Thursday, February 2, 2012

“Your breast milk is worthless”

That’s what my husband told me last night. It was at the end of a discussion which obviously didn’t go well. I always knew that he wasn’t very supportive of breastfeeding, but I got absolute confirmation last night. Before I gave birth, he went to the breastfeeding class with me, but they really didn’t cover the benefits of breastfeeding. Due to limited time, the instructor said she assumed everyone was aware of the benefits, and just covered the mechanics. Hubs was bored and played Sudoku during the whole class. I asked him prior to giving birth to be real supportive of breastfeeding, that I needed him to be my cheerleader in the process. He said he was sure it would be fine, and I told him I was worried about it because I knew that others had problems, and I wasn’t sure if my infertility would cause problems. He told me not to worry about it.

When I gave birth and my milk supply didn’t come in, he wouldn’t say anything encouraging, but he liked it when I started supplementing with formula. Of course, our baby was starving... He was the one to research formula and purchase the sensitive version to help with her reflux and spitting up. I kept struggling to increase my supply, and he didn’t say anything. I’ve recently realized that in the three months that Alex has been alive, he has not said one thing positive about breastfeeding. He hasn’t said anything negative really, just hasn’t said anything at all. He isn’t helpful with bottles or anything, just expects me to take care of all things feeding. Or if I’m being honest, most all things Alex… But in his passive aggressive way, he showed signs that he wasn’t supportive of breastfeeding. A few weeks ago a friend of mine came to visit and I told her in front of the hubs that he wasn’t that supportive of breastfeeding. He responded that he was very supportive of Alex eating. I should have taken the hint and dropped it.

But last night I brought it up. I asked him, saying I didn’t want to start a fight, but I wanted to know his honest opinion, what he thought of breastfeeding. He said it was fine, but he assumes that I’ll stop when she starts eating cereal next month. The man has no clue how long babies eat liquid formula or breast milk. And I know that most people don’t, especially men, but if you knew him, you would know that he does all kinds of research online – it’s one of his favorite things to do! He probably spent 3-4 hours just researching the regular vs. sensitive formula. Anyway, we tried to speak rationally with each other about it last night, but then he said that he doesn’t think Alex gets the nutrients she’s supposed to from breast milk. I told him that this was ignorant (probably not the best word choice), and that he needs to do more research. And then he told me that my breast milk is worthless.

Just to clarify, my daughter hasn't had a day without some formula since day 2 of her life. We started supplementing on day 3 because Alex wouldn't stop crying and my milk hadn't come in. It didn't come in until about day 8-9, and even then it was so very little. After tons of herbs and tons of pumping and breastfeeding, I've slowly increased my supply to 20 ounces per day - on a very good day. She always has some formula, and has been gaining weight very well. She started out her life around 30% on the weight charts, and is now about 75%... For him to claim that I've been depriving our child because I continue to try to breastfeed is completely ridiculous!

I’m actually pretty proud of myself about how I handled the conversation, all things considered. I didn’t raise my voice, or cry (in front of him). I stayed rational, and told him that I wasn’t sure why he would say what he did, but it was mean and not helpful. And that I would quit in a heartbeat, if I didn’t think I was doing the best thing I could do for Alex. He had nothing to say to that. And then he wouldn’t speak to me last night or this morning before we went to work. So then I sent him this email today: “I was serious last night. If you can provide me with some sound research by reputable sources saying that breast milk isn’t better, or “worthless” as you called it, I am very willing to quit. I’m sitting here pumping, and I hate it. It hurts, it interrupts my day and night, and every part of it sucks. And knowing that you don’t appreciate what I’m doing, that in fact you think it’s worthless, makes it so much worse. I only do it because I think it’s good for Alex. You usually do lots of research and are very knowledgeable about stuff which is why I was shocked when you said my breast milk is worthless, but if you have found some research or doctors or anyone that says this is true, I am very open to quitting. Please let me know what you have found.”

Surprise, surprise, he hasn’t responded. I hate this. He truly is one of the smartest people I know, and does all kinds of research about stuff. I really don’t believe that he thinks my breast milk is worthless, but he’s real good at saying mean things, especially when he’s feeling defensive. And when I spend 30 minutes every 3 hours all day and night long strapped to this stupid machine, just to make between 15-20 ounces each day, knowing that my husband thinks I should quit because he doesn’t see any value in it, and thinks that formula is better, well that certainly doesn’t encourage me to keep doing this!

I know I shouldn’t need his support, and that I know I’m doing the best thing for her so that should be enough. But I’m tired, and pumping adds so much additional stress to my life. I can handle it, for the sake of Alex, but to not have the hubs support is awful! I get so frustrated every night, because I watch him have downtime, playing his computer game and watching TV, while I run around the house and wash bottles, make bottles, take care of Alex, and pump. Yes, he feeds me every night, which I really appreciate. He figured out awhile ago that if he wants dinner other than cereal, he has to make it happen! Because I would be more than happy to have a bowl of cereal every night, if it means that I get to spend more time with Alex or sleeping. Those are my only priorities right now. Everything else I rush through when I’m at home – showering, making bottles, tidying up, laundry. I try to slow down when Alex is awake, so I can feed her, play with her and bathe her at a leisurely pace. But as soon as she’s asleep, I’m running around the house trying to get stuff done so I can go to bed. And he’s watching TV and playing his stupid game. I eat while doing my last pump of the night so I can at least do two things at once. Actually three – I will watch TV with the hubs during that time too. He gets frustrated because we used to watch certain TV shows together. Now I could care less – I tell him to watch them by himself if he wants. Not a priority. I rush around every night, and his life hasn’t changed one bit. So yes, I’m frustrated.

All this has been piling up, and I know everybody goes through stuff like this with a baby. It’s just so freaking hard on a relationship, isn’t it? Our division of labor at home is not fair – at all. I’ve asked him repeatedly to help me, that I need help especially now that I’m back at work. And he keeps playing that fucking computer game! I’ve been managing fine with all of this, but now that he insults my breast milk and thinks I should quit because pumping takes too much time for something that’s not worth it? I’m so pissed I can barely think straight.

39 comments:

  1. I know what you mean. Just a quick note to send a message of encouragement from Spain.

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  2. Oh honey I'm so sorry i can just feel the frustration through your post. I think it is true that most, if not all couples go through a transition once a baby is brought into the home. I wish he could realize how much precious time he is missing out on by playing that game! And at the dame time realize you need some help around the house. Can you leave Alex at home with him one night so you can get some time to yourself or with friends and he can see how hard caring for a baby alone can be? Hugs!!

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  3. It appears your husband needs to research how to be a father - and a supportive husband! It may be a good idea to map out a plan together about what sort of parents you want to be. That way you're approaching it from a positive angle instead of judging, accusing, or being confrontational with each other. Maybe set up a date night so you can have an uninterrupted conversation. What are your goals? What steps need to be taken to achieve them? What parents do you admire and how can you emulate them? How can responsibilities be more fairly divided? Etc.

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  4. Oh sweetie, I'm sorry! I think everyone goes through a big adjustment period. My DH shares in ALL tasks 50/50 but when we had our daughter I was surprised how much of it fell on mama bear. Some of it is just biology. But not supporting breast feeding is simply ignorant. My DH is a neuroscientist and works at a company that provides nutrients to infant formula makers. Their job is to try and study human milk and try to duplicate it...and you know what, it's really close but it's not it. Human milk is the best thing for a human baby simple as that. I know you already know this but I just wanted to repeat it =) You should feel so incredibly proud for all that you are going through for Alex. And personally your DH is lucky he isn't married to me because I would not have been so understanding of his position...nor would I have been so rational in discussing it *LOL* Big {{{HUGS}}} Keep up the good work!!!

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  5. I'm so very sorry. I had a husband that was like that at one time. He actually told me it was my "job" to do all the house chores, all the cooking, all the bill paying and everything else because he was too tired from working nights. Mind you, I was working full time and commuting 2 hours each way. Anyway, I'm glad the argument didn't escalate so kudos to you for keeping your cool. Like you said, you are not starving your child and it wouldn't kill him to be more supportive and helpful. It's his child, too. It's not too much to ask for him to be your cheerleader. However, he seems to be a man set in his ways so I don't know if he will change. Hang in there and know that you are doing what is best for Alex. Big hugs to you.

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  6. I'm sorry, Alex. You didn't deserve that. More to the point, though, it certainly isn't true. My supply is even lower than yours and my pediatrician was very insistent about my giving O what I have. She seemed to feel that ANY amount is extremely beneficial. And pumping is hell. Truly. So time-consuming. But you're doing it so that little Alex will have the best possible start. Don't let anyone - and certainly not your hubs - take that away from either of you.

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  7. "...and his life hasn’t changed one bit."

    Why is it? I know not all men are like this, but geesh...

    XOXO

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  8. I'm sorry... That's awful.

    Senging hugs.

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  9. My husband went the complete opposite, he freaked when i decided to quit breastfeeding. He made me feel like I was an absolute failure for not being able to do it. We have struggled for months and months to get Nolan to fit into our lives, I have adjusted well, but he still has issues. To this day he still has not taken Nolan ANYWHERE by himself, not even to the store for 4 minutes. It's ridiculous. Over Christmas, I had a come to Jesus meeting with my husband and basically told him that I don't need him, he is an asshole, and I have a master's degree and can get a good job in 5 seconds flat and will leave his immature ass and will raise Nolan by myself, I need help, not another child. He has been a lot different since that conversation. We're not perfect, but ultimately, that little baby comes first.

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  10. I'm sorry hubby isn't coming around to being a dad and understanding have a new born is HARD!!!! One thing I want to say is breast milk is best and you are doing the best thing for your baby. Keep up the good work, I know it's hard but you can do this!!!!!

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  11. That is rough. I also think your husband needs to research being a father! I think you need to have a come to Jesus meeting with him so that you are both on the same page. That aside, what he said to you was so hurtful. You are dong a GREAT job pumping! Actually a breastfed bay only takes in an average of 25ish ounces of milk per day, so you pumping 20 is pretty awesome. Especially considering that a baby is more efficient an a pump.

    Hang in there.

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  12. I'm so sorry. Pumping is hell, and you definitely need a cheerleader. I certainly hope he can find a way to support you. You are a hero for working so hard for little Alex!

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  13. I'm sorry the breast feeding has been so challenging.

    I'm not happy with your husband. You do need him to support you, in everything you do, and he's just not doing that, in any way, for you. You deserve better.

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  14. Oh that sucks not to have support when you need it. You are doing a great job. Breastmilk, however, much you can do is great for her. Try to keep it up as long as you can. I have found that making little goals helps. Like, make it to 6 months. Make it through the winter. Etc. One of my good friend exclusively pumped for 14 months for her child. She suggested getting some fancy double bra thing that holds the pumping shields for you so you can surf your smart phone or read or something without spilling. Hang in there it is generally not a 50/50 split with chores. Just how it is with little babies. I found when my child was more interactive dad did more..

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  15. You husband sounds like he is really not in a good spot right now. I feel very badly for you. Please make sure you have someplace safe to go.
    You deserve to be cherished and loved.

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  16. Errrr...your breast-milk has antibodies. It has the memory of the majority of germs you have encountered, in the form of antibodies that neutralize those germs. It is the SOLE source of protection your child has, upto the age of 4-5 months, when her adaptive immune system kicks in and can start taking care of bugs by herself.

    For example, if you have had the vaccine that protects against whooping cough, you make the antibodies and give them to your child through breastmilk, and in that way she has some protection against this deadly infection.

    So don't give up on trying to produce it, and whatever you can come up with is useful. Your husband's comment was both ignorant and thoughtless. You can at least address the ignorance here, he really needs to get better educated before voicing such strong opinions!

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  17. Wow. That is really effing hurtful. I'm so sorry, sweets. I hope you and hubs are able to communicate in a way he can internalize about how he needs to contribute--both physically and emotionally--to your family. Sending love.

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  18. I am extremely sorry you are going through this...I was in a very similar situation when my daughter was born, I did not have much milk, she refused breastfeeding so I EP'ed from 6 weeks until she was 10 months, when I could not stand it any longer and I quit. I HATED pumping with all my heart, and it just seemed so unfair that with all the effort I've put up, I had so little to show for it...What pump are you using? I used a hand-me-down Medela PIS at first, and then switched to the hospital grade pump Medela Symphony I rented for about $70/month. It was the best decision ever, my output and supply increased dramatically within a week. I still could not provide 100% of my daughter's feeds, but it was much better than before...My husband is a lot like yours, when our daughter arrived his life hardly changed at all, he still had his downtime, TV shows, etc, while I ran around all day (and night long) caring for baby, pumping AND working full time. That drove me completely crazy (and still does now), so I guess I just wanted to say you are not alone, the first months after the baby is born are brutal...Sending you a big hug from London! Hang in there! You are doing an AWESOME job for Alex!

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  19. I am not even commenting on breast milk as that's not the point, your husband knows that well too and he's just being an ass (sorry!). I remember to have read somewhere that there may be a for of jealousy in "sharing your breasts" to which he had exclusive access in the past and now I suppose he no longer has. I don't think his life has not changes, it has. He doesn't have you like before, he's coping with that (badly). and of course this is all normal, the running around, the doing one million things at the same time, the tiredness etc and yes he should definitely be more supportive so that the two of you can have some time together too. Which is really important. The couple may disappear when a baby arrives but it doesn't have to be that way at all. And yes it takes work and effort and you need to be on the same page. Also I wouldn't ask him to help out more, I would TELL him "now you go and throw away the trash can" "put the laundry in the washing machine" etc. And "later" is not an acceptable answer.

    On pumping. I don't know if it was the case just for me, but I was getting the same total amount of milk in a day whether I was pumping every 3 hours or every 6. my doctor said that when the milk supply is low and you have been at it for ages, it is just not going to be much better and you can try and space out the pumping and see what happens.
    Much love, Fran

    ps. if you want to chat via email don't be shy!

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  20. Sending you a virtual bear hug, and sending your husband a virtual bitch slap!

    I know next to nothing about breastfeeding, but I know that you are doing everything you can to take care of little Alex. And for your husband to be so utterly unsupportive has to be frustrating. I don't blame you for wanting him in your corner, supporting you. Breastfeeding is hard work, let alone parenting!

    Thinking of you <3

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  21. Alex, you are a super star and if your hubs can't see that we are here to let you know! I am sorry that you are so frustrated, I hope that your husband can see that he is totally in the wrong. Keep up the good work, you are doing a GREAT job!

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  22. babe - what happens when your hubby takes paternity leave and has to take care of baby alex for a month? isn't that coming up? do you think he'll be able to handle her? if he's not helping at all now, it's gonna be a huge shock to his system to suddenly be a fulltime caregiver. is there anyone who can help him out? thinking of you ... xoxo.

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  23. Hmmmm...maybe he's jealous. A lot of husbands find it infurtiating that the baby is finally here and STILL the mom is the main one who supplies all the nutrients. He obviously knows the benefits whichi s why he is stil avoiding giving you a straight answer. Maybe the issue has nothing to do with breastfeeding but that's where he has chosen to project his animosity? In any event...you do what you feel is best for your baby and just block out his shennanigans. Stress wont help with your milk production. And there are WAYS to make a husband lament his callous words. ;)

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  24. I'm sorry your husband is being an ass and not being supportive. I think a lot of us (myself included) are somewhat astonished at how much our lives change and our husbands don't. Have you done a new mothers group? It really really helped me. Lots of hugs my dear.

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  25. Reading this post made me so mad at your husband!! According to you, he's a smart guy that does a lot of research, then he really should know the benefits of breast milk! I think there may be other issues she's dealing with and taking it out on you.

    You are doing so much for baby Alex and he needs to step up and help too. I can't believe he would have the nerve to sit there and watch t.v. and play on the computer when he clearly see's how much you have to do!!!!

    I know how hard pumping is. I did it for only six months because I was mentally losing it. I had enough breast milk in the freezer for my little guy to have an extra month's worth after I stopped pumping. And while it was so incredibly hard to pump, I would do it again in a heart beat!

    I really hope and pray that things will get better for you!!

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  26. Oh Alex, I am sorry you and your husband are having problems. It sounds to be less about the breast milk issue than a larger problem in your partnership (or lack of).

    But about breast milk, yes there are many benefits of breastfeeding and it is without a doubt best, but if your small supply and painful pumping is making you feel guilty or bad about yourself as a mother, maybe you should consider stopping. You don't have to put yourself through those feelings. You are doing your very best.

    I sincerely hope your weekend will be full of good talks and new arrangements.

    XOXO

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  27. I bet the one is a result of the other...I mean, he sees you running around, and he KNOWS he is being a lousy rotten person by watching you run yourself ragged while he does nothing. Helping would require conquering his natural laziness, but he has chosen to be lazy and feel guilty - probably telling himself that he couldn't possibly help because the bottle-washing process is too mysterious. I bet he knew he was wrong about the benefits of breastfeeding when he said that, and he was being cruel because he feels enormously guilty and hasn't yet decided to man up and apologize.

    While I've not been through this and so can really only offer my sympathy, I did have one thought that might help depending on his temperament. In your free time (!), you could get a large piece of poster board (or three) and list EVERY daily chore that you do, as well as what he does (not things that pertain only to you, such as driving yourself to work, but things that pertain to your household). Then put a line or a box next to them, and pencil in the initials of who is doing them now - and also put a space for a check box that they've been done each day. Spend the evening checking them off and staring at the poster, taking a deep breath, and saying, "Only thirty-nine to go before I can sleep. Thank God!" Maybe his initials could start replacing yours? That sort of thing (not that I've taken it that far - I send lists) has a pretty instant effect on my husband. He WANTS to be a knight in shining armor - he just needs to be given some pointers.

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  28. Hey Alex...let's chat. :) Email me if you want...pennstatekelly at gmaildotcom We seem to have gone through similar things on all fronts here.

    Hang in there. It will get better. I promise.

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  29. :-( I'm sorry, it sounds like the other commenters have some good insight as to what's going on in that man's head. I'm sorry you're dealing with this...breast milk is absolutely not worthless! Hello...antibodies!!! The best stuff on earth!!

    Hugs!!

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  30. OH, hon. This is so astoundingly frustrating. I wish I knew a solution. I hope things change soon. ((hugs))

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  31. Oh I'm so sorry! I hope things get better soon!

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  32. Yikes! Would you have any interest in taking a leave of absence from work? Could you do that? It sounds like things might go better if you and your husband do a true division of labor-- he goes to work and you take care of the baby/home. It sounds like you are burning the candle at both ends, and I hate to see you running yourself ragged. From what you've written about your husband, there does not seem to be any hope that he would share in baby care and housekeeping. I feel that you can either continue to fight him on that point (which probably would just drive your relationship into bigger problems), or you could let him off the hook on all baby/house care, IF he lets you off the hook of going to work. I agree with Sienna-- you can't leave little Alex with him during a paternity leave!! It will be a total disaster, I promise. Anyways-- you are doing a wonderful job, and I know you'll keep going with bf'ing (because breastmilk is magic! and nursing is an amazing experience!), and this is just my 2 cents on how to make your life more sane. Since getting your husband to help you out at home is going to be a losing battle! And as an amazing accountant, I am sure you'll have no trouble reentering the work force in a year or 2.

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  33. Shame on your DH. I know how tiring pumping is while working and the need for some support to want to keep going. I made it to a year - pumping anywhere between 10 and 17 ounces a day. I was tired of smelling like milk at work, tired of the bottles, tired of timing when I could pump (since I am on medication). But the benefit to my little one outweighed the frustration and the comments that I received from some. But I would have been as irritated as you if DH wasn't supportive.

    Outside of him doing some forced research (http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/why-breast-best/comparison-human-milk-and-formula is a good chart), perhaps a date night would help. If you're able to secure a babysitter, it could give you a few hours off - and to spend together. And to talk about your partnership and working together to have a strong family. I've had a few conversations like this in the last few months. They don't solve everything but they do open the channels of communication on a more regular basis - and DH knows where I stand on most things.

    Stay stong and know we're here for you as well!

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  34. I saw your comment on My Vegas's page and decided to come over and lend some support. I'm sorry it's been difficult and hope it gets better - and has gotten better since this post.

    I'm sure it's just hard in general and I don't know what it's like to be at this stage but it does sound like he needs to clearly know what you need from him to feel his support... and if talking calmly about it doesn't work, maybe counseling?

    Sending you lots of (((hugs)))

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