on breastfeeding and not breastfeeding

I had a whole post written about this, but it was super-long and kinda boring and contained a bunch of details that probably aren’t all that important, unless you are me. So here’s a summary (you are welcome. heh)

(I even thought about just not writing this, because it’s kind of a touchy subject and can bring out The Judgey. But so many of you have been on my breastfeeding journey with me, or are going through it yourselves- and if there is one thing I’ve learned, hearing other people’s stories and giving each other support? NUMBER ONE way to have success and keep moving forward. You have all helped me SO MUCH with all of this over the past four months, and I thank you for that!)

Audrey started daycare two days a week and has fallen in love with the bottle. This means that my slow-let-down that she was mostly tolerating during our first few months of breastfeeding has become very annoying to her. Which means that probably half of our feedings turn into wrestling matches. And I usually lose.

(Also: no need for advice, seriously. I have read that article. I have tried that trick. I have eaten oatmeal, drank hundreds of ounces of water, taken that supplement. I have Googled ‘slow let-down’ and ‘baby refusing to nurse’ so many times, my browser practically goes to that page when I start up my computer. Just trust me.)

I will fight with her for ten or fifteen minutes: switching sides, breast compressions, calming her with a pacifier, even giving her a bit of a bottle so she’s not frantically hungry and trying to nurse again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. So sometimes she gets a bottle.

Sometimes that bottle is filled with breastmilk. A lot of times it’s filled with formula. Even pumping two or three times a day, I don’t usually get more than one bottle of milk per day. She drinks three 5-oz bottles of breastmilk at daycare, two days per week. Which means I am BARELY keeping up (and if I hadn’t started out with the freezer stash I had at the end of maternity leave, there’s no way I’d be keeping up right now) I suppose I could pump more often, but I’ve tried that a few times and it doesn’t really yield that much more milk. Plus, I just don’t have the time in my schedule now that I’m back working to spend every other hour of my day strapped to a breastpump. So, she gets some formula in there to fill in the gaps.

I’m okay with this, mostly because I don’t really have a choice right now.

My feelings are all over the place.

I’m frustrated. I’m sad. Things were going so well finally, after the really insanely hard first six weeks when I wanted to give up on breastfeeding approximately 7,289 times a day, but didn’t. We powered through those tough days and got to easier ground. But now we’re back and I’m disappointed about that. We only really had a month or so where I had the kind of breastfeeding relationship I had dreamed about in my head: calm, bonding moments with my baby, feeling like I was comforting and nourishing her while she fed. Now it’s more like I’m torturing her and pissing her off with each feeding. (And it’s not her reflux- that is all totally fine now with the Zantac, thank GOODNESS! As soon as she’s given a bottle, she eats and is happy and we’re on our way.) And forget nursing in public. I tried it last week while we were out and HOLY SCREAMING BABY and ANNOYED PEOPLE STARING and OH HAI I’VE GOT MY BOOB OUT OVER HERE, EVERYONE! LOOK!

I’m exhausted. I feel like all I’ve been doing is working and worrying about MILK MILK OMG MILK. I feel like by now, it should be just another part of our day, but it’s not like that anymore. I’m sick of pumping for 20 minutes and only getting half of a bottle at one time.

I’m hopeful. With babies, one thing is certain: EVERYTHING is a phase. And there’s a chance this is a phase as well. We have less than two months before we get the go-ahead from the pediatrician to start solid foods. And it’s possible that once we get there, she’ll need/want to nurse less often and won’t be as frantic about it, which will help with the impatience. Or… maybe it won’t. Who knows.

I’m not giving up yet. Some days are really good, so that gives me hope. As long as my supply hangs in there (and so far, so good), I will nurse her when she’ll let me. I’ll give her a bottle of whatever breastmilk I can, and formula when there is no breastmilk to give. My pump is my new boyfriend (AGAIN.)

I will try not to stress out. I will NOT feel guilty. I have done everything I can do.

I will just enjoy the quiet moments she DOES let me nurse her. And be thankful that my baby is happy and healthy and has the best chubby cheeks ever.



  1. Cara @ This Is Where I Come Up With Something Witty

    January 20, 2011 8:13 am

    You are doing a GREAT job! I had similar experiences, minus the working out of the house… My babies were impatient and my supply dwindled…. even after trying all the tricks. there was thrashing, scratching, biting and general frustration from both of us. it wasn’t the best for either of us so I started to intro the bottle around 6 months for both my kids. I was faced with lots of expectations and goals that I just couldn’t meet. But in the end we did what worked best for us and I had to accept that. And Now I’m 100% ok with how it played out for us. You’ve done a GREAT job! You have to do what’s best for you!

  2. Megan

    January 20, 2011 8:45 am

    You are one of the mamas I look up to on this subject. You have the unique perspective of having a ff and bfing experience. Anyway, thanks for being there for support.

    If it makes you feel any better, I had a lot of wrestling matches with B during month 4 even without the slow let-down and bottle issue. He was a horrible nurser. I had to trick him into it. Month 4 was hard in a lot of ways. Month 6 is like a whole new baby over here.

    Keep up the good work. Sorry you are in a rough stretch. thank God for phases. <3

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:36 pm

      Good to hear that maybe a lot of it is the age. That’s kind of my hope, if we can get through these next few weeks, I mix in bottles where needed, and my supply holds up, maybe we’ll get back on track. She is SO BUSY lately- always moving and thrashing and yesterday rolling over and starting to laugh and giggle… I think her whole self is just going through a lot of changes so eating is like SO ANNOYING, MOM. heh

  3. the grumbles

    January 20, 2011 8:50 am

    she does have the sweetest chubby cheeks!

    i can sympathize with so much of your story. we were luckier on the straight-from-the-boob route but as far as pumping and daycare goes i really, really know what you mean. you just have to accept that you’re doing your best and it is what it is. oh how i would cry at my pump after a session where i didn’t get much! oh how i would worry about what he was going to eat the next day! it’s heartbreak. i hated that damned pump up until the day i put it down.

    but you’re also awesome and so strong. keep doing what works for you.

  4. kakaty

    January 20, 2011 9:13 am

    I don’t know if this helps but I went through the same struggling-to-keep-up thing at 4 months:
    And since then he has flat out refused any formula (we’ve tried them all). The only thing that seemed to help was triple doses of More Milk Plus (suggested by my LC) and 6-8 cups of Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Herbal Tea every day along with my 90 oz of water. I’m still doing this, 5 months later (I also spend 36% of my day in the bathroom!)

    At 9 months my pumping output has tanked – I pump 4x a day to get 12oz -15oz – thanks to the return of my period. BUT! I’ve managed to take the pressure off myself, which helps. And him eating solids has helped, too. I have a single emergency 4 oz frozen stash so I’ve got nothing to fall back on.

    Good for you for making it this far. Being a working/pumping mom is HARD. I feel like it’s a 1-year long marathon and I’m always struggling to catch my breath.

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:40 pm

      LOL had to laugh at the 36% of the day in the bathroom, OMG I KNOW. I drink a lot of water nomally, but lately I feel like I pee every five minutes.

      My period has returned this month too (TWICE IN THREE WEEKS. YAY.) so I think it has all just been a perfect storm of stuff causing issues. Going back to work, hormones, Audrey getting used to the bottle and deciding she doesn’t want to work for it anymore, etc. I’m just thankful that she won’t refuse formula, because that would just be insane. You have no choice then, gah! Hope you’re able to keep up with pumping!

  5. Jaime

    January 20, 2011 9:14 am

    I know exactly what you’re going through. I worked full-time with my 1st baby which meant I was pumping 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. Not fun. She loved the bottle and tolerated me. I guess the only way we got through it was that I never gave her a bottle. If I was around she just expected to be breastfed but I don’t know that is really even what did it. I hated the pump by the end – so much so that when I had my 2nd baby I was determined not to pump and was then left in several situations (like my oldest in the hospital) when I couldn’t leave my new baby. Not fun either! Anyway, all I’m really saying is good luck. I am more and more realizing that whatever you can do with breastfeeding is what’s best. Honestly, sometimes pumping just really sucks!! :)

  6. Sarah W.

    January 20, 2011 9:25 am

    You are doing and have done so great! I think it’s pretty awesome that you made it through those first months!

    I had similar problems with E. One of my pediatrician friends later told me how I could have avoided the problem. (wish I’d mentioned it to her earlier!). Switch the baby to a sippy cup as soon as possible. Then the satisfaction of sucking is gone, and they’ll start to prefer the breast again. But when they need to eat and you’re not around, the sippy cup is there and they’ll take what they need.

    I’m not sure if Audrey is old enough for the sippy cup, but it might be worth trying.

    Hang in there, and just do what works for ya’ll! You are a supermom.

  7. Sunshine

    January 20, 2011 9:37 am

    I lasted 6 days with Isaac and 6 months with Sophia. I am still jealous of moms who say bfing is easy, and natural, and 100 other things that it really never was for me. Both times, I nursed until it was just too much. Screaming for hours on end because they didn’t want to bf anymore…yeah, that wasn’t working for anybody.

    A dear teacher I had in HS used to tell me that ‘guilt is a useless emotion.’ And I would remind myself of that in the sad moments..because the most important part is that I was feeding my babies and they were healthy and happy.

    This could apply to SO MANY parenting things, but I just had to do what works for me and my family and (try) to forget what everyone else is doing/thinking of doing/juding you for doing/etc.

    *HUGS* because I know it’s hard.

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:44 pm

      I’m jealous too. Especially because I got a few weeks’ taste of how it is when it works really well! It was great! But from what I’ve found, it is a rare case that it works perfectly for 12 months for anyone. Every baby is so unique and every mom/baby situation and relationship is different. Which is what makes it so FREAKING FUN, RIGHT? ;)

      I’m hanging in there, day at a time :) This morning (after TEN HOURS OF SLEEP, OMG) she nursed great and we had some good snuggles. Then after her morning nap, not so much. Bottle of preciously-pumped milk instead. *sigh* Which she drank peacefully and happily and then passed out. heh

  8. sparkyd

    January 20, 2011 9:56 am

    There is way to much pressure and guilt around this issue. Is it best to breast feed if you can? Sure. Do formula-fed kids (like the majority from my generation were) turn out happy, healthy, smart, and fine? Yup. I was one of the lucky ones with my two kids; I never had a problem breast feeding (well, that’s not entirely true, but basically it worked fine and I didn’t have big-time struggles) and I live in Canada so I never had to deal with the back-to-work-in-6-short-weeks issue. But I’ve watched friends struggle for different reasons and I’ve watched them go to extraordinary measures to keep breast feeding or to make sure their babes get at least some breast milk. And watching them I ask myself, would I go through all that if I had to? And I’m not so sure the answer is yes. Maybe I would, but I don’t know. So stressful for everyone. So many tears, so much guilt.

    And can I just say that I DESPISE pumping? My yougest refused to take a bottle so I stopped pumping after 2 or 3 months since I was torturing myself for no reason. Hate. It.

    You are doing awesome. Just do what you need to do to keep everybody sane. It’s all good.

  9. Melissa

    January 20, 2011 10:42 am

    I lasted 6 weeks with Oliver and 3 weeks with Andrew. Physically, I had super supply and fast let-down, but both were rough on me (especially Andrew with the screaming/wrestling/scratching/pull-off-and-on thing) and I constantly ended up bleeding and crying. Emotionally, I started to dread feeding times, and I know it was stressful for THEM, too. I’m not ashamed to say it was a RELIEF to quit.

    So truly, I am in awe of anyone who keeps at it, whether it’s easy or not. Seriously, you deserve a parade and a big trophy and a hyooooge margarita. :D Over FOUR MONTHS, girl!! Look at you go! Audrey is healthy and happy and you’ve done something for her that no one else could do (and few others would have survived, heh). Anything beyond this is just icing on the cake. :)

  10. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks

    January 20, 2011 12:14 pm

    One thing I have learned in my short time as a mother is you do what you can for your kids. Every parent-child relationship is different, so comparing to others just isn’t worth it. You are a fabulous mother to your girls, regardless of whether you’re successfully breastfeeding, not so successfully breastfeeding or bottle feeding. When they grow up, they won’t remember what feeding was like as a baby – only you will. So, do what you can. Follow your heart. And know you’re a great mom no matter what.

  11. Laura

    January 20, 2011 1:54 pm

    Yeah. So many of us have been there. For me, I was so determined that It Wasn’t A Problem That My Son Hated Nursing that he LOST WEIGHT as an infant. That’s when I knew I had to change to what worked for us, not what everybody else said.
    I pumped for 4 long months during which time Andrew was willing to nurse ONCE a day. The rest of the time, it was me and my milking machine, getting less than half of what he consumed.
    Just wanted to say, being honest is awesome with this stuff, and it IS helpful to others, but I know it’s also helpful to you. You are rockin it.

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:53 pm

      You know what’s really funny? Ill be honest here: a few months ago when I was lamenting how Audrey was nursing for like 30 or 45 minutes each time, and you mentioned that you had wished you’d had a baby like that, and that Andrew’s lack of wanting to nurse for longer than 5 minutes is why it didn’t work out so well for you, I thought you WERE CRAZY. ha! I WOULD LOVE THAT! I thought. But now. NOW I see what you mean. Because she’s just not eating enough, I don’t think. She gained weight, but it has definitely slowed down. And she wants to eat so often still, because she’s not getting totally full. If I give her a bottle (bmilk or formula) and can see what she’s getting? She seems to rest so much more peacefully.

      So you know- full disclosure on me thinking you were weird for feeling that way ;) LOL Now I totally get it. Damn stubborn babies!

      • Laura

        January 24, 2011 4:07 pm

        Well, the grass is ALWAYS greener. ;) I think I would have glued Andrew to my chest if it meant I didn’t have to see those awful low scale numbers and the ugly Failure to Thrive words looming in front of me. Terrifying. Maybe next time I’ll get the comfort nurser who takes forever, ha!

        • Jen

          January 24, 2011 4:13 pm

          That’s kind of what’s been going on in my head lately too- the dr isn’t concerned (yet) but she was gaining weight great the first 2 months (almost 2lbs a month!) then the last 8 weeks, only 1lb. And that’s when we started having issues. So it does worry me a little that we’re headed down a non-gaining-weight road, and that’s a scary place, I’m sure :/

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:54 pm

      also- I agree, honesty with this stuff is amazing. I find it comforting, and feel less alone. Less like I’m screaming into a black void of ZOMG WHAT IS GOING ONNNN?!?! ;)

  12. Amanda

    January 20, 2011 2:29 pm

    I felt like i was reading my life the past 5.5 months. We have had the same exact struggles as you, only Ty can’t eat formula because every time he throws up. I’m starting to worry because I can’t store any and he is back on a nursing strike and I’m not pumping enough. I pump 5 to 6 times a day. I’m just about over it.
    Do what feels right to you. I know nursing is said to be the best for the babe, but if it isn’t working than so be it. You did your best and for 4 long months. That’s better than nothing, right?!? I did start feeding Ty rice cereal at 5 months and just started solids last week at 5.5 months. He is hungry and mommy’s milk just isn’t cutting it. Good luck to you!

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:56 pm

      oh mama, I can’t imagine if she wouldn’t/couldn’t take formula as a substitute. It’s hard enough when you want to give your baby breastmilk but have trouble, but not having a fallback of formula? HUGS, my friend. I hope you get things figured out and he starts cooperating!!!

  13. Jilly

    January 20, 2011 3:59 pm

    My son did not want to be held, maybe he was picking up tension, I don’t know. My solution was to lay on the bed to feed him. It worked better each time we tried. I relaxed, lay on my side, and he was next to me. We gradually cuddled or I play with his hair, etc.

  14. Allura

    January 20, 2011 7:00 pm

    You are doing a great job! You know, the most important thing is to do what works for you and your family, and having stress or unhappiness over giving formula here and there just isn’t worth it. Breastfeeding is hard (and in my experience so is everything about having a baby), and as you know there are parts that are SO TOTALLY worth it and some that are SO NOT.

    We’re lucky we live in the time we do, it’s not a life or death situation if our bodies and our babies don’t always cooperate! Formula’s food too! The important thing is that you’re doing what works. Did I already say that? I’m a big fan of “do what works”.

    This post must have been hard to write. For that, I am so proud of you. And I’m proud of all of the breastfeeding — and not — that you’re doing. <3 Don't let The Judgey get you down! Your happy, healthy, rolling-over and thumb-sucking baby is proof that you're doing just fine. :)

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 12:58 pm

      You are so right- we are LUCKY to have options! Having formula saved our breastfeeding relationship in those early weeks, even (had trouble getting her to latch- super frantic!- & couldn’t pump anything, so I’d give her a few sucks from a bottle of formula to calm her so she’d latch) And yes, some parts of bfing are worth the effort, 100%. Other parts, meh. ;) heh

  15. Ashley Spain

    January 20, 2011 8:19 pm

    It’s the age. At 4 months they are just starting to notice the world around them and nursing my child was a battle for a few weeks then he was bored with the world and wanted the breast again.


    I’m sure you’ve tried the dark quiet room that’s super boring but if you haven’t give it a shot. Might help you.

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 1:00 pm

      That’s definitely part of it! She’s SO BUSY right now, noticing everything around her and rolling over, etc. And sometimes the quiet room does help. But sometimes not. She’s a butt. ha

      I’m hoping after a few weeks, she calms down and we’re able to make it through. One day at at time :)

  16. sharon

    January 20, 2011 8:46 pm

    It sounds like you’re an awesome Mom. I had a very similar experience with my son (now 15 months) with the slow let-down and a low milk supply issue. I tried everything as well, and nothing would help. I really forced myself to pump and give bottles until he was a year old, but now looking back on it… I don’t know why I drove myself so crazy. I know that I just wanted what was best for him, but I was sacrificing my sanity in the meantime. I breastfed until I got pregnant with my second and my oldest was 10 months old. Even though you hear that you can still breastfeed while you’re pregnant it just took so much out of me. I think breaking the nursing relationship is tough no matter when you do it. Just know that your baby will be just fine on formula and congratulate yourself for making it through and enjoying the nursing sessions that you have!

  17. Andrea

    January 20, 2011 11:14 pm

    Aahh, those stupid images that we have in our heads… They make us so disappointed when reality sets in. I’ve seen you first hand- you’re doing great! Just last as long as you can without driving yourself nuts! :) That’s all their is to it.

    My kids were complete opposites, B went on a nursing strike around 5.5months, and was weaned. I was disappointed that I didn’t try harder with her, but she was such a difficult nurser, I was exhausted with the whole thing and just gave up. Spenc went on a bottle strike at 6months, so it was ALL ME ALL THE TIME. That was rough- I couldn’t leave him for more than two hours. Finally when he was 10.5 months and I was confident in his sippy cup skillz, (he never did go back to the bottle) he was weaned and had formula for 1.5 moths before making the switch to whole milk. As bad as it sounds, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    When will we learn that expectations and babies just don’t mix!?!? :) But yeah, those cheeks are pretty awesome! :)

    • Jen

      January 21, 2011 1:02 pm

      I know. We set such high expectations for ourselves as moms. Like, I’m gonna have a kid who never talks back and a perfectly clean house and my kid will eat all of her vegetables and hahahahaha HAHAHAHA!!!!!

      And dude. Spencer. He better never give you any crap when he’s older for never letting you leave him! LOL

  18. Athena

    January 21, 2011 2:49 pm

    you are doing great. breastfeeding is soooo hard. i don’t think there is one mom out there who hasn’t wanted to quit at some point. completely sacrificing your body, time, energy, worry, time, energy, body, mind, time, and energy for one tiny, chubby, loud little person takes more than anyone can realize. i never could figure out the pumping thing. and none of my kids would take a bottle anyway. so it was me, only me, ever. there’s no right answer. only what works for you and your babies. and what you are doing is great! great job!!!!!

  19. Heather

    January 21, 2011 4:24 pm

    I never could pump either Jen, actually once Sofija was probably around 4-5 months old I put the pump away because I just couldn’t get anything out. But before I did, one thing that worked well for me, once she was sleeping through the night was waking up in the middle of the night to pump, it was the only time I could get anything out. But do know that even babies that take to BF “easier” do go through stages where they get a bit fussy or fight nursing, babies are just weird little creatures. Stick in there for a few weeks and hopefully things settle back to her wanting to nurse more but if not, you’ve still done an awesome job and should be so proud of yourself

  20. ScrumpyDaddy (Dave)

    January 22, 2011 8:58 pm

    She’s beautiful, Jen. You’re doing a great job. :-)

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