Hayley's Story

Hayley's Story

I cannot thank Hayley enough for her bravery to share.

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When I became pregnant with my rainbow baby, I knew I would breastfeed. I was breastfed, and as an RN I was well aware of all the benefits to mom and baby. I looked forward to the sleepless nights cuddling a sweaty little piglet milk monster and didn’t even dread the every two hour schedule or the thought of a toddler pulling up my shirt in public to nurse. I was all in. 

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When my daughter was born, she latched right away and I couldn’t have been more happy. Two days later when she stopped making wet diapers and lost more weight than is considered acceptable, I knew something was wrong. Her pediatrician suggested that I start pumping but continue to latch her so when she was older and “less sleepy” she would continue to nurse. So, I went down the LOUSY pumping mama road very begrudgingly and with tears—I literally had one bottle in my house and it wasn’t because I purchased it. I remember walking into Target a big sweaty, teary hormone ball to buy bottles and walking past the shoes wondering if my baby would ever be old enough to wear them—or was I going to kill her with my pride of wanting to just nurse her? Essentially, I was feeling major mom guilt and had convinced myself I had been starving my baby for two days. 

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So, for weeks I sat down with my pump every two hours around the clock to pump for thirty minutes. I continued to make her  latch, but I know now that she wasn’t able to effectively transfer milk. At around six weeks I decided that I’d had enough and that we were going to do away with bottles and just nurse. It was that evening that I finally realized that my sweet girl had tongue and lip ties. The mom guilt set in AGAIN. I had spent another day essentially starving my child because her anatomy didn’t allow the effective transfer of milk and I had trusted all the MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS who missed these problems that had been detrimental to our nursing relationship.

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We skipped right over our pediatrician and scheduled an appointment with a pediatric oral surgeon for laser repairs. It was pretty heartbreaking and scary—more mom guilt, but we were hopeful. After weeks of stretches and suck exercises we still didn’t have the improvement we had hoped for. I was still very much attached to my pump and she was more and more associating bottles with meals and mommy with snacks and comfort. 

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We saw several lactation consultants to try to ween off of bottles with weight monitoring, dealt with supply issues, bad habits, nipple confusion, overactive letdown, allergies (I could cry thinking about cheese pizza) crippling postpartum depression and anxiety, and days when I believed she would never be willing to nurse again. My daughter is now almost eight months old and somehow the persistence has paid off. I’m still pumping more often than I’d like (to protect my supply),and I don’t believe she could survive on nursing alone at this point. However, I see improvements every day. Recently, I’ve seen my daughter CHOOSE the breast. Cry for what we call “mommy time” at our house. Nurse to go down for naps and to bed. Nurse long enough and well enough that I sometimes feel safe not pumping. 

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Unfortunately, I don’t know if our nursing relationship will ever be without a pump and bottles, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up when I felt so DONE. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the (well-meaning) advice to “just go ahead and switch to formula—you’ll have so much more time and she’ll be more satisfied”. I would never knock any mama’s “doing my best for my baby”, but I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to give my daughter breastmilk her whole life—even if it’s mostly been in a bottle. I’m hopeful that eventually I can pack away the pump and just use the boobs God gave me to feed my baby with, but until then I’m happy sitting down and doing what I need to do to feed my girl and soaking up every snuggly minute I get to nurse her. 

Breast is Best VS Fed is Best

Breast is Best VS Fed is Best