I have sat in front of my computer for the last several years watching people fight over breast vs. bottle.

My milk never came in with Addie and while I was always curious what die hard lactivists had to say about such a thing, I never got involved. Don’t poke the boob bears.

I always figured if I ever got pregnant again the boob issue would go one of three ways.

A) A repeat of my pregnancy with Addie leaving me so emaciated that my body would again be unable to produce milk.

B) They’d work like champs.

C) They wouldn’t work very well and I’d just lie to the Internet about them.

Never did I consider the fourth option…that my body would betray me yet again.

PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can and does factor into milk supply. Never was it mentioned in any book that was recommended to me, article I read online or by any lactation consultant I talked to. It just happened to come up in a conversation with a nurse at the hospital during one of Vivi’s appointments that yes, PCOS can affect milk supply but no, she didn’t know how or what could be done about it.

Turns out I am part of a very (very) low percentage of women who will not only have trouble establishing a decent supply of milk for my baby, I will most likely be unable to maintain it for a long period of time. All because of PCOS. Something that kept me from getting pregnant in the first place.

I have been told that the loss of a nursing relationship must be mourned properly. Not that I’m ready to give up yet, I’m not going to. But I can understand why it is said the loss needs to be mourned. Some of the most magical moments so far in Vivi’s life have come when we’re curled up together and she’s nursing. I never understood why people thought breastfeeding was so wonderful, in fact there was a time I thought it was kind of gross.

But it’s not gross. It’s wonderful. And I feel so…angry?…cheated?…betrayed?

I don’t know.

I would just like to be able to pick my baby up, nurse her and have her be content.

Instead feeding her is a marathon of supplemental nursers, pumping, timing and various medications and herbs.

To be honest I’m very tired. This is very hard, simply feeding her has taken up my entire existence, which is fine because she’s so wonderful. And I know that no matter how she gets fed she will always be loved.

snuggle vivi.

I thought the Internet has a lot of opinions on how to get a baby out…turns out there’s even more opinions on how to get milk to come out. Problem is, babies have to come out, milk does not.

Comments

  1. Getting fed is the most important part, but I get the mourning it thing. It is a special time with Vivi but you have a lifetime of special moments ahead of you. You’re a great mom whether your boobs work or not. xoxo

  2. I have been where you are now. I did everything in my power to bring my milk in with my first. I cried big fat hot tears right along with my baby because there was just no milk. I pumped and supplemented and nipple shielded and did it all, MISERABLY, because it was the right thing to do! For a month I did this.

    Then I went in for my four-week checkup (post c-section) and my doctor patted me on the back and said, “Sometimes it’s just impossible when your hormones are working against you.”

    I realized I had done what I could — more than many other women would have! And I cried the ugly cry about how my baby would have a lower IQ and allergies and asthma because of the EVIL formula!

    And then I fed that kid formula, and he and I were never happier. (Until the colic set in… another story though.) That 8-year-old is now LITERALLY the smartest 8-year-old I know, reading and comprehending at a high school level AND being charming and funny all in one little package.

    So my two cents is I think it’s WONDERFUL that you’re trying and holding out for the hope that it happens — and I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope it does because THIS is one of those situations when you want to cry, “IT’S SO UNFAIR!!!” But if you can’t, and you bond over a bottle instead of breast, you will still bond. And you will not have failed. Not at all.

  3. Michelle says:

    I’m not going to give any advice. Nothing to say, except that I know you will do what is best for you, Vivi and your family. And she is so adorable.

  4. I’m a PCOSer too, so I understand. I hope your boobs get the message you’re sending them!

  5. Look at her cheeks! I’d say you’re doing just fine. Good luck!

  6. Oh, I’m sorry you’re having trouble. After the infertility and then all the barfing, you’d think your body would cut a girl some slack! Good luck and stay strong.

    I think my uterus squee’d when I saw that picture. She is sooo adorable.

  7. Sunshine says:

    What’s most important is that baby is fed and mama is healthy. Yes to the mourning. I recommend crying and chocolate. She is precious. xo

  8. I tried nursing with all three of mine and it seems I just produce skim milk. I finally let it all go, thanking God that I live in a time on this earth when the babies don’t HAVE to live on my milk alone. Thank God for the amazing safe formula that would fill the void. Frustrating, yes. Happy, healthy 4, 6 and 9 year olds…yep. Again, thanking God and God alone.

  9. Maureen says:

    What a wonderful mom you are. You may not have all the milk you want to give, but you have all the love she needs! You’re a champ.

  10. I’m sorry it’s been so difficult on you.

    With both my children, my wife struggled initially with breastfeeding before figuring out what worked for her and baby. Whether it’s lactated milk or formula, you’re doing the same thing any mom would do: figuring out what works for you and your child.

  11. Jessica V. says:

    You have tried hard (very hard…it is SO hard, I know)But, please try not to be hard on yourself if you have to stop breastfeeding. You can still hold her skin on skin and snuggle. My Aunt made me feel better about stoping with some humor…she says “Bring me a damn bottle…And one for the baby too!”

  12. Bellamomma says:

    I know you’ve said Vivi has had some health concerns ~ don’t discount how much that stress & exhaustion is affecting your supply too. Between having to be at so many dr appts in a week, & worrying about her & worrying about Addie & worrying about being mom/wife/homemaker ~ so please make sure that you are getting enough rest …. which is almost impossible to do with a rambunctious Girl1.0 running around – but you have an incredable church. Are there any teenage girls that would love to come hang out with a bouncy curly headed wonder kid for nominal pay for a few hours a day so that you could rest & work on bf’ing? (Especially once school gets out & she has SOOOO much energy to burn off! LOL)

    If the day ever comes when you decide that your boobs have given all they can give & they can’t take the stress anymore ~ that’s a decision for you, your boobs & Vivi. NO. ONE. ELSE. Don’t let anyone guilt you on that. Yes, you’ll mourn the change, but Cody will get to give her bottles & so will Addie – and that’s a whole new level of bonding for all of you. And really, how sexy is a guy snuggling & feeding a cute baby a bottle?!? And seeing big sister feeding baby sister will melt you into a puddle of goo. Also: makes a wonderful picture to hold onto when they are 10 & 16 and trying to kill each other & you are trying to keep from killing them! LOL

    ((((((HUGS))))) I so wish I could trade boobs with you. Mine weren’t perfect, but they did show up for work when I laid down the law ;) Praying yours do the same!

    ami Reply:

    @Bellamomma, I have to agree with the whole ‘man bottle feeding small baby.’ Absolutely and totally sexy.

  13. Tiffany says:

    I know that when my youngest was done with me, I kind of freaked. I’ve been able to breast feed them all, some longer than others some shorter. But I ended up with the flu in December and he was just done with me!! 3 months old and he had enough boob;) He still cuddles with me though when he’s taking his bottle so I learned to adjust for him! And if he could talk at 8 months he would be telling Vivi how jealous he is of her hair – my poor kid resembles an old bald man;)

  14. That photo is the best, so precious.

    No one tells you how hard (or impossible) breast feeding can be – just that “if you love your baby” you will nurse which is unfair and not true. We need to cut moms (and ourselves) a break – as my friend says, motherhood is all about survival and doing everything you can to make it through the day.

    Good job, Mama.

  15. Casey, I wanted to share this with you because 1–I know many women read your blog and 2–I remember several times when you’ve posted about problems with lady areas and your struggles with them, as well as those of other women you know. Owning Pink had a something interesting today that I think women should know about in case they are having some kind of mysterious chronic pelvic pain. Please be so kind as to pass this along either on the blog, or on Twitter or wherever else you think many women will get the message.
    Here is the link:

    http://www.owningpink.com/blogs/owning-pink/cause-of-pelvic-pain-your-doctor-might-miss

  16. don’t poke the boob bears.

    best advice ever!

    And also? I am sorry. I never breastfed and I don’t have the desire too (eek! I am poking the boob bears), but I do understand the frustration of your body betraying you.

  17. What? Ok so not only is my PCOS screwing me over in the pregoo department, now you tell me the breasfeeding thing!? Srsly, that just sucks!! But like everyone else has said, you are an amazing mother, and you do what you feel is best!!

    And I second Bellamomma… get one of the YW to come over and play with Adelaide! They could totally use it as a value project. I’m the yw pres. & I wish I could send you one of my laurels!

  18. I can so related. Pumping, timing, lactation consultants, weighing after each feeding, Reglan, Domperidone, SNS feeder, formula supplements, tears and repeat for 8 weeks.

    It took me a while, but I realized that after I was able to mourn it and let it go, I was able to enjoy her more. Everyone is different but sometimes I wish I let it go a lot earlier than I did and sometimes I wish I didn’t give up.

    You’ll figure out what’s right for you and I wish you the best. xo

  19. You know, you should feel no qualms about supplementing Vivi with formula and nursing her for comfort (hers and yours). Any nutrition she gets from you is a bonus and you get to keep those moments you’re cherishing. It doesn’t have to be all one thing or another. It can be both and it can still be wonderful.

  20. Oh man– I feel your pain. My milk never really came in with my girls….my first baby started peeing crystals before everyone really took me seriously. And the syringes, tubes, nipple guards, phenugreek (sp?) and smelling like maple syrup, the pumping, the washing of all the frickin’ tubes, syringes, bottles, and nipple guards — it was NUTS.

    In the end I just nursed first and then supplemented with a bottle. This lasted 2-4 months….until my girls figured out they were only getting tablespoons of milk from me and the bottle was where it was at! :)

    Hang in there momma! Take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

  21. So much support here, lean into, and I hope something, anything helps!! Thinking of you and that beautiful little girl of yours.

  22. ((hugs)) it’s not an easy thing at all… I didn’t even try with my second one because I had such issues with my first son. It was just better for my mental health not to try again even though Connor was an NICU baby

  23. I never put two and two together until I read a tweet of yours last week. I’m adding it to my: I have PCOS and hey now I have a reason for why I couldn’t do this, instead of, I’m just a big failure.

    I’ll be honest, I tried the first time. Tried for 10 days and then? Then I had to give it up. My baby, who was already wee from being a month early was loosing weight. So, formula it was.

    I didn’t even try the other two times.

    My kids are amazing. Plain and simple. They just are.

    You need to do what is right for you and Vivi and not listen to meanies on the internet.

  24. Yep. EVERYONE has an opinion on the milk. ;)

    And I have an opinion on sweet Vivi’s hair – it ROCKS!!

  25. I’m sorry you aren’t able to do this if it is what you want but remember, while breastfeeding is wonderful it is not the only way to feed your baby and you are not a failure. Your boby isn’t letting you do something you want to do and I can only imagine how frustrating that is but it doesn’t make you less of a mother nor does it lesson your love for Vivienne nor hers for you. Be kind to yourself.

  26. Hey,

    I haven’t read through all of the comments to see if this suggestion has been made. I have seen some great results with the prescription drug, Domperidone. Fewer side-effects than Reglan, and rated L1 which is the safest category for lactating women. Problem–not FDA approved in this country, but still available. It is safe and used successfully in Canada, and European countries. It is available locally at Dr. Aziz if you have a physician willing to write you a prescription.

    I’m a nurse who works in maternal-infant medicine (Not a drug rep!). PCOS may make it difficult for you to exclusively breastfeed, but a successful breastfeeding relationship doesn’t necessarily mean an exclusive breastfeeding. “Some of the most magical moments so far in Vivi’s life have come when we’re curled up together and she’s nursing.” Right on–sounds pretty good to me.

  27. Vivi is SOOOO beautiful.
    I am sorry you are having trouble nursing. I have been there. I nursed my first two babies for 14 months each and then things did not work with my third child. It was so hard because I thought I knew what I was doing and it wasn’t working. I worked with a lactation consultant and read every book and it still did not work out. (It turned out it was related to a health issue but that did not make me feel better) It was hard to finally give up and give her a bottle. I WANTED to nurse. Now I realize that it is just part of being a mother. Sometimes your plans do not work out the way you want them too but as long as you have a healthy thriving baby, things are still good. So yes, mourn the nursing if you have to let it go but don’t beat yourself up. You are trying harder than most women so give yourself a pat on the back for that. Make sure you don’t waste any of that precious time with your tiny angel. Enjoy her nursing or bottle feeding or whatever she does because the time is so short that she will be so tiny.
    love and hugs headed your way
    angie

  28. I know all to well the struggles of nursing. I produced a whole lotta milk (like as upwards of 70oz/day being pumped) but I grew a little baby that couldn’t nurse. It took nurses, doctors, friends, lactation consultants and specialists to get her to latch, weeks and weeks and weeks later and then months and months before it stopped hurting and was anything other than awful. It was no breeze. So I also know far too well the toll it takes on your mind…
    Hang in there lady, you will know the right thing to do at the right time.

  29. Not a mom, so I’ve never nursed.

    BUT…I DO know a gorgeous, adorable, utterly amazing baby when I see one, and that Vivi? Oh she’s great and looks oh so snuggly.

  30. My children are adopted and were separated from their birth mothers in the hospital so they really never nursed. They are 10 and 8, fabulous, well adjusted kids who are close to both me and my husband.

    Nursing is important and if you need to mourn if you can’t then, you need to — they are your feelings and are valid. But don’t let others opinions of what constitutes trying hard enough or long enough play into it. Do what you need to do for you and your whole family. And then don’t look back.

  31. I too have PCOS- and had fertility problems. Took injections to get my twins here. I pumped religiously and attempted to nurse them every couple hours. NOTHING. I went to a lactation consultant. NOTHING. Milk supply didn’t come in at all! Benefit was I never had any pain from it ‘drying up’. Just nothing. I tried again with my next baby, but it clearly wasn’t working so I gave up after several days. Some people just aren’t able to- period. And I’m one of them.

  32. Hang in there Casey — no matter how Vivi is fed, she is loved and cherished beyond measure and that’s what really matters. (Says the mom who was excused from the breast v. bottle debate and got kudos for “merely” parenting)

  33. Nikosha says:

    Isn’t it funny how so many people who don’t want a baby can get pregnant. And then there are people who LONG for one and have trouble. And so many women who could nurse don’t even try but there are women who LONG to nurse and can’t. I think there is a lesson here that is so spiritual and deep and unique to you. I love reading your blog and learning about these things through you. At the end of the day, I think it is your yearning to be a mom, and now a good one, that is so beautiful to witness. Thank you Casey. I will cuddle my boys a little tighter today because of you.

  34. I have been through all the supplementing and I understand the frustration. I never produced enough milk for my twin girls and did the pumping, medicine, herbs, massage everything. I still nursed them until they decided to stop, I just always supplemented. Just know that there are women out there who understand and do what you need to do to keep you and Vivi happy.

  35. I’ve never heard of supplemental nursers, what an interesting concept!

    You’re doing the absolute best you can and that’s by far the most important thing. I wasn’t able to nurse my son (latching issues) but I could produce milk so I pumped exclusively for a year. I made it work as best as I could. I was lucky enough with my daughter that we had no problems nursing, but you never know how its going to go.

  36. Oh, the joys of PCOS. I was diagnosed in 2001. I had to diagnose myself based on a magazine article and insist that my OBGYN test me. She ran some tests and then sent me to an endocrinologist. In the years since, I’ve gained weight, gotten diabetes, and I’ve been unable to get pregnant (and now I’m too overweight to even contemplate fertility treatments). I only wish I had figured out that I had PCOS sooner, but I’m not even sure that would have made a difference. God gives us obstacles in our lives and I’m sure he has a reason for choosing me to live with this disease. I just wish I knew His reason.

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