My Breastfeeding Story

I haven’t known the best way to start this blog post. I nearly titled this blog post as “My Breastfeeding Story and How It Nearly Killed Me” but of course that sounded way too dark and negative. However, it is the truth. If you have been following my stories on Instagram for the last 2 months, you already know the hell I’ve endured and all because I was determined and eager to breastfeed baby bean. I’ve tried processing everything that has happened, but I’ve been having extreme difficulties in doing so. It has resulted in me sinking deeper into depression. Since writing is a cathartic and therapeutic outlet for me, I felt maybe writing my story and my feelings down would help me move forward. Just a warning: I won’t be holding back on details in this post. Consider this a trigger warning if you struggled with breastfeeding or depression.

As I mentioned in the post about baby bean’s birth, I began nursing her as soon as I was brought back to my room after my emergency C-section. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. That was something I was always adamant about before I even became pregnant. I had one breastfeeding class before baby bean’s birth, but after enduring a traumatic delivery, a lot of that information became fuzzy in my brain as I first placed baby bean on my breast. I didn’t notice any pain for our first time nursing, but I attribute that to the multiple heavy painkillers I was on at the time. I just remember the sensation of my baby nursing from me and the pure joy I felt in that moment. My baby was getting nourishment straight from my body – it was an incredible feeling.

I’ve always hated my breasts. I have always found them to be a nuisance. My body type is naturally slender, but my breasts were always on the larger side. I always felt uncomfortable with them. During my pageant days, many were convinced I had gotten a breast augmentation because they said there was no way my breasts could be real. But they were real, and I hated them. I was even considering a breast reduction, but then chose not to because I worried it would affect my ability to breastfeed if I ever had a baby. When I became pregnant, I joked to the beau that now my large breasts would finally have a true purpose.

For those first initial days after baby bean’s birth, I was obsessed with breastfeeding. I even texted my close friend Tami, who had just given birth the week before me, that I loved breastfeeding. After my colostrum finished, all the midwives commented on how my milk was coming in. “Great job, mama! Look at all that milk coming in!”, they said as they felt around my breasts to check my ducts. I felt on top of the world. My baby was peeing and pooping beautifully thanks to my colostrum, and now my milk was coming in beautifully, too. I was feeding my baby! This is exactly what I always wanted. I was so in love with breastfeeding that I found myself becoming sad every time her feeding sessions would be up, especially in the middle of the night. I was breastfeeding on demand, so the midwives would take baby bean to the nursery to allow me to get some sleep in between feeds until baby bean would cry for milk. Every time they took her away I’d feel sad. Then when they would return 3 hours later, I’d get so excited. Yes, I was excited about being awakened at 3 am because my baby wanted to eat from my breast.

I loved those quiet moments feeding baby bean. As soon as she would latch, she would make these adorable little breathy sounds as she swallowed. Sometimes her eyes would be open, and we would briefly make eye contact. Sometimes her little hand would rest on my breast. Sometimes she would start to fall asleep so I would gently stroke her little cheek. I loved having her little tummy against mine as she got her nourishment straight from my body. This was my dream come true. I was so happy.

Unfortunately, this bliss was temporary.

The day before I was to be discharged from the hospital and take baby bean home, I noticed my nipples were becoming uncomfortable. I called a midwife to ask her what she would suggest I do to soothe them. She mentioned I should order some silver cups since silver has been proven to heal sore nipples during breastfeeding, so I quickly ordered some that would be waiting for me when we got home. I was also told that my nipples would be sensitive in these first weeks as my breasts get used to and adjust to breastfeeding, so I tried to think nothing of it.

The next day, my nipples were really uncomfortable. Imagine a sore, scratchy throat but on your nipples. That’s the best way I could describe it. As I got dressed while getting ready to go home, I noticed it was extremely irritating to wear my nursing bra. The fabric against my nipples was quite bothersome. However, no one seemed concerned about it at all, simply saying it was common for nipple discomfort in the beginning. I began to wonder if everyone I saw on social media posting those “going home” photos was also suffering this nipple discomfort underneath because it certainly didn’t seem that way. But since no one was alarmed, I tried to ignore it.

Over the next few days, I would breastfeed baby bean on demand which averaged around every 2-3 hours. I refused to pump because I was told the first two weeks are crucial for my breasts to get to know baby bean and just how much she actually needs so they could regulate. Looking back, that was a mistake. However, I was eager for my breasts to regulate to know just how much to make for baby bean so I just had one more week to go before I could whip out a pump.

But pretty soon my nipple pain increased to the point where I went from being obsessed with breastfeeding to absolutely dreading each feed. It’s crazy to me how quickly it went from pure bliss to pure nightmare. As soon as I’d put baby bean on my breast to latch, I’d feel horrific pain. My screams in pain were louder than baby bean’s hunger cries. The pain became so bad that I found myself squeezing her poor little head. I know she could sense my stress because she kept unlatching and didn’t seem eager to eat from my breast. I felt so guilty and tried so hard to relax, breathe through the pain, and even ignore the pain just so she could eat peacefully. But then one night I screamed so loud and cried so hard as she fed that the beau said, “That’s it, we need a lactation consultant.”

My doula recommended a lactation consultant right away, and I desperately texted her on a Sunday. Sensing the urgency and desperation, she told me she would be at my house the next morning. She also told me to pump in the meantime until she could take a look at my breasts. My “wait 2 weeks” rule immediately went out the window and I whipped out my handheld manual pump for the first time since giving birth and proceeded to pump. It was still painful, but certainly not as painful as direct breastfeeding. I poured my freshly pumped milk into a bottle, and then watched the beau feed her.

My heart broke.

I didn’t understand why I felt so heartbroken watching him feed her. It was actually a beautiful moment between the two of them, despite baby bean’s initial confusion about getting her meal from a bottle and not directly from my breast. I guess I had assumed I would be the only one feeding her for the first few weeks… I wasn’t ready to let go of that just yet, and I found myself feeling guilty and evil for feeling that way. It was the first of many moments where I would experience this feeling.

The lactation consultant arrived the next morning, and I immediately felt relief as soon as she set foot in my home. She was my knight coming to save this damsel in distress. After some initial discussions about everything, she asked to see my breasts, especially my nipples. I will never forget her face as I unclipped my nursing bra and removed the silver cups. She was horrified. She didn’t even know what to say at first. My nipples looked like someone had taken a hacksaw to them. They were bloody. They were blistered all over. They were cracked. They looked chewed and gnawed on. These weren’t just your average irritated nipples from breastfeeding – these were severely damaged. One crack was so severe that it went down and around my nipple, and it was deep. Finally she said, “You cannot direct breastfeed for a while. You have to stop and just exclusively pump until these heal.” She suggested I see my general practitioner (GP) to get some APNO (All-Purpose-Nipple-Ointment) to soothe them and help them recover, which I ended up getting the following day and immediately began applying.

As the days went by, I was glad I was still able to give baby bean my breast milk even if she wasn’t directly latching onto my breast. I came to find exclusively pumping much more of a pain in the ass than breastfeeding on demand, since I needed to pump every 2-3 hours. Since my breasts were not getting direct readings off of baby bean and not knowing exactly how much she needed, they began to produce a ton of milk due to the exclusive pumping. The longest stretch of sleep I could get would be 90 minutes, because my incredibly full breasts would wake me up and alert me to pump. In 10 minutes, I could get 4 ounces out of one breast alone. This was my left breast, which I began to nickname “the workhorse” because of how much milk it could produce in one pumping session.

My breasts were still uncomfortable, as were my nipples. Every Thursday, we bring baby bean to a baby nurse at our doctor’s office for a casual check up and chit chat. We monitor her weekly growth and the nurse answers all of our questions, which we tend to have a lot of as new parents. She’s actually a godsend for us since we are not always quite sure what we are doing and she gives us peace of mind. I had informed her of my plight with my breasts, so one day she asked to see them. I showed her because I thought there was finally some progress. Instead, I was met with a face of concern. She asked if I felt under the weather, which I thought was a bizarre question to ask while looking at my breasts. I said no, and she said my breasts were looking a little red. She said if I began to feel unwell then I needed to return to the clinic ASAP because I would need antibiotics. I said I felt fine and we went home.

Later that evening, almost serendipitously, I began to feel sick. I took a Covid test first, which turned out to be negative. I thought it was exhaustion so I went to bed early. Within minutes, I began crying out for the beau who was still awake in the living room. Suddenly these body aches appeared out of nowhere. My entire body felt sore and achey in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. The beau, who had done some reading on my sudden symptoms earlier in the evening, simply sighed and said, “Shit. It’s mastitis.” I returned to the doctor’s office the next day and was prescribed antibiotics. The mastitis was in my right breast, with a massive wedge on the underside of my breast. I informed my lactation consultant, and she immediately came to my home and showed me gentle ways of massaging the wedge and other tricks to handle mastitis. After several days, the wedge disappeared but I developed thrush from the antibiotics, so my already painful, sore nipples were now itchy and having shooting pains. After being given some anti-fungal cream and medicine, I felt much better.

My nipples were still not healed enough, so I was still exclusively pumping for another week when I began to notice some discomfort in my left breast (my “workhorse”). I assumed it was just clogged ducts due to how much milk that breast could produce, so I took sunflower lecithin to try to help unclog them, I used ice packs after every pumping session, and I continued the gentle massages my lactation consultant showed me.

I was at the hair salon indulging in some much needed self care for the first time since baby bean was born when I noticed a small lump forming underneath my left breast, just outside the areola. I had to pump while I was waiting for the dye to settle on my roots, and that was the first time I felt pain while pumping. Now I was concerned, since this probably wasn’t a clogged duct. I texted my lactation consultant and she said she would come take a look later in the week, but in the meantime I was to return to my GP and see if I needed more antibiotics for another round of mastitis. My GP gave me more antibiotics and told me to start taking them if my symptoms didn’t improve. The next day, the lump was much smaller, the redness had died down, and the pain wasn’t as bad, so I did the dumbest thing ever – I didn’t take the antibiotics.

A few days later, the lump grew back again and it was bigger this time. My lactation consultant came by to take a look, and she was concerned it was an edema caused by one of my breast pumps (I had multiple types of pumps). I stopped using that one, but the lump didn’t go away. I texted images of the lump to her for a few days afterwards over the weekend, and she told me she was becoming increasingly concerned about it. It was time to go back to the GP on Monday.

But on Sunday, everything changed.

When I woke up on Sunday, my left breast was extremely uncomfortable. The pain had increased a bit, and it only grew stronger throughout the day. My left breast also became extremely sensitive, and suddenly it got to the point where no article of clothing could touch my breast without major discomfort. I sat on my couch with my breast just hanging out, staring at this ominous lump that was now red. I looked at the beau and said, “I think I need the hospital.” A close friend who lives a few doors down immediately came over to watch baby bean, since it was 9 pm at night. We assumed we would be at the hospital all night so I tried to pump to store some milk for overnight. Big mistake. The pain was horrific, so my friend suggested that baby bean have some formula.

That dreaded F word. Formula. There’s nothing wrong with formula. I was formula-fed. Most of my friends formula feed their babies. But that’s not what I wanted yet for my baby. We were only into 6 weeks of her life, and I was hoping to make it to at least 6 months with breastfeeding. After all, my milk was helping my baby bean grow into a very tall, adorable little chunk. Looking back, my GP, our baby nurse, and my lactation consultants were all hinting at the possibility of me needing to switch to formula for baby bean. And like the stubborn Aries I am, I ignored them all. I was so laser focused on breastfeeding that I wouldn’t even entertain the notion of weaning and switching to formula. Everyone else on social media had made breastfeeding look so easy, blissful, and the most natural, plus I had always heard “Breast is best” so I was sticking to it. I wanted to give my baby nourishment as well as give her antibodies against viruses (especially Covid), and I was looking forward to watching my milk change and practically become her medicine whenever she got sick. Baby bean had a small issue with conjunctivitis in her eye and after splashing a little breast milk on it, it healed. To me, my breast milk was liquid magic for my baby and I wasn’t ready to let go of that. It’s why I was putting myself through complete torture and hell. In hindsight, I want to slap myself.

The beau quickly ran to the store to grab the kind of formula our friend recommended (her own baby had grown up on it). We still had a couple bags of breast milk in the fridge, but to be safe we wanted to make sure she had something else since we’d be gone through the night. While he was at the store, my breast pain went from 7 out of 10 to 10 out of 10. I was hysterically crying as our friend arrived to watch baby bean, and she immediately called an ambulance. The beau arrived shortly after her, and the medics arrived shortly after that.

I howled in pain in the ambulance. I couldn’t stop my cries. I know I was incredibly loud but I didn’t care. I was whisked immediately into the emergency room, where I was given an IV of pain medication right away. Because I had a fever, they needed to administer a Covid test before doing anything else (don’t get me started on that topic). Eventually, they said I needed to be transferred to another hospital to their surgical ward. I was put on a stretcher and placed back in another ambulance as we were driven to another hospital a half an hour away. After waiting nearly 3 hours to be admitted, and after being given no other place to pump except the Covid ward (again, don’t get me started on that topic), I was finally brought to the surgical ward. At first they wouldn’t let the beau come with me, but I ended up having a massive panic attack so the nurses called him in to be with me (after labeling me as “crazy” and having a “mental breakdown”). I was placed on a hospital bed in an unlit hallway as we waited for a doctor to come take a look at my breast, but it was 3 am and the hospital was very busy.

A few hours later, the doctor came and brought me into a treatment room for evaluation. She performed an ultrasound on my breast and said sometimes these things go away on their own (what????). My sister-in-law is an emergency room doctor at a major hospital in Canada and after having spent the night texting with her, she suggested I get a needle aspiration. I had to ask this doctor to perform one, and she finally did. At first she didn’t seem to think it would help much, but after sticking the needle in my lump and draining it, her opinion changed. She pulled 10 mL of pus from my lump, so the aspiration was necessary. The lump disappeared, and the pain began to subside. I was discharged a few hours later and immediately ran to my baby at home. “The worst is over,” I thought.

Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.

24 hours later, my lump was back with a vengeance. I wasn’t in any massive pain at the time, but I noticed what looked like a small bruise developing on the lump. I immediately ran to my GP to show her and as soon as I lowered my bra so she could take a look, she exclaimed, “Alyssa! That’s an abscess! You need to go back to the hospital!” She suggested I go to a private hospital this time and not a public one, since the public system was currently under massive strain from our current Covid and flu surge, plus she didn’t like the attitude of the doctor I saw at the public hospital. She told me to expect to spend 2-3 nights at the hospital for observation. I immediately ran home and began to pack a small bag. My mother-in-law arrived to watch baby bean while the beau brought me to the hospital. I cried holding my baby, both because it hurt to hold her and also because I wasn’t ready to spend a few nights away from her. I kissed her head and promised to be back in a couple of days.

I wasn’t in any incredible pain during the initial drive to the hospital, but halfway through the ride the pain began to increase at an alarming rate. Pretty soon I was no longer able to tolerate clothing touching my left breast, and I was no longer able to bite my lip to hold back my cries of pain. Our poor taxi driver must have felt so stressed as I began to moan in the backseat.

As soon as we got to the hospital, I collapsed in pain on the lobby floor. Nurses came running over, and suddenly I could no longer contain myself. I began screaming. I was placed in a wheelchair and rushed to urgent care, desperately holding my left breast that now burned with a pain I have never felt before and never want to ever again. I had endured 4 days of labor without any pain medication and I never cried out in pain once, but this pain was EXTREME. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I didn’t care who heard me. The pain was unbearable. I kept screaming, “Someone help me!” and “Just cut it off! Just cut my breast off!” A doctor in urgent care looked at my breast and said, “We need to call the surgeon now.” I was given an injection in my derriere for the pain, which took the pain from a 20 out of 10 to an 8 out of 10. At this point, the 8 out of 10 allowed me to be able to speak whereas before I couldn’t say anything at all.

It wasn’t long before I was admitted and brought to my room. Luckily it was a private room since my breasts were going to be out for all to see for some time. The surgeon arrived to look at my breast, where he confirmed this was an abscess and that they needed to cut open my breast and drain it. It needed to be done in an operating theater and I needed to be placed under anesthesia. I kissed the beau goodbye, since he would not be allowed in the operating room and he needed to get home to take care of baby bean. I was then whisked to the operating room, a place I had just been 6 weeks before to give birth to my daughter. I don’t even remember being put to sleep.

The next day, I woke up to my left breast covered in dressings and a drain coming out of where the lump used to be. The surgeon came to speak to me, where he informed me that he removed over 100 mL of pus from my breast. He then showed me a photo that they took just before the surgery, and I dry heaved. My left breast looked like a boulder. It was hard as a rock, it looked pitted, it was lumpy, it was red, and it was misshapen. It didn’t look like a breast. Remember that small bruise I mentioned earlier? It wasn’t small anymore. It had grown much larger, turning a large spot on my breast into shades of red and deep purple. The skin around it was shiny and peeled. That large “bruise” was my abscess trying to burst through my skin. It was moments away from rupturing my breast.

The craziest part of all this was that despite sitting there with a darn drain coming out of my breast after an emergency surgery, I was STILL determined to keep breastfeeding. The surgeon asked if I wanted the pill that would stop all my milk production. I asked why, and he said because most women he treats usually stop breastfeeding at this point. I simply said, “I’m not most women.” He looked at me like I had six heads, but ultimately couldn’t force me. I was to remain in the hospital for 2-3 more days as any remaining pus drained from my left breast, and I continued to pump and store milk from my right breast for the beau to collect and bring home each day.

When the drain was finally removed from my breast, a large hole was left. It scared me to even look at it. There was a deep, open hole just an inch or two away from my nipple! I asked the surgeon when he would stitch it up and he said they can’t do that – this kind of wound needs to heal on its own. He explained the tissue would grow back underneath and rise up, and eventually my skin would come together to close the hole and leave behind a small scar. This would take about 2 weeks, he said. In the meantime, I was to continue squeezing out any remaining pus from the hole, which meant having to look at it several times a day as I watched pus and milk ooze out.

Not long afterwards, an infectious disease doctor came to look at my wound. They had just gotten the cultures results back from the surgery and the result was Staphylococcus aureus, which was a common staph infection for those with mastitis. They needed to take blood to monitor my inflammation levels so they would know when they could discharge me. The average number for inflammation in a healthy adult is 5. 5 days after surgery, my number was a whopping 63. The infection was still raging in my body, so I needed to remain in the hospital on IV antibiotics since oral ones weren’t going to cut it.

In the meantime, I still continued to pump from my right breast and hand express from my left breast. Since my left breast was in pain from the hole (and everything it had been through), some midwives from the maternity floor came down to help me. One midwife in particular believed a good breast massage would help ease some of the stress I could feel in the recovering breast, and she wasn’t wrong. But as she massaged me, she encouraged me to keep breastfeeding. She told me not to give up, that she had issues breastfeeding too but still soldiered on, and that breast is always best for baby.

But the next day, the surgeon came to speak to me again to see how I was doing. A lot of milk was coming out of the hole, and my inflammation levels were still too high. He decided to speak frankly with me about my future with breastfeeding. He said while my breasts produced an excellent amount of milk, it overproduces and so the chance of another abscess forming was quite high. I was already traumatized by what had happened to me and I was terrified of it happening again. He then said when I arrived at the hospital days earlier, I was moments away from going into septic shock and I could have died. That was it. In hearing that, it FINALLY clicked that I needed to stop breastfeeding. Baby bean needs me. What good am I if I’m dead? How can I be the mother I want to be if I’m dead? I still went back and forth for a few hours and even texted my lactation consultant about it, but ultimately I came to the decision that my breastfeeding journey was over.

I don’t think I have ever cried so hard in my life. Some dismissed it as hormones. But it wasn’t hormones. I’m still crying now as I write this. I had felt like I failed. My body was literally made for delivering a baby vaginally and feeding a baby. My body couldn’t do either one. I still had not finished processing my emergency C-section, and now I was abruptly stopping breastfeeding after just 6 weeks. I felt like the universe was telling me I wasn’t cut out to be a mother, that I had made a bad decision in wanting to have a baby. I had brought my handheld manual pump to the hospital with me, and packing it away felt like I was burying someone I loved. The nurses began to keep a closer eye on me because I could not stop crying, plus I stopped eating. They would come into my room to order food for me because I was too depressed to eat. The beau would come visit me each day and order food as well, and he made sure I ate. The nurses also had to push me to shower, since I was too depressed to get out of bed. Stopping breastfeeding has felt like a death, and I was in mourning. I still am.

After 9 days in the hospital, I was finally discharged when my inflammation levels went down to 17. I was still to take antibiotics for another 2 weeks just to be sure the infection was completely cleared out. When I got home, I noticed all my breastfeeding gear – my pumps, my milk storage bags, my breast massager, etc – were no longer on the kitchen counter. The beau had stored them away somewhere because he didn’t want me to feel triggered seeing them when I came home since I wouldn’t be using them anymore. I still don’t know where he stored them (he didn’t throw them out – don’t worry!).

I wish I could say, “And my wound finally healed and I was able to move on” but that wasn’t the case. After I came home from the hospital, my left breast was still uncomfortable. Some moments it was painful, some moments it was itchy and burning. I went back to my GP on Christmas Eve, which was just 2 days after I was discharged. She read my discharge letter from the surgeon and she prescribed me some anti-fungal medicine for the itching and burning. But 3 days later, I was back in her office because there was no improvement. She swabbed the wound (ouch) and sent it in for a culture. I was back in her office on New Year’s Eve, with our baby nurse by my side, and my GP told me that unfortunately I now had MRSA. I became emotional because I feared both having to go back to the hospital or death, but she assured me everything would be okay. She prescribed me new antibiotics to take and told me she could see the end of the road. I wish I could. This was beginning to feel never-ending.

More bad news arrived on New Year’s Eve as well – despite not breastfeeding or pumping for almost 2 weeks, my breasts’ milk production had not really slowed down. Too much milk was flowing out of my wound, which in turn was keeping it wet and preventing it from healing. Weaning naturally was no longer an option – I needed to take the pill that stops all milk production by completely drying up your milk ducts. My GP knew this would make me upset, and she tried to explain her reasoning as gently as possible as I cried in her arms. While a slower process, weaning naturally was helping me gradually say goodbye to breastfeeding. The pill is an abrupt process, so it feels harsher on me mentally and emotionally. I went home with the pills and cried on my living room floor for half an hour. The beau sat with me as I took the first pill so that way I wasn’t alone.

I cried myself to sleep every night after I got home from the hospital, and that only increased after I took the first pill. I wish I could explain better why stopping breastfeeding has broken my heart so much. Perhaps it’s because since my birth didn’t go according to plan that at least I’d have this special experience with my daughter? Perhaps it’s because I wanted to be able to provide nutrients and even medicinal needs to my daughter through my milk? Perhaps it’s because I had heard so much about the beautiful bonding that occurs between mother and baby through breastfeeding? Either way, stopping breastfeeding just 6 weeks in has been absolutely devastating to me and I feel like I am grieving someone I lost. I hated my breasts before, and I really hate them now.

As I write this, I am about to take my last pill that stops all milk production. My breasts are no longer full of milk. They are small, soft, deflated, saggy, and droopy. I hate touching them. I hate looking at them. I know it’ll take a lot of therapy to help me get past this and to love my body again, but for now I am admitting that I hate it. I feel like I have failed as a woman, and my empty, droopy chest is currently a reminder of what I no longer have. I miss strange things about breastfeeding. I miss my breasts waking me up naturally to let me know it’s time to feed her or pump. I miss feeling full ducts because I’d get excited knowing I was about to pump a lot of milk to feed my baby. And I know this is going to sound so gross but I don’t care – I miss the smell of my breast milk. Some days I find myself crying out that I want my milk back, despite knowing that it will never come back. It’s gone.

I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. I know there are others out there who went through what I did or something similar. I know there are others out there who were not able to produce enough, and some who were never able to produce at all. I know there are others out there that produced just fine and had no complications physically, but still needed to stop breastfeeding to safeguard their mental health. I see you. I see all of you. Breastfeeding is hard, and at times it felt like if I wasn’t busy taking care of my baby, I was busy taking care of my breasts. And while I am grateful I was able to feed my baby my breast milk for her first 6 weeks of life, I am still heartbroken that she won’t get my breast milk ever again.

As I write this, I am still on the mend. My wound is closing but I am still on antibiotics to clear up my MRSA infection. I still have some pain and discomfort in my left breast, and it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even remember what it’s like to have a chest that feels normal. I’m hoping the end of this roller coaster is near so I can enjoy the little things again and not be in constant fear of my health.

I am not quite sure what the moral of my story is, except if you find a lump or notice any redness on your breasts while breastfeeding, see your doctor right away! We aren’t 100% sure what happened that led me to this experience. The best we can all come up with is I had mastitis in my left breast before my right breast and didn’t know it, and by the time I went on antibiotics for it, it was too far gone and full of pus for any medicine to penetrate it. My breasts had been in constant pain since I got home from the hospital after giving birth that feeling something else abnormal wasn’t exactly possible or easy. Remember that severe, deep crack that went down and around my nipple? I’m pretty sure that was the culprit that allowed bacteria in as well.

It doesn’t really matter now though. What does matter is that baby bean has continued to thrive even while on formula. You’d never know she made the switch from breast milk to formula because her weekly weight gain has remained the same and is always a beautiful number. Her rolls on her arms and thighs show me each day that she’s healthy and well fed. Breast may be best for some, but fed is best for everyone and my baby bean is very happily fed on formula. She doesn’t really care what she is eating as long as she’s eating something! To her, food is love and she hasn’t shown any difficulties in having formula. At the end of the day, I know my physical and mental health will be much better after having made the switch. I can finally be the present, healthy mother I want to be for my daughter. Until then, I am allowing myself to mourn. I am working with a therapist and I have gone back on antidepressants to help me move forward.

To all other mamas out there struggling with breastfeeding – you are not alone. Seek help if you need it and never be afraid to ask questions to your doctor or lactation consultant.

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  1. Aliya


    I’ve been a silent follower of yours for a while. And I’ve never felt compelled to engage or comment, but I feel like I need to this time.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I cried reading this. I empathize with you. I had a C-section, too. I stopped breastfeeding, too. Breastfeeding took a toll on me. It made me fall into depression. No matter what I did or what I ate, my body simply REFUSED to produce milk. Nothing worked. I could only pump out about a little over 2oz of milk on a good day. Day.

    Like you, I was stubborn to the point of obsession. I even joined a breastfeeding advocate group on social media filled with members telling each other to not give up and that breast is best. Like you, I felt like a failure, especially when they talk about formula like it’s the worst thing to give a baby. It got pretty toxic and pushed me deeper into depression.

    Mouring is a natural necessity, and I have been where you are at. After 3 years, the feeling doesn’t really go away for me, but it gets better. Now, I can say that my C-section scar is like a battle scar I’m proud of. And my formula-fed baby is a 3-year-old little girl, healthy, thriving. And I pray that you too, will recover.

    Alyssa, that your baby bean is so so so lucky to have you as her mama. You are the world to her, you are everything to her, you’re her home.

    And we’re all in this together. Moms stick together. You can do this. We can do this. We see you, too. ❤️

    (Sorry for any errors. English is not my first language.)

  2. Isabelle

    My heart breaks for you while reading this. You are not a bad mother and most of all not a bad person. Your will and strength (YES!) Is not overlooked. Love is the most important thing and you have it in abundance.

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