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Karen's Story

A loving mother, A sweet baby, and A cold turkey

Being the oldest of five, I saw breastfeeding as a natural part of life after a baby was born. That is what all my brothers did, “drink a mama.” Years later it was my turn to become the mama and offer the best thing in the world to our new baby: mama’s milk. When we got pregnant we decided that we already knew we were having a baby, so we left knowing the sex of our baby until the birthday. After the child birth class, Hypnobirthing – which was amazing, enlightening, and empowering – it was time for the breastfeeding class. I remembered thinking, why on earth would I need to take a class? It’s simple. Then again, that was what I thought about childbearing and, well, I learned things aren’t always what they seem. So we were in the breastfeeding class learning about the ducts in the breasts and that my body will just produce this milk that will be perfect to our little one. That I may feel the “let down” and there is no describing that and you have to make sure your baby has a good latch. Latch? I thought things were simple and just natural, why do I need to worry about the baby’s latch? And what do you mean there isn’t just one hole that my milk will come out of? It will do what? Spray out of several pin point holes from my breast? My mom didn’t tell me all this. So we listened and learned and took in as much as we could. My breast milk will hold antibodies to protect and build up my baby’s immune system, the milk is sweet, is always the right temperature, and will adjust to our baby’s growing needs. Our teacher was very enthusiastic and I remember her saying some people just use the excuse not to breastfeed by saying giving a bottle to the baby is just easier. She gave the best response by explaining, “if you want call being startled awake in the middle of the night, get out of your warm bed, walk all the way to the kitchen, turn on a bright light, mess with some powder, find a clean nipple and bottle, heat up the bottle, burn yourself because you got it too hot, cool down the bottle, trip over the dog walking back to the dark bedroom, clamber around back into bed, find the baby (who by this time is screaming), try to calm the baby down, then feed the baby, and an hour or so later get back to sleep, easier than just rolling over and feeding your baby from the breast, then call me crazy.”

So our wonderful day came when we met our baby, Molly Evelyn. I had heard about the animal instinct for a baby to “climb” her way up to the mother’s breast after birth and I wanted to experience this at our child’s birth, however I couldn’t resist cuddling up to our newborn girl and loving her the second she was born! Within the hour we were encouraged by our birthing team to try and get Molly to latch and so we began to clamber around trying to figure out how to get the tiniest mouth of our little baby up to the biggest part of mama. Even now as we glance back at the video we see mama try and twist her breast to the baby, while dada was trying to move the baby over to the breast and back and forth a dozen times, until finally she latched! Our midwife helped me get adjusted to be more comfortable in holding Molly while she nursed and it was all natural from there on out. Fortunately we didn’t have any major issues during our nursing relationship. Most all was sweet; the biting I could have done without, but the cuddling and nurturing was just empowering and tremendous. Breastfeeding was the most unfathomable thing I could have done and I enjoyed every bit of it. Molly nursed for 18 months when she “cold turkey” quit and boy was that a shock. Not only to my body and mind but emotionally as well. I thought I had done something wrong, or that my body wasn’t producing what she needed anymore and I wasn’t sure what to do. I pumped and tried giving her the breast milk in a sippie or cup and she rejected it. I tried mixing it with other drinks just so she would get the benefits of the breast milk, but she rejected all of my attempts to feed her my milk. I thought I was pregnant and so my milk changed and Molly didn’t desire it anymore, but the fact of the matter was that Molly was just done. She didn’t want or need my milk any longer. After a couple weeks of pumping and offering both breast and expressed milk, I finally accepted that Molly was done nursing, even though it broke my heart. However it was a joy to see that Molly still needed me, all the cuddling and snuggling and love was still there and needed. So I stopped pumping, stopped offering and just kept on loving. Once again I figured it was just natural that when baby was done nursing that my breasts would just stop producing. However that wasn’t the case, after a few weeks of not pumping or being suckled by my baby, I was working on the computer and felt something warm and wet. I looked down and was horrified that I was leaking! I hadn’t leaked like that since Molly was about 6 months old. So I began looking into what I could do to decrease and stop my milk supply and dry my ducts. My mom advised that sage or parsley tea would help inhibit the production of milk, so I asked my husband to stop and get some sage tea from the grocery store. All the store had was sage spices so I had to make my own tea and gag it down. Not pleasant. The next day I visited my local health food store and their references advised yarrow, so I purchased a bottle of yarrow supplement. It was no big deal and no more leakage after that.

I thank God for our wonderful pregnancy, amazing birth, beautiful breastfeeding relationship and most of all for Molly Evelyn, the joy and light of our life!