Amy Rhodes: Bottle and Boob—A Tale of Two Nipples


My good friend Amy recently had baby #2, and has decided to try her hand at exclusively breastfeeding (even though she was wildly successful exclusively pumping for her first little angel). I am super excited that Amy graciously offered to share her experiences with all of you lovely ladies! She’ll talk about her challenges and triumphs with both EPing and EBFing, and will hopefully inspire many of you to feel more confident in whatever path you have chosen (whether it is EPing, EBFing, or some combination of the two). So, without further ado…

Amy, the floor is all yours!

——————-

When expecting our first child, everyone tells us of this intense love we will feel for our children. What they forget to mention is the flip side to this amazing bond. They fail to warn us of the unrelenting worry and self-doubt that accompanies motherhood. No matter what path we take, no matter the research that is behind our decisions, or how sure we are that it is what’s best for our families, we will second-guess ourselves.  A part of being a mother is always worrying about those we love the most—it is what makes us strong.

With my oldest, Peanut, we struggled to nurse due to latch issues, resulting from a mild tongue-tie and undiagnosed lip-tie. I started pumping when she was just 2 weeks old because she was unable to transfer milk at the breast, and my nipples were raw and bleeding. We continued to work on Peanut’s latch for a while, but trying to nurse before giving her a bottle, followed by a 30-minute pumping session, was too much for me to handle. I quickly decided to exclusively pump. I mourned the loss of our miserable nursing relationship, and dreamed of the day I could wean from the pump. It ruled my life for 16 long months. I sacrificed several hours a day in order to wash and prep bottles, and to being chained down by a tiny mechanical sucking device. It looked like I was packing for a month long vacation any time I would leave the house—between the diaper bag, pump bag, and small cooler. I felt that I was missing out on valuable bonding time with Peanut.

But, you know what? She’s two and half years old now, and we have had an amazing relationship and strong bond from the very beginning—despite our inability to nurse. Besides, it wasn’t all bad. I could enjoy an occasional break because my husband was able to feed her, or we could leave her with a grandma while we enjoyed a rare date night. In those first few months, we were worried she might have a rare metabolic disorder, (she doesn’t) and I was able to track exactly how much she was ingesting at each feeding. When we would make the 5+ hour drive to visit family, I was able to sit in the back seat pumping while feeding her a bottle in her car seat. I was able to build a small freezer stash that allowed me to continue feeding Peanut one bottle of breast milk every morning for an extra 2 months after I weaned.

When I was finally ready to hang up the pump for good, I had complete control over when, and how I pumped. I didn’t have to worry about how not expressing milk was going to affect Peanut emotionally. I have never regretted my decision to exclusively pump, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.

Then, along came Rolly Polly. He was a stubborn one that didn’t want to come out on his own. So, back to the OR I went for a scheduled repeat c-section. He was born with fluid in his lungs, and was taken to the NICU just moments after birth where he remained for 28 hours. I immediately demanded a pump, even though the nurses wanted me to wait a couple of hours to let my body recover. They eventually wheeled one into my room, and I began to pump 5-10 mls of colostrum every 2-3 hours.

I was finally able to see and hold Rolly Polly for the first time when he was 8 hours old. I immediately put him to the breast and to my surprise he latched like a pro! I continued to pump while in my recovery room, and would spend hours in the NICU nursing my beautiful baby boy. Once he finished his last dose of antibiotics, they released him from the NICU so we could be roomed together. I haven’t touch a pump since.

I love being able to nurse Rolly Polly. The feeling is indescribable. However, I find myself missing the pump, and thinking that it would be easier to give up nursing and just pump. Rolly Polly is such an amazing nurser that I’ve even been battling an over-supply! Having an over-supply is a well sought after “problem” when pumping, but not when nursing. Because of this abundance of milk,  I have a forceful let-down, and strong flow that can overwhelm Rolly Polly.  He will unlatch in order to cry/scream in frustration, only to have 5 to 6 streams of milk continue to shoot him in the face. I also leak everywhere. I spend the majority of my day smelling like spoiled milk because I soak my shirts so fast that there’s no point in changing them. There are days when I feel crowded and “touched-out” because my toddler wants to be in my lap playing with my hair, while my hungry baby spends all day screaming due to a growth spurt. Daddy can’t let me have a few minutes of peace because he is unable to feed Rolly Polly. All he can do is take Peanut to the other room to play. I am constantly second-guessing my supply because Rolly Polly feeds all the time, or because my boobs are adjusting and feel softer than they have before. And it’s a bit crazy that I would second-guess my supply, when this boy pees like a race horse, and is already 18 lbs at 3 months old!

Despite all of this, I love that I don’t have to worry about washing bottles (which is good because Rolly Polly doesn’t want me to put him down), and that I don’t have to do math (I suck at numbers) to insure I have enough milk every time I leave the house. My life is less structured now, which is just the way I like it.

The bonds I have with my children are not the same. However, I wouldn’t say one is stronger or better than the other—they are just different. I struggled for a long time to accept pumping with my daughter, and I am eternally grateful to be able to nurse my son. Now that I’ve done both, I realize that in the end, I still love them more than life itself. And isn’t that all that really matters? We want the absolute best for our children. But no one thing is perfect, because we are not perfect, and our children are absolutely unique in every way.

So feel confident in the path you take, and be proud of the journey that follows—because there is an unyielding strength buried behind the perplexities of motherhood.

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11 thoughts on “Amy Rhodes: Bottle and Boob—A Tale of Two Nipples

  1. What an inspiring post! I loved the phrase “being chained down by a tiny mechanical sucking device” lol. I’ve ep-ed for two so far, but I wouldn’t trade my journeys. They were what they were meant to be. This post reminded me of what’s important. Thank you for posting. And congrats to the guest blogger!

  2. I am sooooo happy to hear she was able to nurse her second! I have to say I echo her sentiment…a very different bond but I absolutely love the no bottles or supplies when going out. It’s so liberating. Congrats to Amy! Tell her I said hi 🙂

      • Hi Kelly! Now I need to hear the story… the longer, the better! 😛

        I passed your message along and Amy was super happy to “hear” from you. She says hi back! ❤

      • LOL ok so maybe the story isn’t as long as it is boring….I needed a private blog my mom doesn’t know about. I can’t post about my new blog on my old blog or she’d see it. So its been hard to get the word out to the peeps who’ve been following me for years buy whatevs. Just feels good to write again, even if nobody sees it. You know?

      • Awww I’m sure you’ll rebuild your audience 🙂 Comment on your friends blogs, and they’ll “find” you like I did 😉

  3. I smiled the whole time reading this. My wife nursed all 7 about 24 months each. Excellent job! Just outstanding! I was anle to get her to use a bottle so I could share in the joy of feeding them too. She had an over abundance and could have donated to the breast milk place in Colorado. I am still in awe of how well she was able to nurse them, like second nature I think. She did such an amazing job that I never would figure she ever second guessed herself. Nursing is fabulous!

      • Sorry. Too many kids, not enough money to spend. She filed 1/2015, final 12/2015. Her childhood, teen and early adulthood came to light few years ago. I cannot help her. Her view is not reality. My Catholuc faith and my unconditional love says to just wait and see. The lies she had to tell for support and a BF to want her will not make her future better. But I will wait a couple of years I guess, at least. 3 minors need me more than I want another woman. I just still love her… and our family. Retrouvaille is the best answer.

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