No more crying over spilled milk


For the past week I’ve been telling myself and those who’ve asked about it that I’ve reached the point of acceptance. Our breastfeeding situation is what it is.

I am no longer expecting exclusive breastfeeding to happen. The aim is now simply to give my daughter as much milk of her own species as I can for as long as I can, even if this ends up being only a few ounces.

This has been called determination. I wonder if it’s also stupidity.

If I had just gone with straight formula a few weeks ago, would I feel as rotten about the whole thing as I do? Or would I feel worse for not having tried?

Whenever I meet someone whose baby’s tongue-tie was resolved early, feelings of envy and guilt bite me in the gut. They’re both misplaced. I know I have to put them away somewhere.

Basically, a major drop in my milk supply last week made me realise that I need to emotionally move on.

In addition to pumping and using a supplemental nursing system, I had counteracted my low milk supply with a drug called Domperidone. It’s essentially an anti-nausea medicine with the side effect of raising prolactin levels and therefore increasing breastmilk.

My GP didn’t know much about it and didn’t feel confident about continuing to prescribe it, wanting instead to use Metoclopramide. I was keen to avoid it since it can affect mood and I have a history of depression.

So my Domperidone prescription ran out and it became immediately clear how much I depended on it. Talitha didn’t even want to be at the breast unless the SNS was there, frustrated that she was only getting drops. Pumping both breasts yielded a pitiful half ounce.

In desperation, I printed information about the drug and booked in an appointment to make a face-to-face appeal to my GP. She agreed to speak to the infant feeding midwife at the hospital who, thankfully, advised her that Domperidone suited my circumstances.

The midwife also offered to take another look at Talitha, having been the one to divide her tongue-tie the first time. Guess what? The tie had grown back partially. Really? Really.

Even as I signed the papers to have it cut again I felt certain that it would make no difference.

As I fed Talitha with the SNS afterwards I was sure we’d always need formula and that whenever I stop taking Domperidone, I’ll probably have to stop breastfeeding her as well.

And that’s OK. Except it’s not. Because I still get teary-eyed about it every now and then. Because I’m struggling to forgive myself when I know I’ve done nothing wrong. Because I don’t know how to draw the line between having compassion on myself and self-pity. Because I’ve let this thing dominate our lives for the past thirteen weeks.

I now have to decide to look at my half-empty breasts with the glass half-full and keep reminding myself to do that.

The door is closed to advice. I’ve now done it all and am still doing it all. Now, we have to live our lives, working with what we’ve got. We need to spend more time looking at her learning to play and less time thinking about what’s in my boobs.

At thirteen weeks, I’m going to accept what we have and stop mourning what we should have had. I’m going to ask God to give me the peace to do that.

I’d love to hear about others who’ve had similar experiences whether you’ve had low milk supply or whatever.

Image: Laurence Jarrett-Kerr


17 Comments

  1. September 11, 2011 / 9:30 pm

    Oh I wish I could come over there and give you a hug

    We went through the wringer but in different ways

    What you need to remember is how much you have done so far, how hard you have tried and what you have managed to do 

    Formula isn’t a bad thing – it saves lives because there are cases where breastfeeding doesn’t work and you know what that makes formula a good thing in my world

    You have done everything and more that you could have – please remember that most of all

    And you know what, worrying about this is what makes you a wonderful mother

    • September 12, 2011 / 7:54 pm

      I think I need to keep remembering that formula is not bad. I don’t know why I struggle with that so much. Maybe I’ve been reading too many militant pro-breastfeeding articles? The reality is, breastfeeding is normal but when it’s not possible, formula is a God-send. It’s helped us to put some baby fat on our very skinny child and to reveal the happy baby she naturally is. Thanks for all your encouragement.

  2. Snafflesmummy1
    September 12, 2011 / 8:21 am

    Lots of hugs. Happy.mum and baby are more important though. Yoy know you have tried your hardest, what more can you do.

    Formula isn’t evil, she will thrive on that still and you can start yo enjoy her even more without a relentless expressing schedule

    • September 12, 2011 / 7:46 pm

      Thanks. It is such a relief not to be constantly thinking: “What am I doing reading/chatting/writing/etc when I should be pumping?” 

  3. Alexandersfive
    September 12, 2011 / 2:33 pm

    I’m in bed typing On my phone and lost and really long post so here’s my second go: I hear you! I tried so hard (tho not as hard as you have) and felt horribly guilty and some sort of quasi-mother when I had to use formula. Of course most of my friends happily regaled me
    With stories of over-supply – “I had to race home from the shops
    – it wasSO embarrassing” – did no-one give a thought for how this would make me feel?? Clearly not! Mea culpa, mea culpa!
    Even finding out my mother and grandmother and (subsequently) both my sisters struggled to
    Breast-feed did nothing except confirm that clearly my entire family was a failure where true motherhood was concerned!!
    All these years later, I can laugh as I remember how greedily my babies latched onto the bottle, hungry for the food they didn’t get from me. And even all these years later, I fee angry that any of us, doing our very best to be a good mother shouldn’t get full credit – or give ourselves full credit – for our efforts.
    So, Adel, I salute you! Whatever happens, you are an amazing and wonderful mother, doing the very best you can for your child. Never let anyone tell you otherwise!! Love you xo

    • September 12, 2011 / 7:44 pm

      I’ve found myself nodding along throughout this comment. Yes to feeling like breastfeeding is strangely bound up in the mother identity. Yes (!!) to squirming inside when others go on about their abundance of milk. Actually, I’ve started checking myself when I feel like that because I’m sure having too much milk is awful too. Thanks for being so open about your feelings and experience. Knowing your boys, those young men don’t think you any less their mother for not continuing to breastfeed them! So it is a bit ridiculous how hung up we can get on this one aspect of life with our babies. I am sorry it didn’t work out for you, though, and I so understand how you felt. Love you too. x

  4. Ella
    September 12, 2011 / 2:58 pm

    As you know my first son was bottle fed and I felt so guilty at the time ! Now I don’t because
    1. Our attachment is every bit as strong as with my breastfed children.
    2. He is the child that never gets sick, literally never catches any of the bugs the other kids are sharing.
    3. I did my best, I know that now but it took me time to get here.
    Your clearly such a wonderful mother already that I hope you can soon move on from this and enjoy her babyhood without regret because it’s passes so quickly.

    • September 12, 2011 / 7:38 pm

      And I know you had such a hard time trying to breastfeed him. Thanks for the reminder to stop and enjoy her babyhood and for sharing your experience again. x

  5. Northernmum
    September 12, 2011 / 6:15 pm

    Oooh what Hannah (muddling said).

    But sweetie give yourself a break, I managed a week with my first two and both had formula from day one. Then bb has been completely different.

    Big hugs

    Xxx

    • September 12, 2011 / 7:36 pm

      Thanks. It’s been good remembering that it’s not as if it necessarily means I’ll not be able to breastfeed my next child or that breastfeeding itself is even the be all and end all. Seriously, a week breastfeeding twins…my hat’s off to you.

  6. xselph
    September 12, 2011 / 8:10 pm

    I totally know how you feel. Seems to me you have tried so cut yourself some slack. As you say give her what you have (for as long as you can). I introduced formula to my son by day 3 as my milk supply was low. He was crying turning red, I was so distressed which was not helping. I kept putting on the boob but the latch was not correct either, so I ended up with sore near empty boobs.  I did try increasing my supply by using a breast pump at the usual times I would have feed him boob (while the soreness eased), I drank water, tried to relax, had friends come round and show me how to get the correct latch etc etc  As I said in the end, I gave him the formula crying all the while feeling like a loser. I’d still gave him as much as I could of the breast milk untill he was 8 mths old, the formula was a ‘top-up’. As far as I can see he’s strong and active.

    You never know, you supply may pick up but whatever happens, know you’ve done your best. Good luck.

    • September 13, 2011 / 10:18 am

      Sounds like such a hard time you had! And it also sounds like you did the best you could in your circumstances. Thanks for being so open and honest about your experience. And thanks for the encouragement. I really am trying to be easy on myself.

  7. September 12, 2011 / 8:26 pm

    I didn’t have a low milk supply, but I did struggle in the early days. The thing is, looking back now, although it was great to have breastfed, it wasn’t the main thing I remember about the first few months with my daughter. It’s the first smile, the first time she rolled over, the first time she held a rattle on her own. These are the things I’ll treasure forever.

    Yes she was exclusively breastfed, but I actually resented that at times. We tried to introduce a bottle so that I could leave her for more than an hour without getting a panic attack she’d need feeding, but she never took it. So although we had exclusive breastfeeding, I do remember feeling teary and, at times, trapped inside the house with my tiny and dependent baby.

    And now? She’s not breastfed anymore (weaned herself at a year, to my utter disappointment at the time) but it doesn’t matter a jot. We’re far too busy enjoying playing and exploring the world to worry about milk anymore. And I’m sure it’ll be the same for you. Now Talitha’s 13 weeks you’ll notice so many changes about her that hopefully you’ll get to focus on those and enjoy them, rather than worrying about her milk. Don’t beat yourself up, you’ve done an amazing job and have tried harder with breastfeeding than any other mum I’ve ever come across. x

    • September 13, 2011 / 10:14 am

      I get what you mean about frustration that you couldn’t leave her. I left Talitha with Laurence for the first time last Saturday and treated myself to a shopping trip. My train back was later than I’d expected and it was a relief to know that he could just get the bottle out and I’d pump what I had when I got home. You must have felt quite stuck with F. It’s already a relief accepting things as they are and moving on to enjoy groups and explore the world together.

  8. Lucy
    September 13, 2011 / 12:11 am

    Being a good mother is about so much more than how you feed your baby – and you are a GREAT mum – Talitha is so blessed to have such fabulous parents. Don’t beat yourself up about it and I echo Ella’s comment below to enjoy Talitha while she is tiny… so hard not to feel guilty about everything we do/don’t do as parents but the most important thing is that she is so loved by you both and that is what good parenting is about! xxx

    • September 13, 2011 / 10:10 am

      Agreed. And thank you. I really don’t understand myself why I’ve got so hung up on one thing but Talitha’s an expert at drawing me out of my own head. She’s such a sociable, playful, happy baby. Both you and Ella are very much right.

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