Monthly Archives: May 2012

Guest Post: When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work Out

I had a pretty difficult time breastfeeding, which I talked about here. My friend Shannon also had a less-than-ideal breastfeeding experience with her first child, but she had to deal with a grief and a guilt that I never experienced. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for Shannon and her son, and she agonized over it for months. But time gives us perspective, and Shannon has been kind enough to share her story in the hopes that it will help other new moms who might be struggling with breastfeeding.

© Jerry Bunkers

Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural bonding experience between a mother and child.   I went into childbirth with no doubt that I was going to breastfeed my son. After all, there is so much research supporting breastfeeding and its positive lifelong effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”   Because of this research, I was determined.   No matter what, I was going to breastfeed my newborn son.

Like many things in life, what I expected did not happen. Not even close. The agony started in the hospital.  My son, Finn, would not latch, and lactation came in to help us with every feeding.  Finally, the head lactation specialist said, “Well, I don’t usually recommend this, but I guess you are going to have to supplement with formula.” The first pang of guilt coursed through me.  Am I doing something wrong? Will my baby be okay even though I gave him formula?  These thoughts raced through my mind.  Lactation continued to visit and, because I work in the hospital, I knew that we were the lost case of the weekend.  My son was the only full term baby in the Newborn Nursery who would not latch and needed 24/7 help with breastfeeding.

I was given discharge instructions to have Finn attempt to breastfeed while my husband simultaneously squirted formula through a syringe in the side of his mouth.  This was an agonizing experience for both my son and I, and it was clear that it was not working.  In tears, I looked to my discharge instructions from Lactation.  The bottom line of the sheet said, “No matter what, do not give in and give a bottle!” What was I going to do? I felt so helpless and scared.  I knew my baby needed to eat, but I felt so inadequate giving him a bottle because I felt like my chance at breastfeeding would be blown forever.  After a few breakdowns, I finally gave in.  Finn took the bottle and was so happy. He was finally able to latch easily and enjoy a feeding.  I began to relax slightly. My restless newborn was actually happy.

Fast forward another month.  At this point, I had given up on breastfeeding completely after consulting with Lactation several times with no success. I was pumping and giving breast milk via bottle.  I felt pretty good about this, because hey, even though I was not breastfeeding, at least Finn was getting my breast milk.  Well all of a sudden, at month two, Finn began to break out in a terrible rash around his mouth and neck and refused to take a bottle.  After several appointments with specialists and frantic phone calls to our pediatrician, we realized that Finn was allergic to both milk and soy and could not tolerate breast milk.

Finn was started on Nutramigen, a hypoallergenic formula that is dairy and soy free.  My son’s temperament changed completely in 24 hours.  My fussy baby that screamed for 8 hours a day was now a happy child.  On one hand, I was so relieved.  However, I also felt so lost because that meant I could no longer offer breast milk. I continued to pump and save my milk, hoping that maybe one day Finn could use it.  After two more weeks of pumping, I finally stopped.  My terrible, agonizing journey of breastfeeding was over, but my feelings of inadequacy continued, especially with probing questions about nursing.

After this experience, I have realized that most people ask about breastfeeding after you have a newborn.  Let me tell you, for a mom who is having difficulty with breastfeeding, this is not a welcome question.  I felt like I had to justify putting Finn on Nutramigen for several months after I stopped nursing.  So many people asked why he was on formula and gave me a strange look when I said that I was not breastfeeding. I felt like I had to go into the long-winded explanation that I just described as to why I couldn’t nurse.

I know that, for many mothers, breastfeeding is the clear choice.  However, this does not mean it is right or even possible for everyone.   New mothers are extremely vulnerable, and the judgment that some people pass about breastfeeding can be enough to put a new mother over the edge.  A new study in the August  2011 edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that women who struggle to breastfeed in the first two weeks after giving birth are more prone to postpartum depression.  My experience supports this study.  I am usually such a happy person and was not myself through this feeding struggle.

If a mother is not breastfeeding, it could be for a variety of reasons.  People need to respect that and not pry so much into other people’s lives and experiences.  When a woman has a newborn, people need to be focused on the miracle of life.  As long as the baby is healthy and thriving, who cares if they are getting breast milk or formula? If the baby is healthy and happy, that is all you can ask for as a new parent.

Will I breastfeed my next child? I certainly am going to try.  However, if it does not work out, there is no way I am going to go through that grief, agony, and guilt again.  I am going to focus on enjoying my newborn.  Having a newborn is one of the most amazing experiences, and there is no way that I am going to let breastfeeding get in the way of this incredible miracle.


The New “Shops” at Target

I went to Target yesterday for the first time in a while and was surprised to see that they have adopted “shops” much in the way the new JCP has done. It must be the latest thing in retail. Target’s shops include The Webster (Miami), Privet House (Connecticut), Cos Bar (Aspen), Polka Dog Bakery (Boston), and The Candy Store (San Francisco).

The Candy Store’s collection of gourmet and nostalgic candy would make a cute and quick hostess gift for all those summer barbecues, and some of the Cos Bar nail polishes are bright and trendy but a little out there for me.

The real stars of the shops are Privet House and The Webster. The kitchen and housewares from Privet House are great. A few of my favorite pieces:

Warren Orchards Black Fig & Honey Candle, $15.99

Open Storage Box, $34.99

White Embossed Pitcher, $24.99

White Round Basket, $34.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Webster shop features men’s, women’s, and girls’ clothing, as well as shoes and accessories. I scored this great sheath dress, which doesn’t look like much on the hanger, but it fits really nicely:

Sheath Dress, $39.9

A few of my other Webster favorites:

Infant Girls' Swim Suit, $14.99

Dress, $42.99

Men's Button Up Shirt, $29.99

Cap Toe Flat, $29.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prices are a tad higher than you usually see at Target, but they are on par with some of the other designer partnerships Target has done in the past. In any case, it’s nice to see a little something different for a change!


Freshen Up Your Living Room With Pillow Covers

I love swapping out throw pillows as an easy way to freshen up a room and give your couch a mini-makeover. But who has room to store multiple sets of throw pillows? To solve this  issue, I use pillow covers. For the past couple of years, I’ve been going back and forth between three sets, all from Pottery Barn: white with a cobalt blue shell print, brown with a light blue stripe, and silver (not crazy silver, but cute for the holidays).

I recently decided that my living room is in desperate need of a happy pop of color. Unfortunately, nothing at PB fit the look I had in mind, so I turned to Etsy. Why have I not thought to look here for pillow covers before?! Not only did I find a mind-blowing selection, but the prices are, on average, HALF of what I was paying at Pottery Barn.

My living room is painted a very pale blue with white trim, the couch is taupe and our furniture is dark wood, so I thought something in the red/orange family would be a great contrast. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following. Let me know what you think! And if anyone has ordered pillow covers from Etsy before and can recommend a particularly good shop, please let me know that too!

Thread Pairs, 2 for $22

Posh Street Pillows, 2 for $36

Fabric Junkie, 2 for $30

Elemenopillows, $18

Larksong Creations, $19

Sew Gracious, 2 for $30


Chicken, Apple, and Havarti Roll-ups

Not feeling the usual stuff I had in the frig for lunch the other day, I got a whiff of inspiration and threw these little roll-ups together. Because I used frozen grilled chicken strips that I microwaved for 90 seconds, it was super fast. Just warm your tortilla and spread on some honey mustard (or you can improvise like I did and mix together Dijon mustard and strawberry preserves—don’t knock it, it was delicious). Add some harvarti cheese, chicken and some thin apple slices, roll it up and you’re in business! To make this snack kid-friendly, just cut each roll-up into quarters and serve.


How Does Your Garden Grow? With Little Baby Watering Cans!

Olivia has taken to following me around the deck and “helping” me water all of our potted herbs. So when I saw this little hippo watering can at Target (in the Dollar Spot no less!), I couldn’t pass it up. She carried it all around the store, shouting “Hiippp-O!” They also have a yellow ducky one. She’s just so adorable walking from plant to plant, it doesn’t even matter that most of the water ends up on the deck rather than in the pot!