Genesis of Pittsburgh Received Donated Millybuttons!

During the Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign 5 Millybuttons were purchased for donation. Team Millybutton had the opportunity to meet and present the Millybuttons to the expecting mothers of Genesis of Pittsburgh. We provided 10 additional Millybuttons so that each mother in the breastfeeding class would have one.

Genesis of Pittsburgh provides assistance through education with a total of 6 free class ranging from prenatal, breastfeeding and infant care. When expecting mothers have completed all 6 classes they are presented with a free crib, car seat & carrier, breastfeeding supplies, diapers and clothing for the infant. As you can see Genesis of Pittsburgh is a non-profit organization that provides an important service to expecting mothers.

We believe the Millybutton will help these mothers sustain breastfeeding and be the extra hand they need to meet their breastfeeding goals. Thank you to those who purchased a product for donation, Genesis and both the mothers & fathers in the class were grateful for them.

“We believe all moms are Supermoms and more importantly Heroes!”

Share this Blog Post:

A Badass Breastfeeding Mom of 1969

Breastfeeding storyThe year was 1969. I was a 20-year-old student nurse looking forward to the Christmas time birth of my first child.

My family shook their heads when I signed up for the rooming-in arrangement in anticipation for my post-birth hospital stay. Rooming-in—the idea of having the infant kept in the mother’s hospital room instead of a nursery—was a new and innovative concept at the time.

I happily imagined having access to our baby and learning to breastfeed. I pictured my husband and I holding our baby, bonding as a young family.

However, that was not to be.

I could not breastfeed, as our daughter was jaundiced. An incubator containing a bilirubin light was at my bedside while I pumped with an awkward plastic hand pump, and then I discarded the milk. We held our daughter only to give her water.

I was sad, but undaunted.

We were discharged in 5 days and I found myself in my grandmother’s home, surrounded by experienced women who had raised healthy bright children on formula made from canned PET milk (“the best”) and Karo Syrup.

My clothing was inconvenient at best. I wore handmade jumpers and smocks designed to hide my wide hips and self-consciousness.

To add to my sense of discomfort, I was ordered to nurse “upstairs.” I felt alone, banished, and isolated and so did my husband.

I was armed with good intentions and Dr. Barry Brazelton’s articles in Redbook Magazine. His writings encouraged so called “on-demand feedings.” He opened the door for moms to consider each baby as an individual personality from birth, and invited them to respond freely to their infants.

To add to my list of breastfeeding influences, I was surrounded by well-meaning voices confident in schedules, the dangers of “spoiling,” and too thin or weak breast milk. “Babies are to eat and sleep,” was their mantra—but not my baby! My now very awake little one made me question my choice to work as a Nursing Assistant 11p-7AM shift during the final months of my pregnancy.

As I agonized over my breastfeeding choices, I realized I was my own worst enemy in more ways than one.

Humbled, overwhelmed, and disappointed, my breastfeeding efforts lasted three weeks.

My daughter drank bottles of canned Enfamil and then whole milk at four months—GASP! But, I can report that she grew and thrived. Decades later she herself successfully nursed two daughters.

I’m happy to say I went on to have three more children, and had other opportunities to breastfeed. I will always remember the experiences as tender and empowering.

My marriage would go on to last forty-six years, and my nursing career lasted thirty-five.

In the end, I nursed for a total of two years…a drop of time in life’s bucket, that I wouldn’t change for the world. I never imagined all these years later I would have the opportunity to help develop a solution for easier breastfeeding and pumping.

Millybutton’s Indiegogo Campaign

Learn about Dr. Barry Brazelton

Share this Blog Post:

…3, 2, 1, Blast Off!

final-prototype

For the past seven years, my mom and I have been working hard to see our dream become a reality. We are so excited to finally say it is ready and it is time to launch the millybutton! October 1st we will launch our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and the millybutton will be available for pre-orders.

It is not easy to go from a sketch to a physical prototype. Anyone can dream but it takes a lot of creativity, hard work, time, money, patience, passion, and guts to make it a reality.

But when it finally starts coming together, it’s nothing short of magic.

And needless to say, we have learned a lot along the way.

In addition to getting a variety of opinions and ideas from other moms, Millybutton’s concept was honed thanks to us getting lots of hands-on experience. We have studied magnets, plastics, manufacturing styles, production ability, and safety…We’ve melted plastic beads in the oven, experimented with glue; the list goes on!

We experienced numerous problems with the first prototypes. From its size posing a possible choking hazard, to discovering that our magnets were so strong one erased the hard drive on a mother’s laptop—it’s been quite a journey.

As if that wasn’t enough, it took us four years to secure our US Utility Patent. FOUR years! Many people would have thrown in the towel, and for good reason. But my mom and I never gave up.

We kept at it! Slowly, things started to turn around. We learned about silicone. We began to make new prototypes—but this time, we prototyped with the manufacturer.

Our first foray into silicone was literally sticky. Hair kept getting stuck to it. It was gross. Also, the straps were too thin. Then, for the second prototype, the texture went from being too sticky to too rough, AND the straps were now somehow too short. In addition, the Millybutton was colorless and looked like a jellyfish. Why? Because we could not decide on a color.

prototypes

But, after six months of prototyping it turned out to be a success.

I have to say that our Pittsburgh manufacturer was key to our success. They are a women-owned business, which is the icing on the cake for us, as we love the idea of a product made by moms, for moms. Thanks to them, the Millybutton won’t just be made in the USA, but in our hometown of Pittsburgh! Not having to wait for the product to ship from overseas also benefits our customers, and we will be able to keep up with our anticipated Amazon Launchpad orders.

The development team of product designers and engineers were successful in their material selection. They made millybutton safe & affordable. It’s nontoxic, medical grade, can be sterilized in a medical facility—or you can just throw it in the dishwasher if you need to.

In short: We did it!

Thank you all for believing in us. Your encouragement, enthusiasm and support will never, ever be forgotten.

Hey mom—I am so proud of us! What a journey it has been. I can’t believe we actually did it!

Now it’s just a countdown to launch!

Share this Blog Post:

The Millybutton Logo: A Symbol of a Supermom

MB long logo BW dark

If you’re at all familiar with Millybutton, you know that it was created by moms, for moms.

But did you know that we make it our goal to utilize as many local women-owned businesses and mother-entrepreneurs as possible?

Our motto, “Let’s face it, what mother doesn’t need an extra hand!” was Inspired by the famous Robert G. Ingersoll phrase, “We rise by lifting others.”

Those phrases inform every aspect of what we do at Millybutton. We truly believe an empathetic business model works for everyone.

Working with women in the Pittsburgh community has proven to be one serendipitous meeting after another. They have inspired and empowered us with their talents, enthusiasm, and commitment to helping others. Millybutton—and our lives in general—have been made better because they are a part of it!

As you know, our Millybutton journey, though a profound experience, has been filled with intense twists and turns. A while back, the manufacturer we work with told me that they needed a logo as soon as possible…and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it! I was, needless to say, completely panicked.

As you can imagine, a logo is EXTREMELY important because it is the face and symbol of a company, so I was trying to be as thorough and careful as possible when developing it. I worked with students at a local university in order to determine the criteria for the logo, and it was workshopped many, many times. But still, nothing was working. I even took a stab at creating it myself, drawing boobs, nipples and bellybuttons until I ran out of paper. But despite my best efforts, I could not sell myself—or anyone else for that matter—on the designs.

But then, Brigette Davitt, our graphic designer, came to my rescue. She is a breastfeeding super-mom and was home on maternity leave taking care of her 2-month old son when she took on the unenviable task of coming up with our logo. After she was finished, I sat down, took one look what she had created, and knew that it was perfect. She was able to identify with Millybutton and our mission better than anyone else!

And now, thanks to Brigette’s hard work, I am so excited to share the Millybutton logo with all of you! We love our new logo and hope you do too, but we also want it to represent more than just Millybutton. We hope that our logo will become recognizable symbol for breastfeeding mothers. We want it to celebrate their commitment to providing the best nourishment for their child, and to remind them that they are not alone in their breastfeeding journey. Millybutton is a product created with love. It is by moms, for moms, and should be worn with pride.

Breasfeeding Product Development

Share this Blog Post:

World Breastfeeding Week: A Jamaican Mom Tells Her Story – Why My Breasts Were Best: Breastfeeding with Rheumatoid Arthritis

I have rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve carried this burden around with me for more than five years now. I knew I would be faced with huge obstacles when trying to get pregnant, dealing with the pregnancy, and of course, the aftermath.

But in life, it’s impossible to be prepared for everything.

When I got pregnant, I was determined to not pressure myself about breastfeeding. Though Jamaican society strongly believes that breast is best, the fact that moms all over the world are condemned if they don’t breastfeed is extremely upsetting to me. Sometimes, and for whatever reason, you just can’t do it. Every body, and every baby, is different.

I had a unique experience when I was pregnant, to say the least. I had to taper medications which would be most harmful to the baby. I hit a brief reduction in RA symptoms, and for a moment I thought I was going to experience pregnancy remission…

And then the complete opposite happened. My body flared so much so that I had to reintroduce prednisone, get a steroid shot, and restart taking Celebrex. Despite all of that we confirmed the little bean inside me was perfect and healthy.

I was calm and I had my game plan down to a science in the moments after my water broke. My one must was that I wanted my baby to have a great latch so right after birth he would get colostrum. I would continue to breastfeed for as long as possible, but if my RA flared I had a fridge filled with sterile bottles. I knew that I could only take care of my baby if I was healthy and in a good place, so I researched which formula would be the most suitable substitute if the need should arise. But, if I could breastfeed for at least one week, and at best six—struggling through pain if necessary—then I would call myself an amazing Mom.

One hour after birth, and on our first try, my baby latched like a vacuum cleaner. He took as much colostrum as he could and “asked” for the other breast. Doctors and nurses were ecstatic, and so was I! I would breastfeed for as long as possible; he was fine and I was fine.

The next day, everything changed.

My baby was swept away and rushed to another hospital for immediate surgery. He had an imperforate anus. Following surgery, his food was restricted until they felt he could be introduced slowly to milk.

Doctors told me that breast milk would help flush bilirubin from his system and help his bowels to really start going. It’s also completely natural, and it would give him antibodies that would help his system get back to normal. But, at that point I had been expressing a little for relief, but not collecting anything. Why? I felt like my body was laughing at me, making liquid gold that he might never get to have.

I let myself cry, wiped my tears, and got tough.

Soon after, I discovered two other moms who had just been given the same instructions; pump and save. We became fast friends. We cheered each other on when we got a full ounce, and you were a goddess among us when you went over two!

When he could finally have milk, the nurse fed him only four milliliters, just to see what would happen. He gobbled it up! Two hours later he had some more, and it continued like that for a few days.

Then we hit panic mode. We needed more milk. But my hands were exhausted from hand expressing, and my RA was getting aggravated from all of the extra stress.

Eventually I would find myself sitting in the NICU, naked to the waist down, with a strange woman (a senior nurse) massaging and expressing my milk into a bottle. We got four ounces and my engorged, painful breasts could finally feel relief. We continued this way until they determined that it was safe to not monitor his milk intake by measurement.

At last, we were able to latch on again, and he did it like a champ! Two days later we went home.

He’s now 15 weeks old and thriving. I feed him directly when I’m around him, and I pump for his feedings during the day while I’m at work. I also pump in the filing room and my office completely understands, and sometimes we even continue to conducts conversations through the door if necessary!

I have two bags of milk which I brought home from the hospital. I can’t bring myself to defrost them. They are the most nutrient rich milk because his body would have told mine through breastfeeding what antibodies to produce.

But to me, they represent something deeper and stronger than just food. They remind me that I fought to get this baby here, that he fought to stay here, and that I was able to give him one of the most important and beautiful gifts and when his body needed it most. Those two bags represent for us why my breasts were best.

With love,
Camille Stephenson

Share this Blog Post:

Truths about Breastfeeding that Nobody Wants to Discuss

By: Liz Lewis

I had an incredibly vivid dream a few days ago. I was in a hospital bed holding my baby whose face was crinkled into an angry pout. I was desperately trying, and failing, to nurse my baby.

What made this dream more disturbing was the fact that my brain and body reproduced the sensations. I was feeling the same bodily sensations of pain and the same sense of being emotionally overwhelmed that I experienced when my son was born.

Truth: Breastfeeding can be painful.

I recall going to the nursing classes at my local hospital when I was pregnant. The lactation consultants enforced the benefits of nursing and how it helps you bond with your baby. Their message was so persuasive that after taking the class I felt prepared to feed an army.

When the time came it was much less of a bonding experience than I had hoped. My milk was slow to come in, so my infant chewed on my nipples just to get tiny amounts of colostrum. The lactation consultants assured me that this was sufficient for his needs, so I pressed on.

By the time I got home I was so sore I was gritting my teeth and moaning in pain each and every time he latched on. The latch, I was told, was a good one. The shower hurt, my nursing bra hurt, my spirit hurt.

In class they tell you that if your latch is good you will not have pain. The truth is, it will hurt for the first week or so. You need lots and lots of nipple cream. It does get better, but the beginning is rough.

Truth: Breastfeeding is a full-time job.

When you are a nursing mother you are on call 24/7. Depending on the appetite of your infant you might be nursing every 2 hours, which doesn’t sound that bad except that sometimes it takes 30 minutes or more to complete a feeding. By the time you finish you are down to an hour before you need to start the whole process over again.

When my son went through “cluster feeding” phases I would have to excuse myself from restaurants and family outings. Let’s face it, even if you have a nursing apron it is not always convenient to whip out a boob the middle of a crowded restaurant (for me anyway).

I recall going to a gathering when my son was about 3 months old. I had nursed him and given him another 4 ounces of pumped breast milk to top him off. That kid was like a tick ready to pop. But within an hour he was rooting around on one of the party guests. I had to go upstairs by myself for 45 minutes. I missed dinner and yes, I felt a bit left out.

I would venture to guess that I am not in the minority when I say that my son rarely gazed up at me sweetly and nuzzled into my breast. He did however pound on my chest and pull my hair. As a nursling my son was like a miniature caveman, grunting and screaming and eating simultaneously.

With nothing but my thoughts and my little Fred Flintstone, it’s no wonder I about lost my mind.

I recently spoke to a friend of mine who has two children and has maintained her corporate position while nursing both. I asked her how she was navigating her return to work and breastfeeding.

My friend told me that she closes her office door and sits under her desk to pump. In 2016, my friend—the executive—is sitting under her desk pumping. When I asked her why, she replied that “it’s better than sitting in my car.”

Mothering is hard work; I daresay the hardest work you will ever do. It doesn’t matter if you stay-at-home, work at home, or go to an office; you are still working.

Being a nursing mom is yet another layer of responsibility. Breastfeeding is something that takes over your life. You become not just your child’s source of food, but also the source of comfort. You need a break? Too bad, you are the security object.

As a new mom I could not identify why my son was crying about 80% of the time. He cried whether tired, hungry, or bored, and it all sounded the same. I spent every waking minute (and many semi-conscious ones) trying to figure out why he was screaming at me.

Why doesn’t anyone talk about how painful and isolating breastfeeding can be?

Why don’t we discuss ways to support working moms who want to breastfeed?

I was recently introduced to a NYC based co-working space called Alley. As I perused the website I found myself feeling a bit jealous that a.) I don’t live in NYC, and b.) we never had anything like this back in 2010 when I gave birth. Alley offers luxuriously furnished nursing spaces just for moms. These are not powder rooms, with a wall dividing them from the toilets. These are like guest rooms at the Four Seasons, but without the hefty price tag.

Until now it never entered my mind how many women work and breastfeed their children simultaneously. Spaces like Alley are leading the charge to provide moms the flexibility and options to live their dreams and meet their personal goals.

So let’s start a conversation. Let’s talk about breastfeeding at home, at work, and in public. Even better, let’s work toward supporting all moms regardless of their childrearing choices.

This piece originally appeared as a blog for The Huffington PostLiz Lewis writes and advocates with women and parents with ADHD. You can follow her on Twitter @HealthyADHD.

Share this Blog Post:

Knowing Where to Look: The Search for Millybutton’s Logo

An entrepreneur can spend an eternity finding the right person, for the right job, at the right price. The trick is knowing where to look.

In our case, we were looking for the perfect people to begin the process of designing the logo that will appear on Millybutton’s products. We began our search at Pittsburgh’s many local universities. Why? Because they’re jam-packed with smart, hardworking young people who are hungry for work.

Luckily for us, we are the client for a local university’s branding class, and through them we had access to some amazing talent. For one semester three students worked on a possible logo for the Millybutton, and each had a very different approach. It was a fun experience, and helped me begin to understand what I want and what I need for the Millybutton logo. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to grasp, and you have to be careful not to waste time and money because of your own lack of vision!

Through the design process we determined some very practical things as well: we need the logo to fit in a circle with a one inch diameter, the image must 3D, and it can’t too detailed because the silicone will bubble or have holes in it.

In addition, the logo can’t be just a singular image; it also has to say “Millybutton” somewhere on it. We were advised to do this, because apparently when you first start out people need to say your company name over and over again so it sticks!

It was a nice surprise to see some of these logos with animations, like this one. The students were really into it; one of them even had his logo design screen printed on a shirt for me! You can check out all of the different product design, logo, color, and font options that the students put together here and get a sense of the process in the video above.

In addition to gaining some great design concepts and insights into the logo, we also gained a new team member. Through the class, we were introduced to our awesome summer intern Dana. Aside from being very enthusiastic, she went above and beyond to help us during the logo making process. You can find her logo designs here!

She gets class credits for her film and video class to create our story video and demo for the summer. We were able to get funding for Dana to stay with us through Innovation Works. They offer a summer intern matching program for manufacturers, which supports the hiring of a university intern to help accomplish important projects during the time of the student’s break.

Dana is one of the most self-motivated and driven women I have ever met, not to mention she’s got a big personality and a great sense of humor. She’s been all in since I met her in the fall, helping us prepare for the Thrill Mill. She continues to help me understand social media, maintain my blog page, and has been a great sounding board for me.

Like I said before, the best people are available to you, if only you look in the right places!

Share this Blog Post:

A Dad’s Perspective

1.) What is your name?

“J.P.” John Patrick Davit IV

2) How many kids do you have?

I have one child, “Jack” John Patrick Davit V, who is currently 2 months old.

3) In general, how do you feel about breastfeeding?

For my wife and I, breast feeding is just what we do as responsible parents who want to give our child the best chance that he could possibly have. We felt that breastfeeding would add to increased health even past the colostrum stage.

4) Did you have any preconceived notions about breastfeeding?

We didn’t know what to expect at all. Personally, I knew it would be harder for my wife than myself. But what I did not think about was how helpless I would feel upon realizing that my wife has to do all the work.

5) Did your parents breastfeed you?

My parents bottle fed us (they had four children including myself) because according to my mother that’s “just what people did,” at the time.

6) From your perspective, what are the difficulties surrounding breastfeeding?

The biggest difficulty is the factor of time, and the problem is twofold. Our son Jack is constantly dependent on just my wife Brigette. It is tough for her to get a break as he is a ravenous feeder who screams uncontrollably when he is hungry and many times my wife does not have enough breast milk to fill him. He cries and she feels awful that we have to supplement; it makes her feel like she cannot provide for our son.

All I can do is support her. This was especially true for the first six weeks. However, Jack recently had a growth spurt and she is now producing significantly more milk. Constantly feeding also is very tough on her back and neck as you are always leaning forward.

Breast feeding also takes much longer than bottle feeding. Jack receives more nutrition from breastfeeding as he is more able to hold down the milk. When we bottle feed he gets the milk much faster. He therefore spits up. My wife would certainly have more free time if she bottle fed, but we know the medical benefits are significant.

Another issue is the physical pain that she feels, which can certainly wear on a person. Long story short is that her nipples hurt and sometimes her left breast hurts. We look at it as a temporary inconvenience that will payoff in the long run. If the sacrificed time is 6 months, and if we are lucky enough to have 50 years with our son Jack—that is just 1% of the time we have with him and he is worth it to her.

7) Are you proud of your wife for breastfeeding?

I couldn’t be prouder of her commitment as a mother and to the current and future health of my son.

8) What do you do to support your wife?

My job of course pales in comparison to hers. I do as much as I can around the house as my wife usually keeps a very clean home, but with less free time it can get away from us. I clean, cook, do dishes, and rub her back as much as I can. I just try to do everything I can to make her comfortable, as she is sacrificing a lot for our future.

9) What would you say to a couple expecting their first child?

On of the coolest things that I have ever witnessed is the connection of a breast feeding mother to a newborn. It is absolutely incredible that when Jack cries from hunger milk starts flowing, working in a similar way as a salivary gland does when we smell food.

Also, the increased production during growth spurts is incredible, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. The antibodies in a mother’s body change to accommodate the immune needs of a baby because they cannot support themselves against invaders.

We are mammals, and breastfeeding is so natural that there is a word to collectively describe a specific group of animals that are scientifically supposed to support their offspring with breast milk from the mammary glands of the mother while the child’s digestive system and immune system grow and mature. These two systems are very interconnected.

10) As a couple, would you do it again?

There is no other choice. Yes. My parents did not know what I know regarding the increased health benefits. And while my brother and sisters are okay, the science makes just too much sense. Our health comes from our DNA and babies grow by cell division. Copy after copy of cellular DNA. The more you can support a child’s good health foundations the better shot you give them to live a long healthy life. If the first cells are weak on a DNA cellular level then the entire body will be built weak and with genetic inefficiency.

11) As a father, do you feel support from others in regards to you and your wife’s decision to breastfeed?

Absolutely. I support my wife 100%, and I can see how hard this is for her. She is amazing and I will support her until she decides that it is time to stop breastfeeding. While it is our joint decision, in the end the boobs are hers.

Share this Blog Post:

Tech Bytes!

start up business Tech troubles

It’s a well-known fact that in the business world, technology can make or break you. But at Millybutton, we’re often faced with the question, how do we stay up to date on technology when we don’t know much about it in the first place?

As always, we looked to our community for support—and we were not disappointed.

In our village of Sewickley, we discovered that the local library offers IT support called the tech café. Best of all, it is free, which is a huge deal—money is still tight! Everyone there has been so good to us (shout out to Dustin, who helped me set up office 365!) and are easy to work with. I can’t tell you how invaluable a resource they have been for our not-so-tech-savvy business.

That’s not to say that the library—though amazing—has been a cure all for the frustrations of technology. Recently I spent an entire weekend getting the folders from my old email account transferred to my new one, and as you can imagine, it was totally aggravating. I spent what felt like an eternity clicking on buttons to see what happens. Then, in a moment that felt like hitting the lottery—I found the import and export for contacts. I don’t think anyone has ever been so excited about such a small thing, but believe me, the relief of not having to type in all 200 email contacts into my new email and about 140 into my mother’s was palpable. And truth be told, I was really proud of myself!

We are trying to move as fast as things are changing, but frankly my mother and I are having a difficult time keeping up. I have stated in previous blogs that she has just learned how to use a computer a few years ago and is still only on a basic level. She’s not ready for a smart phone, because she really doesn’t have the time to lean to use it—just like I don’t often have time to learn all of the new platforms and programs that are super important to our burgeoning business.

So how do we move into the 21st century without going completely insane?

We at Millybutton were looking to find a way to learn these crucial skills without taking too much of our time but also making it easy to learn and digestible—and then it hit me! When I worked in my field we attended continuing education classes called “Lunch and Learns.” This concept could work great for us too! I can get everyone together, let’s say, every Monday at lunch, and have us all watch an online tutorials on how to use things like our email, calendars, the cloud, and so on. It eventually could morph into something bigger, and become an opportunity to learn all sorts of new skills!

Regardless, my struggles with technology brought me to a great realization; continuing education should be a core part of Millybutton’s company values. We’ll see if it catches on or not, but it’s always worth a shot!

Share this Blog Post:

Worlds Apart: Our Plans Versus What Actually Happens

Growing up, my house was open to any and all who needed a safe place. My mom was the head of her local Le Leche League, so new moms and breastfeeding veterans were always at our house, and I was exposed to all kinds of baby-rearing and breastfeeding techniques. I didn’t know when I would become a mom, but I thought one thing was for sure, I would be breastfeeding for as long as possible.

Years later, my soon-to-be-husband and I decided that we would pursue domestic adoption as a way to grow our family, and to provide an option to those who felt they couldn’t raise their child but didn’t want to abort. We had dreams of having eight children—and thanks to years of LLL exposure—I knew I could breastfeed our adopted children as well. In my mind, it was all set!

Nine years of being home study approved for domestic adoption resulted in no adoptions into our family. It took six pregnancies to conceive our son, who was born 10 weeks early. During my pregnancy, my breasts grew seven sizes larger, and I would find out seven years later that the rapid growth resulted in permanent nerve damage. Needless to say, things had not gone as I had envisioned.

My son’s teeny head, along with my HH boobs, and a lactation department that was closed for two days with no flanges big enough for my breasts, resulted in an inability to breastfeed as I had hoped. Tried as I might with the pump and small flanges, I couldn’t even produce colostrum, as it was all bloody and unusable. My son remained in the NICU and I went home with a brand new, hospital grade double pump. For three weeks, I pumped every two hours away from him. Then during visits, I would hold him near me for as long as possible, then move to another room for more pumping, giving the NICU every precious drop.

We came home with instructions, including holding him upright as much as possible due to hernias and tummy troubles. Because of his 3-pound size, he would need to eat every 1-2 hours until the doctor said otherwise, which ended up being over six months. So, I strapped on my son and got into our groove. Every 1-2 hours, through the night (and often watching America’s Funniest Video re-runs), I would try to teach him how to latch/suck, then I would double pump, then I would bottle feed, then I would burp, then I would sterilize, then I would supplement with formula, then I would burp…and look at that! It was time to start all over again.

On top of that, my son couldn’t make white blood cells and they thought he had leukemia. We couldn’t leave the house and we also weren’t allowed visitors, except for the nurse who came 3 times a week to take blood draws the first month. For a few months after that, we were only allowed to leave the house to go to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh twice a week for blood draws. To say we had a lot of bonding time is an understatement!

After over 6 months of feeding every 1-2 hours, I realized that my dreams of being some super breastfeeding rock star wasn’t in the cards for me. We were now allowed to leave the house, which we did only did once a day because my son got carsick each and every time. I still tried pumping 3-4 times a day, giving him what I had via bottle.

There were so many times where I would be out with other moms, and I was the only one who bottle-fed my child. While they were mostly supportive, random strangers felt the need to yell at me and judge me for not doing what was best for my son, for not trying hard enough, for quitting too soon. I’d cry for days. I’d try cluster-pumping every hour for 72 hours, I was taking 30 pills per day of fenugreek. I have Celiac Disease and was taking whatever gluten free milk-producing product on the market, and even many non-FDA approved supplements from Canada (gasp!).

I had LLL experts, and a great team of lactation consultants from the hospital. I was part of a new mom’s group, who paired us with veteran moms. There was no reason for me to fail.

To this day, I still cry at my failure. Even learning years later that my breasts had permanent nerve damage and the surgeon thinks it’s a miracle I produced any milk at all, my brain feels better, but not my heart.

There’s what we plan, and there’s what happens, and sometimes they are worlds apart. Moms need anything and anyone to support them in any way. There is no room for Judgey McJudgersons, only kindness.

Thank you Millybutton,

Megan Sinagoga

Share this Blog Post: