I gave up breastfeeding and it made me a better mom.

This post had been in draft mode pending for weeks! Excuse the lateness of it as you will read below I was going through a lot during the first 2 months of my baby’s life. She will be 3 months next week :)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m SO pro breastfeeding, but as I found out with my second child, I just couldn’t do it. While making that decision was the hardest thing to do (I even cried about it), it was the best thing for me to do for myself and my family.

Let me tell you why.

My breastfeeding experience with my son was so smooth. I thought “Hey, why do others complain it’s so difficult?”. I was lucky to continue nursing for 13 months before he weened himself. Not one problem did I have the whole time except a plugged milk duct that was easily overcome.

Hopeful for the second time around, I brought the Medela double pump from out of storage and had it ready to go. I bought breast pads, cream, and freezer storage bags. I figured I could do it again with no problem.  Boy, was I wrong.

When my daughter was born, December 1st, 2014, she was so tiny, only 5.5lbs. Not only could I NOT get her to latch on, but my nipples got bigger during this pregnancy and weren’t as soft (even though I applied nursing balm weeks before). So when she did latch on, it was not proper and it hurt like a mofo. With damaged nipples I figured I could just exclusively pump for her and then when she’s big enough I could get her to properly latch on.

THAT was the plan but it didn’t happen. What did happen were the sleepless nights. Her crazy acid reflux and her gas issues and me being in constant pain. This all amounted to having next to no time at all for my son who I vowed NOT to neglect when the baby was born.

This was pretty much my routine with a baby that needed to feed every two hours:

1:00-1:30pm – bottle
1:30 – 2:30pm – burping and holding up for a good 20mins because of reflux
2:00-2:30pm – pumping while my mom held her because she wouldn’t stay on her own
2:30-2:45pm – washing and making bottles
2:45-3:00pm – doing what needs to be done like chores, eating, bathroom break etc..
3:00pm – next feed

Yes my mom was in town to help out but I wasn’t going to burden her with my baby 24/7 so that I could rest, pump, drive my son to and from school because when she goes home I will have such a hard time to do anything on my own. She was already helping with the cleaning, laundry and cooking.

We had a routine going where she would have the evening shift with the baby until 3am while I had a 4-5 hour nap that would last me the whole night/day when we swapped until 7am. At that point it was time to get my son ready for school.

I attempted to get my daughter to latch on after about 3 weeks and she did great. But only that one time, all the other times she would be screaming just like she did when we would bottle feed her… the culprit? Her bad reflux or what they call “silent reflux”. So back to pumping it was.

Finding the time to nap was difficult because of the engorgement, I’d actually choose sleep over anything and everything else. That included pumping, so when I did wake up from a 3+ hour nap I was hurting so bad. This went on for weeks and I got mastitis twice on the same side. I got it a third time and that was the last straw.

The pain was now radiating in both breasts, up the sides of my arms. I was in constant pain, my let down the entire time was so painful. I was in a bad mood, snapping at my son and yelling at the baby who was constantly crying…… I just wanted to sleep.

I made an appointment to see my doctor, my nipples were cracked and damaged and she told me “just stop”. Finally….. THIS is what I needed to hear and it was from a professional. From those 2 words I heard:

“choosing not to breastfeed your child is NOT the end of the world, you and baby will be just fine.”

Yep… that’s what I heard and it made be feel better about my decision to stop nursing and pumping all together. The entire time of my suffering I was thinking I would be a bad mother for not feeding my child my own milk when I was capable of doing it. I felt defeated… but the fact was even though I was producing the milk I wasn’t capable of delivering it without doing harm to myself. And that’s what it came down to… thinking of myself and my OWN well being.

Constantly cracking and never healing would definitely lead to something far worse than mastitis and giving up the time I used to spend with my son was heart breaking (I will elaborate in a future post).

The whole thing was just time consuming and mentally draining. I was in pain ALL the time, and I hardly had time for the rest of my family and I was in a foul mood and that was reflecting onto my kids. Not to mention battling the bout of postpartum depression that most of us go through after childbirth.

So don’t tell me that I didn’t “try” and that there were other alternatives because I told myself these things too. No matter what I did (remedies, different flanges, creams, medication, lactation consultants, help lines), tried or thought, it came down to ME being the BEST ME for my kids and that wasn’t happening while continuing the grueling quest to pump milk and try breastfeeding.

My daughter got a good 6 weeks of my milk plus all the good stuff they say that is in the colostrum when she was first born.

My mom went back home after 2 months waiting for my milk to dry up and for my pains to subside (God bless her). My awesome husband gets my son ready and to school in the mornings and I pick him up a the bell. My daughter is now on formula and she’s perfectly fine and healthy.

I’m happy. She’s happy. My son is happy and my husband doesn’t have a cranky pants wife.

It’s all good :)

  • Erin

    Thank you. I had a similar experience with my son; not latching no matter what I did, and decided to pump full time for 7.5 months. Until the day the of shootings in downtown Ottawa and Parliament happened; my husband was in lock down, and I was collapsed on the floor of my sons room crying because I had just yelled at him, because I was tired, because I was afraid, because I was hungry, and as always, because I had to pump… and. My son was in his bed crying, and I saw myself. I was able to look down at my ridiculous self like I was floating above all of it, and see what I was doing, not just to my son, but to myself. That was the day I told myself that this had to be over, that there was NO WAY breast milk was worth this.

    That being said, now months later, my son is almost one and I still hold onto guilt that I wasn’t able to “do it” I wasn’t able to be the Mom I planned on being, and I had no idea just how much guilt until reading this. I feel like I now am capable of letting that go; that I DID make the right choice out of love for my son. Because a happy Mom will bring my son more health and joy and growth then breast milk is capable of.

    So thank you. Thank you for your honesty, for your courage. Much love and encouragement!

    • whatiadore

      Thanks for reading my post Erin. I’m happy that my experience resonated with you. With all the “who cares it’s your choice” comments on the choice to BF or not that easy to not feel bad that you couldn’t do something that should have been so natural. Especially for me since my first experience with nursing was so awesome. One of my friends told me after I wrote this post that “A bottle given with love is better than a breast given with anxiety.” So true! Good luck to you!

  • www.askmarysadvice.com

    To breastfeed or not to breast feed is a personal and sometimes medical decision. The truth is there is very little difference between bottle and breast feeding aside from the obvious, it is free, you cannot over feed a breast fed baby and the antibodies. Be proud of yourself for the decision you have made and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your decision. If your choice makes you happier then your baby will most likely be happier and quite frankly that is the most important thing. I congratulate everyone who cares for their baby in a warm and responsive way and breast or bottle does not make a better mom. A happy well grounded confident woman will most likely be a great mom. Check out my website for more information on parenting decisions.

    • whatiadore

      Thank you for your comment. I think it’s easier to say to someone not to feel bad about a decision when they are so emotionally invested into it like I was. It took a while and I finally accepted the decision to stop. And yes the choice definitely made us all happier :) Thx for sharing your website too!

  • Dawn Reber

    Thank you for sharing this story and reminding me to always be compassionate. I too, am pro breastfeeding and successfully all 3 of my children. My daughter in law has a similar story to yours – she decided to breastfeed but my grandson was born tongue tied. She exclusively pumped for the first 2 weeks, until they could see a doctor about his tongue. Another week or so, until it was clipped, then healing time. He is now almost 2 months old. She is still pumping and he has only successfully latched on once. She too, needs to make the best decision for herself and her baby, without the influences of anyone else. :-)

    • whatiadore

      Your welcome Dawn and so happy you could nurse all 3 of your kids! I really thought I could do it too, I was devastated when I couldn’t because it came with such ease with my son. I’m happy I made the decision I did and being on both sides of the table whatever decision you make that makes both mom and baby happy is the best choice. Good luck to your Daughter in law!

  • Diana Uyen

    I too went through something similar with my second baby also weighing in at 5lbs5oz at birth, 6 weeks preemie. Pumped milk for first 2 1/2 weeks for tube feedings then nursed till he was 4 months and by then he was so hungry, I was nursing every hour. I couldn’t handle it any more, I was exhausted and he was throwing up after most feedings due to under developed stomach valves. So off to formula he went and he did just fine and I got to be more attentive to my oldest son who was 15 months old when my second was born. I commend any woman who at least attempts breast feeding. The most important is the colostrum in the first few days, after that is a bonus. There is no point in being a stressed out Mom which in turn stresses out baby and everyone else in the household and that is just not healthy. So well done to all who make an effort, Just remember that we have to address physical health, mental health and emotional health, to be balanced and happy. :)

    • whatiadore

      Yep you said it Diane. Being on both ends of the feeding debate having exclusively breastfed my son and now my daughter on formula after 2 months they are both happy babies. I’m not cranky anymore. It took so long for my nipples to heal and the pain was still there even after the milk dried up. It was pretty bad so I can’t even imagine it I tried to continue what would have happened. We are all better off with the decision I made.

  • Judith

    I can totally empathize with you. My daughter is 4 and a half and I still remember so vividly how traumatic it was, and how much guilt I felt not being able to breastfeed. Thanks for sharing your story – I wrote about my experience too. http://juicygreenmom.ca/rant-okay-bottle-feed-safe-baby-bottles/

    • whatiadore

      Thanks Judith, I know my post seems more like a rant but I know it’s what others needed to read when they have gone or are going through the same things. Knowing you are not alone and suffering can work wonders for some. Loved your post and information that you gave. Choosing bottles is so tough! not to mention what formula to use. It can all get quite expensive. But we have happy babies (AND mommies) in the end.

      • Judith

        Exactly!! The good mental health of mommies is of utmost importance for happy babies!