Mary Anne Copeland wrote a post in a feeding group on Facebook and received a huge amount of appreciation for her words. Her story is one of repeated challenges, and we can only applaud her for her perseverance, dedication and passion. But, like many of us mothers, sometimes a challenge comes along that can’t be overcome and it’s heartbreaking. That’s until you start seeing the good after all the heartache…
“I shared my feeding story with the fed is best group but I wanted to share it here with you too! Remember your worth as a mother is not determined by breastfeeding. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need support.
When I was pregnant I knew I would exclusively breastfeed. My plan was at least two years as I wanted Amelia to have the best and breast is best, right? Although I thought formula is ok if that’s what you want to do, but nope not for my baby. Honestly, it never even crossed my mind that breastfeeding doesn’t work out for people and that maybe it wouldn’t work for me.
Fast forward a few months and I’m holding my precious newborn baby girl in my arms. We did skin to skin right away and she latched right on. It was perfect. The perfect start to our perfect breastfeeding journey… Then it got painful. I mean the type of pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
For the first 2 1/2 weeks I hated breastfeeding but thankfully I had the most amazing women cheering me on and a great lactation consultant. They told me it gets better and guess what, it did! Amelia and I got the hang of it and we were right back on track.
Week 3 came along and that’s when Amelia started getting sick; super gassy, a distended belly, constant vomit. My little baby was tiny and helpless, I was in panic. The doctors were nervous too…. they had never seen a belly like this. We got x-rays and testing. While waiting for the results I was told to go dairy-free, to get on this special formula and pump every 2 hours. So that’s what I did and boy, pumping every two hours while taking care of a newborn… That takes an hour and a half to pump a bottle, all while cutting out your favorite foods. That was awful especially when you couldn’t give your baby that milk. I couldn’t keep up (exclusively pumping mamas you are super human). Results came back and we were not allergic to dairy but found that Amelia couldn’t digest carbohydrates. It was likely she would never be able to digest breastmilk and we were referred up to children’s pediatric gi. We were thankful that those results were moderate but then discovered Amelia was indeed highly allergic to dairy protein and we needed to be on elecare or a dairy-free breastmilk.
Ok, so back to breastmilk. No problem, I was dairy free and all, well wait… my supply had dropped. I didn’t make enough so time to start all the tricks to start producing more milk, right? It was easy. Teas, water, blessed thistle, brewers yeast, power pumping 3 times a day… except it didn’t work. I was combo feeding at this point and I was miserable. I couldn’t eat many things and I felt trapped. If I quit breastfeeding I was going to be a ‘failure’ so I pushed on. I pushed and pushed and pushed until 3 months. My daughter was always crying, not gaining weight and just 9 lbs at 3 months old. I was stressed to the max, constantly panicking, worried sick about breastfeeding. My husband sat me down, held my hand and said “it’s up to you, but I think it’s time we close this chapter”.
I cried and I cried. It felt like a death. I was a giant failure. I couldn’t make my baby thrive and grow, my body failed her. I held her and we ended breastfeeding that night. I continued to pump as much as I could and store as much milk as I could just in case she got over her allergy one day. I have over 1200oz saved up in that hope and if I don’t get to use it I will donate it. Unfortunately recently I completely lost my supply.
I have learnt a lot in these short 4 1/2 months as a mother. I learned things do not go as you envisioned. Giving up the dream of breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I have ever done as a person. The guilt, the shame, the fears are unbearable and I still get sad at times but since switching to formula exclusively I have a new baby. Amelia is happy, thriving and gaining weight; 11lbs 3oz at 4 months. She almost never cries is always smiling, meeting every milestone early.
When you see a mom breastfeeding in public, support her for feeding her baby in the best way. When you see a mom secluding herself from the group having to leave to pump, support her for feeding her baby in the best way. When you see the mom in the formula aisle, looking lost and nervous, support her because I promise you, she needs it and is feeding her baby in the best way.
#dontjudgejustfeed are pleased to share your story Mary Anne. It is sure to comfort anyone going through a similar experience and your closing statement is the most wonderful message for all mothers.
Please contact us if you wish to share your feeding journey. Speaking out is not only therapeutic, but it also helps to end unfair opinions, divisions and stigmas that exist in the world of infant feeding. Thanks again to Mary Anne.