My First Failure As a Mother

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story. 

I could post picture after picture of me smiling with my babies or toddlers and you might be tempted to believe that I must have birthed easy children or am some sort of super mom to be always smiling. 

The reality is I have found motherhood to be a very difficult road.  The daily sacrifice and demands of being a mom can be overwhelming at times.
The truth is – I have struggled since my first born son came out of the womb!  And I have been a reading maniac, trying to figure this thing called motherhood out!  I was quite shocked when my first born screamed and cried for the first few months on end. 
 
Let me take you back to a dark moment in my life, when I first became “a mom”…
I hold my 6 week old baby in the rocking chair. He is restless and crying so I cuddle him in and begin to nurse. He drinks for a moment and then cries. What is wrong – why is he doing this? He latches on again for a couple minutes and then stops to cry…we do this for 45 minutes and now I am sweating, unsure of myself and uneasy with how nursing is going. We stop and I just rock him. He is peaceful. We rock. He sleeps.
 
I go to my computer and google “baby crying during nursing”. I call my sisters – we discuss it – but I still don’t find my answers. I open books – no answers…never in my life have I not been able to will something I want – a goal - into happening…He awakes, we again nuzzle into our chair and I bring him to my breast. Again he cries and fusses. No one told me this would be so hard?
 
It’s Easter Sunday – I am so proud to bring my new baby out into public for the world to see – but I have a dark secret…our nursing sessions are stressful. I head up to my old bedroom in my parent’s house where I try to nurse him but he refuses to eat. Tears well up in my eyes – what is wrong with me – what is wrong with him – what do I do?
 
I sit with the lactation consultant at the hospital. She weighs him and then I nurse him for 45 minutes and then she weighs him again…I wait to hear how much milk he took in… he took in 1 ounce. “1 oz…1 OUNCE in 45 minutes!!! What have I done?  What is wrong with me?  My baby boy is starving!” He is immediately given formula – I go home cyring – Crying over my first failure as a mother.Just sharing this truth is hard for me…it’s hard to admit I did not do what is so natural for so many of you.  I want to give my children the best of me – studies show nursing is the best – and though I pumped for months and my son was a very healthy baby – I still feel guilt…and shame…over this failure. ~*I am teary even as I type this paragraph because it is still something that troubles me.  I hate the question – “did you nurse?”  and then my answer “I tried…I really did try…I don’t know what went wrong?…I failed…”
 
 
And so you may ask…well what happened when your second baby came along???  “I tried…for 5 weeks, I exclusively nursed her…then my husband went on a business trip and I was alone for a week with the 2 children.  And in my fear…the dark fear that maybe she wasn’t getting enough…and in my isolation with no one to reassure me…I gave up and gave her a bottle…I pumped and supplemented because I needed to see how much she was getting to have peace.  So the truth…I gave up…*tear…and I still have trouble forgiving myself for giving up so quickly…I failed.” 
 
Have you ever laid in bed awake at night and wondered – Why me? I don’t understand these circumstances God? Have you ever felt like a failure – like the rest of the world has it figured out and you are the only one who just can’t seem to pull it together? Your will and determination just simply aren’t enough? Your 2 year old won’t let you buckle them in the car, your 3 year old bites, your 4 year old hits, your 10 year old struggles with reading, your teenager is defiant, or your grown child is making poor decisions and you sit there helpless.
 So what do we do?
 
“Cast all your anxious thoughts on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

I remember laying in my bed one night when my children were toddlers and I had had a terrible day managing them.  I laid there crying over my motherhood failures and saying over and over until I fell asleep – “he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you.” When Satan tempts you to believe otherwise – speak this truth until you find peace. Peace washed over my soul and on a tear drenched pillow I found rest. If you are asking God “Why me?” Stop asking and remember his truth – He cares for you“- REST in this truth today.

Walk with the King!

Side note – I am not saying that not nursing your babies is failing them…but rather because I was so self-assured that I would nurse my babies till they were one yr old - I was shocked and disappointed at my failure to not reach “my goal”…God humbled me through this experience – I needed to be humbled…and he is still humbling me weekly lol! 

This post is linked to Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Hip Homeschool Hop and Time-Warp Wife.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this post! I can totally relate–I tried too!-for months even…right now, though, thanks for the rest of the post :) Just what I needed to hear!

  2. Thank you for sharing your struggles.

  3. Luci Sheriff says:

    Thank you for being so real. This is such a great reminder that we need to follow His plan, and not ours.

  4. Gretchen says:

    Girl, thank you SO MUCH for posting this! I know that you're probably not alone in feeling this way because my mom could've written this post herself. My brother COULDN'T nurse (he was born tongue tied) and she got dressed down for bottle feeding him by one of the ladies at CHURCH. I was then formula fed for nutritional reasons. I am pregnant with my first, and plan to nurse but I have a lurking fear that I won't be able to. Thank you for posting this and reminding me how HUMAN we ALL are- there ARE no "perfect" moms. Just…perfect moments.

  5. Janelle Nehrenz says:

    Courtney, I share the same "failure"…I wanted SO badly to nurse and all 3 times it ended way sooner than I imagined it would. Afterall, this is what we were made to do, right? It looks so natural…so easy, right? Uhh..not for me. It set me into depression after I made my final decision to go to formula every time. I think it was a mix of hormones along with all of that…but wow, I have never felt so low! Now, looking back I could have enjoyed that time much more if I would have accepted it as it was. I did all I could just like you did. God bless all of our healthy, happy children! Love ya, Janelle

  6. I had trouble nursing too…it is so disappointing, tiring, and frustrating. Oh, and hearing that sweet baby cry…Thank you for sharing…it's encouraging and comforting to hear that other moms have had the same struggle.

  7. I struggled the same way with my son – and felt so bad that so many moms around me seemed to just 'get' nursing. I forgave myself and went on with raising him and he is just fine. But I was so hard on myself that first year or so. When my girl came along, she was a much better nurser. We were able to keep it up for about 7-8 months! I am so proud of that! :) It was a lot of work, but once I realized it was easier than the bottle, we got along great. You're not a failure! Each mom that has a healthy, happy baby is a success!

  8. Can I just say thank you so much for posting this. No body ever talks about this. How hard it is for some woman and how easy it is for others. Unlike you, I never had the slightest desire to nurse. It was something that I've always felt was expected of me because of the family I married into. Maybe it goes way back to being molested as a child and being raped as a teenager, I don't know. But for whatever reason, I was not comfortable with any of it. As a girl growing up, I never dreamed about having kids. I didn't want them, everyone said I was to selfish…which of course is true for everyone. But it wasn't until I met my husband and met his Godly family and their 6 other children, did I think that maybe I would like to have kids. I got married at 19 yrs old to my hubby who was 18. I found out during high school, I would have a hard time getting pregnant because of a tipped uterus, so my husband and I decided to just go ahead and try. And I got pregnant on our honeymoon…at 19 yrs old. My family wasn't already a fan of me getting married so young…and add a baby to the picture was a hard pill for them to swallow. But my beautiful baby girl was born, very healthy and so I began the struggle of motherhood. No one ever told me that it was going to be so hard. It always looked so easy in the movies. Woman come home from the hospitals and they look like they've never had a baby, let alone was pregnant. This new body was scary to me and I didn't want it. Post Partum Depression set in right around 2-3 weeks of Grace being born. She had colic ( the most extreme case it seems) and I wasn't getting enough milk to her because we could not master her latching on and deep down, I think she was allergic to it. The colic and the depression, and stress and frustration and guilt went on for 4 months. At about 5 months, I had to start supplementing with formula. And instantly the crying stop and all my breast infections went away as well as my babies thrush. I still had horrible PPD, but after about a year, it got better. When I was pregnant with my 2nd baby…I began feeling the guilt and pressure of having to learn how to successfully nurse. My husband's mother recalls so many beautiful memories and just says it was the best moments of her life and that this was how God intended us to do it and it was best for the baby and so on. I know she meant well…but the pressure I felt. We invested in a high quality pump before my 2nd was born and soon after she was born, the nursing troubles set it. I explained to my husband and MIL, that this wasn't for me. That I cannot get connected to my kids this way, I feel alienated and like a failure. I felt like a cow being milked and and My 2nd was better at latching but latched on so hard that I began to bleed and get more breast infections. I had to start pumping at 2 1/2 weeks which was like a blessing from God. I was able to pump for almost 5 weeks before we had to switch her to formula…and I don't regret it. I know it was the best thing for me, to keep my sanity and to help the PPD not be as bad…but I still continue to feel guilt. And the weird thing about nursing for me, is I really have no opinion of it one way or another. I think that if it's your hearts desire to do it and you can, hat's off to you. But for people like me, who can't because of whatever reasons…we have to try and let it go. I still can't and though, I'm no where near ready for a 3rd baby yet…the fear of having to do the whole nursing thing is what petrifies me the most about getting pregnant and being a new mom. The labor and sleepless nights I can deal with. The nursing is another story.

    Sorry for the lengthy message, but this has really helped me feel a lot better about the choices I had to make. I wish more people talked about this and were so understanding.

  9. Cast your cares to Him… thank you for this reminder. So many times I wonder how badly I am screwing up my 5 kids because I am human and can't do or know everything. Thank you for being so open and real. :)

  10. Michelle says:

    I had to stop nursing my first b/c he was losing weight. With my second it was such an emotional drain on me day after day that I just had to decide one day I would be able to take care of him better if we took that obstacle out of the way.

    Wouldn't it be great if that was the first and last wake-up call to the trails of motherhood? Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that as they grow older, my strength and wisdom to care for them needs to come from the Lord.

  11. I'm sitting here with my very high maintenance 3 month old. My ears are ringing because, despite being fed, changed, played with, and cuddled, he finally just *screamed* himself to sleep in my arms. I constantly feel like I'm doing something wrong, and I so needed this!

  12. Ugh, I just wrote out this long comment and poof, it disappeared :(

    Thank you for your honesty in sharing your struggle. I'm sorry for the experience you had. What really matters is that you chose to do the best you possibly could and your children were fed. I really hate how this subject can divide women.

    What I have learned over the years, now that I no longer have babies or toddlers, is that NO ONE cares anymore. Do you ask a mom of a 14 year old if she bf or circ'd him? Of course not! So finally, those debates and comments are left behind and I am so thankful. New things come up but I've found they are much less divisive than breastfeeding.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  13. Great post! I was the same way with my 1st! I only nursed him for 3 weeks. Baby number two was a different story! I prayed for God to help me nurse him. I even had dreams of milk flowing! Ha! And he nursed until he was 27 months! But can I share something? Around week 5… I wanted to give up! I begged God to let me give him a bottle, but I felt like God was saying, "No dear, you asked for this and you are able. So, you're doing it!" Breastfeeding is HARD and something the enemy can use to make us feel like less of a mom! I remember those guilt feelings with my first! Much of my guilt comes from both of my babies being c-sections. I feel like I could have avoided the first if I had been more knowledgeable about some things… and thus avoided both of them. But, I have two healthy babies!

    And Courtney.. how did you know my two year old won't let me buckle him in his car seat? Here lately I have been having more and more days where I end my day feeling just as you described! It can be so hard and so exhausting. Thanks for the reminder that He cares and wants to hear our thoughts!

    And if you don't mind, anyone who may be reading this right now, struggling with breastfeeding, email me! I had a friend who encouraged me daily and no doubt she helped me take it one nursing session at a time! I would love to be that for someone else!

    crysaljop (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for being honest. I am an older mom with grown children now. The trials get harder as they get older, but God comes through!

    I never wanted to nurse, but I was "guilted" into it, so tried valiantly. It completely put me off, probably because we see those parts of our bodies as sexual today. But,I continued, supplementing with formula. I was a nervous new mom. With the breast,i couldn't see how much he was getting, which made my nerves worse. Plus, the baby wouldn't let me cuddle him to nurse. He made me lay him on my lap and lean over him like a cow with udders! That's the only way he would nurse. So, forget bonding. Each feeding time, I didn't want to go near him, it was so unpleasant, plus it hurt unbelievably. We were not bonding. I had no help whatsoever.

    I finally realized that the baby was not taking one side. It was because of breast surgery I had had a few years before. The scar tissue was not allowing the milk to come out on that side. My breast was getting bigger and bigger, but the milk wouldn't come out, so the baby wouldn't take it!

    Hallelujah!! A reason to stop nursing, without guilt!!! I used the bottle exclusively then, and my baby and I started bonding! And, he let me cuddle him when I gave him the bottle!!!

    However, I was VERY SUCCESSFUL with natural childbirth. See? Not everybody can do everything well, or the same.

  15. Dear Courtney, I am very new to your blog and am enjoying very much this ministry you have undertaken. The encouragement you bring to your sisters in Christ is much needed–even for us older gals who still struggle. I am only able to appreciate this particular "failure" of yours from a distance (and I do appreciate it), because one of my own areas of failure left me post menopause without children. Yes, indeed, I have laid in bed awake at night wondering "Why me?", "Why NOT me?!" Only the Lord knows, and all I can do is trust His wisdom. Thank you for the reminder that "…he cares for [me]."

  16. Thank-you for your post. It's nice to know we all have our struggles.

  17. This post spoke straight to my heart!! Parenting is the hardest job there is and the feeling of failure is a daily occurrence for me.

    My little girl is almost 16 months old. She breastfed for 13 1/2 months and it was physically, emotionally and mentally draining for me the entire time.

    It took us about two months to get the hang of it. She wanted to nurse about every hour throughout the day and absolutely refused to take a bottle…me ALL the time. Therefore, I never had a break. I was just so exhausted and actually resented the decision to breastfeed at times. Looking back, I'm thankful I was able, but not sure I will do it again if we have more children.

    After having my own child, I no longer judge other parents for the decisions they make/have made in raising their children. To each their own in matters like this!

    Thank you for being an encourager!!

  18. Your story is so much like mine. I cried for 2 weeks trying to nurse my firstborn. I couldn't even pump. I often feel like new moms will dismiss my experiences because I ended up formula feeding. It was the first taste of how difficult this parenting thing will be! Thank you for your vulnerability.

  19. I struggled with breast feeding too and my daughter was severely dehydrated at 4 days old. I also tried very hard and supplemented and pumped and at 4 months, all milk stopped. I felt like such a failure, like I was cheating her of proper nutrition and health. I hope my next attempts will go better, but like you said when it doesn't, he cares for me.

  20. Leila- All Meant To Shine says:

    Hi! I think we all have mommy guilt about at least one thing. Thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully, you are healing from the guilt. Someone recently said how guilt only comes from the devil- conviction is what comes from the Holy Spirit. Thinking of that really helps me.

  21. Tara Cole says:

    Good post, Courtney! I love when we can keep it real, mom-to-mom, we all struggle and need to lean on eachother's shoulders from time to time! And most of all, Thank God for his faithfulness! Thanks!

  22. A Little R&R says:

    I literally teared up reading this post. If I know one thing, I know that you are not alone. Neither my mom nor my sister were able to nurse past 4 months. And I've had so many friends who either gave up, because they found it too difficult for them, or had to quit because they lost their milk for some reason.

    I think for some it could be metabolism. My mom and sister have very high metabolisms and my sister can be high strung. Both lost weight very quickly after having their children – my mom would quickly become underweight.

    As a result I had a horrible fear of not even getting my milk in at all. I had baby by c-section and since there is probably some hormonal connection that was bypassed, I didn't get my milk in for 4 days. My baby was very hungry and lost a lot of weight (because the hospital would only feed him when he was hysterical from hunger!). One night my mom called to see how I was and I was in hysterics, too….so worried that I wouldn't get to nurse my baby and that there was something terribly wrong with me.

    But as my sister said – for something that is supposed to be so "natural", it just doesn't seem to come naturally for either mommy or baby.

    As I have scrolled through the comments, it breaks my heart because I fear that so many have harped on women to nurse and have pounded into us the obvious benefits of nursing, but fail to consider the feelings of women who find it impossible to nurse for very long or not at all. Combine that with nursing women (or advocates) who can sometimes be overbearing about it and tend to pile on more guilt as they brag about their "golden" or "platinum" award, making those who didn't get past 3-5 months seem like failures.

    My feeling is that if you tried, even if you stopped out of fear or for some other reason – you succeeded. No one is a "failure" at this – it's not a game to see who can nurse the best or the longest.

    But motherhood in general can often feel that way. There is so much comparison out there: whose kid talked earliest, walked earliest, ate solids earliest…I even found myself at that stupid game for a while, until I decided to just enjoy my child and motherhood. We can't possibly get it all right all the time…but thank God there is no "first place" or "grand prize" award for mothers. That takes a HUGE load off!

  23. A Little R&R says:

    I literally teared up reading this post. If I know one thing, I know that you are not alone. Neither my mom nor my sister were able to nurse past 4 months. And I've had so many friends who either gave up, because they found it too difficult for them, or had to quit because they lost their milk for some reason.

    I think for some it could be metabolism. My mom and sister have very high metabolisms and my sister can be high strung. Both lost weight very quickly after having their children – my mom would quickly become underweight.

    As a result I had a horrible fear of not even getting my milk in at all. I had baby by c-section and since there is probably some hormonal connection that was bypassed, I didn't get my milk in for 4 days. My baby was very hungry and lost a lot of weight (because the hospital would only feed him when he was hysterical from hunger!). One night my mom called to see how I was and I was in hysterics, too….so worried that I wouldn't get to nurse my baby and that there was something terribly wrong with me.

    But as my sister said – for something that is supposed to be so "natural", it just doesn't seem to come naturally for either mommy or baby.

    As I have scrolled through the comments, it breaks my heart because I fear that so many have harped on women to nurse and have pounded into us the obvious benefits of nursing, but fail to consider the feelings of women who find it impossible to nurse for very long or not at all. Combine that with nursing women (or advocates) who can sometimes be overbearing about it and tend to pile on more guilt as they brag about their "golden" or "platinum" award, making those who didn't get past 3-5 months seem like failures.

    My feeling is that if you tried, even if you stopped out of fear or for some other reason – you succeeded. No one is a "failure" at this – it's not a game to see who can nurse the best or the longest.

    But motherhood in general can often feel that way. There is so much comparison out there: whose kid talked earliest, walked earliest, ate solids earliest…I even found myself at that stupid game for a while, until I decided to just enjoy my child and motherhood. We can't possibly get it all right all the time…but thank God there is no "first place" or "grand prize" award for mothers. That takes a HUGE load off!

  24. April @ The 21st Century Housewife says:

    Sometimes nursing just doesn't work. I stopped (after five weeks) as well. It isn't any failure on your part, it's just one of those things. Unfortunately there is so much pressure on women to nurse these days that it can make those of us who struggle with it feel really bad. Incidentally, despite only nursing for a few weeks, my son is now 18 and a very healthy, strong, (five foot six tall) young man!

    There is such pressure on women to be 'perfect' moms and it is really not a good thing. As Gretchen said, we are all human. My late Dad said something to me once that I have never forgotten. He said that I needed to remember there are no perfect people – the only perfect being to walk this earth was Jesus. As humans, we can only try our best and that is exactly what you did.

    Thank you for sharing. Your post helped me, and I am sure it will be a comfort to many others as well.

  25. This is a wonderful post Courtney. I was blessed with a long and happy nursing time with my boy, but I remember being devastated by our birth experience. It was long and painful and so scary that I was afraid to even hold him when he finally got here.

    I had so many expectations of "going natural" and having this immediate bonding experience. It wasn't that way though, and even though we moved into a lovely time, and he was a relatively easy infant, I grieved for months about what happened during our labor… I still do.

    However, I hold on to the memories of a dear friend who was there to help me get through it… and as far as bonding, I always remember when he was first in my arms… I spoke and he turned his head… I realized he recognized my voice… so sweet.

    This whole motherhood is amazingly hard. My current heartache has to do with balancing caring for him and making a living. Please any of you ladies out there that are lucky enough to stay home and focus on being a mom…please know what an amazing gift and blessing that is… and please lift up those of us who must work to keep things going… it is a very difficult path. I could never do it without leaning into the Lord. Thank you Courtney for posting the verse telling us how much He cares for us… I needed that!

  26. Thank so much for this post dear Courtney. For my first daughter it was the same. She was small but have a good karacter!!! She never will nursing. I try every thing but She won't!!!
    With my second son I try again and it was good.
    We are not perfect mom's!!! And have different experience with each of our childs!!!!!
    Blessings from France

  27. Thanks for this post! My 3rd is 10 weeks old. My first I wasn't able to nurse at all my 2nd for 5 weeks and my 3rd for 8 weeks. I have cone toblook at it as not a failure. You are doing what is best for your child. My babies weren't getting enough to eat. If I had kept nursing that would have been a failure because I would have been harming them. This topic needs to be talked about more. I remember feeling so guilty with my oldest because I wasn't able to at all.

  28. What an insightful and real post.

    Cxx

  29. My Heart Song says:

    You are my long-lost twin, Courtney! We both went to Moody. Both have 2 kids – a boy and a girl. And just like you, I struggled so much to do what was supposed to come so naturally – simply nurse my children. Long nursing sessions. Little to no results. I have been there, friend! And just like you, it cut me to the core to not be able to provide in that simple way for my babies.
    BUT… God is faithful. And I am thankful we live in a day and age where formula is available and is as good of an alternative as there is. Blessings on you, friend, for your vulnerability.

  30. Patti Kennedy says:

    You are an amazing woman, Courtney. Thank you for sharing this story. May God continue to bless you.

  31. Lisa Maria says:

    Courtney, I know how hard this must have been for you to write. I also know that there isn't a single woman who reads this that cannot relate in some way.

    I did not manage to successfully breast-feed my first two children.. my nipples cracked and bled and I gave up because I felt defeated. I cried a lot about it too. The last two were more successful and I even breastfed the third for two years and the fourth for over three!

    Motherhood is so complex that it covers such a wide area. We can truly become overwhelmed and what works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for another. I guess what we all need to remember – and this applies to all aspects of life – is that God has a path for us and we need to be in tune with that first of all to accept whatever our circumstances are.

    Thanks for opening up your life to us to help others once again!

    Love & Blessings

  32. Courtney, I nearly cried when I read this post today. I did a blog post on this topic not long ago. Here is the link- http://sarahsheartshome.blogspot.com/2011/01/struggle-for-women.html

    I have three children and have had difficulties having enough milk for all three of them. Despite my valient struggle. My mother doesn't understand whatsoever and really makes me feel bad about not being able to nurse for a year, or giving my children formula-she doesn't mean to, I know, but still… it really hurts. my youngest is 7 months and she quit cold turkey at 4-5 months because there wasn't enough milk. My firstborn started losing weight, and my second was just really hungry after he'd eat. It is such a sad sad thing and so hard emotionally to go through. I am still feeling sad over it… I so understand… YOu are not alone!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Courtney – Your posts always seem to come at the right time when I am struggling with a similar issue. I think about my beginnings as a Mom and the things I struggled with. Looking back on those times and having faith that I was being led to be the best I could be for the children, kept me moving on even if it wasn't "perfect".

    I now struggle with "Mom Failure" on a different level and as much as I try to lay it in the Lord's hands and know that he cares, I struggle with this and feel very empty and alone.

    So, thank you for your posts & blogs … they help put some light on a very dark time in my life, a time that I hope He carries me through (sooner rather than later).

  34. What a blessing you are! There's so much I could say but I have a feeling I'd be repeating what so many others have said. Your honesty and loving heart continue to show us we are not alone in our daily struggles and remind us to turn to our ultimate source of comfort and joy – Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
    May God continue to bless you as you walk this journey and share it with the rest of us!

  35. Jackie Koll says:

    You mentioned how you responded when people asked if you nursed; I hated when people asked that also but it was because I chose not to; it was not something I wanted to do but when people ask they first assume there is something wrong and than look down on you for not doing it. I think people need to NOT ask about it anyway (why should people care what you are doing with the "girls" anyway?) and secondly, it is a personal choice and no one should be looked down on for one choice or the other. Yes, I have reasons for my choice and many of the readers would probably not like me if I stated how I feel but that is my opinion :-) I have two very very healthy boys who are rarely, if ever sick . So I think they did just fine with formula :-) Better than many of my friends kids who were nursed and are sick often.

  36. Treasures from a Shoebox says:

    Courtney, I have 10 children and I failed all ten times! Not for lack of trying. Or praying. Or crying. When our last baby was born 19 months ago, I pumped and pumped and couldn't get more than a few drops. My 11 lb 2 oz baby boy needed sustenance! We bought a goat and I call her my wet nurse. *snicker. Though it was a painful ordeal each time, I've consoled myself with the thought that in days past, inability to nurse could be a death sentence for the baby. I am thankful there are options now.

  37. I have four children and I nursed all of them. As you said it is the best of us. My oldest two, it was fairly easy. They both nursed for 13months. My third daughter also nursed 13months and it was really easy. I felt like I was feeding her ALL THE TIME. However, she had health problems and had to be put on formula as well. So she was doing both. That was hard for me but her health was far more important. Then my youngest came. I nursed him but he wasn't growing nor was he having poopy diapers. After speaking with our peditrican and having some tests we found out basically he was starving. My body was just not producing milk anymore, not enough to fill him. That killed me. I was devestated. For four months my precious baby was hungry. I failed him. It hurt.

    I had to cast my cares on God because I was hurting. God showed me I did the best I could but my body was wore out (I had been pregnant or nursing for 6years straight). My plan was to nurse all my kids as long as I could. God's plan was to give my youngest formula.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles.

  38. After being up since 2:45 this morning with a screaming 20 month old, I finally got out of the bed to post (vent) about my horrible night. In google reader was this post. Of course it struck a cord. I didn't nurse because my milk didn't come in. I never felt guilt over that. Instead, I am in constant turmoil praying for sleep. I feel like a failure nearly every morning. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not the only one Satan has his eyes on!

  39. I really appreciate this post. I went through the same thing. I actually had to give him his first supplementation while still in the hospital because he had a hard time latching. I laid there and cried, but did what I had to do. We got the hang of nursing, then I found out my son only gained two ounces in 4 months. Oh my word!!! Supplementation, here we come again. I cried and cried again. I then started pumping and was able to provide for him that way until he was a year old. It was very difficult, but I am so thankful for nursing pumps and that I was still able to give him the best milk for his first year. It's nice to know I wasn't alone. That there are others out there that have gone down that same road. Thank you for sharing your story.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Courtney, my "attempt" at breastfeeding my firstborn ended in formula feeding. I always felt that the nurses and the neigbourhood mothers looked down on me as a failure. My ob/gyn told me at my post-partum checkup: if you are feeding your child you are not a failure! With my second I went straight to formula and was much more at peace. I was still "pressured" to breast feed, but I felt more confident as a mother and boldly carried on. I am currently pregnant with my third and I am planning on formula again. Maybe formula isn't perfect – but neither are any of us! I have two beautiful children today aged 4 and 20 months who are happy & healthy. I look back and realize the unecessary torment I caused myself. Also, it is just so cruel to pressure and torment new mothers. Thank you for sharing your journey and for reminding us of God's truth and love!
    Blessings,
    a reader from Canada

  41. Lisa Grace says:

    We all have things that we feel that way about, and the beauty of blogs like yours are the encouragement and reassurance they bring to many. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

  42. Courtney (Women Living Well) says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories and your transparency. You have encouraged me greatly – I love you guys!
    Courtney

  43. Laura Elizabeth Fredlund says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I went through the SAME exact thing. It still hurts, but I know I did everything I could to try amd build my milk supply. It hurts even more knowing that she really was starving, and it took finding out she was only in the 4th percentile to figure it out.
    sometimes we all feel like horrible parents

  44. The Tidwells says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes because a similar experience occurred with me and my second child. Thanks for your genuineness and honesty. God bless you!

  45. Beautifully said. Mommy guilt is a struggle for me. He cares for me…He cares for me!

  46. Anonymous says:

    This is exactly like my story and I have always felt like I failed my chidlren even though I did my very best. Thanks for being so open and for sharing your story.

  47. The Working Home Keeper says:

    Wow Courtney, this is MY story too! My daughter nursed so well in the hospital. But when we got home, it all went downhill. She had trouble latching, I became engorged, she cried. When we went to our pediatrician, the doctor said our baby was almost to the point where she would need to be hospitalized :( I felt like such an absolute failure. I wasn't even meeting my baby's most basic need. I remember saying to my husband, that giving her a bottle felt like committing a mortal sin. But I needed to know that she was well and getting all the nourishment she needed. I carried alot of guilt over those moments.

    Breastfeeding was much easier with #2 and #3. But even with the success, I still only nursed for a couple of months before I returned to work.

    Thank you for your honesty!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  48. Kristen Miller says:

    I so relate – I also think to compare ourselves with our own ideals of Motherhood always leads to defeat. So many things I said I'd never do before being a Mom, I find myself doing. Thanks for posting this!

  49. Traci Michele says:

    Your story is almost identical to mine. I had to come to grips that what was best for our babies, my body, and our family would not always look like everyone else's situation. I had to get past the guilt trips, dirty looks, and condemnation from the "christian community".

    I had freedom once I laid it at the foot of the cross. He is sufficient… even in our most trying of times and darkest and deepest weaknesses!

    Thanks for posting friend.

    Love,
    Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations

  50. This was much-needed for me! I'm here pumping because my second son has acid reflux and spits up horribly and cries when he nurses. He needs every bottle thickened and now he won't even attempt to nurse because he's so used to the bottle. I'll be stubbornly pumping for awhile but I've felt like such a failure that I can't keep him healthy on my milk alone. It's a horrible feeling to have plenty of milk and yet have it burn my baby's throat unless I add thickener and 2 medicines :( But this post was really encouraging, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has struggled with what we're told comes naturally!

  51. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing! I had struggles myself and I understand your feelings as I cried too when I had to give formula. But, my husband reminded me that I should feel blessed to live in a country and have money to give formula. Some women don't have that luxury. That helped. You did what was best for your children and that is what matters. You love your children and are teaching your kids about God and how to live for His Kingdom. That is what is most important! :)

  52. Anonymous says:

    I love that you are so "real" and how you always relate everything back to scripture. I tried so hard to breast feed, but had to supplement with formula. It wasn't hard because the pediatrician looked at me and said she is starving basically. With my 2nd I supplemented BM with formula as well. I wasn't sad because I just wanted them to be healthy!

  53. Mama Ayla says:

    God bless you for at least trying to nurse! So many women I know think nursing is "gross" and wont even try. Your dear children gained so much for those first few weeks of nursing when it is most crucial. Mothering is always about balancing priorities a relaxed bottle fed baby is better than a stressed out breastfed baby.

    If you have another baby (which I know you aren't planning to) but if you do, get in touch with your local Le Leche League (llli.org) and they can help you with many ways to produce more milk.

    A friend of mine tried nursing her first two children and wasn't making enough milk, she tried so hard, an by the third, she had it worked out and he is still nursing, with no bottles, at 6 months old! :)

  54. S Club Mama says:

    Thank you. This weekend my 1yo (2nd son) kept waking up, crying and angry. I couldn't figure it out. My husband couldn't figure it out…at first. It just upset me because I feel like I should be able to calm our children over my husband; I spend all day with them, I've been there almost 24/7 since birth. I just have felt failure with this second son of mine – he's difficult. Cranky is his nature. I love him very much but we butt heads a lot, even at this young age. And my older son is autistic so there are challenges (even if he's high functioning!) and guilt. Did I cause this? Am I doing the best I can? Will he have friends?

    And I tried to nurse, too, and it just doesn't work as easily for some as others. By my second son I was ok with it; we tried for 3 days but my older son just wasn't listening to me (which is key to stay home) and I was not enjoying this new baby. And thank you for your disclaimer at the bottom; so many women who nurse are so mean when it comes to those who don't nurse. I read a blog post where a lady called formula poison. Broke my heart. We all do the best we can.

  55. It is so reassuring to know that so many mom's out there share the same struggle. I also had a very difficult time nursing both of my girls and had postpartum depression. My first born was a preemie and had a difficult time latching on since her mouth was so tiny. Baby number 2 seemed to nurse like a champ, but didn't seem to be getting enough calories and nutrition. She is six months now and I remember crying for hours in the beginning thinking that she was going to starve.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  56. Thanks Courtney! This is pretty much my story as well. After years of feeling guilty for not pumping, for letting my first one get so thin and sick looking, for…well, the list goes on and on – I realized that if everything had gone perfectly with my first I would have been an impossible know-it all. I was planning a birth center, unmedicated, home in 6 hours birth – exclusively breastfeeding of course. What I got was a c-section after hours and hours of pushing, a skin infection a week later, a baby who couldn't latch to nurse (but of course, being a first time mom I didn't realize that was the problem – so he got way too skinny before supplementing). And then the GUILT! And the anger, really, at everything not going according to plan – the uncertainty that perhaps I could have done something different. Some breastfeeding advocates (ie. La Leche League leaders, lacatation consultants) can be so single-minded and guilt-inducing. But after years of guilt after the 1st and second were born, I gave it up after the 3rd – he only nursed for a couple weeks, and as soon as the scale started stalling or going downhill – onto the bottle! I now realize that the struggles I had were really a gift from God. I can now look at the struggles of other parents with a much more open and forgiving heart. I needed humbling and I got it. Thanks be to God!

  57. MrsAshley says:

    Boy, can I relate! I'm currently pregnant and constantly getting the question asked if I'm bottle or breast feeding. Because of the medication I take (which I need to function!) I can't breastfeed. I hate it and I wish I could change it but I simply can't put my baby at risk. Your post was comforting, thank you!

    Ashley – http://EmbracingBeauty.com

  58. Anonymous says:

    Don't forget — in the olden days, mothers sometimes hired wet-nurses. Obviously nursing didn't work for some women even many years ago. Suzanna Wesley once lost a baby when the wet-nurse she'd hired rolled over on the baby at night in the bed (I read a biography of her). People do what they have to do. I hate how Christians are so quick to condemn and be self-righteous, when we should show mercy and say, "there but for the grace of God go I." Thank you for your honest post, and God bless you.

  59. Anonymous says:

    I once attended a church where the non-breast-feeding mothers were afraid to go into the nursery to change or feed their babies, because the nursing mothers would harrass them and make them feel guilty and inferior. They didn't dare mention that one of their babies was sick, for fear of hearing, "If you'd take that bottle away from her and nurse, she wouldn't be sick."

  60. I can relate to every word – you shared.

    I even worked on a maternity floor – helping new moms to get the baby on and postioning, etc. This was before I had my own. I was so shocked when it didn't go as I had expected it would. I felt like I failed to.

    Thanks for being so honest…

  61. Dear Courtney, I know exactly what you mean! When my twin boys were born I just expected to nurse them. What a challenge! One sounded like your son, just not willing to latch on and eat. The other would latch on so well and suck and then mid way through scream and fuss. The docs said I should give up dairy – ha, I was lucky to eat with newborn twins and the thought of taking away dairy was too much. I gave up. I tried pumping, but again, just feeding them and taking care of them was so much. Pumping was too overwhelming for me. So I falied big time! I couldn't talk about it for about 6 months without bawling. Your note brought some tears too. Unfortunately God was not a central part of my life then. I'm so glad you are able to share this and that you can give encouragement with God's word. BTW, you aren't a failure, your kids are just fine without it, and not one time have they ever felt slighted by the lack of breastfeeding. I still think about it. Last year Weston had pneumonia 3 times, my thought… if only I had breast fed. But this year was our first year homeschooling and the colds have disappeared. Your a great mom and don't you forget it! You are the best for your kids, that's why God gave them to you. It's amazing how humbling being a mom can be – I got a huge dose of that at the beginning. Love your blog!!

  62. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I cried reading this post, because I too struggled. I produced far too little milk to nurse. I bought every tea, herb, vitamin, book,–anything to find out what was wrong with me. I still am very emotional about this topic. What made it worse was that I worked at a parent support program and there is such a big push for breast feeding that I became terrible depressed.I kept thinking, the first thing I can do for my baby when it enters the world I failed at doing. Thank you for sharing your story. I feel better knowing I am not alone with these feelings.

  63. Courtney K. says:

    Thank you for sharing this so openly. I had the same issues with breast-feeding my son. It just didn't work for us. He wasn't get enough milk and cried because he was starving and I just wasn't producing enough. Beautifully written.

  64. I have a 3yo son who was successfully breastfed for a year, and a 12 week old son who is breastfed, so I cannot say that I understand what that struggle feels like. But as a mother, I DO know what it is like to feel like a failure. I, too, find motherhood to be the hardest thing I have ever done. I struggle with finding balance. I struggle with finding peace with the decisions I have to make on a daily basis. I have called my own mother crying many times to tell her that "I just can't do this anymore." (I am so glad that quitting is not an option.) 1 Peter 5:7 is written on a post-it note right next to my computer. I read it often, and it is a great reminder when life gets tough. Thank you for this post!

  65. Journal for My Daughters says:

    Courtney, no wonder there are 63 comments. What you shared is real. Thanks for being so honest. I just blogged about feeling less than perfect recently. You're a blessing. Keep writing :0)

  66. Anonymous says:

    Your post was just what I needed. My struggle is not with nursing, but with trusting Him through difficult times. It was just perfect for today…as many of your posts have been. The Lord is using your humble, loving, honesty to encourage many in different stages of life. Pictures don't always tell the whole story. That is my life right now, and I'm clinging to the verse you mentioned. Thank you!

  67. Anonymous says:

    As a woman with a passion for working with pre & postnatal moms thank you for your post. Women set their labor and delivery expectations so high and then when reality is different they become dissapointed and can feel guilty or depressed. Please give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your expectations. Thank you for seeking professional advice.

  68. Confident In Christ says:

    I had similar circumstances with my first and second. Thankfully, I had a lot more support with my third, so I felt like I was able to redeem myself. That doesn't mean I don't fail at other things. Thank you for sharing…reminded me so much of myself and my experiences!
    Susan M.

  69. I had a great nursing "coach" and took the classes, she came to the hospital, and then to the house, but I still only managed to nurse till about 3-4 months. I wish I wouldve done longer but after you start subing formula and a bottle its like they never really wanna go back to the breast. we are trying to have another right now & I plan, Lord willing to not even buy bottles, I mean how on earth did babies live before bottles were invented? God knows how much the baby needs to drink and I believe will provide the means for the child to do so. Thanks for being so transparent and posting :)

  70. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing this post Courtney! What a blessing you are to so many! It takes a lot of courage to be so transparent and share weakness and struggles! Thank you! I can relate so much with this struggle of motherhood! Thank you again for your honesty. I don't feel alone! :o) Thank you for your ministry in this blog. May the Lord bless you!

  71. Thank you for your honesty. I can definitely relate. I had a lot of nursing troubles as well, and the Lord taught me a great lesson about not judging others who do not nurse. I have been feeling a bit like a motherhood failure in the last while with our 1 1/2 year old. Just over a week ago, we were visiting some family and I spent 2 hours putting her to bed while everyone else played games. I shed many silent tears of frustration, and the passage the Lord brought to my mind was Galatians 6:9
    And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. I quoted myself that passage over and over as I pressed on. Shortly after, she fell asleep! That verse is my theme verse right now as I struggle to deal with toddler temper tantrums.

  72. Oh this breaks my heart. Moms- you are not failures if you cannot breastfeed! It simply is one of the bumps in the road of parenting. In the long run, it is relatively unimportant. ANY breastmilk you were able to give your children is a bonus. Bottles are OK! Formula is fine! Not teaching your kids about the Lord- THAT is a failure. Not disciplining, not teaching kindness, self-control, patience, allowing them to run wild- THOSE are failures. Bottles and formula are completely OK. Think about this- when you stand before the Lord, will He even mention it? Will you even think of it? He knows your heart and none of you are failures.

    Having said that- here is some excellent, and not often heard, advice for those of you who are still trying. This blog is written by a wise mom (not me) who has raised many children. http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/2010/08/8-random-nursing-tips.html#more

  73. Anonymous says:

    I have never been able to talk to anyone about my "shame" for not being able to nurse my babies. I am still heartbroken over it 11 year later. Thanks for sharing this

  74. Thank you for your honesty. =)

  75. Thanks for another great post Courtney! I just want to add that I think the standard american diet is part of what contributes to some of the breastfeeding problems today. It is so low in fat and high in chemicals that it makes it difficult for our bodies to produce the milk we should.

    I struggled with my son and finally gave up after a few short weeks of breastfeeding. My son now struggles with severe health problems directly related to not getting the proper nutrition as a baby. There are so many days I wish I could go back. I would just encourage moms not to give up too easily. I'm not trying to put guilt on anyone, but please before you give up, take the time to look at every possible solution. Formula is not the same as breastmilk and it's not a decision to be made lightly. I wish I would have taken it a bit more seriously 3 years ago.

  76. Christan Perona says:

    Thank you for your blog, your honesty, your authenticity.

    I just found your blog from Stories from A to Z… and love it! Your words are beatiful.

    christan

  77. Thank you so much for your post. Over a year later, I still feel guilty that I was barely able to breastfeed for 6 weeks and even then I had to supplement to make sure he was getting what he needed. It's amazing how easy it is to feel like a failure for not being able to do something "so natural."
    I really appreciate the Bible verse you quoted and promptly sent the verse to a friend going through many medical troubles…

  78. Pyratess says:

    wonderful post!!! I kicked a hole in my wall during my struggles to nurse my first baby. He was a preemie and couldn't suck. I had the milk but he couldn't get it. It was a struggle and we fought through it for 5 more months and I finally gave up. I too felt like a failure. Some people can really lay on a guilt trip when you pull out a bottle.
    nursing came easy with my second baby… I really feel every mother should try nursing but I totally understand when it doesn't work out!
    My boys are 7 and 5 and I still have nights where I lay in bed praying to be a better Mom.
    My pastor once said, "If it is worth stressing over it is worth praying over.." I have been trying to keep that in my heart.

  79. S. Belle says:

    Thank you for baring your soul and sharing this post. It touched my heart in a profound way. I nursed my two children, but there are other things that I beat myself up about concerning them.

    I agree that motherhood is hard, and it is a daily struggle to rise up to the demands of being an excellent mother. I think a lot of mothers try to be "perfect" and get upset with themselves when they realize they are not. I know technically no one is perfect, but it's hard when you realize that, no, you are not going to do everything perfectly as a mother.

  80. Tina Hollenbeck says:

    I am right there with you! I was devastated when I discovered I was not able to nurse my older daughter – simply because my milk never came in. I had so planned to nurse that I hadn't one bottle in the house, let alone formula. But, when the lactation consultant said I had to switch, I sent my hubby out to get it – sobbing the whole time he was gone because I'd "failed" my child. You see, my inability to nurse was because I opted for surgery several years before having her. I debated waiting at that time, but I would have been disabled with back pain had I waited much longer than I did – and I wasn't blessed with children until more than 10 years after my surgery! I tried again with my second; that time, my milk actually came in…but it wouldn't come out!

    It devastated me to hear the criticisms because I, too, had tried my best. And guess what? My children are beautiful, healthy and strong now…and I daresay our emotional bond is as strong as it would have been if I'd been able to nurse, too. PLUS, I switched to bottles because continuing to nurse would have meant they starve to death – so formula saved my children's lives!

    So now I get mad when I hear self-righteous others judge new moms who can't nurse. How dare anyone insert themselves into someone's life like that? Women who do that should be ashamed of themselves.

  81. Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I have not been blessed with any chilren yet so I can't relate to this story, but I understand your overall message. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves we are not perfect.

  82. Handy Man, Crafty Woman says:

    You are NOT a failure!! It was so, so hard to nurse. I had no idea how hard it was. We cried, struggled, the baby fussed, I was in pain for weeks! He took 45 mins to nurse, also. It was soooo stressful. I had a lactation nurse, and it was still difficult.

    I did manage for about 5 months,then started to supplement with formula. I NEVER ever judge women who don't or can't nurse, it was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do (except for giving birth to him!) ;-)

    You are a great mother!

  83. Darlene Schacht says:

    That is so beautiful. I felt much the same way with Maddy. She's latch on and fall off, latch on and fall off. I remember sweating too. And leaving the hospital I was so scared that she would starve at home. I think that a lot of moms will relate. Awesome post!

  84. I was sitting at the computer just trying to get my mind off all that I feel are going wrong right now in my life…money, relationship, failures in what I can't do for my kids and I haven't come to your page in a while and I do and I find exactly what I needed to see!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for sharing

  85. Royalbird says:

    I am struggling right now to nurse my fifth child, and I had the same struggle with all four of my other children. Your description of your experience has been how it was for all of my babies and I still feel like a failure for being unable to nurse. But this post is just what I need right now. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  86. Arvil's Wife says:

    Oh Courtney! My heart goes out to you and to the many who commented that they had similar problems.

    My first baby was 2 months early. While he was in the hospital I pumped and then for about 3 days when he came home. The stress of having to pump every other feeding so we could mix my milk with formula was awful. Not to mention that I never got to feed my baby! We switced to straight formula and now, at 7 years, is very healthy.

    My only little princess nursed for 5 months until my milk dried up. I LOVED nursing her, but the guilt that I felt because my body failed was overwhelming. I was already fighting PPD (by myself as no one would believe me) so when this happened I couldn't cope. So many people would comment "Poor baby. Starving…" After 6 months of that I made what I thought the best choice and walked away. After all I had failed as a mother. No one really understands that I was pulled between leaving or suicide. My little princess is 5 today and definitely not starving. I ended up divorced but God blessed me enough to keep my kids, even though they now live with their dad.

    The next 3 boys were all early. I didn't bother nursing baby #3, made a feeble attempt with #4 and tried my best with #5.

    My last little miracle is in the NICU (he was born on the 9th) and being tube fed thru a tube. My husband has been a dream while I pump. For me, now, this is the only way I can take care of my new baby. My Sweetheart keeps the other boys busy while I pump and constantly encourages me.

    I've come to understand that while God has given women the unique ability to produce milk for baby, he has also provided formula for women who need it. Women were cursed in childbearing, yet in God's mercy and grace He has provided so many things for us! (i.e. epidurals, formula…)

    Andie

  87. Simple Midwest Mom says:

    Oh my dear Courtney I am so blessed to have come across your blog today. There are a lot of comments so I pray this does not get "lost" but I just really felt led to tell you how much going through a few of your videos have really encouraged me in some areas of struggle. Thank you, thank you, thank you for pouring your heart into this blog and sharing God's wisdom with us!
    Your sister in Christ,
    Stef

  88. Marianne says:

    Thankyou so much for this post and sharing what is in your heart. I have this struggle with myself thinking I am failing as a mother. The reminder that He cares, Is what I needed today!
    Marianne

  89. Thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience with my first. Initially, I felt like such a failure.
    Sometimes, I still have mothering moments like that, but then I realize that it's because I'm comparing myself to other people.

  90. Sharon Wang says:

    Courtney, thank you so much for your transparency! I was surprised at how hard nursing was, since it's supposed to be "natural." People warned me when I was pregnant that it was a learning process, but I had no idea how true that was until I experienced it first hand. I'm telling you, if my husband would have forked over the dough for formula, I would have switched to formula in a heart beat, numerous times! You are not alone in desiring to nurse for X amount of time, but not being able to for various reasons. I have read blog posts of other women who weren't able to breast feed at all or as long as they wanted to. Please don't see yourself as a failure or dwell on the past. That was years ago and what is important is that your kids are healthy and thriving.

  91. I liked this post – it really brought back memories and struggles of my own… I think we put on ourselves so many pressures that were never meant to be.

  92. Anonymous says:

    I also, like Tina, had the problem of milk coming in but not coming out (on one side, due to previous surgery) — the baby wouldn't take to that side and I kept getting bigger and bigger on that side. Thanks, Courtney, for being honest and full of compassion.

  93. Michelle says:

    Courtney, Thank you so much for this post. Your post is a big piece in a long path God has been leading me down toward forgiving myself for my failure to nurse my twins. My first two girls were twins. They were nearly full term, and they were both strong and healthy, but they were tiny. They both had a lot of trouble nursing, and they were both losing weight too quickly, so the pediatrician had me put them on formula to keep their weight from dropping too low. I nursed them a little when the pediatrician said they were strong enough, but it took them each an hour to eat, and then I had to pump for 45 minutes after they were done nursing so that my husband could give them bottles of pumped milk while I pumped because they were not getting enough from nursing alone. After 2 hours and 45 minutes, I could finally get some sleep, but at 3 hours, they had to eat again. I tried this for nearly a week, but I couldn't take it any more. Every feeding session was full of tears from them and me, and I wasn't getting any sleep, so I gave up, and I put them on formula only. Even on only a bottle, they took an hour to eat; they just could not suck strong enough, but at least with bottles, I could feed them both at the same time, so I could get some sleep after that hour. I had been convinced that I would nurse them. I cried for months over my failure, and I never really got over the guilt. Three and a half years later, my third daughter was born. At first she nursed wonderfully. The nurses in the hospital were all impressed with the strength of her sucking. I felt overjoyed that everything was going well this time. Then a few days later my milk came in, and everything changed. She would not latch on. It again took me over an hour to get her to latch on and eat. Several of the nurses in the hospital told me to just give up and give her a bottle, but I could not do that again. When I got her home, things only got worse. She would not nurse at all on the left side, and she was struggling on the other side too. Again my nursing sessions were filled with tears from both of us. Every time she nursed, I prayed that God would protect our nursing relationship. When she was five days old, I went to see her pediatrician. He gave me the name of a lactation consultant and told me maybe she could help. At first I was reluctant to call her. I worried about the $100 an hour expense. What if it didn't work? My husband decided that we should try everything available to us, and I was able to see the lactation consultant that afternoon. She was amazing. After only an hour, she had my daughter nursing well on both sides. We had to use a nipple shield to help her latch on, but I didn't care. God had answered my prayers. Not only that, but when I spoke with the lactation consultant about my failure to nurse my twins, she was very reassuring. She told me that it is very difficult to nurse twins. She told me that unless they can both nurse well from the beginning and do not have to go on bottles early, most people have trouble successfully nursing more that one baby at once. She told me that if it took them an hour to eat from a bottle, they did not have the strength to nurse. She made me feel much better, but I still had some lingering guilt. Now my third daughter is nearly three months old, and she is nursing well on both sides without using the nipple shield. This success brought me some peace about my failure to nurse my twins, but those doubts remained. Then I read your post. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and have come to admire you as an example of a good wife and mother. To know that you faced the same struggles as I did makes me feel like less of a failure. Thank you for sharing your struggles. God has been slowly helping me to heal from my experience and to let go of my shame and doubt, and I know he led me to your post as part of that path. You are truly a blessing.

  94. Anonymous says:

    It's common to think that back in the olden days, everybody successfully nursed (or had natural childbirth) because it was natural, however, many women died in childbirth, and there was a high infant mortality rate due to lack of warmth or sanitation, inadequate medication or not knowing how to use what medications were available to them, or failure of the infant to thrive for various reasons, one of which could possibly have been inability to nurse on the part of the mother for many reaons. What did they do back then? They hired wet nurses if they could afford to, or perhaps another nursing mother would have compassion and nurse the baby for her without charge. That's what they did. Like somebody else said, there is now pain in childbirth after Adam and Eve sinned — pain with the whole childbirthing process start to finish. Thank you for an honest open post.

  95. I couldn't breastfeed without extreme pain. I went to the doctors and lactation consultants, they said I was oversensitive and it would go away and I needed to toughen up. At 3 weeks I couldn't take it anymore, I bottlefed, and because of the issues we had I had lost my milk almost completely and was too tired to try regain it, I went to formula. I now know the issue I had was that my baby wouldn't latch her tongue, she moved it back and forth across my nipple, and apparently it's not rare, I have met other women who went through the same. I feel so much giult about it, because the other women I found had doctors who recognised the issue, or used nipple guards (which I was told never to use). Women say things like 'you don't need nipple guards if you have the right latch' and '98 percent of women can breastfeed' which I see as terrible, the accusations that come at me when they see me pull out a bottle.

    Because she wouldn't latch properly she couldn't get any milk out, she basically starved her first 3 days. I still remember her crying hysterically and I thought she had wind. It still makes me tear up thinking about it that I starved my newborn as well.

    But I know better for next time I guess. Thank you for talking about this, I'm so glad I'm not the only one…

  96. Thank you so much for sharing this. I still feel guilt that I had to have c-sections and was unable to nurse either of my children. It's hard to feel like you failed at something that is such a natural part of being a woman and how God has designed us. I am thankful for others who are so open to share their struggles.

  97. Dear Courtney,

    I just wanted to say that as I read this I just felt such love for you! You have such a sweet and honest, open spirit. Thanks for being a blessing!

    ♥Joy

  98. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for being so transparent! I have shared in the same experience with all three of my children and never producing milk for them…I was devastated as a mother who failed and couldn't provide the basic need of my child(ren) – nutritition! I quickly had to suck it up (no pun intended! Lol) and get over the issue of my pride and accept the facts. God has plans and will use all things for my good! Thank you again for the encouraging words!

  99. Anonymous says:

    Not one person who feed their baby failed!!! Was your baby hungry? Failing to thrive? You still did not fail them! Please stop telling yourselves that.

    You may not have had enough milk, just remember that does not mean that the next time you will not have enough milk. If you pump and think there is too little, please remember that you will never match ounce for ounce what you would bottle feed a baby. A moms milk is different and you need less.

    If it didnt work once or even several times and you can not- stress yourself out in the attempt and want to try again, then devour the La leche league website, every possible question and you will learn something more that may help you.
    Again, drink drink drink water and pure fruit juice. Eat more fat than you usually would if you are a low fat eating person, you need it to make milk.

    If getting a lactation counsellor try to get one who has had difficulty and then success, they may be easier to relate to and will know their stuff. Try to breast feed if you can, get all teh help you can, know that it hurts but gets better, and if it doesnt work, use a bottle. You cannot fail at this as long as you r baby is getting fed.

    Dc

  100. Thank you for sharing. I felt the same way. I managed to nurse my daughter for 9 months but I had a terrible road in the process. I had severe postpartum depression which no mother ever thinks that is something that will happen to her since that is reserved for “crazy” people so the nursing was my only way of bonding with her. I also had regrets about getting pain medication and for the longest time I felt unworthy as a woman and a mother. I prayed when I was in my darkest moments and even started to have suicidal thoughts(Scary!) but I knew better and that it really wasn’t me thinking those things. It took a year for me to get help but here I am a happy God loving mother who is devoted to her family.Thank you again for sharing because other moms only shared the “blissful” side of motherhood and it made me feel so very unfit for this role. Thank you!

  101. I read this because as a mom I feel like a failure so often. Alot of days it feels like guess and try and never sure if I’m getting it right. I was able to breastfeed and did so with my first son for 6 months, he got teeth at 4, and when I was SO tired of getting bit 2 months later I remember crying when I finally gave him his first bottle. I was able to do longer with each child after. I had one and married at 18, my 2nd at 19 and my 3rd at 22. Unfortunately at this time our young family was struggling financially and I was slightly overwhelmed at 22 with 3 kids 4 and under. My christian MIL and grandmother in law convinced me that it would be best to be sterilized and have a tubal. I knew I wanted more kids but at the time I was NOT a christian, never heard and understood the gospel at all, and was trying to be a good wife and help my husband by not burdening him more financially. I thought I was doing the right thing. A year later I become a christian, and hear how children are a blessing of God. I have been wanting more babies ever since. Truthfully I always saw myself with a much larger family. I am now just turned 32. I cry as I write this because I dont think I will ever fully be able to forgive myself for what I have done and my husband feels guilty too. We cut our selves off from Gods blessings and I struggle to forgive those christians who advised me at such a vulnerable point in my life to do this. I hav prayed for years that God will see fit to heal my sin and bless me with child again even though I dont deserve it. I struggle with the fact that others have abortions and go on to be blessed with children but my sin is forever weighing on me and I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. I know this was off topic but I needed to get this off my chest. I long to rid myself of this forever. And I try to accept and do for a short time to always go back to remembering and feeling especially when I have sisters who have small ones. God blessed one with a baby from someone she cheated on her husband with! Why will he not bless my husband and I and our family with one?

  102. I just stumbled across this post after Googling “nursing baby failure” because that’s what I feel like–a failure. I am a first-time mom and my son is 4 months old. At first we went through some of the normal struggles of nursing–flat nipples, bleeding, blistering, trouble latching on–but I didn’t give up. I had been warned it would be difficult, so I wasn’t fazed that we didn’t get it right away. Besides, my mom nursed me and my brother until we were each 2!

    For the first two months, nursing was great. I had many ups and downs in general, but nursing was something we could do. Than after about two months, he started to fuss. And fuss. And fuss. Sometimes it got to the point that he would refuse to eat altogether. And then suddenly, just when it seemed like I would lose my mind, he would got back to nursing like a champ. I was so relieved that we had made it through that bump. And then it started over again.

    I don’t know how many times we have gone through this cycle in the last two months. I have talked to his doctor, two lactation consultants, a La Leche League leader, a delivery nurse, and aspecial needs therapist who specializes in 0-3 year olds, many of whom are mothers themselves. I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s wrong with him/me/us!

    For about a month now I’ve been under subtle yet persistent pressure from my mother-in-law to give him formula. In spite of the fact that I know without a shadow of doubt that she loves us and believes that it’s what he needs, I have been resisting for so long, I feel like I’m giving in by giving him a bottle. But after a week of supplementing, I can’t deny the improvement I see. His belly is rounder. His legs are chubbier. He babbles, coos, and smiles like I’ve never seen. He wasn’t sickly before, but now he’s absolutely incredible! It just galls me that it didn’t come from me.

    I had hoped that formula would just be a detour and that he would only be on it long enough for us to “figure out” what was wrong. But the truth is that he’s happier with the bottle than my breast. Our nursing sessions are getting shorter and fewer and farther in between. He doesn’t seem to mind expressed breast milk in a bottle, but I can only keep pumping for so long.

    Even though I know I’m doing the best that I can, I feel like a failure. I get nervous feeding him with a bottle in public because I’m scared someone will give me a hard time for not nursing him. I feel like I’m not really needed, because anyone can give him a bottle. But most of all, I feel like I have been rejected by my own baby.

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