I Failed at Breastfeeding

I have had a lot of failures in my lifetime. Some of them I don’t even think of anymore but there is one that still brings tears to my eyes. I failed at breastfeeding, not once but twice. Still to this day it breaks my heart to think that I couldn’t get my body to do what it was designed to do. All I wanted to do was nourish my sweet babies in the most natural way possible. Breastfeeding was always kind of a given for me, just like getting married and having kids. It was something that I just assumed I would do, no problem. I had no idea how hard breastfeeding could be for some moms, like myself.
When my first son was born he had a hard time latching but we got through it with the help of a nipple shield. Thank God for whoever invented that!! Unfortunately, when he was just two weeks old I had to have my gallbladder removed and it required me to be in the hospital for a couple days. Being away from my new baby was just about unbearable. I tried my best to pump but with an IV in each arm, that proved to be quite difficult. Not to mention the meds they had me on made me pretty loopy. I cried so hard the first time I had to feed my sweet baby formula. Not because I have anything against it, in fact I am extremely thankful that such a thing exists. I cried because I was sure that I had doomed my new sweet baby boy. I thought I had failed him because I couldn’t do what I was supposed to do as his momma. When I got out of the hospital I tried and tried to get my milk supply back but it was gone. I remember sitting in the glider trying to pump while using my foot to rock him in his car seat and just sobbing. Nothing would come out, nothing! I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do something that seemed so simple. I thought to myself, “it’s been two and a half weeks and I’ve already failed.”
When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to breastfeed for at least 12 months. I even thought, heck if my baby wants to breastfeed ‘til he/she is two, I’ll do it! I was able to breastfeed my second son for 4 months and then my supply started to slow. I was so upset because I thought I had done everything right. I used all the natural crap that everyone said to use. I drank ridiculous amounts of water and I fed him as much as he wanted.  I couldn’t understand why I was failing yet again. Then I read something that helped me to realize some things are out of my control. It said that stress can seriously affect milk flow. DING! DING! DING! That was it. When my son was just 10 weeks old his daddy left for a nine-month deployment. I was on my own with a three-year-old, a newborn, a house and finances to take care of. Yep, I was a little stressed. I hated having to supplement with formula again but I was so extremely thankful it.
What I have realized through time is that I may have failed at breastfeeding but I did NOT fail my boys. They are both healthy and growing like crazy. They are no worse off than they would have been had I breastfed until they were well over 12 months. They are both momma’s boys through and though and I truly believe that no amount of breastfeeding could strengthen our bond. I read somewhere recently that said “Fed is best!” and boy is that true! I couldn’t feed my babies the way I wanted to but I could feed them. I was able to nourish them with the help of formula and I am forever grateful.
The longer I am a mom, the more I see that things are not going to go as planned very often, if ever. I have learned to go into every situation with a very flexible plan, knowing that it is going to change in one way or another. Sometimes it’s frustrating but it has taught me that every situation can be handled in more than one way. I’ve also learned that just because I think my way is right doesn’t mean that another mom’s way isn’t right for her. I will continue to do the best I can, even when I have to revert to plan B or C or D.

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14 thoughts on “I Failed at Breastfeeding

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  1. Thank you for writing this! This totally hit home for me! I “failed” all three times…I did better with each one, but I still never made it past the 2 month mark. It’s still a heartbreaking memory, but it’s just like you said, “fed is best”. I have to remind myself of that often.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading it! Good for you for trying! That’s all we can do!
      I actually teared up while reading your comment. All I want to do with my writing is reach other moms and encourage and empower them.

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  2. I was able to breastfeed all 3 of my kids past a year but with my 3rd we had to start supplementing around 9 months old due to lack of growth from a severe food allergy (called FPIES). To this day she drinks about 24oz of formula (a super expensive, allergy-friendly formula) and she’ll be 4 in January. I am SO thankful for her formula – even though part of me hates that she has to have it. Sometimes the choice just isn’t ours to make!

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  3. I love this post! I was also determined to breastfeed and ended up having to quit due to severe D-MER. I cried for weeks and still get sad sometimes giving my baby formula. But he is a happy, healthy boy who loves me just the same no matter how I feed him. We need to lose the same associated with formula feeding! Great post, Mama! Thanks!

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    1. I’m so glad you liked it and I love what you said about your little guy loving you just the same. Our babies show us so much grace and they don’t even have to try. Love that about them! 💜

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  4. i went through the same thing with my first. nobody tells you breastfeeding is actually hard! it is WORK! it was something i assumed i could just do. i gave myself a very hard time, as well. but at the end of the day, think you did your best. and that’s all we can do as moms!

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  5. Hang in there… I know its so tough when things dont go as we planned, especially with things like these.
    I have been super lucky to be able to breastfeed my son, he is already 18 months old and we keep at it, and I am a big breastfeeding advocate, however, I still believe that in reality, FED IS BEST!
    Your job as a mom is to do the best thing you can to care for your babies… and that is exactly what you did and are doing…. so don´t be so hard on yourself…. stay strong and remember there are so many other things your body was made for other than breastfeeding….
    Love….dk

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  6. Thanks for sharing! I feel your pain as I went through it myself, I couldn’t produce enough milk no matter how I tried! I felt guilty but it gets to the point that you need to put guilt aside because your baby is starving and losing weight. – thegospelofbeauty.org

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  7. Thank you for writing this! Fed is SO best! My most recent post is about struggling with breastfeeding, so I completely understand. We are not failures- I’m currently supplementing with occasionally at the breast and as long as our littles are fed and happy that’s what matters most!

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  8. I had a similar story. I had to stop breastfeeding both my babies because I get post partum depression while doing it. It was so hard to admit I wasn’t strong enough to do it.

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