Friday, May 13, 2011

My Breastfeeding Story

This is my breastfeeding story. It’s a story about how I dealt with “failure to thrive,” insufficient glandular tissue (IGT), using a supplementer (SNS), and lack of understanding from medical staff, friends and family, while nursing my 4 children. I don’t tell it to scold, accuse or badger. I tell it to help others struggling as I did. It is meant to help heal wounds, present options, and find grace.

Part 1

Kisses from Grandma
 A Long Awaited Arrival

After trying for three solid years my husband and I, at the perfect moment, found out that we were expecting our first baby. The anticipation of the first grandchild on both sides of the family was an exciting time for my Mom and Dad, my husband's Parents and all 3 of the Uncles.

When my Mother found out that I wanted to breastfeed she had warned me that it didn’t work out very well with her and my brother. At two months old he was still very much under the weight curve and the doctor had said to, “Shove cereal in him as fast as you can.” He told her to buy a scale and weigh him before and after feeding to make sure he was getting something.

My mother ended up abandoning breastfeeding because the scale didn’t show much. Back in the late 70s when my brother was born, breastfeeding was making a slight comeback from the 40s, 50s and 60s where it was looked at as a disgusting and not ideal food. A friend of mine who was born in the 50s told me her mother, “bought that good formula when she could afford it.” I guess the formula companies were very good at marketing their chemical concoctions even back then.

Now we are realizing the multi-generational impact of formula feeding. We are seeing digestive issues from lactase and other enzyme deficiencies, and bowel, allergy and immune issues from the colonizing of too much yeast and pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract which feed on the unchecked sugars in the formula. I knew enough about formula to know I never wanted my child to have it. I researched as much as I could and found out about the asthma and allergy connections. My husband has allergies and I wanted to do all I could to help ensure my baby didn’t suffer like he did.

When our daughter was born after 26 hours of labor and two days of missed sleep, we were unprepared. Yes we had the crib ready, the diaper stacker filled and even pretty white clouds painted on the nursery room ceiling, but we were unprepared emotionally and financially. At the hospital my daughter showed signs of things to come, but our lack of experience hid from us any hints at the future. Neither my husband nor I had experience with newborns and when we got home she spent the days crying and nursing. We were given very strict orders not to have her in bed with us. These orders were obeyed unless I accidentally fell asleep while nursing her, which happened quite often. The middle of the night feedings were especially trying. Both my husband and I are very fond of our sleep, disturbing this was unsettling to say the least. There were arguments about him needing to go to work, begging me to keep the baby quiet. I was doing everything I knew to do, but it wasn’t working. I tried every position, nursing nonstop, and she still was very discontent.

I called everyone I knew, the pediatrician, my mom, my breastfeeding friends, The La Leche League, the hospital’s lactation consultant, my friend’s lactation consultant, and got varying advice from each one. “Only feed every two hours.” “Feed her whenever she wants.” “Make sure you get enough rest.” “Just quit and give her formula.” “Make sure you nurse long enough on one breast to get the hind milk.” “She can go 10 days without a bowel movement.” “Make sure she poops every day.” “Very few women cannot fully breastfeed their babies.” “Just give her a supplement.” The most poignant and memorable comment at that point was, “Don’t you DARE supplement that baby!”

Actually the doctor did not seem concerned from the beginning and told me as long as she pees once a day it was ok for her to go 10 days without a bowel movement. At the 2 week appointment the doctor started to show concern for the lack of weight gain and told me to supplement. Before this I too was concerned she wasn’t getting enough, but I was not going to supplement her, no matter what, because I was convinced, and was told in no uncertain terms, it would destroy my supply. At about 2 weeks 2 days my mom came to see her and said, “Are you sure that is pee in the diaper?” I was sure my mom was trying to undermine my breastfeeding efforts so I assured her that of course it was urine. What I found in the next diaper frightened me. I found little orange crystals and streaks of pink in her diaper.

I instantly realized that the “wetness” that I had found in the diaper over the last 3 or 4 days or so was only the gobs, literally a tablespoon or more, of vitamin D ointment I put on her during changes. Before this her urine had been very dark yellow, but since the urine “lightened up” in color, or so I thought, no one seemed concerned. It was not until that moment that I realized that she hadn’t peed in days and now had crystals in her urine.

Despite nursing every 10 to 15 minutes or so, I felt betrayed and horribly accountable. I now realized I made a dreadful mistake that threateened the health of my baby. All it took was listening to the wrong people.


  1. Where is the rest of the story? I'm in! I want to read more! <3

  2. It's started. LOL Thanks for the comment! I'll try to get to it before the 1 year mark. ;)