Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage

We had only been married for two years and I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it.

This is my personal story of how my husband and I survived one of {if not THE biggest} fight in our marriage :: Breastfeeding.

My husband and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary in the hospital. Normally, we would have preferred a sexy overnight staycation. Or a getaway at a boutique hotel like The Water Club, where we kicked off our honeymoon two years earlier on the beach in Puerto Rico. That would’ve been just fine.

But this anniversary was exciting nonetheless — just in a different way. We were in the hospital celebrating our son’s birth. He decided to come just one day before that anniversary! There we were, filing away our sexy getaway for “later”, but not really caring too much because we were in awe of the little miracle that gave us our new identities as “Mom” and “Dad”. 

Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage | Houston Moms Blog

The photo looks vintage, but it’s only 12 years old!

We were even more in awe because just 2 years before, my husband had gone through brain tumor surgery. We were truly thanking God in that hospital room for so many miracles.

I just don’t think we had a clue that we were heading into one of the biggest fights of our marriage.

I fell in love with breastfeeding as a teen…weird, right?

When I was a teen, my mom taught Lamaze childbirth classes. She talked vividly of her time as a La Leche League leader. I truly believed that birth and breastfeeding were amazing, wonderful, empowering experiences. Part of me couldn’t wait for that time in the future. The other part was happily dating and in no rush to have kids just yet.

Fast forward to 28 year old me, as I’m rushed into an emergency c-section, my natural birth dreams shattered on the labor and delivery floor. I’m incredibly thankful that my son and I both made it safely through what was a bit of a scary birth. I am also grateful to the nurses who encouraged me to try breastfeeding in the recovery room, just after having had a c-section. 

Challenges :: low milk supply and high marital strife

I wish my husband and I had been better prepared for the challenges we faced as soon as we got home from the hospital. I had a very painful c-section recovery with some post partum depression thrown in. On top of that, my milk simply did.not.come.in. We tried EVERYTHING every doula and lactation consultant has ever recommended. I never leaked. I never felt engorged {to which many moms will say, lucky you!}. I laugh about that now, and yes, I’m thankful I didn’t deal with those “side effects.” But I was barely producing milk which means breastfeeding wasn’t going all that great. Ugh.

This frustration led to many arguments {some more heated than others} over how my husband wanted to “just feed our baby” and I was being selfish by “wanting to breastfeed more than I wanted to feed him.” To be honest, fourteen years later, this still holds the record as one of the biggest issues and fights we’ve ever dealt with in our marriage.

The Breastfeeding Dilemma

My husband and I love each other deeply. But we also disagreed about breastfeeding deeply. I felt like, in some ways, I got cheated out of the natural birth I had dreamed about. Breastfeeding was one way that I could make good on that dream and bond with my baby in a way I had missed out during birth.

We could debate this all day long, but every woman knows what she wants. And I believe God gave me what I wanted, that desire of my heart, when I spent HOURS in the recovery room, right after my c-section, breastfeeding my newborn son without any interruptions. Can you believe that? The nurses would come in to apologize because our room was not ready yet, and I couldn’t have been happier! My husband, our son and I were bonding in the beautiful way I had dreamed of.

So how did that change from a breastfeeding dream to a formula fight? 

Our baby wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as the doctors wanted. He lost 1 pound quickly after birth and they wanted us to supplement with formula. This freaked me out. I wanted to breastfeed so badly, I didn’t want to risk the “nipple confusion” I had read about in all the parenting, baby and breastfeeding books. A lactation consultant encouraged us to supplement with formula or pumped breast milk with a little feeding spoon. I have to admit, watching my hubby do that was ADORABLE! And I’m thankful he was willing to try.

Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage | Houston Moms Blog

But my husband honestly thought this was a little ridiculous. And I couldn’t blame him. “Aren’t parents supposed to just give baby a bottle? Couldn’t we just switch over to formula and make everyone’s lives much easier?” he innocently asked.

Oh, my post-partum tears flowed. 

Thankfully, my husband and I were able to see past the frustration and the tears. But it wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight. 

How we survived the {breastfeeding} fight

We didn’t just wish things were different or picked sides and stayed there. There were practical things we put into action. We talked and listened to each other the best way we could {through tears, anger and, of course, a crying newborn}. My hubby and I also sought counsel from our nursing-friendly pediatrician, lactation consultants, friends, family members and yes, a local chapter of La Leche League. We rented a hospital grade pump. I nursed and pumped and pumped and nursed. We REJOICED over mere ounces of breast milk we could store in the fridge, just in case.

To this day, fourteen years later, I’m incredibly thankful to my husband for understanding how important breastfeeding was to me. I’m grateful that we didn’t throw in the towel. We fought thru hard times and gave breastfeeding {and our relationship} as much of a fighting chance as we could. Almost four years later when our daughter was born, we were armed and ready with a hospital grade pump before she even made her debut! We were much better prepared the second time around. And at the end of the day, I nursed my son about 13 months and my daughter almost 2 years.

Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage | Houston Moms Blog

A few more practical tips

When I went back to work full time outside the home, just eight weeks after our son was born, we lived about ten minutes from work. I simply wasn’t producing enough milk to provide bottles at home, but we were able to transition to a schedule that worked for what we needed. I nursed before leaving for work, came home to nurse at lunch time, went back to finish the workday and then nursed on demand through the night.

When we traveled {which was pretty often for work, to visit family and even to sing in prison where I loved to share my Christian faith}, I tried to wear breastfeeding-friendly clothing, just to make things as easy as possible. Stretchy, flowy shirts and layering with jackets and tank tops were my go-tos.

Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage | Houston Moms Blog

If you really want to try to give breastfeeding a chance, let me encourage you to do it. Your story might look similar to mine, or it might be completely different. But I hope you’re able to “fight”, in the nicest way possible and find the best way for you and your family to make it work. 

Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage | Houston Moms Blog

Yes, it was a challenging season. But coming home from work to breastfeed and bond with my son, especially once my hubby and I made it to the other side of the fight and were at peace with our decision, ended up being breastfeeding bliss.

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2 Responses to Breastfeeding Almost Killed My Marriage

  1. Ruthy August 6, 2018 at 9:49 am #

    Thank you for sharing, I too come from a split family where I really wanted to breastfeed, but my in-laws were against it. My husband was on the fence, but I still breastfed my son until just before his 2nd birthday. They still blame breastfeeding everytime my son has a tantrum etc, but I just shrug it off!

    • Coppelia A
      Coppelia A August 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm #

      You’re welcome, Ruthy! Thanks for leaving a comment! But that had to be tough to deal with. If in spite of that you went two years, WAY TO GO! You’re a breastfeeding rockstar and your son is super blessed to have such a dedicated, loving mommy (even if the in-laws disagree!) 😉 ~Coppelia

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