Two weeks ago I shared with you the long version of my journey with Postpartum Depression. This week, I thought it’d be nice to share one of those specific challenges that ended in a feeling of victory for me. As scary as this road has been, I’ve been lucky to overcome each specific challenge. Sometimes I barely survive it, other times I triumph and do a victory dance holding my imaginary golden trophy up in the air for all to see.
One of the biggest contributors, in my mind, to my postpartum depression was not merely my difficulty with breastfeeding, but more so the way in which it was handled by those who were supposed to be my support system. Here we go…
There I was, sitting on the floor, crying my eyes out while feeding my baby his first bottle of expressed breastmilk.
I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I wanted to ecologically breastfeed. BOTTLES were not part of that plan.
I wanted to enjoy breastfeeding and revel in the convenience of breastfeeding.
But when your nipples are raw and you can’t feed your baby without literally screaming out in pain and crying through the feed, you start to give up.
I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be relentless. I was willing to sacrifice anything, including my comfort and sanity, to ensure Critter was fed with the best. Yet there I was, reluctantly feeding him with a bottle, terrified this would be a slippery slope that would lead to frequent bottle feedings, and eventually a damaged supply.
I saw my OB and was checked for yeast, mastitis, and any other breast issue that could be the culprit. I was fine. She said it must be a problem on the baby’s part. I already knew this.
I told the pediatrician about the pain, and asked about re-evaluating Critter’s tongue and lip ties…Doc’s response? He suggested I “take a break” by supplementing with formula. That was not an option for us. I wasn’t giving up that easily. Not yet. Not without knowing I did everything to avoid that.
I met with the lactation consultant. I asked her to re-evaluate the tongue and lip ties. She said that his latch looked good and she didn’t understand what the problem was, but it couldn’t be the tongue and lip ties…
I went to a La Leche League meeting and they reiterated the echoes in my soul that were telling me there was a problem. Nursing isn’t supposed to hurt. Not this bad anyway, and not this long. Keep pressing.
No matter how many times I asked for the tongue and lip tie to be addressed, I was told that his tongue tie was not bad enough to cause a problem, and that his lip tie would eventually tear on its own and that no doctor would perform a frenectomy. But what I was hearing was, “You’re an over concerned first time mom, stop pushing.” But of course the redhead in me wasn’t giving up that easily.
A Facebook friend invited me to an online breastfeeding support group page. I was told about a doctor in my home state (8 hours from where I currently live) who does this procedure all the time. He is an expert in his field, and everyone was advising me to see him.
After a night of tears, I made the appointment for that week, packed up and drove the 8 hours back home to see this doctor and thank GOD I did! This pediatric dentist examined Critter and found that he definitely needed revision of both the tongue and lip tie. He said this was definitely the reason I was having pain nursing and was appalled at all the other professionals who wouldn’t listen to me when I insisted this was the problem.
The same day as the exam, the doctor performed the procedure and Critter immediately started nursing better. His latch looked even better than it did before, it felt better, and we were both happy. I learned that there is no such thing as a “minor” tongue tie. I was told that had we not had the frenectomies, the frenulums could have caused problems with speech, or his teeth in the future. Also, we most likely would not have lasted much longer nursing. He couldn’t even drink out of a bottle properly, so that too would have eventually become a problem.
I also learned that pediatricians are not well versed on matters of oral structure, and if you ever have a nagging concern on anything that your pediatrician brushes off, it’s okay and smart to follow up with a specialist in the field.
I cried tears of joy. I was so proud of myself for taking charge of my son’s healthcare. I was so proud of myself for not just accepting what I was told by someone who calls himself a professional. I was so proud of myself for making this long road trip (with my mom’s help!) with a newborn after starting to doubt myself. I was proud of myself for doing what my heart told me to do. I was proud of myself for following my intuition.
If I hadn’t followed my mother’s intuition I would have given up. Critter would not still be nursing today. Maybe I’d be exclusively pumping, or maybe I’d be throwing away hundreds of dollars a month on formula. I’d definitely be heartbroken that our beautiful nursing relationship ended so early.
Here we are, Critter is almost 3 months old and our nursing relationship is going strong. This was one of the largest nursing challenges we faced thus far, and I am so proud that we overcame it. I know there will be more challenges in the future, but I also know that I have the heart of a lion and the love of a mama bear, and that we can look any challenge in the face and overcome it. Moreover, I know that I need to trust what my heart tells me because Mama really does know best.
With a little bit of education, a lot of support, and tons of trust in yourself, Mama, you too can overcome any challenge motherhood brings you.
Have you ever been in a situation where your gut feeling disagreed with everyone around you? Leave a comment below to share with us your experiences with mother’s intuition.
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Latest posts by Jaimie Zaki (see all)
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