My lovely daughter-in-law Kelly has had an incredibly rough time with breastfeeding. Her milk production just never delivered and her babies never latched and I am in New England while she is in North Carolina. Hind sight? Listen to Kelly's response to the last blog post: Breastfeeding Burnout.
I feel like I can relate to the woman that you received an angry letter from. When I found out I was pregnant, I began to imagine how things would be after my baby(ies) entered the world. As far as breastfeeding goes, I had visions of putting the boys on my chest after birth and they would simply “know what to do”. We bought a chest freezer for food because we planned on filling our refrigerator freezer with pumped milk. I took breastfeeding classes, met with a local LC (because you live so far away), and bought everything, and anything, people said I would need to be “successful”. We even had a print out that we brought to the hospital (NO PACIFIERS, NO FORLUMA, NO VACCINES). How hard could it be? I'm healthy, I'm motivated, my husband is 100% supportive, and my mother in-law is a lactation consultant to boot! I quickly learned that I had NO CLUE how difficult breastfeeding could/would be, and the odds of succeeding couldn't have been staked higher against me.
I had twin boys, a scheduled c-section, impatient nurses who insisted on pushing the boys onto my breasts, and a hospital policy that doesn't allow you to see a LC for 24 hours post delivery. We tried to call my local LC (Leslie), but she was on medical leave. We Skyped with you, but I was exhausted, and still drugged! After day 2 in the hospital, my boys still were not nursing, or latching. I was hand expressing every drop of colostrum I could into a spoon and giving them that. The nurses thought I was crazy, but I didn't care...my boys needed whatever I could get! After a weight check reveled the boys had lost 8.1 and 6.6 % of their birth weights, I was told the one who lost the most was reaching the “danger zone”, and we needed to make a decision. After a horrible night of trying to breastfeed without success, we clearly had a VERY hungry baby that needed to eat! We gave up and asked for formula. I cried as I watched them both inhale their 2oz of formula. Seeing our two day old babies that hungry was the worst feeling I've ever had. I felt defeated, let down by my body, and like I was failing as a mother, after only two days into parenthood.
Ry and I thought that the stress of the hospital may be a large component to not having success and we asked to go home. They agreed to send me home, providing I took the boys into our pediatrician the next day to be weighed. Anything you say, just send us home! So, we were off...The sun was shining and we were going home as a family; we were beyond excited! However, once I got home, things weren't really any better.
My grandparents and my mother were in town awaiting the birth of the boys, and offering assistance with cooking, housework, etc...I should have known that housing three additional people (none of which could drive) would add stress and tension to bringing home the little people we are now responsible for.
As cabin fever, baby blues, and possible PPD set in, the tension and stress levels in our house grew,I did something I read was quite common in similar situations; I found myself becoming very protective over the boys. Ryland and I didn't let anyone change, feed, or burp them and we kept them in our room, with a brief appearance in the morning to say hello. Because we took on 100% of the baby care and wouldn't allow people to help, I found myself choosing between napping, showering, eating, and pumping during nap times. Napping and/or showering won the coin toss almost every time. Perhaps how I was able to drop all of my pregnancy weight in 2 weeks?!
As family started to leave, stress levels began to fall. With less family members here, we were still keeping the boys quiet, but I was able to pump more frequently. I was drinking the herbal tea and taking the supplements you suggested and still wasn't getting what I THOUGHT I should be getting.
That brings me to where I am now, three weeks after the delivery of our perfect little babies. I look at my rented breast pump and I cringe; I can't stand that machine. I feel like it's a constant reminder of the failed expectations I had set for myself and my family. I haven't attempted pumping anything in two days. However, Ry and I took a trip to Babies R Us yesterday (where we rented it from), and I didn't have the heart to bring it back yet (we've paid through August 17th). So, why am I hanging on to it? I have no clue! Perhaps part of me still wants to work on building my supply even though the other part of me is simply burned out and feels defeated.
In response to the letter you received, no one needs your permission to stop breastfeeding. The mother seems angry with herself, her body, and people who talk about how “wonderful” their breastfeeding journey has been. For her, and myself, it's been an extremely depressing, stressful, and emotional ride. I feel like she is blaming you because she doesn't have anything else left. By writing that letter to you, she gave herself permission to stop pumping/breastfeeding. You've been nothing short of encouraging, supportive, and understanding (even when I talk about stopping).
I'm sure it's difficult to read an angry letter, but you should feel comfort in knowing that what she said to you is no longer bottled up inside of her. You probably helped her more than you will ever realize. We love you and I can't wait for you, and Duncan, to get here and meet your wonderful grandsons!!!
Love Always, Kelly