"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Anna's Story

Growing up I was always extremely self conscious about my small breast size. I didn't felt anything was not normal about them, just on the smaller side. The only thing I was confused about was that when my weight would fluctuate my breast size would remain the same, small. I didn't pay much attention to this and just thought I was unlucky and I would eventually get implants, that is if I could convince my parents. Towards the end of my teen years I did realize that my breasts did not look like most other women's, but it wasn't a huge deal as I was already self conscious about them due to their small size. The other big issue was that I dreaded clothes shopping when I was on my heavier side. Clothes are not designed for bigger women with small breasts. If something fit me in the stomach, the breast area sagged horribly. If it fit in my breasts, the stomach was way too tight. Bra shopping was another issue as its hard to find an A cup for a plus size woman.

I ended up getting married almost out of high school so my implants would have to wait. My husband and I got pregnant a little after a year of being married. We purchased no bottles or formula because I was going to breast feed, I was determined, and I was not going to give up like I felt other mothers did too often. My daughter was born at 10lbs 4oz and I started her on the breast right away. I felt like things were going normal for breast feeding, didn't have much to compare to. The hospital requested I supplement with some formula while in the hospital though because my supply hadn't come in yet and my daughter was appearing to be hungry, they thought it was due to her large size. By the time I left the hospital my breasts had grown slightly bigger and heavier, so I'd assumed my supply was in and we wouldn't have to use formula anymore. My daughter was on my breast constantly and literally nonstop. I just figured this was normal and she was just hungry. She would fuss if I tried to take her off. Finally I got her to unlatch to go to bed but the screaming started shortly after. She wouldn't stop and I tried putting her back to the breast, but ultimately gave in, and we drove 30 minutes away at 3 in the morning to get formula and bottles.I lasted for about three months trying to feed. If my daughter wasn't latched on I was hand pumping with the pump the hospital gave us. My husband even went and purchased me the best automatic pump on the market. I could only pump an ounce and a half on a good pump. Finally I felt as though I just gave up and resorted to formula feeding.

I was constantly questioning myself, did I give up? What did I do wrong? When we got pregnant with our second we were a bit more realistic in that I was going to try to breast feed, but still purchased a back up just in case. I had my son at a different hospital, and I was ecstatic to find out this hospital had a lactation consultant. Well the day they visited my son and I, they were extremely busy. They came in while I was trying to feed. They asked if I had breast fed before and I just simply said I had tried for about three months with my daughter. At this point I still did not think there was anything "abnormal" about my breasts in regards to breast feeding so I didn't feel any reason to divulge any other details. The consultant basically took a look at my breasts and said something to the tune of I did not have good breast feeding breasts, but since i'd had some success previously she would come back and try to work with me. She then left because she was in a hurry to see others. I didn't have good breasts? What the heck does that mean? Any hope I had to feed my son went out the door with her. I tried about a week with her voice in the back of my head and then stopped. I felt as though failure should have been tattooed on my forehead.

By my third pregnancy I finally started to research what was going on. I wanted to know why I didn't have good breasts. I started searching the web by simply searching for deformed breasts through images until I found ones that looked like mine. I felt such a relief just finding out my breast condition had a name, tubular breasts! Ok, now what? Back to the search engine. This time I searched tubular breasts and breast feeding. The information I found I felt was so empowering, and that I did have something going on hindering my ability to breast feed. I had found a few options I could try and almost immediately ran to my OBGYN's office to see if they could offer me any sort of assistance so I would have the best possibility to breast feed. One of the doctors I saw pretty much said there was not anything they knew of they could do. I went home and tried what I could on my own. When my third child was born I went back to trying. I didn't last long. He was struggling to even latch, and pumping only supplied me with an ounce at a time. I stopped again.

Despite knowing this condition greatly impacts my ability to breast feed, I felt as though part of me died. I had such remorse over this situation and am still constantly questioning if there was something else I could have done differently. My husband and I would like one more child and I am still going to try breast feeding. I think in the back of my mind I keep thinking maybe the next time will be different. I guess you could say I have not completely come to terms with it, but I am working on it. I get so jealous when other moms are doing just fine breastfeeding and then I hear they stopped because it was too tiring, or for whatever other reason. I feel such resentment towards them. I want to breastfeed, I can't, and you can but you CHOOSE to stop?! We are a military family, and move around a bit so I am always meeting new moms and children. The one and only thing I dread about this is that the question almost always comes up, "did you breastfeed?" It has become as natural to ask as, "Hey, what's your name?" I have tried the simple approach and just say I couldn't. I feel as though I'm being judged then. I feel that in their mind they're telling themselves, "You mean to say you just quit." I then face embarrassment if I choose to go the route that I have a deformity.

One thing that puzzles me is why no one has ever mentioned tubular breasts to me. I had one breast exam done in my teen years, and at least once at the beginning of each pregnancy. Have none of these doctors seen this before? Why hadn't one, just one, person said something? I realize nothing can be done but I spent many nights crying because I couldn't breast feed and felt I had selectively just given up, and that my body was normal. I had to discover this on my own and I just hope other women out there with the same condition are able to find the resources they need.

My journey has been a long one and I am only slowly crawling towards a path of acceptance. My husband has been so supportive and understanding about my situation, and if I still want implants he will support me there. I haven't decided but it will be after I give myself, and my breasts, one last shot at breast feeding.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. The first two paragraphs are me to a T!! It's amazing knowing that I'm not alone.