“Don’t Quit on the Hardest Day”

I am in awe at the outpouring of support and information bestowed upon me in my last post. Bloggers I don’t even know came over at the request of my readers to give me tips and advice. Everything everyone said was useful, relevant and helpful. I now have so much more hope that my breastfeeding relationship will improve with time, effort and diligence.

By far the best piece of advice I got was “don’t quit on the hardest day.” (Thank you Cloud). I really love that sentiment and while I don’t think I’m the kind of person who would quit in the heat of a horrible moment, it helped to be reminded that the hopelessness I was feeling yesterday was based on the despair of a nadir moment. Things aren’t always that bad and continuing to breastfeed doesn’t always seem that tortuous. It was good to be reminded of that, and to promise myself that I’d only consider stopping after days and weeks of a better experience.

The other piece of advice I really clung to yesterday was actually from an old post of my own, that I happened to come across randomly yesterday when I was reading posts from a year ago (a practice I cherish; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across the perfect little reminders when reading my own archives). This advice came in the form of a quote from a mindfulness meditation program I was working on at the time. I have come back to it many times in the past 24 hours.

If a painful sensation arises in the body, and you add to it a fearful anticipation of the future, or terrible self-judgement, then your painful physical sensation will change into great mental suffering… See the difference between experiencing the pain directly in this moment without adding the past… See the difference between experiencing it directly in this moment and adding a story. Can you open to the experience in the moment as it is, constantly changing?

Insight Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein

The truth is, each breastfeeding session, in and of itself, is manageable. It’s only when I start projecting into the future, seeing the hundreds of breastfeeding sessions stacked like painful, nipple shredding dominos into the abyss of tomorrow, that I start to panic. But the truth is I don’t know what the future will hold, I don’t know what breastfeeding will look like in one week–let alone a month–and I need to focus only on what is right in front of me, our breastfeeding experience RIGHT NOW. If I can get through that then I am still breastfeeding and that is all that matters.

Of course I appreciate researching more about how overactive letdown affects breastfeeding and what a correct latch looks like. I’ve been watching videos, pouring over how-to’s on achieving a proper latch and dissecting photos and diagrams of what a good latch looks like and I think I finally have an idea of what I’m trying to achieve and how I might achieve it. I just hope that at four weeks old, we’re not too late to correct the bad habits we’ve started.

So thank you all, again, for helping me tackle this difficult breastfeeding experience, for sharing your own difficult breastfeeding experiences so I don’t feel so alone and reminding me that for most people, it does get better. With perseverance I do think we can improve our situation, despite my overactive letdown. I’ll keep you updated on how things are going.

And I promise I won’t quit on the hardest day.

3 responses

  1. You’re decidedly not too late to fix bad habits. My elder kid had an awful latch/didn’t really latch for the first 4 months because we used a shield. This time it’s been useful to nurse with me leaned pretty far back and to let her take breaks when she needs them (and I stick in a cloth diaper to soak up extra while she hacks/sputters/etc) but then not let her get back to nursing until she latches well. Sometimes we redo the latch many times but eventually we get it pretty close to right. We also do block nursing on just one side with blocks of an hour, but for the kid my oversupply was such that we made the blocks longer at 8 weeks to first 2 hours and then 4 hours. That might be needed eventually but for now, keep going! It’s likely to get better and although this part is hard, it is temporary.

  2. I just wanted to say it took me three or four months to realize my first child had a severe posterior tongue tie. I could only nurse him lying down with him in my arm. We ended up having his tongue tie snipped three times (they were afraid to do it too far back? In retrospect I should have been meaner about doing it right the first time) and I saw six lactation consultants and a baby OT. I also had a lot of oversupply and a letdown like a firehose – it would literally spray out four or five feet! – and yes, block nursing. We went on to nurse until he was almost two. So it’s definitely not too late!

  3. It is never too late to change bf-habits. In fact, I think it gets easier the older the baby gets. (Plus if you keep up with it long enough, the baby will develop “fun” new bad habits which will also be able to be changed.)

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