My boobs are assholes

My husband and I were joking this morning that my ovaries used to be the assholes (and I’m sure they still are I just don’t need them at this very moment) and now that assholery has transitioned up to my boobs.  So, without further delay, here is the story of what is going on with the upper half of my body.

When AV was born we thought everything was going well, saw a lactation consultant at the hospital, they said that it looked like she was latching and feeding, but since I only had colostrum we couldn’t tell if she was fully eating.  When we got home I fed on demand (pretty much all the time) and based on what I know it seemed to be going just fine.  Then we went to her 2 week pediatrician appointment and they noticed that she wasn’t gaining weight like she should and suggested adding some formula (which I was totally fine with, I just wanted her to be healthy), thinking that it was just because my milk came in a few days late.  So we started adding a bottle of formula a day and she was a much, much happier baby, and I continued breast feeding.

Then we had a lactation consultant come to the house and it all basically went to hell.  From what the LC saw she was not actually able to get my entire nipple in her mouth (apparently I have huge nipples, which I didn’t even realize could be a thing since my boobs are pretty small at a 32B prior to pregnancy, another fun fact I didn’t know could happen), so she wasn’t really getting much food.  And even worse, my supply had likely been going down since my milk came in.  So she suggested stopping breast feeding for a week or two and moving to exclusive pumping every 3 hours to try and get my supply up.  So I became a pumping fiend, along with taking mothers milk supplements, oatmeal and drinking a shitload of water.  And it started to help a little bit, getting us to where I could drop the formula bottle, but still only making just above what she eats in a day.

We tried breastfeeding again two weeks later with her getting a tiny bit more (the LC was there with her scale) but not enough to be without bottle or pumping, so I was basically trying to feed her and then pumping right after, basically meaning that was all I was doing all day, every day, which pretty much sucked, especially with the husband back at work.  And then I got thrush, luckily she didn’t get it since we weren’t doing a ton of breastfeeding but it meant that I was back to 100% pumping (thrush sucks ass by the way, it’s basically a yeast infection on your nipples, good times).  So for another 3 or 4 weeks I just pumped every 3-4 hours, night or day, and I got pretty good at hooking up quickly and multi-tasking, I can completely get ready while pumping except for clothing, as well as clean the entire kitchen while hooked to the damn thing.  And then we went on vacation and since I had the hubs 24 hours a day to help I decided to try the breast feeding thing again since I now knew what I was looking for at least to see if she was getting enough milk to actually swallow instead of just munch/sip.  And during vacation she seemed to be getting a little bit better, but she still wasn’t satisfied, after a boob session she would still need a bottle soon after to not be hungry.  At the same time I experimented with stretching out my middle of the night pumps to every 5-6 hours, giving me some much needed sleep and sanity, and it hasn’t effected my supply so the pumping got a tiny bit easier.

And now we are back home and at the fun continues…  As I was about to call the lactation consultant for some advice on my options I noticed that I was bleeding from the left boob while pumping on Sunday night.  Googled and figured out that it wasn’t harmful for her to drink the milk but that it could be a sign of a cracked nipple.  Then in the middle of the night my left boob was rock hard and in pain radiating out to my arm.  So I pumped after bottle feeding her and the pain increased into the morning and I could feel a huge lump under my nipple.  Called the dr and they said that I likely had a clogged duct but it could quickly lead to mastitis so I needed to basically stay in bed, take ibuprofen and pump every 2 hours until the lump was gone.  So I’ve spent the last 48 doing that, let me tell you how easy it is to take care of an infant while strapped to the pump pretty much all day and night, and just when my pumping schedule had gotten easier I had to return to this hellish schedule.  I finally put her on the left boob this afternoon and that plus another pump session has finally cleared the lump.  I was happy that she seemed to be getting something and I thought maybe we were making progress but when I put her to the breast later today she barely ate and then was starving for her bottle 5 minutes later.

So basically we are at a crossroads and I don’t know what the fuck to do.  I have exactly 1 month of leave left until I go back to work.  I would love to be able to breastfeed the majority of the time and pump just in the middle of the night but I don’t see it happening without a huge amount of additional effort – more expensive LC consultants, pumping and feeding at the same time so I don’t screw up my hard won supply, and I don’t know that it’s worth it to screw with it if it ends up that she doesn’t get enough food and I lose my supply and can’t even return to pumping to feed her.  Sure I HATE the pump, especially when I am pumping while she is laying next to me and I’m trying to entertain her and pump at the same time and I can’t even pick her up and snuggle her.  I am going fucking office space on this thing once I am done (which is also a dream of others, perhaps we should do a youtube compilation) but ultimately what I want most is to be able to spend time with my daughter and enjoy her instead of obsessing over the feeding.  She is eating breastmilk even though the way I am getting it for her is crappy for me, she seems totally fine with the bottles.  And the pumping does have his benefits, anyone can feed her which allows my husband to put her to bed and do the night shift every night and all night on weekends so I can sleep in between pumps.

So that’s where I am as of today, any advice from those of you that have transitioned from 100% pump to boob without losing your supply or mind is much appreciated.

*And again, no judgement on any type of feeding, exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, formula or some mix, this is just my experience and what matter is that my girl is eating and healthy, although it would be awesome to have this be a little easier on me and my shit for boobs.


29 thoughts on “My boobs are assholes

  1. I am also in breastfeeding/pumping hell. It really sucks. I have twins they will be 4 months next week and I think I may stop to save the little bit of sanity I have left…. I get clogged ducts at least once/week. I was crying about this for the umpteenth time yesterday and my hubby had to remind me that there was so much that went our way (getting pregnant and having healthy twins ) and not every aspect can be perfect….

    • You deserve a medal for making it to 4 months with twins! And clogged ducts once a week, holy hell, I have only had the one clog and it was excruciating, I cannot imagine going through that every week. I think we all need to keep telling each other and ourselves that healthy baby or babies is the goal, and quitting to save your sanity will only help that goal (but I know the inner dialogue that I have with myself on this one). Best of luck and enjoy those babies!

  2. I went through much the same thing. My twin girls were in the NICU and so I had to pump right from the get go because they were too small to breastfeed. So I feel your pain – there is nothing more frustrating than having to pump ALL the time. Unfortunately I don’t have any advice for transitioning to breastfeeding full time. My girls would Bf and then require a bottle right after even if it felt like they got lots of milk and then one day ( at about 5 months) both just started to refuse the boob altogether. So starting at about 5.5 months old they were strictly bottle fed. And now at 7 months I am done with pumping. If they were breastfeeding I would have gone longer, but I just can’t take pumping anymore.

    But I wish you luck! In the end all that matters is that she is healthy and that you are too – however that works out. There is so much pressure on Moms these days when it comes to how we feed our babies, but there just isn’t one method that is right for everyone. And because of the mental aspect to breastfeeding the more pressure you put on yourself the less milk supply you will have and it’s a vicious cycle. Be easy on yourself and know that however you end up doing things is exactly what is best for your family!

    Ps – I am super impressed you can do chores while pumping! I could never do anything but sit and pump. Kudos 🙂

    • Thank you. And the fact that you made it 7 months of pumping hell, with TWINS, is so freaking impressive. My goal is 6 months, not sure I will make it but I’m trying to be easy on myself and weigh my sanity along with her health.

  3. Have you tried weighing her before and after a feeding to see what she’s getting? It’s possible she is getting enough from you but still wanting that rubber nipple that she’s used to, but I wouldn’t want to say that for sure before finding out how much she’s getting. We used a nipple shield to make the transition and it was worth it, but I would only do that under the guidance of an LC. Charlie is 100% breast fed now though, she only gets pumped milk if we’re going somewhere I don’t want to feed in public.

    • I ended up going to the lactation consultant over the weekend, she weighed her and she is getting only about 2 oz after feeding both sides, so not a ton. I’m going to try and breastfeed her once a day and see how that goes so I can at least get one pumping session down and go from there. Thanks for the advice, and Charlie is so freaking cute it kills me, those eyes, that hair!!

  4. I know three or four exclusive pumping mamas and let me tell you, I am in AWE. I fed and pumped for a while to get my supply up and IT WAS HELL. I hated it. I pumped a few times this past month when my supply dipped again and YUP still awful. I’m hoping the goat’s rue and cookies are doing their job, though. I think I have more milk.. I hope.

    • I saw your post on the supply issues (I think I commented but I may have just dreamed that, who knows). The pump does fucking suck big time but after going to the LC this weekend I don’t have a ton more options so I am getting resigned to it with the goal of just making 6 months. I haven’t tried the goat’s rue, where do you get it? And let me know if you have a good cookie recipe!

      • Do you have PCOS? Goat’s rue works best for people who do. I just get it off Amazon. I think it’s working somewhat but I don’t know! We’ll find out next week. I’ve tried a couple recipes, they’re basically just chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with flaxseed and brewer’s yeast. You drink beer so you probably won’t find them unpleasant but I have to add white chocolate chips and peanut butter to mask the bitterness. They’re edible after that!! Good luck hon. It’s hard work.

      • Ah, I don’t have PCOS so maybe that’s why I wasn’t aware of the Goats Rue, I just have shit for eggs. I will try the cookies!

  5. Oh lovely, that does sound hard. You should already be proud that despite all the difficulties your baby girl is doing well and you managed to feed her.
    Also, chores while pumping? Who are you? Wonderwoman?? Kudos!!
    Sorry but I cant help with transitioning to more boob feeding or with deciding what to do. But I can sympathize on the clogged boob. I had a mastitis and it hurt like hell, besides the high fever and being left with no energy.
    Hope you manage to find a solution that works for the whole family.
    Bug hug. xx

    • Been meaning to email you back forever, I just don’t know where the time goes! Mastitis, ugh, luckily I didn’t get it with the clogged duct but it sounds just awful. And the chores while pumping involves lots of coordination and multiple extension chords but at least it makes me feel somewhat productive. How are you guys and that adorable baby? I want more pictures! I’ll email you some of AV as well.

  6. Like you, I struggled to get my milk to come in adequately, struggled with clogged ducts, and struggled with a baby that hated breastfeeding. I gave breastfeeding my all – rented hospital grade pumps, ate and drank all the right things, and took all the domperidone I could get my hands on. In the end my milk dried up at 4 months anyway and since then my son has been happily on formula.
    Looking back, I do regret having made myself so nuts obsessing over making myself into a milking machine. I wish I had given up much earlier on and focused on just spending precious time with my baby. Sometimes doing what’s best for baby isn’t easy to figure out. For us it was formula. I wish you the best of luck wherever your journey takes you.

    • Thanks you, it’s so helpful to hear advice from those that have gone through it and are now on the other side. After seeing the LC this weekend I am going to continue to pump and try to do one breastfeeding session and just take it week by week and see how it goes. Your advice is helpful in that weekly checkin I need to weigh my angst over pumping vs spending quality time with the babe and go with whatever keeps her happy and allows me to do that.

  7. I think you’ve gone above and beyond. I don’t have any advice on transitioning from pump to BF–for me ebf was enough but when I went back to work despite pumping 3x a day my supply just gradually went down to the point where I was getting only about 2oz combined a day. We supplemented with formula and I was fine. I did this with 2 kids. Both times they were just about sleeping thru the nite when I went back to work so I wasn’t willing to stay up all nite pumping etc. to try to keep my supply up. I think it’s more important for babies to have healthy (including mental) moms and happy full tummies than to worry about ebf, just my two cents.

    • Thank you, this is super helpful. I go back to work in a little under a month so we’ll see what happens then, and she has started to sleep through the night as well so totally agree about happy full tummies and well rested babies 🙂

  8. Ps I also had clogged ducts and it sucked. I found these gel pad thingies that you can heat up and put in your bra–at Target, I think Medela?–and that helped somewhat.

  9. Oh, I feel you. I thought poor supply would be the only potential issue with BF, but I was wrong! My daughter had a good latch, but she got pissed off at my oversupply/overactive let down at around 8 weeks and would mostly just scream at my boobs. It took two months to get her back to breastfeeding. So months 2-4 were almost exclusively bottle feeding, with an attempt to get her to latch daily. Once I got her back to the breast, things went well (except then she started refusing a bottle, because OF COURSE SHE DID). What saved us is that she did have a good latch, she was just pissed at the fast flow. Now she loves the fast flow, so it’s ok.

    Working with an LC (maybe try a couple, to make sure you are getting the best advice) is helpful. But also be as gracious to yourself as possible if you need to keep pumping. I was able to get enough milk by pumping every 4 hours or so. Space pumping sessions to save your sanity, and if you have to supplement, so be it.

    • Thank you, I’ve started stretching out the night pumping to around 6 hours and that has helped (and not seemed to hurt supply yet) and saw an LC over the weekend who at least was able to give me the clarity that I needed on our options. Hopefully will post that story if she naps today 🙂

  10. Totally agree with rebeccarich, though I actually would question whether to keep pumping at all. I had to go back to work at 7 weeks and although I was EBF, I had to struggle with marathon feeding/crying sessions and although I had an LC smugly tell me that the baby must be fine because he was gaining weight, having to do battle 6x a day and the imminence of my return to work convinced me I needed a fail-safe routine. So I pumped 6x/day and just kept the morning BFing session, frankly more for my own sanity than anything else. In retrospect, I would strongly encourage you to just switch to formula. I EP’d for 13 months and am not sure it was worth it. I pumped in moving cars, in disgusting gas station bathrooms, on Amtrak, on planes, in taxi back seats, you name it. I even pumped during two job interviews. (I am awed, though, that you can clean and get dressed while pumping — I never could manage that!!) So it can be done over a long period of time but the question is — why? For me, pumping crowded out everything else, even actually spending time with my son (ironically enough). Formula is absolutely fine and you have gotten through the most important stage already. Do whatever is right for you and your family and don’t feel guilty!!

    • 7 weeks, wow, I cannot imagine how you survived that. Our first LC was super smug and wanted to blame everything on a non-existent tongue tie. Thank you for reminding me that it’s spending time with my baby that is important, I’m going to try the morning BFing session (per a consultant with a different LC) and then pump as much as I can until I go back to work next month. And then I will reassess if the pumping is working with our lives and schedule, and definitely keep your words in mind to make sure that the quality of life is worth it.

  11. Oh no, breastfeeding can be such a freaking challenge. It is so hard to pump and deal with the worry and I completely agree, everyone must decide what works best for them. Z and I saw around a dozen lactation and cranial sacral therapists in town until around 4.5 months. The best person we saw was actually a Occupational Therapist, Judy Simmons and that would be my top recommendation for you in addition to trying the laid back position for nursing There was not any one magical thing that worked for us and even around 6 months I wondered if I had made the right decision. Now that I have survived it all and been breastfeeding pain free for longer than I was with pain, I am really am happy we endured.

    • Thank you! The LC that I saw at Swedish over the weekend also suggested cranial sacral therapy so your suggestion of the occupational therapist is super helpful. I also tried the laid back position the last two mornings and she seems to drink more that way. Great advice!

  12. Ugh, so sorry breastfeeding is difficult. Hats off to you for pumping and dealing with the other issues. I have no advice unfortunately but whether you breastfeed or not, the important part is that baby is fed so don’t beat yourself up about it.

    • Thanks, loved reading your day in the summer life for AJ the other day, it is so helpful to hear how other babies schedules and days unfold. Good luck with heading back to work!

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