It’s Over

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I’m upset. I’m really upset. It’s all over. That ridiculously minuscule slither of hope that Moo would breast feed is gone. I never got to breast feed and most likely never will. I never got to snuggle in a tiny baby close, listen to the rhythmic suckling, play gymnurstics, have sleepy, cuddly, milk drunk times.

I bang on about the possibility of bottle feeding being intimate, that she got the good stuff anyway, but who am I kidding? I feel fucking robbed. And who do I blame? Who took that experience from me? Society and it’s easy, convenient, sleeping-through-the-night formula feeding ideals? The health care profession and it’s lack of funding and support? Fate or God or destiny or whichever higher power chooses the path we take?

This has damn near crushed me. I can’t explain why I care about it so much or why I hold on to all of this. I don’t know if it’s stubbornness or biology or basic stupidity. All I know is that it hurts really bad. One half of me (the mentally healthy half) wants to brush it off, start the next chapter, focus my energies on the parenting adventures to come. The other half (the winning one, that shouts much louder) wants to cry for all eternity.

I contemplated getting up tomorrow and expressing, continuing to exclusively pump. I can’t stop, I mustn’t stop, it’s all that I have. But that’s not what I really want. I never wanted a fucking pump in the first place. I wanted better support, better health care, more knowledge, a tongue tie division sooner, a trauma free birth. What I really wanted was to breast feed my child. Such a simple, raw, natural, basic act. That’s all I wanted.

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Posted on February 20, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 61 Comments.

  1. Hey there – I realise this is little comfort right now – but you WILL start to feel better. When Moo is running around, growing up, healthy and well you’ll realise you have her your very best – and you are as attached as a parent can be.

    I sometimes wonder “what if” the doctors and my husband had let me pump milk, so that I could lactate through my illness and BF my son when I was better. But they decided (when I couldn’t) that this would’ve placed too much added stress. They were probably right but I will always wonder what if… I just can’t believe you have done it so long, it’s amazing!

    I tell myself every day that my quiet bottle feeding times with my son, him cradled in my arms and bottle resting on my chest – well, it’s the closest we will get! 🙂

    Big hugs.

    • So sorry that you have experienced similar. You’re so right, these times will soon seem far away and my life will be filled with other beautiful moments.

      Much love to you. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I totally agree that better support and knowledge would help so many women (and babies). It would have helped me. It isn’t everything though – it is totally possible to raise a happy and healthy baby and be a fantastic parent without breastfeeding! I’ve had to tell myself that so many times over the last few months and now I really believe it too!

  3. You’ve put in to word exactly how I feel. I had to stop breast feeding at 5 days due to a horrid infection in my womb, I even had to stop holding my baby for two days as I wasn’t physically strong enough. I felt like crying forever, an irrational part of me wanted to scream every time my husband got to formula feed my little girl as I lay there feeling utterly useless. I started pumping, but had to dump it all whilst I was still on strong medication, but finally I came off the pills and I was able to feed my baby breast milk again. But no one stopped to help me start up breast feeding again, I asked and it was roundly dismissed by all. And then I realised I was losing my supply, I’d gotten to 8 weeks and that as it, all that hard work, endless hours of effort and it was over. My heart broke all over again. I know my little one is doing great, she’s thriving, happy and an absolute joy and she doesn’t care if the bottle has my milk or formula in it but I do, I care a lot.

    • The emotions attached to breastfeeding are so powerful, and not really acknowledged by health care professionals at all.

      I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a hard time. You’re a strong woman.

  4. I totally understand. I had problems with both my kids and it was soul destroying. People who assume that everyone can breast feed have no idea how distressing it is and how much of a failure you feel (despite knowing in your head you are not!). It gets easier as they grow, Mine are 4 and 6 yrs now and it seems a lifetime ago! take care

  5. I just want to give u a big hug, and wished u lived near me, we have such an amazing bf team, but I know we are a minority,you have done a fantastic job exclusively pumping and I know that moo will appreciate everything that you have done xxx

    • I so wish there had been more support when Moo was born. There was no breastfeeding group at the time. Shocking in a town of 25,000 people.

      Thank you for the love, it’s very much appreciated.

  6. Could have been me writing this. X

  7. oooh it’s all a bit me me me isn’t it. I think you’re verging on crazy sleep deprived lady. It’s not a big deal, you managed some but it wasn’t to be, you don’t need to blame anyone not society, not a lack of breastfeeding support, nor yourself.
    I do worry about mental states of mothers consumed by breastfeeding. Of course I don’t know you, I’m not judging as such but thought a little balancing out against your other comments may help.
    (..I breastfed my children for 7/6months and was glad to stop and go on to bottlefeeding, I needed a break! I felt pressured to prove I could do it, how silly of me. You don’t need to prove to anyone how great a mother you are by breastfeeding or being unable to continue, don’t let it consume you, move on, enjoy your little one without silly worries xxxx

    • Unfortunately I am very ‘me, me, me’ at times, it’s a symptom of post natal depression, it’s very easy to become self involved. I don’t have enough energy to even consider worrying about anyone else and the smallest issue is all consuming.

      I think having someone or something to ‘blame’ can make things easier. It’s much easier to move on when you know the reasons behind an event or situation occurring.

      I’m doing the best that I can, just ranting and trying to make sense of it all. I appreciate how this post may appear to someone looking in that hasn’t read much back story. Oh how I wish I had more positive subjects to blog about! 🙂

      • You absolutely are doing the best you can, it really is such a short time – though it doesn’t feel it at the time- congratulate yourself getting this far and think no more of it. It’s so easy for someone to come along and say this but I have felt some of the pressures too. Indeed I haven’t read further back than this post but really, there are positives to be found in it! 🙂

      • I was blessed to provide Moo with any breast milk at all, blessed that I could pump as long as I did and blessed with a beautiful daughter. I shall try to hang on to those things in dark times.

        Thank you for your comments, I appreciate all perspectives.

  8. I feel very emotional for you. Such a shame that you have not reached the goal you had set yourself. Is it really over… can’t we take a step back and re-evaluate. What help have you received so far, how old is your little one… so many questions rushing through my mind and hoping the answers would follow… Breastfeeding is so complex yet appears so easy! There are solutions to lots of issues with the right ideas and sometimes management of a issue relating to the “breastfeed” and not just the “breastmilk” is possible, and sometimes you can turn a corner VERY quickly. But where to begin when you feel you are at the end… can anyone help and support you further?

  9. Hello – I’ve posted before on your blog; love it

    I’m exclusively expressing firvDD aged 5 weeks. Did the same for 14 month old DS until 22 weeks

    As I’ve said before, I’m hugely impressed by your dedication. DD has now been diagnosed with a tongue tie (quelle surprise) as was DS and am waiting for a referral to get it cut. I’m not sure it will be possible to get her back on the breast. It wasnt with DS. But I’m
    OK with that. I tend to focus on the fact that I know that I am tremendously lucky to be able to express enough milk for her (and for him) relatively easily to exclusively feed her that

    I don’t want to negate your feelings – it’s really important that you have them and can voice them. I also know that feelings aren’t rational but instinctive. However, do you think you could focus on the fact that Moo was pretty much exclusively breast fed. The method that she got the breast milk isn’t as important as the way she got it. (((Big hugs)))

  10. ….isn’t as important as the FACT she got it!!

  11. I could have written this 3 years ago, it does get better I promise, except I am now pregnant with number 2 and all the old demons and bitterness has returned and am already panicking about wanting to bf number 2

    • Thank you. It’s cliche, but time is a healer.

      Do lots of reading, get a great support network around you, including an IBCLC. I really hope this happens for you.

      Let me know how you get on! 🙂

  12. I can sympathise with you completely.
    Although I could breastfeed my 3 – I could not give birth to them. I felt robbed too.
    With my first – emergency section- I felt like a failure and that feeling stayed with me for a long time. It impacted my perceived ability to be a good mother and took away a lot of my time and energy in reflection, tears, anger, blame, resentment, what ifs and self pity.
    When I look back now, although I feel sad that I will never give birth in the ‘proper way’ I can honestly say that I feel sadder about the time and energy I spent feeling so, well, shite.
    We have 3 healthy, happy children. We have had so many adventures together and we will have so many more. And I will cherish them all
    Don’t dwell on what you cannot do despite your very best efforts and focus on what you can do – and enjoy it – or your long term regret will be that you allowed it eat into a magical time in your life.
    You are doing an amazing job. Don’t let the breast feeding troubles make you feel otherwise.

  13. I totally totally know how you feel. I pumped for a year! with my first baby, getting up every three hours through the night, feeding him with a syringe that only took 10 mls at a time…it was hell. I just couldn’t let myself stop, I felt it would be failing him, giving up.etc.
    I was a terrible mother. I was so tired, I got postnatal depression, he ended up in hospital from not getting enough milk and had to be put on half formula after 4 weeks anyway.
    I never got away from the guilt of ‘failing’ although I had two more children. I never managed to breastfeed them either.
    But I did give myself a break. I did as much as I could. And so have you – we all do.
    PS. I was fed exclusively on formula myself. I don’t think it’s made any difference.

  14. i can really understand where you are coming from my son was tongue tied and we struggled to breastfeed, i was really upset for weeks about it and was annoyed by the support i received by the midwife at the time. The positives i can take from bottle feeding is that my husband was more involved in the feeding process and it allowed him to have some special bonding time as well. To be honest their is so many ways in which to bond with your child so do not but to much pressure on this one thing it is better to let go and enjoy being a parent.

  15. Gosh what does it matter as long as you’re child’s healthy

    • Unfortunately for me, it matters very much. I’m extremely grateful for my child’s health, I know I’ve been wonderfully blessed. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not upset by other events.

      The post traumatic stress disorder and post natal depression mean that I struggle to move on and have been greatly affected by my daughters birth and the breastfeeding struggles that followed.

      I pray that others have a much easier time, although from the other comments here it’s obvious that this issue affects many mothers.

      I know that most won’t understand. All I can ask for is a little empathy and compassion at a difficult time.

  16. I could have written this. I was on a hiding to nothing from the start, cracked, sore bleeding nipples from the first day, shields, pumps etc. I just wanted to feed him, and felt like such a failure that I couldn’t. I had all of my expectations of motherhood wrapped up in this one thing. Trying to be a ‘proper’ mother ruined the first weeks of motherhood for me. I cannot look at photos of my boy without crying at what I put him through. He cried nonstop- yes, maybe he had colic and reflux, but I have no doubt a large part of it was hunger and him being constantly latched on wasn’t helping. He was nearly hospitalised because he had lost so much weight, if I could turn back time I would give him formula in a heartbeat.

    I eventually ‘gave up’ at 4 months though in reality I had been relying on formula more and more. I couldn’t cope anymore with feeding a miserable hungry baby who wasn’t getting anything from the breast then following the advice to pump and top him up. My poor boy was so hungry I could never do a full pumping session, he was screaming after 5 minutes. I could scream now at the advice I was given: feed your baby so he’s satisfied, pump while he’s asleep and nobody would listen when I said he was never satisfied at the breast, he wasn’t sleeping.

    My friends and family were urging me to give up, I just wish I had received the same common sense advice from professionals, I might have listened then. I still suspect he had a tongue tie, the ‘specialist’ midwife at my hospital had never even heard of a posterior tie. If the NHS wants to push breastfeeding as the only option they need to follow it up with proper support.

    • I completely agree with you.

      I’m so sorry that you had such a difficult time. Sometimes you need someone to say ‘it’s ok, let go’. Four months is an incredible amount of time to persevere – be proud!

  17. I’m so sorry you’ve got to this, it breaks my heart to hear of so many women in the same position as you. There really needs to be more training in breastfeeding for health care professionals and more support for mothers, I keep campaigning for this, maybe one day… x

  18. I have raged against that machine too, the lack of bf knowledge around the Healh care community is so depressing. I ff 2 and eventually with a tonne of the right help bf number 3. I had your need too. I will say though that I have let myself off teh hook. It was the society that I lived in that failed and not me. The same goes for you.x

  19. I “failed” to breastfeed too- despite repeatedly trying to get my early baby to latch in the first week I didn’t even produce a single drop and I beat myself up A LOT about it for a long time. My daughter is now turning 7 and a healthier, more interesting girl you couldn’t hope to meet but I still have occasional regrets when my friends have subsequently had children and breastfeed them.

    The only thing I don’t hold with is that breastfeeding is more intimate/ bonding – I came to this realisation when I compared my night feeding sessions (getting up, dim lights, cuddles, eye contact etc) with my breastfeeding friends telling me how they read a book or played on the DS as they stayed in bed and propped baby on a pillow so they could feed easily. I think I bonded more with my daughter at these times as I was focused on her as she fed IYSWIM.

    I know it mustn’t feel like it but with time those feelings of disappointment/ anger/ failure will fade until you barely ever think about them

    • Thank you. I’m sure all this will become a distant memory as we move on to preschool, school and beyond.

      So pleased you’ve found peace with it, and you’re right, bottle feeding can also be intimate.

  20. I know your pain. I was desperate to breastfeed. Had some problems just after birth (placenta did not want to come out and had to manually removed), for which I had to be on medication. I was stressed in hospital with midwives giving contradicting advice for breast feeding and it certainly did not come natural to me.

    For a week I did not sleep a wink. Medication-related most probably, but also stress because the breast feeding really did not go at all well.

    I think I was going slightly insane and my husband said to me:”That’s it now. It’s been enough. It’s been stressful and now we have to move on.”

    He was right. We moved to bottle feeding and I think we all relaxed. I did, my husband did, but most certainly my little girl did.

    I felt guilty and a failure for a long time, but now looking back I know it was the right thing.

    I co-slept with my little girl for the first five months or so and carried her a lot in a sling. I am as close to her as could be, even now she is almost two. Bottle feeding is not much less intimate than breast feeding. You hold her just as close and you smile down at her just like you would with breast feeding. It makes little difference in that respect I think.

    If I have another I would try again, but I really do not think bottle feeding is wrong in any way. Whatever is best for the parent is best for baby.

    Good luck and enjoy your little one. These days go too fast. xx

  21. Like so many of the previous posts, I too had issues with breastfeeding after a traumatic birth – issues with supply of milk, baby latching on fine but never having his fill, pumping for ages and ending up with very little milk. Myself and my GP agreed to put baby onto formula after 8 weeks of sheer hell and no sleep (and I mean none) due to baby’s unmet hunger – and whilst I felt very much like you do now (frustrated, incredibly sad, beaten and probably depressed if I’m honest) and did for a long time afterwards, the difference in my baby once he got the food he needed (via formula) was unbelievable – he turned from the nightmare baby to perfect wee soul. He was satisfied after his formula feeds, his colic (if that’s what it was) stopped within a week and I slowly (over the course of a year probably) accepted that bf just hadn’t worked for him or I. But you have to give yourself a big pat on the back that you stuck with it for so long (lots of mums stop bf after a couple of days because its ‘not working’). Ask yourself what else could you have done to change the outcome, and in your heart you’ll know you did everything within your power to make this work. Take comfort from this – you worked hard to get this far and every day was a battle but you still did it. As for formula feeding, you can do stuff to make it ‘special’ – maintain skin to skin contact etc.
    From a totally objective non-emotional point of view, your baby is getting the food she needs via formula and that really is all that is important.
    Baby also needs a contented mum, so I hope you can realise and focus on the huge amount you did achieve and start to enjoy things again and look forward to the next stage in baby’s development. It’ll be time to start weaning in a few months…:0)
    Don’t let this put you off your stride.

  22. I think you’re amazing to pump your milk for 30 months. What a fantastic gift for your DD. I’m really sorry that you didn’t get to breastfeed her. Sending lots of love cxx

  23. oh my gosh! 30 months! I don’t think I could pump that long! whenever I do pump I get a blocked duct! but pumping did save me the first few weeks when my LO wouldn’t latch on. I totally agree about the lack of help for breastfeeding, the NHS are promoting it, but don’t provide enough lactation consultants to help those who need it. Here’s my breastfeeding journey…. I struggled too- http://healthhappinessandfitness.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/after-the-birth-what-noone-ever-tells-you/
    Well done to you for persevering when many do not, you did wonderfully! especially pumping! all those bottles, washing up, sterilizing, and time…you are totally amazing! xx

  24. I’m jealous of you!!! 30 months is amazing!! I only managed 1 month, the circle of sterilising, pumping, feeding, washing bottles, sterilising, pumping was just too much for me.

    From day one in hospital my baby just screamed at my breast and after being shown a million different ways to latch just wouldn’t sustain one for longer than 2 minutes, and was dehydrated after 3, so we tried formula and he was like a different baby, so full up contented and sleeping. It made me happy that he was happy, and utterly devastated that I couldn’t make him feel like that, I cried and cried. I felt like a complete failure. I continued to try and breastfeed, went to a breastfeeding consultant, used nipple shields, tried different positions etc etc he just would not latch 😦

    I feel robbed too, I feel like it has made our bond harder, I feel like after having to have an emergency c section and not being able to breastfeed has basically ruined our start in life together. 😦 Now I feel guilty for not pumping as long as you! Aaaaahhhh motherhood is soooooo hard!!!!
    Xxx

    • Oh lovely, please don’t feel any guilt. You can only do the best you can with the information and support you have at the time. And after a c section too? One month is incredible. There’s no way I could have done as well as I did after surgery like that. Phenomenal effort!

      Be damn proud mama!

  25. Hey Pumping Mama,

    Thanks for sharing your feelings. It is a subject very few people can discuss but so devastating. I breast fed my first two babies till about 18 months. I assumed I would my third. It was not possible to feed her due to her having a cleft palate and serious breathing issues meaning she spent a while in NICU so we couldn’t hold her. I also exclusively pumped, a very strange pastime. I only managed 5 months but so glad I did. So this is how I have tried to reconcile my total devasting grief at not being able to feed her. You are right ;you were robbed, but your baby wasn’t. This grief is ours not theirs. Our babies know no different than beng bottle fed so therefore it is not a loss to them. If they are held and loved and cuddled and adored and bottle fed they will still be the same perfect miracles. I don’t know if that logic holds for you. My daughter is 16 months now , I don’t agree that you will forget in time, I think all grief stays with us it just becomes less powerful, but ultimately you have done your upmost. Serenity, courage , Wisdom.

    • Thank you, so much, for this comment. You’re so right.

      And please don’t say you ‘only’ pumped for five months. Five months?!? That’s incredible! And with a baby in the NICU too? Phenomenal.

  26. Hi there pumping mama – this could have been me writing this so I wanted to say thank you for posting it. I’m currently 37 weeks pg with number 2 and all I can do is hope that it’ll work this time… I think the reasons it didn’t work were similar to yours – TT that wasn’t cut until 14 weeks and I had a traumatic birth too. I blamed myself at first and trying to BF caused a big rift in the bond between DS and I that took a long time to get back. I totally recognise your reference to anger. I also felt jealous of all my friends who could BF and furious every time I saw something on the web saying that basically everyone can BF if they try hard enough. GGGGRrrrrrrRRRRR! At the moment, the potential of BFing DC2 is almost a catharsis to not BFing DS… don’t know how I’ll cope if that doesn’t work.

    Well done for managing the pumping and again thank you for posting.

    • Thank you for your comment, it’s comforting to know I’m not alone, although I’m sad that you’ve also suffered.

      I’m praying that breastfeeding happens for you this time. But if it doesn’t, know that being a mother is so much more than that.

      Big love.

  27. I’ve just read all the comments here and all of your lovely replies. You’re so kind and generous in your praise of everyone else’s achievements but don’t forget to be kind to you too!

    X

    Ps – will keep you posted re the tongue tie

  28. I can truly feel your pain, breastfeeding has been far from easy for me and our area has rubbish care for breastfeeding mums even though they are pushing it all through pregnancy!
    Some women manage it so simply, pop baby on, bit hurty for the first few weeks but then it’s a breeze.
    Like you I was desperate to breastfeed and yes I am lucky to have managed that to varying degrees over 5 children, but you are also the lucky one too! your child had YOUR milk for 2.5 years! I have never been able to pump successfully so 3 out of 5 ended up on formula. I know it doesn’t heal the heart ache you are feeling but please keep that in mind, 🙂

    Oh, and the pain does ease. your time will be filled with other excitements and adventures, you will sometimes think back on it but you need to try and keep the positive memories at the front of your mind and not dwell on the painful thoughts.

    Much love to you and yours x

    • Thank you so much for your kind words.

      You’re so right, the pain will soon be replaced with adventures and it will all seem a distant memory.

      *high five* for managing five children! 🙂

  29. My little girl (well not so little now she was four last month) was born prematurely and was too little to suck, she was tube fed in special care but would never latch, she also had a tongue tie that was cut at four weeks old. She was fed exclusively on expressed breast milk for the first six weeks but then my milk supply started to run out. I was pumping every two hours to try and increase it but I had to move her onto mixed feeds of aptimil and expressed breast milk. I was nearly killing myself doing it, it was a constant conveyor belt of expressing, washing bottles, labelling bottles, feeding her, I ended up passing out three times. Eventually my milk ran out (I was not able to take domperidone (sorry about spelling if wrong) as my DD had a suspected heart murmur and suspected pulmonary stenosis, we were waiting for a specialist appointment from Leeds.
    I had had no end of breast feeding help women around to try and get her to latch but as she had been having her milk from bottles after discharge from special care I was told the only way to get her to latch was to make her desperate by not giving her bottles. This was not an option as she was only 4lb when discharged so I could not starve her on.
    I felt like a complete failure, I failed to realise at the time that more important than her getting my milk was her having a constructive relationship with me. In the whirlwind of pumping, washing, feeding, sterilising I did not realise I was missing out on cuddling her, having kangaroo care. I was concentrating so hard on doing this for my daughter and punishing myself for being a failure at what is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world.
    My DD is a happy healthy individual who knows just how loved she is don’t punish yourself it just does not happen sometimes

    • Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry to read that you also struggled.

      You’re so right, there’s so much more to being a mother than breast milk.

      I hope your daughter is healthy now?

    • she is very healthy thank you, I think some women just don’t understand how important it can be. My daughter was born by emergency C-section and then taken straight to special care, I did not really see her for about 8 hours and then could not hold her until she was two days old. I felt that out of all this I was, at least, feeding her myself even if I could not give her the care she needed at that time. I found it really hard to bond for the first two months and even though I was caring for her every need I was more of a custodian rather than a mother, it was like breast milk was my only link. When I stopped pumping I really started to get to know her and had cuddles and kisses and really appreciated her. I love her so much now but it was not the start I wanted.
      You have done so well ….. thanks for posting

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