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Every Mamas Challenge: Overcoming Disappointment

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 109 Comments

We have a secret in our culture . . . and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.

Laura Stavoe Harm

To the doctor that says “Your baby is getting too big and your hips are too small. We need to induce” I say FAT SQUISHES. To the mama that has been laboring for 18 hours and is under pressure to have a cesarean, I pray someone is there to whisper “Don’t let your body be on their clock.” And when a mother is told she doesn’t have “enough milk,” I hope a friend will share how she built up her supply.

What most mamas need is for someone to have a little faith in them. Or permission to have faith in themselves. Probably both. Fortunately, women everywhere are speaking out against the idea that every birth needs to play out like an ER episode. Moms, midwives and lactation consultants encouraging us to trust our bodies once again. But amidst these attempts there are people caught in the middle.

Mamas whose hips really are too small

Or who have labored to the point of exhaustion and really do need an emergency c-section, or – like a friend of mine – who pumped like crazy when her infant couldn’t latch and was willing to beg, borrow or steal to get additional breastmilk donations.

Mamas who are no less strong, or committed, or loving because things didn’t go according to plan and who did not “make up” an excuse not to have a natural birth, breastfeed, et cetera. More and more I am noticing bruised hearts that hang back around their crunchy friends because of their “failures,” when what they need is love and acceptance.

Compared To Many Stories, It’s Just A Speedbump

But right now I am in month eight of an ongoing struggle to breastfeed my son (he is exclusively breastfed, but never wants to eat, and sometimes it hurts so bad I hold my breath and count.) In addition to the tongue tie he had corrected at five months, we recently discovered he also has a Class IV Maxillary Tie. The membrane between his upper lip and gum is like a tight rubber band that prevents him from being able to latch properly (It’s more common that most people think!).  It could also affect his speech and dental development, so we’re taking him to New York next week to have it surgically revised.


I water-birthed two babies. I’ve breastfed for 38 months straight. I fully embrace the notion that my body is capable and wise, yet this experience has made me much more aware  that there are other stories, too . . . women who did not feel empowered by their birth, or whose milk supply dried up, or who wish they could make a different choice. Mothers who saved their babies lives by allowing an emergency c-section but don’t talk about it because their crunchy friends will assume it was really “unnecessary.”

In spreading the word that our bodies are strong and wise, how can we also help women walk the difficult road from crushing disappointment to saying “I didn’t get the pregnancy I wanted, and I certainly didn’t get the birth I wanted, but I got the children I dreamed of.”

If you’re wondering where I got that quote, it came from Maureen, who weaves the beautiful story of her journey,  saying”

“I prayed and bargained and hoped against hope that we would make it to 38 weeks.  I kept up the visualization, but after every subsequent visit to the labor and delivery floor, every new plunge of the needle, every time I hooked myself up to the home contraction monitor, I grieved for what I was losing.  I knew I would not have a peaceful drug free birth.  I had lost the pregnancy I wanted, but I still had my babies, and for that I was grateful with every fiber of my being.  I clung so hard to that fact that I didn’t allow myself to feel much else.

You can read the rest of her story here.

I guess what I’m saying is that all moms face disappointment. Usually we help each other grieve and move on. But sometimes, in our effort overcome the mountain of “cant’s” thrown out by the medical community and media regarding birth and breastfeeding, we accidentally create an environment that is unfriendly to moms struggling with disappointments in these areas. That’s why lately I’ve been asking myself how we can celebrate the strength and wisdom of our bodies while also validating those who have walked a more difficult road.

For information on how to check for tongue and lip ties at home, please read this post.

Do you have a story to tell, an idea for encouraging moms, or just something to say about this topic? Tell me below!


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109 Responses to Every Mamas Challenge: Overcoming Disappointment

  1. Kristi says:

    The birth of my daughter was so easy in comparison to my son, as was breastfeeding. With my son, my word to describe the birth is: humbling. It was at home which was wonderful, but it was not the perfectly calm, peaceful birth I thought it would be. It was far more painful and difficult than I imagined. And, it definitely did not leave me empowered. Breastfeeding has also been more challenging, maybe because of my state of mind following the birth, exhaustion, something I can’t explain, I don’t know. But, at 8 weeks, my son was only 8lbs. I started him on commercial formula thinking it would be just *for a few days* and when I realized it wasn’t, I called my farmer and asked (pleaded), “when will you have milk again?” Two days later, I had goat milk and have been making his formula ever since. He is still breastfed, but is given a little bit of home-made formula before every feeding. It is work. But, I feel good knowing that everything he is eating, is made by me. And at the end of the day, he is growing and thriving and that is all that matters.

  2. Are Traditional Food and Tandem Nursing Compatible? « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus says:

    […] overall structure was being formed – it could explain certain things. Or it could be that his tongue tie restricted normal muscle function that helps develop the jaw – or the fact that he got stuck […]

  3. 5 Reasons To Sleep With Your Baby (And One Good Reason Not To) « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus says:

    […] when I say this is not a jab at mothers who can’t or don’t breastfeed. I’ve had my own share of struggles when it comes to breastfeeding and I’m just not going […]

  4. Christina says:

    Lip ties & tongue ties go hand in hand, and I think they are the #1 cause of nursing difficulties, be they supply-side or demand-side… poor latch, reflux, maternal pain, insufficient supply, over-active letdown… Yeah. They all are tied together– haha pun intended. I found this out first hand with my son –blogged about it here:– before that, I’d never heard of a posterior tongue tie, much less a lip tie! Now I know, and so far, every friend that has had nursing difficulties in the past 8 months, when I check their kids’ mouths, they are tied in some way!! Crazy that no one knows about this!!

  5. Joy says:

    I needed to read this post at this moment in my life. I just had our first child, a daughter! I was prepared for a home birth. We took birth classes. I read lots of books, journaled, prayed, watched film after film and read dozens of birth stories. I drank gallons of raw milk and walk fifteen miles a week until the very end. I poured my heart and soul into preparing for birth. Then at 38 weeks, I started bleeding due to a placental abruption and had to have an emergency c-section, anything else would have endangered both my daughter and my life. Everyone said we were so lucky that the abruption was so mild and we both survived (and made it to 38 weeks!) without any side effects. I have beat myself up over what I could have done (or eaten) differently. Whenever I tell people about her birth, I feel the need to explain – no, I really needed a c-section. There was no choice. Caroline is a month old, and I am still processing her birth. Thank you for this post. I needed to read it today.

  6. 5 Reasons To Sleep With Your Baby (And One Good Reason Not To) « The Mommypotamus says:

    […] when I say this is not a jab at mothers who can’t or don’t breastfeed. I’ve had my own share of struggles when it comes to breastfeeding and I’m just not going […]

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say, this was like a weight lifted off my heart. I recently gave birth to my firstborn after a pregnancy filled with terrible morning sickness and incredible back and hip pain due to prior injuries. I had a brain injury as a child and get anxious and overstimulated a lot as a result of it, so I was concerned about how I’d handle childbirth. I’d dreamed of a natural water birth, but we were on welfare and couldn’t afford it, so, towards the end of the pregnancy, our doctor told me he wanted to induce because our daughter was measuring big and he was concerned about me emotionally as well as physically for how I’d handle it. I was so relieved to be over with the misery but so disappointed at the same time to be getting induced.
    A few days before the birth, my husbands Aunt made sure to rub it in our face that we had wanted to go natural and we weren’t. No matter our explanations it left me feeling defeated and discouraged. Family and friends alike did not understand the reasoning and I went into labor feeling like a huge failure.
    Our daughter came out perfectly, and I was, as expected, disconnected, overstimulated and anxious, but doing better than I thought I would be. It still left me feeling however that on top of my dream pregnancy that didn’t happen, the birth as well had been a struggle and a disappointment that I couldn’t talk about.

    I hate that we create such an environment for our mothers. I am hopeful for our next child to try so many things differently, including the magnesium spray 😉 for morning sickness, but also a more natural birth. I think that it is like you say, and we can start creating a better environment for each other. All we need is a little push and a bit of hope. :)

  8. Ann says:

    Thank you for this, Heather. Thank you.

    This is at the heart of what I felt after planning a homebirth, laboring for nearly 70 hours, then, finally, having to transfer to the hospital for a cesarean. Suddenly phrases like “your body was made to do this” and “trust birth” had me feeling like an abject failure.

    I want to share that this conversation is at the heart of an organization I am now proud to be a part of called Homebirth Cesarean (soon to be Homebirth Cesarean International). Begun by a woman who planned a homebirth and transferred for cesarean and her midwife, the group seeks to foster conversations about how we can support women (specifically those who planned an out of hospital birth that ended in cesarean) in healing from difficult births. And, how we can change the conversation about birth, mainly out of hospital birth, to make room for women who ultimately must go to the hospital to meet their babies. Two of our founders are working on a book about this experience, with advice for moms and midwives. I highly encourage everyone here to check it out at or on Facebook at Homebirth Cesarean.



  9. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this. I also did not get the birth I wanted, or the BF experience I wanted, but man, that little boy is amazing. These are such small parts of a massive overall parenting experience. I hope we can all begin to let go of the judgement and accusations of “you didn’t try hard enough” and just enjoy being parents together.

  10. amanda c says:

    I gave birth to a beautifully healthy 8lb14oz boy (my first) 6 months ago. I wanted so badly for him to be born naturally, When I went into labor at 2 AM the morning after my due date I was prepared. I refused to be overwhelmed by the pain and I was proud of my body for knowing what to do. This was Monday morning and the Thursday before my midwife was talking possible induction the following week because my cervix was tightly closed and I had no signs of labor possibly beginning. By 8 AM that morning I was ready to go to the hospital…the six hours I labored at home I was in bed resting, walking around my tiny little apartment, leaning over the bed and sitting and kneeling on my little desk chair to get through the strong and painful contractions. Once at the hospital they determined I was 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I had made major progress over the weekend! I labored hard until noon when they told me for some reason he couldnt wiggle down into the birth canal far enough and that I would need a c section. I was devastated, I had made it so far without any intervention. After over 15 hours of labor I went to the OR. It took them 6 tries to get my spinal in, each time hitting nerves and accidentally going through my spine. I was so relieved when he was finally out but still feeling somber about my delivery. It turned out that although he had reversed his breech position at the last minute (which already had us fearing a c section) he had not fully turned and therefore could not have been born naturally. I was separated for over an hour after he was born so I could be sowed up and cared for in recovery. It took me until 2am the next morning to be able to nurse him. He only had colostrum until 4 days after his birth which they believe the delay in suplly came from the surgery. By the time he was a week old he was down to 7 lbs even. It was obvious my supply wasnt enough so I started supplementing a few oz of formula (gentle of course because he had an underdeveloped llarynx and severe reflux). The combo helped him plump right up and hes now borderline overweight at 6 months old, and all I can do about that is smile. However, at 8 weeks old I went back to work and even though I was pumping my supply dwindled…so since 4 months old he has been an exclusively formula fed baby. I loved my time nursing and wish it had lasted longer. There were days where my mom would bring him to me on lunch and I would nurse right there in the parking lot!! Someday when we have another baby I will be more educated and hopefully more able to bond with and better feed my baby.

  11. Abbey says:

    I was born with a spinal cord injury and also had severe kyphosis (like scoliosis) which meant spinal fusion surgery when I was 13. Twice.The titanium rods are attached to my pelvis. I just had my first baby 3 months ago. I was blessed with an uneventful pregnancy except for some low blood sugar issues and more exhaustion than I expected. I went into labor the day before my due date and labored without meds for 36 hours. I was so stubborn about letting everything happen naturally that I when I was progressing slowly, I wouldn’t let them break my water until about 28 hours into that time. After they broke my water I was at 10 cm within half an hour, I pushed for 3 hours in several different positions with nothing happening except baby’s head swelling from being slammed against my pelvis. Thankfully his heart rate was great this whole time. The doctor finally told me he wasn’t coming out and I was heartbroken. Everything I had researched and planned was gone. I didn’t know how I would get over it. Breastfeeding was also much more of a challenge than I expected because he had to be on oxygen (I couldn’t nurse) so combining that with the c-section meant that it took a LONG time for my milk to come in. But really, now I feel good about all of it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have a vaginal delivery, though I probably will try for a VBAC next time. Even if that doesn’t work for me, net time that’s a possibility I’ll be prepared for. I also have ways to solve difficult breastfeeding issues should they arise again. I feel blessed for this perspective and I won’t apologize for doing what was necessary to get my child into my arms safely. :-)

  12. Christina says:

    How were you able to get your infant diagnosed with this problem? Should I take my daughter to the pediatrician to have them look at it? I have been struggling with breastfeeding but still doing it anyways even though it hurts a lot. She could have this problem…

  13. Robin says:

    Thank you for posting this. Mommy guilt is such a real thing and I think can lead to PPD if you’re not careful. I had every intention of having a natural birth with my first daughter, but after an induction and the intense contractions because of it, I couldn’t do it. I felt extreme guilt for awhile post partum as if I had lost something I worked so hard for. I have the influence of my “crunchy” (as you refer to it) sister who was really pushing me for no meds and to let my body do what it was supposed to. I’ve learned now, that my body needed the epidural to be able to relax and once I had it, I dilated much faster and then birthed her naturally. I had grieved the loss of what I thought the birth was supposed to be and was very hard on myself and this led to some attachment issues with my daughter. My second pregnancy unfortunately ended in a stillbirth at 25 weeks with no known cause. Again, I felt the guilt of my body failing me. Clearly the repercussions of this carried on much longer than that of my previous full term healthy pregnancy and required much more need in terms of therapy and support groups. I still to this day, three years later, struggle with the fact that my body failed me and my daughter. Truth is, it happens a lot more than people realize and certainly more than I realized before it happened to me. Pregnancy, although natural, is still fragile. My third pregnancy was determined high risk because of my previous pregnancy. I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I needed the additional ultrasounds and tests to make sure I didn’t lose another child. To have little faith in your body is a very difficult thing. I ended up being induced at 38 weeks after a 3 hour long non stress test determined there were inconsistencies with her heart beat. I again didn’t handle the induction well and as her heart beat was dipping too low, it resulted in an emergency c-section. I am grateful for the medical staff and that they were so attentive to my physical and emotional needs and my daughter’s needs. I do, to this day, wish that I had experienced a true natural birth, but now realize what matters most is that I have two very healthy living daughters and one angel baby that have showed me how incredibly grateful I am for them. I have breastfed both my living children with immense difficulty each time and have pumped milk after my loss for a milk bank. The ability to breast feed is much harder than people make it out to be. My wish is that women are able to make the decisions that they can based on their situation and their’s and their child’s needs and that influence from a broader community doesn’t affect their decision or how they feel about it. What’s truly important is having your child here with you and being able to watch them grow into strong, healthy, and happy individuals.

  14. Megan says:

    I have had two babies, and everything went the way I wanted with both of them, give or take. Natural birth, extended breastfeeding, baby lead weaning, ect ect ect. But you know what? I love my friends from all walks of life, and I wouldn’t want any single one of them to feel like they didn’t live up to the XYZ bar that someone else has set. Sometimes moms admit they wish they had followed a different path, and I’m happy to help in any way I can for the future, but there is nothing more humbling than to admit you have regrets. Reassurance is what is needed then. Life is a series of choices, and for every thing that you “didn’t get to do” there was something else you were doing instead, and you have to look at what you DID do and feel proud of that. If you didn’t take the time to research your C-section/epidural/birth setting alternatives while you were pregnant, does that mean you were popping bon bons on the couch? No, chances are you were busy doing something else that had just as much meaning to you, like working on your marriage, reading about gentle discipline, or learning about healthy foods to feed your pregnant self. There is a give and a take to every decision that we all make.

  15. Kate says:

    Totally can relate. I had my son on September 11 last year. I had planned on delivering at a birthing center with my midwife, peaceful worship music, and yummy candles burning, with my husband catching the baby. I ended up on bed rest for 8 weeks and being induced with Cervadil and Pitocin at the hospital at 38 weeks due to preeclampsia. I still tried to go natural, but 20 hours into my labor I had no break between contractions, was only dilated to 3cm, and hasn’t slept in more than 24 hrs. I finally got the epidural. My son was born 2 hrs later. Breast feeding was a challenge as well. I had a breast reduction when I was 21, definitely not thinking about my future or breast feeding my babies. Bc of that operation, I truly did not have enough milk, despite fenugreek, blessed thistle, mothers milk tea by the bucketful, lactation cookies, bread, etc, dark beer, oatmeal, pumping after every feeding, feeding constantly, etc. I was able to breast feed about 70% until 10 months, and now at about 50%. It still breaks my heart that my body couldn’t fully feed my son. I know I did my best, but I feel like people will always assume that I just gave up.

  16. Paula says:

    I appreciate you saying these words. I am not surrounded by crunchy moms per se, but I am indeed surrounded by breastfeeding/midwife using/chiropractic care for babies moms. Ok they are crunchy enough. I had an ideal pregnancy. Beautiful really. But then I had a hospital birth, with the typical story of labor stopped, the hospital staff made up excuses that a stopped labor was putting baby at risk and rushed through everything including puncturing the waters, the use of Pitocin and of course the dreaded epidural. I wanted none of it. I was handling contractions beautifully. But they treated me like a walking lawsuit. I hated it. I couldn’t afford a midwife, and the hospital was paid for by my husband’s insurance. But looking back I will never trust a hospital ever again. They almost killed me and my baby. I gave everything I wanted away and wanted my baby to survive. So they induced and turned me from side to side while preparing me for a c section and then used a vacuum to pull my baby out. I had avoided a c section by minutes. Thank goodness. But then the nightmare began. I was all kinds of torn. I was bleeding heavily. The pills kept me in a dreamy state in which I didn’t know up from down. Breastfeeding became a painful awful thing. And I descended into a slow but horrible hole of depression. Yes, I had PPD. Women around me would comment on how I should shoulder the painfulness of breastfeeding like all the women before me. Even my mom told me I should ‘man up’ as she did. I kept telling myself that if all women through history breastfed then I should too. That’s what I wanted of course. But between the depression and my bleeding nipples, the non-stopping crying between and during baby’s meals and a husband who had no clue of what to do… we decided to stop. We stopped. And that day I finally ate a full meal and slept. But then the depression worsened because I let down everyone around me and I probably was dooming my child to poor health and man-boobs. And even when I found out about homemade formula which I made religiously (still do now after 2 years), women around me pointed their fingers and said unkind things about how I didn’t try enough, how I was a coward, how I was turning down my rightful duty as a woman, etc etc etc. Yes, that’ll help the depression, you idiotic entitled women!!! As I see it, I was alone. I had no one. No family, whether mine or my husband’s, it was just me and my husband and no clue as to what having a child at home really meant. No help from anyone. No sleep. And a baby who was not the average stare-into-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-googly-eyes child. I couldn’t cope, but they wouldn’t understand. Every woman I’ve met turns out to believe they had it worse. Even the ones that had their moms by their side when they birthed their babies, who had extended family and friends bring food for them during those precious first weeks and even family to ‘babysit’ so the mom can have much needed sleep. So I shut up. Dealt with my demons alone. The hormonal imbalances ended at about a year postpartum. I finally feel myself after 2 years since birthing my child. And now I keep my mouth shut otherwise… where all this supposedly ‘crunchy’ moms looked down on me for giving my baby a bottle of something that looked like chocolate milk, they are feeding their 2 year olds mac and cheese from your closest walmart. When my child doesn’t get sick nearly as often or as bad, their kids are puking and running fevers every couple of weeks. So now I have to keep my mouth shut. We do our best to be the moms our kids need, and all our circumstances are different so are our decisions. We should respect our fellow-mothers and offer them support and kindness, ask them if there’s something we could do to help them in their worse hours of need, rather than look with judgement toward their decisions which are contrary to ours. It is my belief and I still hope for kindness in other women which I have still yet to find. Let’s stop being bitches to each other, we were meant to be more. After all, we are women and we have a divine nature which nurtures and nourishes the soul… Why can’t we do that with each other??? <3

  17. Sarah says:

    I’ve experienced a wide variety of things over my seven pregnancies, from perceived failure to overcoming odds to complete victory. Its the same way with raising children. Every experience is different. Every birth is unique. Every child is an original. These are my experiences: 1)Induced vaginal birth, failed epidural, cord around the neck, NICU, failure to latch, failure to thrive, and only being able to breastfeed 3 months 2) miscarriage of twins at 7 and 12 weeks 3)emergency c-section due to footling breech presentation but successful nursing through 2 years 4) short labor and successful VBAC after struggling to find a doctor who would allow it, and nursing but self-weaning early at 11 months 5) miscarriage at 6 weeks resulting in depression 6) another successful VBAC and 2 years breastfeeding 7) twin pregnancy enduring to 37.4 weeks, cholestasis of pregnancy, c-section due to presentation, and tandem breastfeeding, but at 4 months it looks like I may have to start supplementing (after trying herbs and everything). When I look back at this list, and look at the resulting 6 children that I’m raising, I realize that even though I considered some of these things to be failures at first, I feel strong and empowered in knowing that I’ve made it through successfully. That I love these children more than anything and love being a mom (most days!!).

  18. Sara - My Merry Messy Life says:

    I LOVE that you’re writing about this. I had a failed natural birth – 52 hours in NATURAL labor that ended in an emergency c-section. I grieved about it for nearly a year. I wrote my whole story on my blog and it was very catharthic and I got story after story of natural-birth-minded women who’d been through the same ordeal as me. We do need support from the natural community! Thank you.

  19. Rachel says:

    Yes. Got the “mommy guilt trip” at 9 months with my firstborn while at 15 wks. pregnant with my second. There were complications during my pregnancy that caused low amniotic fluid levels, and I had to wean my baby before her first birthday. I felt so rotten giving her the formula at first, and so sad that I couldn’t nurse her anymore like I used to. But to see her start gaining back a little of the “baby fat” she had lost and see her growing and blossoming was a blessing. God knows what is best for us and for our babies, and I don’t need to worry that my child is going to miss something really important from not breastfeeding those last few months of her babyhood. Be thankful for the formula if you must use it. (Also for those moms of preemies who have difficulty with their babies latching on at first— don’t give up! It took my preemie up to her actual due date to get the hang of it, and after that she nursed like a pro!)

  20. Amanda says:

    Amazing post…I totally relate. BFed my first 3 babes with no problems other than initial soreness and when number 4 came along…well she rocked my world! She was my “most” natural birth, at home in the water, and no complications…quick delivery. I never would have expected not being successful with BFeeding her at all. Tried my hardest, through so much pain and anxiety, only to give up after 2,1/2 mos because I was in such a state I felt I was neglecting my other kids and could do it no longer…I would cry during most feelings because of the excruciating pain. After I quit and started making my own formula recipe from the Weston A Price foundation, I noticed the maxillary frenum tie no one else had spotted…not the lactation consultant, paediatrician or my midwives. Apparently it’s just not in published research so it’s not recognized and professionals aren’t trained to look for this. My daughter had a very tight and thick attachment and even though initially I could get a good latch, she couldn’t sustain sucking for long enough to get what she needed. I feel like I need to do more to get this info out there…I did feel terrible and like such a failure for quitting when I did. I am thankful for all the support I had during the time but I really wish I could make people more aware so it could be properly diagnosed and dealt with. It’s wonderful to hear everyone’s stories and share mine with you. Usually most think the man is the stronger sex but these stories display the awesome strength within a mother… When it comes to wanting to give the very best to her child.

  21. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Heather. Our children humble us, don’t they? I think we, as mothers, do the very best we can with the information we have. Some of us just have faulty information. It wasn’t that many years ago we probably both sat down and ate our bagels with our fat free cream cheese and fat free flavored yogurt for breakfast and called it healthy. I like to think our birth stories aren’t totally our own. Maybe thats why they take a turn down the wrong street. There’s a baby who has his or her own story that sometimes just doesn’t match our ideals. Each of my births were as different as each of my children and together they make me who I am today. It’s a very hard thing, not judging others. I thought I knew everything about raising a kid….and then I had one. And when I got him figured out, I had another one who was and is completely different. Same goes for my third. I feel for so many of these women dealing with “mommy guilt”. We just never know someone’s ‘whole picture’ and we all live in glass houses so to speak. I am totally a crunchy mom. And I hope I haven’t made anyone feel insecure about being unable or unwilling to do the things I feel so strongly about. And that picture of you in the water moments after birth, that picture is the epitome of why it is so beautiful to be a woman. I remember that ‘I did it’ feeling. I hope all women can find this sense of accomplishment regardless of her birth story as we all deserve it.

  22. Iluvchoklit1083 says:

    This really applies to me, and I thank you for sharing. I was not into the crunchy movement at the time, but while in nursing school I interviewed a midwife for a class project. I knew in didn’t want a typical hospital birth. My mom gave birth naturally to all of us in a hospital. My youngest sister was 10lbs 1.5 oz and 21 in long. Of course, Mom was induced because of size, but she delivered without pain meds WITH 2 broken ribs. I never believed I would need a c-section.

    I got pregnant unplanned at the end of nursing school. I was unprepared and just went with my obgyn. I was due at Christmastime. After 28 hrs since the start of my labor without any progression past 3-4cm and fetal distress I was taken for a c/s. To say it was traumatic for me is an understatement. Come to find out they claimed my pelvic opening was too small for my little 6lb 0.5oz full-term baby to fit through. To too it off, my milk supply was inadequate in hospital and they gave my baby formula against my wishes, but at least didn’t use a bottle to do it. My milk supply didn’t last beyond 3 mos and I resorted to store formula (because I didn’t know any better). I felt like a failure… Like I was incapable of fulfilling the most basic role of being a woman. My husband didn’t understand. He said I should be happy the baby and I were both alive. I was, but I definitely had some grieving to do. Just to have it repeated in a couple years…
    I planned to VBAC the second time, and due to previous circumstances my husband felt a midwife too risky. After a normal pregnancy and a week past due, I was told delivery was too risky and had another c/s. a different obgyn this time also confirmed that my pelvis was too small for my full-term 6lb 1.5oz baby. I had better success breast-feeding, but my very happy, healthy baby had bouts of intense abdominal pain (based on the particular squirming during feeding) and then went through a terrible biting phase at 6mos. She didn’t approve of my gental scoldings and refused the breast after that. I pumped as long as I could, but milk supply didn’t last beyond a month or 2 and we were back to formula. Talk about reopening old wounds and sorrows.
    Pediatrician was unsure about her apparent tummy pains and frequent vomiting. Tried Zantac without improvement. No other signs of real problems (like pyloric stenosis). Fast forward 2 years when I was introduced to your blog and crunchy living. I saw a post about tongue tie and realized my daughter has one that had gone undiagnosed. I wonder if that was the source of her tummy pains and difficulty feeding? She now seems to be happy and healthy with no real difficulties eating or speaking.

    While I definitely wish things went differently, I do believe my pelvis must be quite small c/s were necessary. Both my girls are healthy, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful, also, for the support of my family and friends who reminded me that there are other measures to validate my ability to be a mother, and even if I didn’t get to do the initial pushing…there are plenty of opportunities to push my kids the rest of their lives (push to do their best, to love others, to pursue their dreams).

    Thank you for your encouragement. I am sure that if this was all fresh for me, that I would definitely find it uplifting.

  23. Dana says:

    Compassion will get us all far in life.

  24. Kila says:

    Hi Heather, I know this post is old, but I couldn’t find a way to contact you. Would you be willing to email with me about tongue/lip tie? I recently discovered my children have this(I cried too!!!) I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner. Anyway, i was just hoping you might be able to answer a couple questions for me? I know you’re a super busy mama too. Thank you for your help.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Kila, Though I would love to be able to answer every email I receive it has become physically impossible to do so while giving my children the attention they deserve, homeschooling, cooking three meals a day and blogging. You may find this post helpful.

      Dr. Kotlow, whom I link to in the post, will often answer questions via email for free.

      • Kila says:

        Hi Heather, I totally understand. I’m in your exact situation except i don’t blog:) Thank you for thank the time to share with the rest of us. I did email Dr. Kotlow a few days ago, but haven’t heard back. I’m sure he’s busy too.

        If you happen to get a moment…I guess i was just hoping to hear your personal thoughts. Would you have had the frenectomy done on such a young baby if he weren’t having breastfeeding issues? Sadly, i never picked up on it with my almost 5 year old and she now has some speech delays, trouble swallowing, dental issues, etc from the undiagnosed ties. My temptation, now, is to have it done asap with my new baby (6 months) to avoid future issues, however I don’t want to overreact either. i think they may put them under anesthesia at this age and I’m not thrilled about that thought. My 6 month old and I had a horrible time breastfeeding for the first few weeks, but we did power through and as far as i can tell he is breastfeeding fine now and eating some puree. Did you have other reasons for having it done with Micah at 5 months besides feeding issues or would you have waited if you thought he was eating well despite the tie?? Thank you, thank you. and I hope you are having a great day with your little ones.

  25. Meghan says:

    Hi Heather,

    I stumbled across your blog while searching for a natural homemade play dough recipe for my son (thanks a lot, it turned out great!) I know this post is old, but I want to thank you for writing it. Nine months ago I had an emergency c-section after an attempted home water birth and while I’m so thankful my son and I are both ok, I went through a period of intense mourning that no one seemed to understand. I have come to terms with how things panned out but I wanted to tell you how validating this post was to me. Thank you!! I am just loving your blog!


  26. Ruth says:

    I totally relate to this post! This is one of the first times that I can say, yep I am one of those moms. I went into labor naturally with my son. I was 40 wks 5 days. I had a doctor tell me at 38 weeks if I didn’t deliver soon my son was not coming out vaginally. (He was measuring at 41 weeks at 38.) I went into it knowing I did not want a c-section, but if it came down to a c-section or pitocin I would pick a c because of all the horrible things about pitocin out there. I labored 26 hours naturally. 7-8 hours I was told later looked extremely like transition. I say looked cause I was going through it and have no recollection of basically anything. My husband talked me out of a c-section twice. My doctor (not the one who said spit the baby out) came in and after showing me every position I could get into, rubbed my shoulders during contractions, and did this all on his weekend off. He eventually got me to come out of it long enough to talk and said, “your body is worn out. If I could press pause on your uterus and let it take a break I would. You have lost power behind your contractions. There are a couple of things I can do.” I interrupted him and demanded a c-section. After life went back to normal, I felt ashamed of my story. I felt like I was a horrible mom because I couldn’t bring my son into this world he way I wanted to? And oh good grief what will all my friends think? My Bradley class was extremely close. After all our babies were close to two months old we had a get together. I was afraid to tell my story. About how hard I tried, about how my son never turned the full 180 to descend down the birth canal (he turned 90 and stopped so he was looking at my hip) and about how I had “given in” so easily. These women empathized with me. They understood my struggles because even though each one of them delivered vaginally they each had a complication or a problem that they had to deal with. These are some of my favorite women because they made me feel safe and not judged. I realize how much of a gem they are and how lucky I am. My thought is to either be that friend to others and to allow others to be that for me. Every once in a while I still feel judged, but then I remember what those women said and I feel safe again.

  27. Maria-Elena says:

    Heather, I would like to share with you that there is an association with lip and tongue ties and mutations in the MTHFR gene. One of the results of a mutation (there are two of which we are aware, C677T and A1298C) is an impairment of the body’s ability to assimilate Folic acid and other B vitamins. You can get one copy of each mutation from each parent so there are a total of four possible mutations. I strongly encourage you and your family to get tested because if you or anyone else have one or more mutation, it is important to change your approach to sourcing B vitamins.

    Here are some websites with more information:

    Please feel free to email me if you want to talk more about this. :)

  28. Shanna says:

    Heather, You have no idea how healing your words have been. About 8 months ago, after a wonderful (first) pregnancy, I had a beautiful set of b/g twins.
    Rewind to 21 weeks when, after having started out with a midwife & home water birth plan, we had our first ultrasound and found out we were having twins. We prayed hard and decided to go ‘the hospital route’ b/c of the increased risk and that our midwife had never delivered twins. I was so sad, and felt that I was going to be fighting uphill the whole way to keep as much of my birth plan intact as I could. Although I was very open with my Doctor about wanting to do things as natural and non-invasive as possible, I often did feel pressured to do things that were not really necessary. I carried my double blessings to 39 & 1 in spite of my nervous Doc’s desire & attempt to induce me at 38.
    When my water broke naturally at home, I was so thankful. However, 16 hours later, I was only dilated to 1.5 and my contractions were irregular & not strong. Here began the pressure for antibiotics to prevent infection & eventually to have a c/s. I wanted to (and did) avoid Pit. because I agreed to the c/s. . . waving goodbye to my cherished birth plan. Gone were my desires for delayed cord clamping, babies right onto my chest to nurse and all the things I’d read about for the past year. (insert a shameless plug for Beautiful Babies by Food Renegade!)
    Did I get 2 healthy babies? Yes! No NICU time, very high apgar scores, no jaundice. . . My prayers in that way had been answered so amazingly. But I was in surgery for another 45 mins and then recovery for an hour & 15 after that. I’d had one look at each baby before they were taken to the nursery with Daddy.
    Nursing was a challenge right from the start and thanks to YOUR article, I recognized my girl was lip tied. She could only nurse with a shield and not well. My boy seemed to have a fine latch and was a little piranha. :) Nursing was EXCRUCIATING and made it so difficult to bond. Not to mention the frustration of the munchkins. Many hours I cried while nursing. Sometimes, I just pumped to give myself a break. They lost weight and took 4 weeks to get back to their birth weights (6lb10oz & 7lb14oz). At 3 weeks, their pediatrician was getting antsy about them still being below birth weight, and b/c I felt like they were always hungry and I was not making enough, I began to supplement with organic hexane free formula. Overwhelming guilt.
    Utter failure.
    Intense inadequacy.
    I could not do what my sweet ones MOST needed me to do. The most important job I could have, I was failing at.
    Each time I gave them bottles or SNS, I felt like I was giving them poison. Yet, I did not know what else to do. A very dear friend coached me, helped me & encouraged me. I fought to increase my supply. Tea, supplements, frequent nursing even through sobs (mine and the babies’). At 3 months, we took them to Dr. Kotlow (mentioned you to them :). Turns out, they were BOTH lip and tongue tied! Instantly, nursing was almost painless. I ditched the shield for the first time since birth. Thank you, Lord!
    Sadly, the damage had been done. No matter what I tried or continued to do, I could not ditch the formula. I just could not provide enough for both babies to be satisfied. They are growing slowly and are small for their age and so pressure comes from many sides for me to ‘tank them up’ or give up nursing altogether.
    It is a struggle every day not to despair.
    When I read the crunchy blogs I follow, I just want to tell them my story and ask, “What would YOU have done? What else can I DO?!?” I love nursing my gifts and will fight to continue for as long as possible (I’m giving up a trip to Austria & Paris with my hubby to continue nursing) even though I don’t make enough. I cannot convey how discouraging it is when you are fighting so hard and STILL cannot do what you so long to do. I’ve had family tell me I should just formula feed and give them cereal to make them grow. I fight to do what is best for them, but many people have their own ideas of what that is.
    Thank you for reminding us all to be sensitive to those who may be doing things differently than us. We never know what difficult circumstances surround their choices.
    (I apologize for being so long-winded. It has been on my heart for some time and I am thankful for the chance to share. I pray it is an encouragement to others who have walked this path.)

  29. Abby says:

    I had my first baby in June via emergency c-section.

    I wanted an all-natural water birth. Like, really really wanted. I had all my prenatal care through a midwife; I did everything “right.” I only gained the recommended amount of weight, I are really healthily, I worked out up until 39 weeks- I was the picture of health and the perfect candidate for a birth center- birth.

    But around 37 weeks my midwife discovered my blood pressure had sky rocketed. I never actually developed pre-eclampsia, but because I was likely to progress to that we try all the “natural” induction techniques know to man. After a week of trying, I finally went into labor two days before my due date.

    We went to birth center. I labored all night in the tub, surrounded by candles, my hubby, and midwives. It was perfect. It was hard work, obviously, but I’ve never been so amazed at what my body could do. And then it was time to start pushing.

    Almost three hours later my midwife told me we’d have to go to the hospital. I had a lip of cervix that they couldn’t get to stay back and the baby had suddenly flipped sunny-side up.

    At the hospital, I asked for an epidural because I was so exhausted from being in labor for almost 24 hours and pushing for almost three. Finally, after pushing for almost another two hours with the OB trying to get the baby to turn, the baby had two decellerations in his heart beat and the OB said I would have to have a c-section. I was utterly defeated and I cannot even begin to explain how I felt after coming all the way through labor and transition and pushing, only to have a c-section.

    Once in the OR they completely lost the baby’s heart rate and had to cut me open without anesthesia in order to get him out (he was stuck in the birth canal… After almost five hours of pushing go figure). He wasn’t breathing when he was born. In the midst the rush to save him, I hemmoraged and almost lost too much blood.

    By the grace of God we both ended up fine, but even now, 9 weeks later, I still have a hard time looking back on our story.

  30. Elissa says:

    Hi! I love this post, it is especially true for a lot of us. In my case, I changed OB once I found out I was pregnant (in Venezuela it’s extremely hard to find an OB that makes you push and does not go for a c-section immediately. My mum had 4 children and she bf all of us and more – with me she bf a neighbours baby as well. She was my goal) and my pregnancy was PERFECT! Once I got to week 38 and I went to my appointment I was met with my Dr’s daughter – who is also an OB – to hear “my dad made me give birth and it was the most horrible thing. I will not put you through that!” As soon as she started checking me she realized that my blood pressure was sky high and she asked me to get monitored morning and evening and if by the following week it was still like that she would have to do an emergency c-section. I cried and willed myself to calm down but to no avail. The following Monday my gorgeous son was born and they took him away and gave him a bottle (the epidural did nothing to me – I guess my stress was so high – and I had to go under for them to continue the operation) and subsequently it was extremely hard for him to get on the breast and I only lasted one month. He simply did not want it, and over there there are very few bf consultants. I am sure that if I had someone to help me things would have been different.
    This was nearly 6 years ago and I still feel disappointment. Right now I am in a different country, I have a friend who is a midwife/doula, I feel better prepared and when the moment comes I am sure I will get the birth that I want as well as accomplishing my bf goal.

  31. Crystal says:

    I tried to have a natural birth but my child was OP. He would not turn into the proper position and we were monitoring his heartbeat which was dropping. My doctor and nurses were wonderful in that they supported my natural birth decision and didn’t panic but at 8 cms, I opted for the epidural to try and help me push and maybe help my pelvis loosen and open up more. That didn’t happen even though I had a bunch of nurses who were trying to turn him and help out. So finally the doctor said “I think it’s time to prep for the C-section” and I was honestly OK/relieved with it. My husband and I had trouble conceiving so all I cared about was just having a healthy baby in my arms and didn’t want to try and force anything that would jeopardize it. My doctor is one of the best in our area and I just put my faith and trust in him and let him finish the rest. My child was born a healthy baby boy at 8 lbs, 14 oz. There were some things I missed out on having the c-section but honestly, I am just proud of my body for producing this healthy, now, 2 year old. And my son was also tongue-tied and had to get his frenulum clipped. I have to credit the pediatrician at the hospital for that because she saw it before I noticed (and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it for awhile). If we have another, I would like to try a VBAC but know that my plans may have to change and I will have to be flexible with it.

  32. Lauren says:

    I can relate in every way to this post. I definitely did not get the birth I wanted. At 16 days past my due date I finally had to be induced, I ran out of options. My body wasn’t ready, and it sucked. I spent 24 hours on pitocin, dilated fully and finally tried pushing. He was facing up and a 9lbs 8oz baby so after pushing for more than an hour I was told it wasn’t good to happen. I was devastated, I had my midwives with me and they agreed. I had a c-section and I’m still so disappointed about it. I felt very disconnected and on top of that couldn’t get breastfeeding to work. I went to classes and had a lactation consultant come to our house, and after 2 weeks of crying constantly I stopped. I kept pumping and did so for 6 months, it made me feel better but I felt ashamed that I had to feed my baby formula, but like many other moms I just wanted to feed my baby and was terribly upset I couldn’t get my body to do it. It’s hard to share the disappointment with people because they console me by telling me everything is fine because my son is a healthy happy boy, and they’re right, he’s now 15 months and I wouldn’t change him for the world. I’m pregnant with my second, due in less than 3 months and I feel a little more prepared for this one. Different expectations and lots of things I’m goin to try and do differently. Thanks so much for sharing!

  33. Sara Pittman says:

    I birthed all three of my children in a birth center and labored in a the water, it was amazing!! my husband and my mother were my biggest supporters. I know many women who choose to do the same with no support behind their decision from family and friends because of the fear of their “unknown”. I am so grateful for these experiences and the opportunity to share a positive story and encourage women at the same time. A few of my friend’s birthing experiences were anything but what they wanted and encouragement and support got them through. That is what we all need. I had my babies naturally and it was exactly what I wanted. I would have loved to exclusively breastfeed all three babies until a year..that was my plan but around the 7 month mark, I had to start making breast milk and formula cocktails for every feeding because I wasn’t producing enough. Pumping and freezing, thawing and mixing and Inside I felt a little defeated, like I had let my babies down. I had expectations for myself. I am healthy and young(I would think to myself) … but things just didn’t work out in that aspect. My children are happy and healthy and that is whats important. This is just one of the many things in life that keep me thankful and humble.

  34. 5 Surprising (But True) Facts About Motherhood – MommypotamusMommypotamus | says:

    […] I shared in this post, I struggled to breastfeed my second child. I fully embrace the notion that our bodies […]

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