The Breastfeeding Diaries: Chelsea from Red Velvet Rooster

November 6, 2013

I am so honored to be a part of this wonderful series known as the Breastfeeding Diaries.  I think it is so wonderful for mothers to be able to share their successes and challenges with other mothers.  It is a great resource and I am proud to be a part of it.  I am the mother of a 2 year-old son named Jack, aka Bubba.  He is a stubborn, gentle-hearted, rough and tumble, All-American boy.  He loves superheroes like Spider-Man and Super-Man, Tractors and the outdoors.  He is a Mama's boy, but no one holds a candle to his Daddy!  I no longer breastfeed my son and haven’t since he was about a month old.  There is a story behind us...

There was never any question in my mind as to whether or not I was going to breastfeed.  Most, if not all, of the women in my family breastfed their babies. I knew I was going to breastfeed.  I assumed that all would fall into place on its own.  I mean, our bodies are made for breastfeeding, right?  I never thought it would be challenging.  The women in my family made it look effortless.  Looking back on things, I wish I would have taken a breastfeeding class before giving birth.  If anything, to have a group of women in similar stages as me for a support system.  I was the only one of my friends having a baby and I lived hours away from my family, so I did not have many people to lean on and ask for help when it came to breastfeeding.

I loved everything about Jack's birth.  I was induced and had a 14 hour labor.  It was all pretty textbook outside of the sheer intensity of everything thanks to the Pitocin to induce labor.  The only things I wish I had done differently was breastfeed as soon as possible after he was born.  Before family came in to meet him, before his first bath, before anything. I really wished I had been more focused on breastfeeding in those first couple of hours, but I was so totally exhausted!  I also bled a lot following Jack's birth and it took the Doctor a while to get it under control.  The blood loss definitely took a toll on me in those first few hours.  Basically, everything was a blur after giving birth.  I also wish I had asked for more support from lactation specialists and even made an appointment with one before just giving up on breastfeeding.  I feel like if I had had more guidance in the beginning I might not have had as hard of a time with breastfeeding.

What surprised me the most was how challenging breastfeeding was and how much your production can be hindered by stress and anxiety!  Bubba had to be put under the bili-lights for 24 hours at the hospital a day after we took him home.  His jaundice was slightly more serious than normal because he was Direct-Coombs positive due to ABO incompatability, which happens most commonly to Blood Type O Moms like me who give birth to children with Blood Type A, B or AB. Basically, my Hubby and I have incompatible blood types.  The result is HIGH bilirubin levels most of the time.  It is still easily taken care of with the bili-lights, but it can be dangerous if not treated quickly. 

We were lucky enough to be able to have a room with Jack while he laid under the bili-lights, but I had a meltdown during this time and I let stress and anxiety consume me.  I even had to leave the room when they gave Jack an IV because I was just so fragile.  My Hubby had to bear the brunt of things while we were in the hospital. Looking back, my reaction was ridiculous and dramatic, but hormones do funny things to us Mommies.  Once my emotions had leveled, I actually enjoyed our stay in the hospital.  Bubba loved being under the warm lights, Hubby and I snuggled in the bed most of the day, I fed Jack every 2.5 hours.  It was also comforting to have nurses and doctors nearby because I was still so afraid of breaking my precious child.  All went well with the bili-lights, so we got to go home the next day and I continued to breastfeed for the next month.  

I loved breastfeeding and the bond it created between my son and me.  I loved my world revolving around Bubba's.  I loved snuggling up in the recliner with the Boppy and Bubba.  I would watch Mad Men on Netflix while he ate.  I loved feeling like I could provide for him, literally, everything he needed. Or so I thought…

A week or so after he had been in the hospital for jaundice, I began to notice that nothing seemed to make him happy.  He never fell asleep after nursing and instead continued to cry.  He would nurse for 45 minutes at a time and still was not be satisfied.  He gave me blisters from nursing so hard. He was super gassy and was only sleeping, at the most, 8 hours a day!  I also began to notice that he didn’t seem to be gaining weight and my breasts were not nearly as full as they were before we took Bubba to hospital for his jaundice.  I just assumed my concerns meant I was an anal-attentive mother and that he was fine so I tried to ignore signs for another week or so.  

Things were not getting better and I knew all of this was not normal, so Hubs and I decided I should pump one day and see how much milk I would get.  I had not pumped yet as I was planning on stockpiling my milk about a month before I went back to work.  I got 1 ounce in 30 minutes of pumping.  I remember staying on the pump for an entire hour out of sheer desperation trying to get every last drop out.  It was then I realized that he had not been getting enough to eat from me.  We went to the doctor to confirm our suspicions. He had dropped almost a pound from his birth weight in a month.  That same day I rushed to the store and purchased a bunch of Similac Sensitive.  Watching him drink that first bottle of formula was the most amazing moment for me.  For the first time in Bubba’s life, he was satisfied.  He fell asleep right after that first bottle.  Everything fell into place fast after we switched to formula.  

I cried a lot about the fact that he was so hungry for a month and that I could not provide nourishment for him.  I cannot look at pictures of him from that first month without crying.  He looked like a tiny, old man.  To this day, I still cannot believe that it took me so long to acknowledge there was a problem…It was as if my determination to breastfeed my son had blinded me.  I had just assumed that everything would work out.  It never occurred to me that sometimes women can’t breastfeed.   

I cried a lot about the fact that I could not breastfeed as I was planning on breastfeeding him for the first year.  I felt so guilty about my underproduction that once we started giving him formula I just gave up breastfeeding altogether, when I should have tried to give him what little I had to offer for the sake of his immunity and for the sake of us continuing that bond that can only happen during breastfeeding.  I was comforted by the fact that Bubba loved his formula so much and by how he began to thrive and grow into the huge 2 year-old boy he is today.  If we decide to have a second child, I hope I will have more success breastfeeding now that I know what to expect and now that I know more about products like Fenugreek bars, teas, etc.   

My advice to new mothers or breastfeeding mothers in general is to quit putting so much pressure on yourself! It can, literally, ruin your milk supply and ruin YOU.  If you have your heart set on breastfeeding, but you end up not producing enough, don't get your feelings hurt if your have to supplement.  Do not convince yourself that you have failed and do not listen to anyone who tells you that!  Supplement as much as is needed, but keep trying to breastfeed too!  What little they get out will be beneficial for them and you can still experience the bond that is created through breastfeeding.  

It is a blessing that our children don't remember being babies...because their parents would never be able to live down the number of times they screwed up trying to do right by them.  Hey, you have to have a sense of humor when you become a parent!  GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

Special thanks again to Julie for letting me be a part of this special series!

Chelsea Signature
Chelsea can be found at Red Velvet Rooster
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar!

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3 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Chelsea from Red Velvet Rooster”

  1. Chelsea, thank you for sharing your story with us today! Your son is absolutely precious. I think it's amazing that you tried so hard to breastfeed, but were flexible enough to do do what you had to do to provide for your son. Hoping that next time around breastfeeding goes a little better for you, as I can imagine how disappointing that was! No matter what, as long as the baby is happy, you are doing your job as a Mommy. And are a great Mommy for that!:)

  2. Thank you for sharing!! I am breastfeeding my 8 month old right now, but, I, too, wish I would have attended a breastfeeding class. When Aiden was born, he didn't pee for a couple days and we took him to the pediatrician and realized that he was dehydrated and that I had to give him formula too for a day. I went to a lactation consultant and breastfeeding support group and that saved me from quitting. It's definitely challenging in the beginning!

  3. I love this series and hearing mom's stories, but I do want to make sure mamas know that the amount you pump is NOT how much your baby gets. Babies are much more effective at removing milk from the breast, and the quality of pumps varies wildly, plus there are hormones present during nursing that aren't there when you're snuggling a plastic pump. I hate hearing that myth perpetuated, as it often leads to unnecessary supplementation and supplementation leads to decreased supply! Just a public service announcement for others.



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