my first was a struggle from day one (first four weeks were sore/tender/shredded to bits nips) until we weaned at 13.5mos (I hadn’t heard of LT or TT back then – she’s now 4, nor did I know about La Leche League – both of which, I’m certain, would have made a significant difference in our nursing relationship!) This time around I have the support and knowledge of my local LLL (and their FB group – which ROCKS) and the encouragement, support, advice, etc. that those around me bring – are priceless. No matter how long you nurse for, or whether you cover or not when Nursing In Public (NIP) or whether breastfeeding gets easier for you or it’s a constant struggle, BE PROUD of what you are doing, and have done, for your precious babe(s) – parenthood is tough, be gentle with yourself. You are doing amazing things. 🙂 you ARE a Super Mom 🙂

  14. I’m in tears because I’ve been there and also overcome.

    YOU GO GIRL! YOU ARE A SUPERWOMAN! And so are all new mamas, bottle or breastfeeding 🙂

  15. Lindsay from LIttle Love and Luck linked to this and it really hit home for me. I, too, could not nurse my first. And I thought the whole time, “self-righteous breastfeeding moms… my baby is just as good as yours… my bottles full of expensive prescription formula are just as good… what do you think is so magical about what you do?”

    Now, after nursing my second baby for 18 months (and still going strong) despite oversupply issues (truly – an oversupply makes baby SICK), undiagnosed milk protein allergy, and several cases of thrush early on, I get it.

    It’s WORK. It’s easy now that my toddler has the hang of it and we have a rhythm. But it’s still work. I still physically belong to her and she to me. Which is something I don’t think a mom can understand unless she’s breastfed. My body nourished a child in utero and after she was born. My milk kept her alive. Such power in that.

    I’m so happy for you and glad you stuck up for what you wanted. I truly support whatever decision a mother makes when feeding her baby, but that doesn’t mean the magic of breastfeeding should be diminished.

    Keep going strong!

  16. You have already heard all of my words of admiration, love, support, guidance, and sympathy. Breastfeeding is not always easy and can be one of the (other) hardest things you do in your life (including birthing your children). And…you are an amazing woman who will find the way through and over the many hurdles you have received in the last 2 months. And…we will be here right with you to share the tears and celebrate your triumphs!

  17. Like the other commentators, this post hit home for me. I had a rough go of BFing my daughter, with all the tears and lactation consultants, and pumping and breast shields… in the end I was succesful but still had to supplement with formula. I remember all the playdates and baby groups trying to get my daughter to latch and look like I knew what I was doing while it seemed all the other mamas were nursing peaceful babies with ease. I just had my second, a son, and BF is so much easier with him, although he has a painful latch. I cried buckets when I read your earlier post about hoping to BF your second because I was having the same hopes and fears. Crying seems to be a trend for me on your blog! You write beautifully and really capture the essence or this time.

  18. I just wanted you to know that you should be proud of yourself, for BOTH ways of life.. formula and breastfeeding. Your first son is healthy! Healthy! That’s the first and foremost worry to have.. no matter what method of feeding him you provided, you helped him grow strong and hes healthy, smart, handsome, and perfect.
    While breastfeeding is the best option for most people, NO ONE tells you how HARD it really flipping is!! When I had Layla in October, (my first baby) I worried more about delivery, and not dropping her, and figured breastfeeding looked simple, was possibly painful, but couldn’t be difficult..instinct would take over!

    How wrong was I!!

    I was already emotional from lack of sleep, giving birth, and then because we couldn’t seem to get a good latch, I had a screaming crying baby the entire stay at the hospital, my arms were sore from pulling up on them to push, my back hurt, my neck hurt. I had and asked nurses for help, I asked the L.C. for help, and everytime they made me feel like an idiot for not ‘getting it the first time they showed me’ Not only was it hard to get a good latch, I also had difficulty holding Layla in proper positions for a long period of time, because I was sore and exhausted.
    My husband didn’t help the situation because the nurses got concerned she wasn’t “eating enough” and so he freaked out for her sake and in turn acted like a royal asshole..and was like ” come on, they’ve showed you like 10 times already! It cant be that difficult!” which would not only made me cry hysterically, but made me feel terrible about myself and my baby. She was only 2 days old and already I had screwed up the most important thing..feeding!

    He didn’t understand breastfeeding was difficult. My nipples hurt. Her screaming and my lack of sleep just made me want to punch him in the face.

    By the time I was discharged, they told me to go rent a pump, and pump like crazy until my milk came in. They also told me I should start supplementing. I was more determined than ever.
    When I got home, I found my Mother in law (ILY MOM!) had bought me a glider. And then I got my boppy pillow out, and we laid Layla on that, and I fed her..and we had a latch. A Good latch. She ate and was content..and by the end of the evening, my milk had already begun to come in.

    Breastfeeding is difficult.. I wish they told us that when we were pregnant!
    However, it DOES become second nature very quickly!!

  19. love this! we struggled for 5-6 months for nursing to be simple, and that is why i love it. when you work hard for something and it FINALLY works, you deserve to be proud of yourself. unfortunately i’ve had a friend or to take my passion as judgment, when truly i just want others to experience what i have. congrats to you!!

  20. Amazing story! Thank you for sharing, you’re an inspiration! I did not have trouble with breastfeeding, but my heart and soul goes out to those who do … you are truly amazing, God bless you, and thank you for doing all that you could to give your baby the best food in the world.

  21. Well done you!!! I’ve never had any problems feeding any of my kids, they latched on a few minutes after birth. My oldest I fed for 3 & 1/2 yrs, and I am still currently feeding my 19 month old twins. It has been difficult though because of the whole nursing in public debate, and comments and suggestions by well meaning people about weather or not I have enough milk and maybe they’d be better off being supplemented with formula. People would be more accepting if I gave my twins coke than they would be knowing that they are still breastfed. Going to the dr and being told to give formula to boost iron, going to the MACH nurse and being told to give them formula to make them sleep through the night. Relatives telling me to give them formula to stop them being clingy. So even though I had no issues producing or feeding my kids, I was under a lot of pressure to give up feeding which made breastfeeding difficult. I am very proud and see it as such a personal achievement. It’s a journey for us all, thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. I love everything about this post. We have made it to 10 months now and some of the feelings you describe get better over time, some get worse.

    But I want you to know that I was one of those moms that had it pretty easy with breastfeeding but all the emotions and doubts you have felt were there anyway. I still relish and stress over every drop and I spent the first 6 weeks crying in shower and my daughter still sweats under the hooter hider. You are not alone. Strength and determination are a huge part of the breastfeeding journey and you clearly have that.

    Formula is important. It’s choice. It’s bodily autonomy. And it saves the lives of so many babies who need it. But I believe part of the responsibility we accept as mothers is to at least face the challenges of nursing head on. And making it a week, 5 weeks or 10 months should not be viewed as success, so much as reward. Every drop is a reward for your baby and for you.

    Congratulations, mama! You’re doing awesome.

  23. I am crying reading this, because it was just like that for me with my son (firstborn) and I couldn’t EBF him. He got as much as he could from me though – I took fenugreek until I smelled like maple from 3 rooms away, I chugged water, I ate my oatmeal every morning, I woke myself up every 2 hours overnight to pump trying to up my supply – but nothing worked. Postpartum depression ate my milk supply, we had to “supplement” with formula and my son self-weaned at somewhere around 9-10 months, overnight. Almost literally him shoving me away at arm’s length saying, “Mama, I don’t want to mess with this anymore.” Then I was free to get on Zoloft for a bit and life got adjusted properly.

    I have been successful at EBF-ing my daughter this time around, and we are still going strong past her first birthday. I laughed with glee until I cried when I noticed my breasts leaking through my shirt after her birth. I changed my shirt several times a day, happily. Reading your story was like looking into a mirror (minus the Vicodin). Love to you, Mama. Keep your chin up and head high! I am so happy for you, it is unreal. I mean – seriously! You are a complete stranger to me, and I’m sitting here snuggling my baby girl and crying.

  24. Beautiful. I’m an exclusive pumper because my milk came in late, they had already given her formula, I had pain issues etc. It was a combination of horrible couple of months and it all ended up with me being determined to pump my way getting her off of formula. We’re 100% breastmilk and I pump 6-7 times a day. I have made it to 6 months and am working my way to 9 months. I pray that with my next baby I can try to breastfeed. Sad thing is I almost added the word …normally. But I am going to fight just like you, for the chance to do it.

    The thing I’ve learned as a ftm, is whatever path we take…it’s not easy. I think we all have slight envy for the other path, but none of it is easy. In the end…it’s all about their health.

  25. This had me laughing and remembering the early days of my breastfeeding journey with my son.

    Congrats momma on being able to do it this time around!

  26. Fantastic post and a real resource for us. I sent a link to all my pregnant gf’s and hope they take the time to read it and learn from you experience! Referring back to Anna A’s comment I received both the Hooter Hider and the Dria Cover (complete chance we share a name) and loved my poncho style Dria. They are on amazon also at, and are awesome!

  27. A friend of mine posted this link on her FB page. I’m not sure when exactly this took place but AMAZING JOB!! I went through a LOT of the same thing with my first. She developed nipple confusion and it didn’t help that I had post partum depression and wasn’t eating. Keep up the GREAT work and hang in there. I nursed my daughter for 13 months and my son for 18 months. I hope you are able to find as wonderful support system as I had. That helps a lot. When you’re frustrated and don’t know what else to do people can come up with some great ideas that you just don’t tend to think about because you’re living the frustrating situation.

  28. PS Lansinoh is amazing. I tried several different brands and found that one to work the best! I would put it on and then put a breast pad on over it. You don’t have to wipe it off before you nurse it is safe for baby. I had one by my bed, one in my diaper bag, one in the chair I nursed the babies in, one in my pumping bag, where ever I thought I might need it and may not have it. YOU’RE DOING GREAT MOM! Here is the link.

  29. Thank you for writing such a great post. It may not feel like it, but what a gift to have your writing skills and to have experienced both ways of feeding your children. You clearly understand the issue from both sides (and express them so well!) that I can’t imagine any mother would read this and not be able to appreciate it. Well done and thank you.

  30. I had to get on the computer and write to you. I am sobbing right now. My little lady is 19 months old and I still beat myself up for not BF her. Funny part is I did my best BF job with my first and my second I did not even try after 40 days because it was too hard and I knew how to use the formula and bottles with ease. With my third child I had it all planned out. I had read everything I could find and I did not even buy bottles because this baby was going to be BF only. Then everything went wrong and I woke up missing three days and finding out I was alive and so was my baby. My breast were so small and I had very little milk. I tried so hard and then the medical complications came in and with all the unknown amounts that could go to her through breast milk I just stopped. I stopped feeding her with my body and it hurts so bad. And honestly I do not know why it hurts so much this time. I mean come on I did not do it with my second son very long and that was a choice. But I look at my little 19 month old baby and we are both healthy and I know she is fine but the pain of it is still there. And I feel you on the dreaming while awake. I had so much pain and an open incision for 6 months. Also four surgeries and I really can barely remember anything about my baby those first 6 months. I feel robbed of being a mom.

  31. Lying in bed with my 5 month old, he has fallen back asleep after a night feed but I am wide awake. I stumble across your blog and read about your breastfeeding, and for once my bed is not covered in milk, but in tears. So inspired by your words. Can really relate to feeling so responsable for a tiny baby, but after 5 months I can say, I love breastfeeding xxx

  32. This blog made me cry. It is beautifully written and captures some of the intense emotions and hurdles I experienced with establishing breast feeding. I have been wonderfully supported by my husband and the post natal care team in our area but not necessarily by others in our lives. This fills me with sadness as breast feeding is a challenge and it is hard but when it works it is the most beautiful thing a woman can do for her children.

  33. This blog post has me in tears. It’s almost like I wrote it myself. My oldest never figured out the latch, and my milk never came in. I was crushed, and broken. It hurt so much. By the time my youngest was born, I was o.k. with it. We were going to do the best we could at nursing. If it didn’t work, then we would go with formula. But I wanted to nurse with all my heart. We had a very rocky start, but it worked! We’re still nursing at just over a year. Not sure when we’ll stop, but I’m letting him lead. It’s harder on me to nurse, but it makes me so much happier.

  34. This was beautiful!

    I actually stumbled across your blog through the Fearless Formula Feeder. Perhaps a bit odd, since I EBF my nearly 6 month old daughter… But while I am an enthusiastic supporting of breastfeeding, I want to know different perspectives and to be sensitive to other moms’ choices and circumstances.

    I had a relatively easy time with breastfeeding, but I suspect it was only because I stood up to the nurse who wanted to give my baby formula without even offering to let me pump colostrum for her. It was because I ignored te nurses who told me to feed her no more frequently than every three hours.

    This is my first baby, so my experience is a bit different than yours, but I felt overwhelming joy when my milk came in, knowing that my body was doing was it was “supposed” to do. And the feeling of triumph when mg daughter gained a full pound in a week after losing 8 oz in the first five days was like nothing I’d experienced before. So while I certainly don’t want to go around acting like I am passing judgment on moms who choose or need to formula feed, you’d better bet I’m proud that I’ve been able to breastfeed! Being proud of breastfeeding doesn’t diminish the respect I have for moms who love and nurture their babies, regardless of how they feed them. 🙂

  35. I love reading this. LOVE. I breast feed my 10 month old and it is one of the most special things I do. I have had an “easy” time with her but the days that are hard, that I fear my body won’t produce or that she will stop wanting to nurse…those days are so painful. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have your body not produce milk and so want it to, my heart ached to read your unhappiness. I also had tears come to my eyes when you wrote that you were determined to breast feed and would not supplement- good for you!!
    Breast feeding is a dance we do with our children, a beautiful, confusing, rewarding, life-changing dance. I am moving close and closer to when my daughter will stop nursing, it could be years from now but even the thought makes me cry. I do know that whenever the dance ends for us, I will look back on those 3 am nights and smile, the soaked nursing tanks, the boppie that has gotten worn with use and I will smile and cry.
    Making milk is a superpower, I’m happy you’re owning it and are proud. Good work. 🙂

  36. Thank you for writing this. I had a hard time breastfeeding my first baby because she lost too much weight and it was devastating. I felt like i was the only person who wasn’t convinced that i had inherent problems breastfeeding. My doula even told me i probably didn’t have the proper milk ducts to make enough milk. I still believe my problem wasn’t my breasts it was the supplementing i was advised to do at the hospital. I am pregnant with baby #2 and this article is giving me the confidence I need to breastfeed this baby.

  37. Thank you for explaining just how hard breastfeeding is, and just how awful Mommy guilt can be! I actually had the opposite experience. My first was a great experience (besides an awful latch and the pain/cracked nipples), and he loved to nurse! My second had a great latch, but didn’t seem all that interested, and I had regular duct issues. My third was a natural, but I had my first clogged duct at six weeks, and they were a regular occurrence until he weaned. I also had thrush, which forced me to formula feed in the day and only nurse at night. I made it through knee surgery with just a two-day break from nursing, but then he had stomach surgery, and we had to stop. He was the one child that would’ve nursed forever, and I felt cheated by all the interruptions and problems. He was my last, and I was so sad to know that my days nursing babies were over. But I have to remind myself that no matter the experience, my sons thrived because of my hard work. And it was hard.

    Good job, Mama!

  38. I cannot thank you enough for your articles, I have a 3 month old baby boy who I couldn’t feed, he couldn’t latch properly, my nipples bled, my milk never came in, I cried, he cried, and I had to give in to formula, my heart still breaks now, so so much! But I have hope for my next baby, I can do better, I WILL do better!!

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