“Mine was all based on our connection, like an attachment bonding. I think for some reason I was the only person who could breastfeed him and so that for some reason became the primary way that our relationship would build and grow and so losing that breastfeeding relationship to him, meant losing some attachment to him I think.”
Abby felt that she had a fairly typical upbringing and remembers her childhood fondly. Her family moved to Amsterdam when she was 15 years old and lived there until she was an adult. This move made her family a little more relaxed as Europe as a whole seems to be much more relaxed. The atmosphere in Amsterdam is family centered and very small townish. She moved back to the United States and when she became pregnant, she assumed she was going to go back to work once her maternity leave was over. She was a self-proclaimed workaholic working with teenagers in a high stress program with kids who struggled with mental illness and violent behavior. This was her identity and she figured her husband was probably going to stay home. She was going to run her house like a residential community just like at work… but she said: “they handed me Jack and I am like – what am I suppose to do with this? I am totally prepared to deal with a violent teenager and now they have handed me this newborn and I was not sure what to do with him. I crumbled.” Staying at home, separated from her work, she began to realize just how stressful her job had been. She realized that this is something she did not want to bring home to her children. Once home from the hospital, she began struggling with breastfeeding issues. Abby says that she does not know exactly why she wanted to Breastfeed so badly and I doesn’t know why she tried so hard, but she did. She talks about how she fought so hard for it and just doesn’t know where this intensity came from. Abby said that she felt like she was awake for like 3 months doing research and trying to figure it out. She soon got into this great Breastfeeding place and then thought: ” I am so not into going back to work and said I needed to stay home.”
Abby knows that she was breastfed for 3 months until her mother was encouraged to transition her to a bottle, by her pediatrician. This was actually quite common years ago, and unfortunately this poor information continues to be given out. Abby shares with us some of her birth story. She recognizes now, how little she knew about birth also. She just went along with the plan, however, she knows different now. She had a very healthy pregnancy with Jack. Once she reached went to 41 weeks gestation, she was feeling pretty miserable. Her attitude was like: get this baby out now. She had a failed induction and now realizes that her baby was just not ready to be born yet. Labor progressed, she had an episiotomy, which she states was terrible. She had thought that an induction meant that labor would start very soon and her baby would be born shortly. Instead, it was a long and painful process. In the recovery room, her baby is crying and she is trying to breastfeed. I had never seen anyone breastfeed before. I thought that you just brought the baby to the breast and they would breastfeed. I kept trying, Jack kept trying. They and after being told many times that he was starving, I did give him some formula because I wondered if I did have enough milk for him. Eventually, I came home with my goodie bag, we were so happy, we thought we made out like bandits because I came home with all this free sttuff. I followed the advise I was given in the hospital and offered the breast every 2 hours and then gave him some formula from the bottle. Jack seemed to reject the breast and I spent what I feel was like every waking hour, googling all sorts of things like – how to get your baby to like you? Soon I found some breastfeeding facebook groups. I started reading posts and asking questions. I explained what was going on and asked for help and I started getting some responses. At some point, I connected with someone from La Leche League. They encouraged to to stop pumping and begin breastfeeding. I did this and I was able to give less and less formula to my baby, until we reached a point where we were exclusively breastfeeding. This took about 3 months. Giving babies formula is one of those boobie traps I learned about, that breastfeeding mothers are subjected to.
Abby feels strongly that a lack of education on her part as well as the hospital staff are 2 things that made breastfeeding her firstborn so difficult. She did feel she had educated herself and even read in 1 book that said, if breastfeeding is hard, just say no to bottles and pacifiers. However, this did not tell her if everything was not fine, what should she do then. She feels that the hospital staff is not well educated or supportive of breastfeeding as the push to give formula is so prevalent. It may sound easy to not give your baby formula or a pacifier, but they don’t tell you what else you can do. Abby feels very strongly about what she feels is big corporate marketing of formula and how the professionals get incentives from the formula companies, which motivates them to easily suggest formula, rather than help the mom with breastfeeding. She feels this is purposeful sabotage of the breastfeeding relationship, as the attitude is that you can just formula feed and it is no big deal. Well, to her, it was a very big deal. She was looking for help and support and did not get it from the medical community. Abby states that there is a big disconnect with giving formula and breastfeeding success. She had no idea that giving more formula would have a negative impact on her supply. Of course, she knows that now and is well aware that this causes a big problem. She found this help on facebook and like she said: at some point, she just took to the street. She got out of the house, met other moms, and breastfed in public.
Abby also talks about how she spent the first several months indoors. She realized that she was spending her tim alone in the house, isolated from other mothers and in a dark room. She had no idea that she was isolated and she had no idea that she should even be around other new others. This was all new to her and she did not know or realize how important it was to be with other mothers. Once she started feeling better, she says she “took to the streets.”, as she took the bus and walked all over town and started meeting other moms and breastfeeding in public. She took her baby to the park and met other moms and she breastfed in public. This became her peer group. She did not return to work and anyone else who did have a baby at work, did not return to work, so she did not get to see them. However, now, she began surrounding herself with other moms and this was a game changer for her.
Abby did talk about the times when she thought Jack might not nurse or her milk supply would go down and she became anxious at the thought of him not nursing. These thought would get her feeling very panicked. She said that some of her most frequent thoughts were about the possibility of losing her breastfeeding relationship. She was this as her main connection to her son – how she attached and bonded with him. When asked if she ever had a time that was particularly worse than another and this caused her to cry about her situation. Abby said: “oh, I cried every single day. I cried all the time.”
Abby shares with us how her blog go started. First she began telling fun breastfeeding and mommy stories to her hairdresser. Her hairdresser thought her stories were funny and told her she should write about them. A short while afterwards, her son Jack became quite ill. She experienced a time of great worry and concern for his health. It all turned out fine and he is a healthy toddler. One day, she was in the park and breastfeeding her son and asked a friend to take a picture of this. She posted this picture on Facebook and BAM. The feedback was very strong and quite dramatic. It started a mommy war and while she was not happy with the negativity, there were also positive feedack. She soon realized that people wanted to talk about these issues and this is how her blog started. She now runs a very active blog and while she would like to write more, she posts when she can.
Book Suggestions: Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond
Nursing in Public Fun Story: It is hard to breastfeed one tall toddler and a newborn in public. It is hard to get comfortable. I do breastfeed in public wherever I am, but I am not immune to the fears that surround it. Jack calls it boobie and one day we were at the car dealership and he is standing in front of the car dealership screaming: I want Boooooobie! Slightly embarassing and at the same time very funny.
Tales from the breast: One day Jack wanted me to do something and I asked him to wait until his brother was done nursing. So he came up to my boob and started squeezing it, saying that he was going to make it go faster so that Exley was going to eat faster.
Funny stuff: Breastfeeding toddlers is always a lot of fun. I say this somewhat sarcastically, because it is fun but also taxing. Tandem nursing is a term used to describe the process of breastfeeding an older child when a baby is born and now breastfeeding. I love that they are both breastfeeding. Nothing compares to looking down at your kids nursing and watching them touch each other and holding hands and watching them build a relationship with each other while breastfeeding.
Contact info: at www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com Facebook/TheBadassBreastfeeder
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