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Every Mamas Challenge: Overcoming Disappointment

on April 20 | in Breastfeeding | by | with 99 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.

Fullscreen-capture-4192011-102917-PM.bmp

I waterbirthed 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.

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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99 Responses to Every Mamas Challenge: Overcoming Disappointment

  1. Des says:

    I definitely can relate to this. My recent birth was NOT what I had envisioned and although I still ended up with a natural delivery, I was so disappointed. Whenever someone would say, “I’m proud of you, you did it naturally” I found myself saying, “Why? I freaked out. I lost it. I didn’t get my water birth because the baby was in distress. I wasn’t calm and the last hour of delivery played out like an tv show crazy woman screaming her way through transition” I felt like I failed somehow and I have no idea why! I wanted a peaceful birth, but it was chaotic and scary. But now that I’ve had a few weeks to process it all, I feel better about it and proud that I didn’t resort to medication or a c-section. But that mommy disappointment sure stings and is hard to push down.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for being so open, Des. I think there are a lot of moms who have similar feelings who need to know they’re not alone.

    • Alli says:

      I screamed like a crazy person the last 10 minutes and was a little disappointed that I reacted that way. But I figure we just let our bodies do what they need to do to get thorugh it!

  2. Julie Sutton Jones via FB says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I still feel like a horrible mom for formula feeding. Not sure why b/c I got the outcome I wanted–happy, healthy, perfect 13mo old baby boy. We just didn’t get here in the way I had planned and wanted so badly. I’ll never forget the day when he was about a week old and I found out he was basically starving. I tried so hard and thought I did everything right and WHAM I’m starving my precious baby boy. Talk about a knife to the heart. At that point I knew I didn’t care anymore what he ate as long as he ate and was healthy! I think I would have fed him dog food if someone would have told me that was what he needed to grow. LOL:) (kidding of course)

  3. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    mamas take care of babies whatever it takes — that is what we do — and exactly what you are doing — *hugs*

  4. Abbey says:

    About the CPD thing. Just b/c you are diagnosed w/CPD for one baby, doesn’t make it so for another. I have a fused sacrum, was diagnosed with CPD with my second baby, I got to 9 cm and my cervix swelled (I had my 2nd c/section). CPD stands for cephalopelvicdisporportion…meaning that the baby’s head is not porportionally able to fit through the pelvis. For that second baby, I don’t think she would have fit because she was posterior…thus an accurate diagnosis. However, I was able to have a VBA3C 11 years later. If I had just accepted that diagnosis and sceduled my c/sections, I would have never gotton my vaginal birth. Anyway, CPD doesn’t mean…Pelvis too small; no baby will fit. It just means, at that time, it didn’t work.

    I actually blogged about this subject today too. I feel like birth is being misrepresented by the extremists (on both sides…natural birth and c/sections) and we need to learn to have realistic expectations and know that unexpected things can happen. It isn’t always glamourous and we need to be willing to accept whatever route it takes. Thats very difficult sometimes, that’s why it’s so important to have truly supportive people around you who know what to do when you have a situation arise. That goes for all aspects of parenting, from birth to these wonderful teenage years (we are entering into now). whew! This isn’t easy, from the moment of birth, it’s not easy. It’s so important to not have unrealistic expectations and not set up moms for failure and disappointment.

  5. caitlin says:

    looooooove this post. i think “mommy guilt” is a very real thing that we all deal with on one level or another. there have been a number of times that i’ve considered blogging about certain topics, but i’ve refrained because i have certain women in mind, who read my blog, who i think i would make feel too guilty by making blanket statements like “all women should breastfeed” or “it’s best for a mom to stay home with her children.” this was beautifully written, and rings so true. when are you going to NY? i will keep you and micah in my prayers.

  6. Heather says:

    Heather, you state so beautifully what I think so many of us feel! I wanted a natural birth more than anyone I knew at the time, but mostly because of my own lack of education, didn’t make it. Though I’m prepared to do things differently next time, I still occasionally grieve for the birth I wanted. I don’t feel upset when other people talk about their successful natural births. I do feel a bit sad for my own birth, but I feel proud of them. It fuels my passion to do things differently next time. However, I agree with you that we should embrace and accept those of us who didn’t get what they wanted, or got exactly what they wanted, even if it’s different than our “ideal.” Love your blog! Always happy to read :)

  7. joy says:

    A hearty amen from the choir. This post is truth.

  8. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for this post, I had a very rough pregnancy and lost my grandfather who I had been caring for until his death during my third trimester. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia shortly after and put on bed rest. Not my dream situation for my frost pregnancy, but then at the doctors office at my 37 week check another mommy proceeded to tell me how it was my fault that I had pre-e, I could have prevented it by eating better, exercising more, all kinds of things. I am sitting there thinking, what have I done? I thought I was doing everything right? The guilt and stress that I felt sent me into labor that day…37 long hours and 4 hours of pushing at the end. nothing like I though it would be. I was still carrying around this guilt over everything, I didn’t even want to have another child because I was afraid I would mess everything up again! Your post makes me feel so much better, sometimes things happen that really are out of out control, I really needed someone to tell me that….thanks!

    • Heather says:

      Melissa – Wow, it must have been so hard to endure the stress and pain of such a loss! When I was growing up my mom cared for my grandmother until she died, so I know firsthand what an emotional rollercoaster it can be. Please let that mommy guilt go.

  9. @Julie Sutton Jones – Glad you liked it. I actually wrote it with you in mind :)

  10. @Julie Whetstine – So true, and thank you. It means so much to have our efforts validated, doesn’t it?

  11. Julie Whetstine via FB says:

    my third child never nursed like my first two did and we stopped when she turned one — it was just such a different experience — and i’ve never found a reason for it — but it was hard emotionally…

  12. Colleen says:

    Wonderful post! With my fourth, the kid didn’t want to eat. Hospital didn’t want to let me go home due to jaundice (we left anyway) and my mom-in-law started giving tips on how to nurse (felt like she was saying I didn’t know what I was doing even though I’d had 3 other kids). He was my kid born less than a year after another child died, so I figured I was depressed & he was picking up on my “bad” vibes. I felt like a horrible mom. Somehow, I hung in there, in tears at times, but kept trying. The kid was looking malnourished by 2 months old, I was going nuts, and then he “got it.” He never fully nursed totally right (led to lots of soreness & multiple infections), but I went on to nurse him until was 2 1/2 years old. When he was about a year old, he busted his mouth on a windowsill and we thought he’d lose two teeth. The bleeding was awful and his top lip bruised & swelled for weeks. That’s when we discovered the kid had either a Class III or IV attachment. When he injured himself, it tore the attachment apart. If I’d know, I would surgically had it fixed but guess my tough kid took care of it himself :-) I think every mama needs to read your post — we’ve all had times we feel “let down” by our own self.

    • Heather says:

      Colleen – You are amazing for sticking with it 2 1/2 years! Nursing a toddler is challenging under the best of circumstances. :) When we had Micah’s first surgery the ENT told us most tongue-tied kids tear their attachment the way your son did but most parents never realize it. How did you figure it out?

      • Colleen says:

        Hehe… it was just me being stubborn and determined that I would make nursing work. Or maybe I was determined to show my mother-in-law I did know what I was doing :-) Once all the swelling went away & we could peek under little guy’s lip, we noticed “skin” flaps hanging off his gum & lip. A little bit of research and I discovered what it was — suddenly made perfect sense why he had such trouble nursing. After having him (and the troubles I had with my first child), I feel like I should be a lactation consultant! I’m glad you found out what it was with Micah and are getting it taken care of.

  13. Hannah R says:

    I had a similar post today. Two of my friends courageously shared their trials of the end of breastfeeding. It wasn’t what they had hoped and dreamed the end would be like. But, in talking with them, they know their experience will help other women so they allowed me to share their stories.

    So glad you are opening a discussion. Some mothers need a space to share. For me, the postpartum period was so difficult. I secretly envy mothers who can sit on their bottoms two days after birth or even just make it to the bathroom in time. I had such bad tearing that it took me months to recover.

    My hope is that we can stop judging women for doing or not doing this or that and be an encouraging ray of hope for each one.

  14. Elisabeth says:

    A suggestion for a post: “who nurtures the nurturer?”

    If you asked me a week or two ago if I feel like having a baby has changed my life much, I would have scratched my head. I’ve been so in the moment, staying afloat, that I have absolutely no “before/after” perspective. Over the last few days I’ve been realizing how, even though these dramatic changes haven’t been on my radar, they’ve been affecting me deeply and coming out in other ways. It made me realize why, for some women, PPD could hit a full year after birth. Working so hard, giving so much, even with the support of husband and friends, I’ve started wishing for someone who could mother *me* part-time. I mean, I guess that’s what our actual moms could do for us, but I live 5 hours away from mine. Hence my question.

  15. Oh Heather…thank you for stating all this. Not sure if you saw my guest blog on the GBBC a few weeks ago…but I talk about healing from the “birth that should’ve been” ( although you can also insert pregnant, BF relationship, etc…) and give pointers on how others can support women after birth, realizing that each woman’s journey is so different and we need to allow it to be that way.
    I now have been on the other side of a very difficult homebirth and very traumatizing BF relationship… and as hard as it has been and as much as I have grieved them both…I cant help but he honest with the fact that I am much more humble, slower to speak and empathetic than I ever was before these painful events. While I sometimes do wonder what life would have been like without these struggles…I KNOW that the Lord had a plan in them and is using them to help me be better… a better mom, a better friend, a better doula, a better BF educator, and better daughter of his. That is what I have to remind myself of each time I am confronted with someone who just doesn’t get it and says things that make me feel like I have failed.
    I get better handling this with time…but this gentle reminder about caring for people dealing with disappointment will only make our communities be able to support other women better!

  16. Lesley Finney Spradlin via FB says:

    *tears* Such a good post…

  17. Jolee Burger says:

    I had tears in my eyes at your first paragraph… you have such a way with words. Beautifully said.

  18. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for this! I had an unnecessary C-section with my son because I was young and just trusted whatever the doctor’s told me. I was so disappointed and did a ton of research the second time around. I labored for 72 hours with my daughter, with a midwife, in a birth center… I had chiropractics the entire pregnancy… I had a doula… I did EVERYTHING I could… and ended up with another C-section! I was heartbroken. I’m so thankful that I was able to nurse both of my children very successfully… it really eased that “mommy guilt.”

  19. Heather says:

    I too suffer “Mommy guilt” Nothing has turned out like i had planned. I wanted a natural child birth. My son was not able to descend because he head was too large. Even after contracting every 15-20 minutes for a week, he still had not descended. My heart was broken when it was advised for me to have a c-section. Even while i was getting preped, one of the nurses made the comment of “i cant beleive that you didnt even try to be induced” He came out 9lbs 5oz with a head circumfrence of 19 inches. I had a birth plan (even with my c-section) that he was going to stay with me in the o.r. then we would go into the recovery room together so that i could nurse. There was a lactation consultant that was going to come and show me how to nurse laying down right from the start. That didnt work out either. I was loosing too much blood and my son was wisked off by the NICU team for mecomium aspiration and heart trouble. 6 HOURS after i gave birth i was finally able to hold my son. Less than an hour had passed before i was in trouble again. I had developed a blood clot in my leg that traveled to my lungs and was un able to breathe. I was sent off for a battery of tests and spent the next week in the ICU. I had to pump and dump for the first 48 hours but i made it adiment to the nurses that my son was not allowed to have a bottle. They had to give him formula so they did finger feedings. Next up for complications was my son. He vomitted everytime he ate. No matter what formula he tried and even on my breastmilk. I was soo discouraged at this point. I tried nursing, i tried supplimenting with the sns method, i looked for donor milk but i couldnt find any. I gave up nursing because he just threw up everything. After 6 different formulas, we discovered that my son was allergic to milk and soy so had to be put on perscription formula called Neocate. Since his birth, his medical health has been alot of ups and downs (more downs than ups) but we keep pushing through. I was given a poem during one of his hospital stays called “Welcome to Holland” I now know that I given a different set of cards so im learning how to play them, my way. I may not be as ‘crunchy’ as some of my fellow mama friends, but i try. Im proud to say that my son is a formula feed, delayed solids, cloth diapered, selective vacinations, worn by mommy, baby.

    • Heather says:

      That must have been SO HARD, Heather. Your formula fed, cloth diapered, selectively vaccinated, worn by mama baby has one incredible mama. Thank you for being real.

  20. Amy Botts says:

    After looking at pics, I think my daughter has a class IV also. BF was very painful for me as well, and I remember holding my breath, too! (Long story short: I ended up pumping around the clock just to do what I thought was right. I always had to supplement w/formula (There! I said it!). I felt guilty EVERY time I put a bottle in her mouth, but she would only nurse in the morning and after her naps. She weaned from nursing when she started to walk at ten months, and I was so devastated to say the least! Although I had pumped so much, I was able to give her some of my milk until five days shy of her first birthday. I had all these dreams and hopes and pictures in my mind, but that’s not the way it turned out, and it still really bothers me that I wasn’t able to do something that felt like it should have been really natural!
    Through this experience, I learned A LOT about myself! I learned to ask for help because people really do want to lend a hand (or a shoulder), and that “when you know better, you do better”. And I hope that because of all of my struggles, my two girls won’t have to go through all of the pain (both physical and emotional) that I went through (and am still healing from).
    Thank you for your post, Heather! I will be thinking of you and your sweet family!

  21. chelsea says:

    I featured this post in my weekly roundup of my favorite links this week.

    thanks for the inspiration!

    have a great weekend.

    -Chelsea

    http://www.usthreebirds.blogspot.com

  22. Casey says:

    Hi Amy I know exactly how you feel I can’t pretend to be a huge fan of breast feeding. Although fed my first for about 6 months. It hurt like hell until I got her latching on properly when things improved a lot.One thing I know for sure I couldn’t breast feed for 38 months in a life time. My second baby is due this winter and I can’t pretend the thought of breast feeding fills me with delight but maybe it’s because I am a coward at heart?

  23. Carrie says:

    You have been such inspiration to me. I am a 21 year old first time mom. My son is 8 weeks old and while my water birth was everything that I wanted it to be.. breastfeeding hasn’t gone as I daydreamed it would during my pregnancy, and that has been hard to swallow.
    We have been unsuccessfully fighting thrush since a few days after birth, another mama friend just sent me a link to your website two days ago and I have been reading night and day since.
    I believe my son also has a stage IV Maxillary tie. I’m praying that we can find the help we need as breastfeeding is still painful for me.

    My blog post on breastfeeding http://www.oursmallhaven.com/2011/04/breastfeeding.html

  24. Our firstborn is tongue tied & was never diagnosed by doc. The first 3-4 months were so painful! Felt like such a failure! Eventually it did get better & was able to nurse her the full year :)

  25. Yay that you hung in there . . . I know how hard that is! How did you find out she was tongue tied after all?

  26. A friend who was a dental hygentist randomly looked in her mouth one day … it did make me feel better, a reason for the difficulty

  27. Abbey Byrd says:

    I Loved this post!

  28. shannon says:

    mommy guilt is so real and strong. i didn’t get the birth i wanted and will not get to. it’s very hard to accept. i miss being pregnant and miss nursing and will not get to have that special bond again either. knowing i won’t get to try again makes it harder, but i am trying to accept it and move on. my boy is here and safe and sweeter than honey so th at’s all i need to worry about. : ) Now I just need to actually not worry about the rest!

  29. Off topic- I think I have your birth photographer on my FB feed! Was she the one that had the pic of the ‘roaring’ mama a few months/weeks ago?

  30. & now that I’ve read the article- my son has something similar, but it didn’t interfere with breastfeeding. But I always wondered why he never showed his top teeth as a baby! I asked my step-dad (a MD) and he said to just wait and see, but like I said, it’s not interfering with anything.

  31. Megan says:

    I’m majorly struggling in the disappointment arena right now! I had the pregnancy I wanted (I was healthy and felt great to the end). I had the labor I wanted (completely natural). But my daughter was born not breathing and spent the next 8 weeks in the NICU and had 5 surgeries. I didn’t even get to hold her until she was 5 days old and then sporadically after that. She’s been pretty traumatized and we still haven’t really bonded. I am still breastfeeding my first (she’s 25 months) and had so looked forward to tandem nursing. But instead I am tandem nursing/pumping. My littlest one is tube fed and so I pump for her and try to nurse her at an empty breast. Last week I came across something about lip ties and realized my first has a Class III and my newest one has a Class IV! So another surgery for the baby, hoping that someday she’ll stop aspirating and I’ll get to nurse her for real. But even then, she’ll probably still need to take bottles that are fortified breastmilk (she has thus far struggled to grow on straight breastmilk) and nursing will be a challenge with her trach. So disappointing when I tried to do it all “right” and still didn’t get the results I worked for. I’ll never get back all the things we missed out on in those first few months, but I’m hoping she and I can bond as mother and daughter soon.

  32. @Kathryn – Katie had a lip tie that went undiagnosed, which prevented milk from properly clearing from her mouth and caused decay. I always wondered what I did wrong and was so relieved when I found out it was not my fault at all! So yeah, I can totally identify!

  33. Health Home and Happiness – My daughter has a lip tie too but didn’t have any problems nursing. However, because it prevented milk from properly clearing from her mouth it did cause tooth decay (which we reversed). And yes, Lynsey is the brilliant photog behind the “roaring mama” pic. Love her!

  34. [...] with in the past few weeks. So many of you identified maxillary ties in your children after reading last weeks post . . . and sent me pics to prove it! Word is getting out, yet few lactation consultants, [...]

  35. [...] during pregnancy and posted my findings here). Then, on top of that, Katie had a lip tie (same as my son’s) that caused milk to pool near her top four teeth in the front, causing a breastmilk version of [...]

  36. [...] for food very early. As long as low milk supply due to breastfeeding problems (like Micah’s tongue tie) has been ruled out I say go for [...]

  37. Dusty says:

    My son was slightly tongue tied & Dr would not clip it. Lactation consultant @ hospital said it should be clipped & offered to help find me a Dr who would. I declined thinking the Dr knew best & didn’t want to hurt my 1st baby if I didn’t have to. He didn’t latch on properly until 6 months. The 1st 3 months of his life was traumatic for both of us. Sore, cracked & scabbed over nipples made meal times full of anxiety. We knew @ about 2 weeks something else was going on with him. He was rashy, wheezy & didn’t sleep for 2 hour stretches until 8-9 weeks (2 weeks before I had to go back to work). We had determined @ 2weeks he had an allergy or protein intolereance of some sort. He had a bowel movement in almost every diaper. He always cried & was gassy with these BM’s. So i elliminated milk, soy, egg & nuts from my diet which took time & education. That was tough since I didn’t cook & everything I ate had at least 1 of these items in it. I ate oatmeal everyday for breakfast. Lunch was baked chicken or dry sandwhich on special bread with veggies & fruit. Dinner was chicken, rice & veggies & fruit. I dropped 80 lbs by the time he was 6 months. Dr said most children outgrow the tie or adjust & lengthen as they get older. He did but almost had to have speech therapy. He was borderline. They (ECI) offered to re-test, but he had made such a big improvement, that I declined. Today at age 6, he is fine but complains when I make him stick his tongue out. Is it too late to clip it? I just looked & he also has the other tie. Not sure how tight it was as a baby. His 4 year old brother has the top tie too, but never had trouble nursing. Should I check into correcting both of their top ties now?

  38. Sorry, that was supposed to be “tell you a little of my story” – typing while making lunch!

  39. Thank you Jenn Rennicks Lalonde!

  40. Karen says:

    Wow, a lot of guilt here, ladies! I am an RN with 25+ yrs neonatal experience. That includes 20+ yrs attending high risk births in labor and delivery. I had my first and only child at age 41 surrounded by my professional colleagues in the high risk department. It was NOT a picture perfect labor and delivery. It was NOT fabulous and video-worthy. But the staff and my husband did everything they could to make me as comfortable as possible and provide a safe delivery for our daughter. Interestingly enough, the whole birth process is usually only 24-48 hours, but the outcome can affect your child for the rest of their life!! When you look at it that way, the type of birth ( c-section, vaginal, vaginal assisted, etc) really doesnt matter in the big scheme of things. Judgements made against women who needed to have a c-section for any reason are just ridiculous, IMO. I have seen too many very ill babies resulting from folks refusing a c-section. Thank God we have the option at this point in history to have a c-section to save the lives of mothers and babies. In past centuries there were many more tragic tales of moms and babies that didnt make it through the birth process. ( and we still have those stories evn with all of our technological advances and knowledge)
    I struggled with thrush and mastitis infections and low milk supply through 8 months of breastfeeding. I finally gave up and went to formula when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Today, my daughter is a healthy, beautiful 6 year old. For me, that is the most important thing; that she is healthy. Give yourself permission to let go of some of your expectations surrounding pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, and give other women the chance to support you through those decisions. Be kind to other women who may not do things exactly the way you would, but are doing their best. Sometimes, it is just helpful to share your story with them, so they can process and integrate it into their own knowledge. Sometimes they just need to tell their story and you just need to listen. :)

    • cmh says:

      I don’t think the issue is guilt place upon women by others but by ourselves, and not just guilt but rather grief. My sisters first child was planned to arrive at home and after countless hours (days) of hard labor she was too exhausted to continue and needed to be transferred. The hospital she was transferred to for the most part was wonderful they did all they could to help her have as close as possible to the birth she had hoped for but in the end there was simply no way around the c-section. There was no guilt placed on her by anyone for having the c-section nor even by herself but their was certainly grief, and I think we have to be careful we don’t rob women of the opportunity, need and right to grieve or minimize those very real emotions by telling them that only the outcome and not the type of birth are all that matter. Ultimately yes the life and health of baby and mom are of course the most important but the grief a woman experiences over the loss of the birth she was hoping for are no less valid.

  41. Elise Genta Sprenger via FB says:

    i adore this picture:)

  42. Thank you, Elise Genta Sprenger! I adore the birth photographer that captured it for us!

  43. cmh says:

    Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories and Mommypotamus for your post!! Its so important for women to be able to share and encourage one another when things don’t go as hoped..

    After having effortlessly breastfed five children I never in a million yrs would have dreamed that I’d have trouble breastfeeding my sixth. We had a perfect birth experience (all have been born at home) and things seemed to be off to a good start in spite of Amelia having been born with Down Syndrome (we did not know about the Down Syndrome before her birth and I”m SOOO thankful for that bc I just may have been scared enough of the heath concerns associated with DS to have considered a hospital birth and I’m so thankful now that she was not subjected to that!!!! She was born into a home full of people who loved her passionately the moment she entered the world and was allowed to bond and adjust to life outside the womb peacefully here at home with out being whisked away to be poked and prodded as Down Syndrome babies seem to always be in the hospital. There was no sorrow or anger at her birth than many moms and babies have to endure at the hospital. I know one mom who’s Dr was furious at her for declining the prenatal testing for DS when her baby was born bc “we could have taken care of this and she would not have had to be born at all”) Anyway back to my story… Amelia has the low muscle tone many DS kiddos do so her suckling was gentle compared to my other kiddos. Still my milk came in and she seemed to off to a good start, she lost and gained the first week as babies do but the gaining slowed and we realized she was not getting enough nutrition. I began pumping round the clock and taking herbs to increase my milk supply but still she wasn’t gaining. Unlike our other kiddos she had been thoroughly checked out by a pediatrician had ton of blood work done, as well as an EKG and echo-cardiogram to rule out the major health concerns associated with Down Syndrome all within the first month of her sweet little life and Praise God she is as healthy as any of my children have been (actually healthier thanks to my being on GAPS during her pregnancy, no exeama or digestive issues that all my other babies had ;) ) so we knew that it had to be my milk supply. I began supplementing with the Weston A Price formula recipe and she began gaining right away. I used a Lact-aide system with the formula in hopes that my milk supply would increase and we could wean off the formula but when I became pregnant again when she was only 7 months old my milk supply dried up completely and unfortunately she has been exclusively formula fed since then. I know that she is getting fantastic nutrition, probably better than my other kiddos did who nursed exclusively just bc my health was poor and my nutrition lacking while I nursed some of them but it still pains my heart when I go to instinctively latch her on she refuses and looks at me like :what are you doing” Sometimes I wish I’d kept using the lact-aide system just for that reason even though I had no milk but I didn’t think about that at the time and little by little she’s forgotten about nursing and loves her bottle. I’m very grateful for the WAP formula recipe!! I could never have the peace I do about bottle feeding her if I had to give her a commercial formula and she is the healthiest baby you can possibly imagine and in the 90th% on all those silly growth charts (that I never paid any attention to with my other kids) so there is nothing but good that came from it and God has faithfully provided for all her needs but like I said I still feel a bit of grief and guilt too that I wasn’t able to nurse. I find that I am self conscious in public whenever I giver her a bottle and used to feel the need to explain to people why I was giving her that bottle instead of nursing her. I know that’s just my own pride and its silly but still it’ss there once in a while. I don’t expect to have any problems nursing this next baby but I certainly won’t take nursing for granted anymore. I used to grumble about nursing once in a while, I’ve never been one of those women who just love nursing, I did it bc it was was good for my babies but I think I might be one of those women who love it now ;)

  44. JoAnne says:

    Thank you for this. You are absolutely right. Reading all the wonderful crunchy info out there on birthing naturally can really get one thinking that pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and even co-sleeping are an endless cycle of pleasure and satisfaction, and if it’s not, then you must have done something wrong.

    I had a home birth that, almost three years later, I am still traumatized by. The amount of pain I experienced was so beyond any of my expectations, the amount of time in labor was three times what I had hoped and I was left feeling near death after the experience, wondering if I would ever physically recover. For a long time I felt like I must have done something wrong for it to have turned out the way it did, but have come to understand none of us have total control over what happens in pregnancy, childbirth and the adjustment period thereafter, no matter how much time you have spent preparing and educating yourself.

    I wrote about the experience on my blog. My baby came out healthy and all was well. It was just very traumatic. An experience I could never again endure.
    http://sweetgingermama.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/my-birth-story/

  45. Sandra Morgan via FB says:

    This is great! Being mom is so complex, the easier way out isn’t always the best, and labor and breasfeeding are just as hard, but so full of rewards, such accomplishments. Proud to be a woman!!!!

  46. Sandra Morgan via FB says:

    What a great story! Being a mom is so hard! Yet so full of satisfactions! Labor and breast feeding are not easy, and easy isn’t always the best way. So proud to be a mom! I breast feed all my four… And feels great to see the results.:)

  47. I totally agree, Sandra Morgan!!!

  48. Sarah says:

    I need to go through and read all these comments.

    With my first baby, I had a wonderful pregnancy, but at 41w5d I was easily talked into an induction. After back labor, an early epidural, pushing for a few hours, I was easily talked into a c-section due to “fetal distress”. Even with working, He was a wonderful nurser, I just regret now quitting at 10 months when he “self-weaned”…yeah, he was just interested in his world and I was tired of pumping.

    With my second baby, it was another easy pregnancy, but around 22 weeks she was breach. Against my gut, I allowed my OB to schedule the repeat c-section at 39 weeks. She said if my daughter flipped and I went into labor beforehand, I could have a trial of labor. Little girl flipped around 36 weeks, but yeah right, like I was going to go into spontaneous labor 1-2 weeks early…I wish I would have fought harder. And then, with the job I had, working 3 12hour shifts a week with only 1 break to eat and pump in a bathroom stall…I dried up at 4 months.

    With my 3rd baby, I researched for over a year before we even conceived. I’ve always struggled with fertility, and I wanted no dr assistance getting pregnant with this one. After almost a year of trying with the first time in my life having regular cycles (who would have thought diet and exercise affects your cycle…duh). One week before signing the paperwork that made us licensed to foster and adopt children, we found out we were pregnant. Due to being older, over 4 years between pregnancies, and partially due to fostering other children, needless to say it was a difficult pregnancy. No amount of watching my diet and resting helped with the morning sickness. Due to a rough placement that I sadly had to cut short, I had some preterm labor at 21 weeks which terrified me (I’d never even had braxton hicks until 39 weeks). But after a break in fostering and taking a lot of rest, I made it to 40 weeks with no other issues. My water broke on it’s own at 12:30am on my due date, and I finally had my VBA2C. I had a wonderful OB and doula who both supported me and encouraged me in doing it naturally to increase my success rate and help with bonding, and my OB even supported me in my crunchiness of natural labor support, no interventions (he did make me get hourly checks due to VBAC and asked me to have a saline lock), and I delivered squatting.

    I’ve had some pain issues with nursing, and had a lot of doubts along the way, but I was able to get past the voices from family and friends doubting my desire for a VBAC, no interventions, etc. I have no regrets and now they all have a new view on what the female body can do. Now to make my goal of nursing to 24+months!

    • Maggie says:

      Wow Sarah! Stories like yours inspire me. Like Heather wrote, I have been dealing with crushing disappointment after my unsuccessful VBAC last year. For both my births (failure to progress at 8cm after 18hours, and failure to descend after 24 hours, 2 hours pushing) I feel like a c-section could have been avoided if my care providers had been more patient and more supportive of my hope for a natural birth. I have been working through my grief over my son’s birth for the entire year (his birth day is Sept 5th) and the thing that makes me the saddest now, is not my previous births- I have come to terms with those (mostly), but the idea that I may never be able to have the birth that I hoped for. Despite my two c-sections, I still believe in my body’s inherent ability to give birth in the natural way. Hopefully, I will get a chance to give it another try.

  49. [...] love the mommypotamus!  Every Mamas Challenge: Overcoming Disappointment « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus. Rate this:Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookStumbleUponMorePrintLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

  50. 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.

  51. [...] 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 [...]

  52. [...] 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 [...]

  53. 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: http://eowyns-heir.blogspot.com/2012/11/our-saga-through-land-of-sucknswallow.html– 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!!

  54. 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.

  55. [...] 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 [...]

  56. 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. :)

  57. 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 http://homebirthcesarean.com or on Facebook at Homebirth Cesarean.

    Peace,

    Ann

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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. :-)

  61. 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…

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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

  66. 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!!).

  67. 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.

    http://mymerrymessylife.com/2012/08/my-almost-natural-quite-traumatic-birth-story.html

  68. 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!)

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. Dana says:

    Compassion will get us all far in life.

  73. 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. http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-diagnose-tongue-and-lip-ties/

      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.

  74. 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!

    Warmly,
    Meghan

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