#119 | Jessica's Breastfeeding Struggles After Her Dream Birth

August 23, 2021

Jessica found that community made all the difference, starting in pregnancy. After having a beautiful birth, she ran into significant breastfeeding and even formula challenges. She was moved and humbled when a community formed around her once again to ensure her baby was cared for and fed. Jessica's story inspires us to seek community and become that lifeline for someone else.

* * * * * * * * * *

Connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828.

You can sign up for Cynthia's HypnoBirthing classes as well as online breastfeeding classes and weekly postpartum support groups run by Cynthia & Trisha at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut

Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/cynthiaovergard)

View Episode Transcript

Hi, I'm Jessica, I live in Massachusetts. And I gave birth to my son in October of 2020. This is my birth story. It's it's two stories. It's my birth story and the story of my breastfeeding journey. I've wanted to tell my story for a while, but I've had a hard time figuring out how to tell it because the experience just felt so big. It feels like I learned so much about myself and about birthing. And I have so many thoughts and so much to share. But that was becoming a barrier to telling my story. And one thing that I know is that we need to hear more stories about birds that go really well and birds that feel beautiful and empowering. And so I am going to tell my story, the best I can today at this time at this point in my processing experience. So in the early evening of October 30 2020 I sat in my home and I was looking over my 40 weeks and four days pregnant belly at six round orange pumpkins. throughout my pregnancy, I didn't have many food cravings. I did crave watermelon, I probably ate a watermelon. But I did have what felt like cravings for other things like in the spring I needed I craved I needed to be surrounded by peony is by big puffy bouquet is a fragrant peonies and lucky for me my grandmother grows the best peonies in the state and so I was able to do that. I was drawn more than ever to spend time in the forest and then the shade of trees and barefoot in the grass and swimming in cool rivers. When summer hit I needed I craved a hammock and after setting it up, I spent time in it every day. And on October 30 2020 I needed to carve those pumpkins. So as night fell outside, my husband and I carved all six pumpkins we carved a jack o' lantern and a cat and a moon and a ghost and two decorative designs. We found two lights and a book of matches. And my husband carried the six pumpkins outside. He put them on the porch steps. And under the light of the full moon. We lit the candles and we stepped back to admire our work. And we stood there leaning into each other. His arms around my shoulders and my arms around his waist is breathing the cool air and watching the fire light flicker or gazing up with the full moon together, which was a blue moon. That's the second full moon in a month, I turned to my husband to say something about how beautiful and perfect that moment was. And instead what I heard come out of my mouth was I think my water just broke. So we had to the birth center and we met with our midwife. It was it was around midnight, I think or so at this time and we were giving birth at a brand new birth center. And it was it was quiet and serene and peaceful. It was only us and our midwife there. So we made a plan to return in the morning around 8am. And before we left, our midwife asked which of the birthing rooms we would want to use. So we chose our room which was painted this warm glowy peachy orange. And we just stood there in the dark, quiet doorway, looking into the space knowing that we would be welcoming our baby into the world and to our arms. So my husband I returned home for the night, and we left the lights out. And in the soft light of the moon filtering through the windows, we gathered our belongings and we eat a late dinner together just held one another and slept. I woke up the next day to a sensation and I couldn't tell if it was if it was butterflies or excitement or if it were contractions. So I got up and I made myself something to eat and something to drink and I left the lights dim and we had a partially completed puzzle at our table. So I just sat and worked on the puzzle. And a short time later, my husband joined me and we just quietly sat together and we finished our puzzle. And when the time came, we packed up our car while my husband packed up our car tended to our pets. We brought our dog to my mom's house and we headed to the birth center not really knowing what the day would hold for us but feeling excited and ready to find out. In the car, my contractions started coming hard and fast and it became intense really quickly. When we arrived at the birth center, I was seven centimeters dilated and so we were there to stay and my midwife had a birthing tub. Full and ready for me. And I still remember how warm and soothing the water fell as I slipped into the tub and just turned inward. I labored in the tub as the sun rose in the sunlight filled the room. I have memories of such intensity while I was laboring in the tub. But my husband's memory when we talked about it later was of a really quiet time, a quiet labor, and just a peaceful room in the light of the rising sun. My other midwife and a nurse joined us and my husband was by my side, while I was somehow both deeply inside of myself, and somewhere out beyond the edges of the universe. It was hard. labor was hard. And Berlin was hard. And because it was hard, I found within me a strength and a courage and a power that I never knew was there. But now I know had always been inside of me. My son arrived on Halloween day, just after noon, which was about four hours after we arrived at the birth center. We had by this time moved from the tub to a bed where he made his final transition from womb to world. The moment he was born, he was placed on me directly on my chest where it felt like he just kept my heart from beating right out of my body and expanding to encompass the whole earth. And you might be able to hear my voice is still just tear up when I think about it. Because it was, it was such an incredible moment. And it was so perfect. And it was so beautiful. My son was born into the world, and I was reborn as a mother, our midwives and the nurse, they pulled blankets from the dryer, and they wrapped up the three of us, myself and my husband and our baby. And they just quietly left. And they left us cozy and warm, just wrapped up together as a family for the first time ever, just a glow in this in this new love. I think a lot about my birth experience. And what I think about is how, how can I support others to have a birth experience that they leave feeling was positive and beautiful and empowering. Because now I know two truths. One is that I was the only person in the whole world that could birth my own baby and could endure the intensity and the challenge of childbirth to bring my son into the world. And I had everything I needed inside of me already all of the gifts and the skills that I needed to bring my baby into my arms. And the second truth that I know is that I had a village of people, the proverbial village, who helped me overcome my fears and recognize my skills and see my innate gifts and my ability to birth and my power to influence my birth so that it could be a positive experience. My mother had five positive birth experiences and my mother in law had to, which means they already did the work of overcoming any ancestral birth trauma to put forth a new legacy for the daughters that came after them. When I was pregnant early in my pregnancy, and I only knew what I'd seen in movies or heard horror stories about so my mom sat with me through all of my early fears and anxieties. And she just held me in such compassion and she had so much wisdom to share with me. And a lot of the things that she said, came to me in my own birth experience, and really helped me prepare for it. When I was pregnant, I was so anxious in the beginning, and I had no idea that I would come out of this experience feeling strong and feeling powerful. So early on, in my anxiety, I joined a support group, it was offered for free by two yoga teachers who wanted to support isolated pregnant people during this unprecedented experience of a global pandemic. And so the teachers and the other group members really helped me to hold my emotions as they work through them and offer community to me. And, you know, it always goes back further than that, right? Because before them years ago, came a yoga teacher who she hung a flyer in a local coffee shop where I lived, and she was offering yoga classes in the park for $5. And she is the reason that I ever tried yoga in the first place. And that was the beginning of a chain of events that allowed me to find this support group years later in my pregnancy. So in this group, one of the group members had taken HypnoBirthing of Connecticut and recommended it and that really was what I needed to bring everything together all of the innate and the external gifts that I have in my life. It helped me really bring it all together and recognize that I Had some control over my birth experience, certainly more than I ever realized before. And I learned how to pay attention to my emotions, how to overcome my fears, and how to really set myself up for a successful and positive birth experience. So I had started at a hospital, and I was not happy with my care. And so I moved my care to a new Birthing Center, which was possible for two reasons. One is that I learned how to pay attention to what I was feeling and look at what I really needed for my birth experience. And it was also possible because these two ambitious and caring midwives decided to build this beautiful place to welcome new babies into the world. It was finished and open two months before my son was born. And during my birth, when I had doubts, my midwives, they knew me, they knew my birth plan. And so they knew what I needed to hear, in part two, my birth are becoming fuzzy in my memory, but I have these clear memories of my providers and the unique ways that they supported me. And I have clear memories of my husband's support. And the things he said to me to help me bring our son into the world. Because he was not only supportive, but involved and responsible. And he was educated on breathing and in tune to the way that I and the two of us, we wanted our son to come into the world. So after my son's birth, and this matters so much, because postpartum is such a vulnerable and impactful part of perinatal experience. So after my son was born, I didn't produce enough to exclusively breastfeed, which was my goal. And I felt comfortable starting supplementation with formula. And part of that came from what I had done in my pregnancy and taking HypnoBirthing. And working with a support group and sitting with the wisdom of other people who had given birth before me. I knew what I wanted, and I knew how to get the support I needed. And when things didn't work out, I felt grateful for other options. So it wasn't producing enough to exclusively breastfeed, and I felt really comfortable starting supplementation with formula, I felt grateful to live in a time where that was an option for me. But my son turned out to be allergic to the formula. And so we tried multiple kinds. And they all caused him pain. It was devastating and just horrible to have a newborn who's suffering, I, I would walk him to the pediatrician for his way. And he was bundled in a snow suit because being put on his back in the car seat was too painful for him. I felt helpless. And even after such a good birth experience, I had all of these incredible hormones that made me feel so good, and so connected to him and so loving. And then all of a sudden, I had this real hurdle, this immense challenge that made me just feel helpless. And it It felt like we were just drowning together. The day that we decided to try donor breast milk as supplement rather than formula. My sister in law was at our door with a lifeboat, which was all of the frozen milk that she had. I fed my child who had been screaming for weeks. And he was quiet. And he lay on my heart with his eyes open, just breathing just like moments after he was born in that same place. He soon drifted off to sleep and I held him and I just cried to hear his relief. The day that we made a request on Facebook for donor milk. Women were at our door with frozen milk, they were calling and they were messaging and they were linking us to donors to women to friends drove across state lines to deliver coolers of milk, women started adding pumping sessions to their day specifically for our baby to help our baby. And for any listeners not familiar with it. Pumping can be so taxing and time consuming, especially for a parent of young baby. And this was just such a gift these women chose to offer. So in the weeks that followed, my son began to uncurl and to relax and he stopped screaming and he stopped crying while he didn't stop crying, but his crying really lessened. And he began to smile and he could sleep. And he just he got better every day and started to really flourish. And I still have tears in my eyes when I recall the support and the care and the incredible acts of giving the gift of comfort and nourishment for our precious baby. Family and friends who weren't able to donate milk would drop off meals or bags of groceries so we could just focus on rocking our baby as he worked through his intense discomfort. My sisters and my brother would check in every time they went to the grocery store to see if we needed anything. My mom was bringing us dinner like three times a week. One of our friends even dropped off This, this wrap to where your baby the wrap that she used for her own two children just infused with years of love and care so we could hold our baby close to us, right where he wanted and needed to be for the first few weeks and months of his life are once tiny now big baby is healthy, and he's thriving. I'm still breastfeeding nine months in, and we are able now to supplement with a special formula. And he is also eating enough solid food to sustain a grown man. My biggest hardship these days is sitting with the discomfort of knowing that I can never repay all of the people who make up our village are really even come close. But I know that what I can do is just work to pay forward all of the kindness and the love that we've been gifted. Every birthing person deserves a birth experience that allows them to recognize the gifts they were born with the gifts that nobody gives you. Nobody can take away from you. They're there, they're inside of you. But for me, it took a whole village of people to help me uncover these gifts from this deep place that they were tucked inside. So it was me. It was me who was there that day, birthing my son into the world. But getting there to that beautiful day was bigger than me. You've probably heard the metaphor about standing on the shoulders of giants when we have a big accomplishment. I think that my my empowered birth experience was me standing on the shoulders of giants, the shoulders of so many mothers who came before me. But in this case, I was also a giant. And I hope that by sharing my story, I can help shine more light onto the innate gifts we already have inside of us and help others to have an empowering birth experience. We just need more positive birth experiences told because there are so many cultural influences that cause us to fear childbirth, but beautiful and strong and empowered births happen all around the world every single day. And I could have given birth alone in the forest and my son would have come into the world just as perfect because my body was already made capable of bringing his life into the world. But I didn't have to write and have to give birth alone in the forest because I had the proverbial village of people holding my hand. And I hope that my birth story can help to hold the hand of the next birthing person who needs it. So I can have the great privilege and honor of becoming a part of the next person's village.

If you enjoyed this podcast episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends.

Share this episode: 

Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). 

To join our monthly newsletter, text “downtobirth” to 22828.

About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

Want to be on the show?

We'd love to hear your story. 
Please fill out the form if you are interested in being on the show.

screen linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram