‘My baby was STARVING. I felt like a failure.’: Mom shares breastfeeding struggles, urges ‘fed is best’

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“Almost 7.5 years ago, I attempted to nurse a sweet baby boy. I was exhausted after being in labor for 29 hours only to have an emergency Cesarean surgery.

He lay on my chest. I tried to nurse him as my eyes closed and I felt weaker by the minute. We did a mix of nursing and formula because I was overwhelmingly fatigued and something didn’t feel right.

The following day, a hematologist took blood samples. My hemoglobin dropped to 7.

It’s supposed to be 12.

I consented to have a blood transfusion. I felt much better the next day, but my milk was taking a really long time to come in. When it did, I barely got half of an ounce after pumping.

I took the breastfeeding class.

I talked to a lactation consultant.

After 3 weeks of awful baby blues on the verge of postpartum depression, I decided it was time to transition to all formula.

My baby was STARVING. He drank double what I would pump for him. My milk supply was low.

I felt guilty.

I felt like a failure.

Eventually, I learned formula was created to SAVE lives.

It did.

It saved my son’s and mine. We both thrived after I decided it wasn’t the journey for us.

Because ‘fed IS best.’

Fast forward to 5 years later, when another sweet baby boy was placed on my chest, I was determined to at least try a little harder this time.

My plans have a funny way of changing into what they are supposed to be, I suppose.

My second sweet boy came out a bit too early and developed a nasty infection as I had an extremely rough emergency Cesarean surgery once again.

This time I had preeclampsia…my blood pressure was through the roof, and my son’s heart rate was irregular.

After birth, my son spent a little time with me, as I was determined to get my large breasts and nipples into the tiniest mouth I had ever seen. My son was only 5lbs, 3oz at birth.

He went to the NICU for a little while, came back, and then ended up in the NICU for 12 days.

This time, through many, many, many tears and lots of pain, I woke every 3 hours and pumped. I pumped glorious amounts of liquid gold.

A row of breast milk containers lined up in a freezer
Courtesy of Holly Dignen

It was amazing!

Eventually, it wasn’t so bad.

I ended up needing 2 blood transfusions, but I kept pumping, drinking, and eating through it all.

I would visit my son in the NICU, pump in the pumping room, go home, and pump some more.

Eventually, he came off of his feeding tube, and he was able to nurse and take a bottle.

Our journey was tough.

He was tiny.

We lasted 5 months of nursing/pumping until I decided it was time he needed formula and my body needed a break.

This time, I didn’t feel the guilt of switching.

This time, I knew I did my best, and it was what was best for our family at that time.

My son being in the NICU was a true blessing in disguise.

I was able to pump my immune-boosting milk to help him thrive in his compromised state.

Then, I was able to make the guilt-free decision to switch my son to all formula.

Bottom line…

Breastfeeding can be awesome.

Breastfeeding can be awful.

Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone.

Breastfeeding is natural and shouldn’t be shamed, but formula shouldn’t be either.

Everyone has a feeding story…

when a baby is fed, that is all that matters.”

A mother holds her young son up in the air
Courtesy of Holly Dignen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Holly Dignen. You can follow her journey on Instagram and FacebookSubmit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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