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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Story (So Far)

I have always thought there was something wrong with my boobs, they had always looked so different any others I had seen. Not really full, and even as a teen, they hung down like flat, empty sacks. But I had no idea that it would have an impact on breastfeeding. I had ALWAYS planned on breastfeeding my children.


When I had my son, he latched on like a pro the very first time.  Everything seemed to be going well, except he had jaundice, and he had it bad. I had to leave him behind at the hospital. I cried the entire ride home. I tried to keep up my milk supply, but I only had a single, manual pump and my nipples were so raw, every time I'd pump, I'd get more blood then milk in the bottle. When he finally came home, I tried everything I knew of to build up my supply. I pumped, I used fenugreek, I sat skin-to-skin for hours, I used an SNS, but it wasn't working. He was always crying and hungry. Eventually, I gave up because I was so disgusted with myself for failing him. I wound up with serious, severe postpartum depression. I was suicidal. I did the stupid thing I could ever so, I left home. Left my baby with his father and I was gone. I'm honestly not sure how long I was gone, but eventually, I sought help, started antidepressants, and got my life back.


When my first daughter was born, I thought things would go better. When she became jaundiced, too, I almost had a panic attack in the hospital. I wanted to breastfeed SO BADLY, and I didn't want to be separated from my baby and risk ruining my supply. Luckily, her numbers weren't so bad, and she got to come home with us.
She nursed constantly. But my milk never "came in." I was so worried, because she wasn't pooping, and she needed to poop to get rid of the jaundice. I was terrified when she was still dehydrated, and sent my husband out to get some formula. I sobbed as I fed it to her. Nursing was extremely painful. I wanted to see an LC, but because I had given birth around Christmas time, the hospital LC was on vacation. When I finally saw her 2 weeks later, she determined that my daughter had tongue-tie and that was causing the bad latch and extra pain. The pediatrician didn't think it would cause any problems, though, and so the tongue-tie was left to resolve itself. I started doing a lot of research online, and realized I probably had IGT and hypoplastic breasts. I had all the symptoms. The breast shape, the lack of changes during pregnancy, the lack of engorgement.
I took so many herbs trying to build up my milk supply, but to no avail. Then I got my period back, and I'd lose what little supply I had every month. Then, I'd spend all month trying to build it back up, just to lose it again. After 4 months of this, I decided I wouldn't nurse for nutrition anymore. I was too stressed out all the time, and the baby wasn't gaining well. We comfort-nursed for a few more weeks, and then she fully weaned from the breast around 10 months.


As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Lola, I started taking alfalfa, and rubbing progesterone cream on my breasts, hoping it would build up more breast tissue. I also knew I wanted to have a natural birth so there wouldn't be any drugs in our systems that would make breastfeeding more difficult. I had a beautiful, natural birth with a midwife. We had her latched on within 20 minutes of the birth. The first day, she had several poops, starting with meconium and then becoming "transitional." Then, she stopped pooping. She nursed constantly. If she wasn't nursing, she was miserable. I noticed her diapers were getting lighter, and the uric acid crystals were getting darker. I felt her fontanel, and it was sucken. I sent my husband for formula. I couldn't stop crying. My midwives came for a home visit. They gave me syringes for feeding and mother's milk tea. But Lola and I couldn't figure out how to use the syringe for feeding and we both wound up frustrated and crying. I got the same kind of bottles I'd used with my first daughter, and that cleared up the nipple confusion. We continued to nurse on both sides, twice, and then I'd offer her a bottle with an ounce of formula. If she was still hungry, she went right back on the breast. She was just meeting the number of wet diapers, but only pooped every 5 days. I thought she was miserable because she wasn't pooping. Then, we went to the pediatrician for a weight check and the roof caved in.
She hadn't gained any weight in 2 weeks. She was still 10 ounces under her birth weight. They handed me a 2 ounce bottle of formula, which she guzzled down. I cried my eyes out. I'd been starving my baby. We were sent straight to All Children's Hospital. In 3 days of nursing first, and then getting 2 - 3 ounces of formula every 2 hours, she put on 3 ounces of weight. She was no longer miserable, and we finally really got to know each other. We finally got to look into each other's eyes. I finally got to fall in love with my baby.

Now, Lola's a happy baby. She nurses like a champ most of the time, has a good latch (no tongue-tie!), and she's a healthy weight. I'm now taking domperidone to see if that will help build my supply. I hope we can continue our nursing relationship for at least a year, if not longer. (My ultimate goal would be 2 years or baby-led weaning!*) Even if I never have a full supply, and I'm not holding out hope that I will, I want to get every drop of breast milk I can into my baby.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Update: 14 months and going strong!

Update, Update: We're a week shy of 17 months, and still going strong as ever!

Edit: *I thought baby-led weaning meant weaning from the breast, not weaning onto solid foods. :)

If you have IGT, also known as hypoplastic breasts, and you'd like to share your story, please e-mail me at nyssaretter@gmail.com with the subject line "IGT moms."


  1. I love this! Thank you for the in depth background and explanation of what you've done! You've got this girl! Keep on keeping on! :)

  2. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my breastfeeding series today!! I'm so sorry you struggle with this too, but am happy to find others sharing their story! I've spent quite awhile this evening looking through everything here and it's inspiring to me! You're doing such a great job! :)

  3. Finally some one who has had the same experience as I have had... Your story makes we want to cry and yell at all those who said I just wasn't doing it right! I took drugs from as far as New Zealand to increase my supply and nothing ever happened. I have four boys and nursed each of them only for a little while with no success. I tried every thing at least 20 lactation consultants told me to do. Well meaning friends always have good advice. Nothing ever worked. My younger sister had a son between my 2nd and 3rd babies. After nursing problems similar to mine and lots of depression from all the problems...she had to have a mammogram for another reason and it revealed she had a lack of glandular tissue. Talk about relief that you are not crazy! That things aren't working out for a reason! I haven't had a mammogram, but with all the similarities of our issues I believe that a lack of tissue is also my problem. I loved how you described your breasts as flat even since youth. That is me... Thanks so much for posting this. I found the story on FB in the Human Milk for Human Babies page which I used with my youngest. Thank you so much! I can't say it enough...I just wanna hug your neck :)