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Lay off Angelina Jolie…her boobies, her business.

In a recent interview with the British morning show “GMTV,” Angelina Jolie admitted that she struggled with breastfeeding her twins, Vivienne and Knox, and confessed that she quit after three months. “(That was) about as much as I could do.

“There’s this football hold — it’s a lot harder than it looks in the books,” she said in the interview. “You think, ‘Ah, if anybody can do that, I can do that.’”

Funny…that’s EXACTLY what I thought. I mean, how hard could it be?? And as the oldest of four kids, I remember watching my mother breastfeeding my younger brother and sister, so there was never a question that I would breastfeed my children…I just always knew that I would. And I also knew that I’d do it for at least a year (I mean, come on, if the American Academy of Pediatrics says that’s how long you do it for…hell, that’s how long I was going to do it for…I’m nothing if not a rule follower).

Unfortunately, it didn’t work quite out like that for me.

Here’s a somewhat brief synopsis of my breastfeeding experience:

  • Baby hospitalized at one week old for “failure to thrive” because apparently, my milk hadn’t come in and he was STARVING; Doctor prescribed some drug (can’t remember the name) to jumpstart my milk production; Rented heavy duty pumping machine from the hospital to get those mammaries a goin’.
  • Drug turned my boobs into hot lava boulders hanging precariously from my body by…oh, that’s right…SKIN! If anyone touches me…I scream.
  • Milk finally comes in.
  • Baby is still starving. Visit lactation consultant at hospital. She weighs baby before and after I feed him. It appears after nursing him for 20 minutes on each breast he only consumed one oz. of milk. She’s confused. Looks at my breasts…good nipples. Checks baby’s sucking reflex…good strong suck. Sends me home with some feeding contraption with a long thin tube that I fill with breast milk or formula and then tape to my boob so that both the baby and my breasts think they’re breastfeeding and “won’t get lazy”.
  • Breastfeed with feeding contraption. Major hassle…have to clean tube thorougly after each use, so in addition to giving the baby supplemental breastmilk or formula AND pumping after each feeding, I have morphed into a human cow. Haven’t washed my hair in a week.
  • Despite following every breastfeeding book I could get my hands on, the constant pumping (which on a really good day yielded only a couple of ounces of breastmilk), the feeding contraption, and not giving the baby a pacifier or a regular bottle so he wouldn’t get “nipple confusion”, I’m still unable to exclusively breastfeed my son. Something I always expected (and wanted) to do. I feel like a failure.

Now that my rugrat is almost 10 years old (and the healthiest kid I know despite being fed, dare I say it…FORMULA), I can almost think back to those painful months without crying. My breastfeeding experience wasn’t what I’d hoped for and to be honest, I feel jipped.

But despite the major beating I inflicted on myself, I still suffered from judgemental looks and comments from friends and other new moms when they found out that I’d weaned my son after only 6 months (which to be honest, I view now as a major accomplishment). These women should have been my biggest support. Instead, they were the biggest reminders of what I’d deemed at the time to be my biggest failure.

So, as I read about Angelina and her breastfeeding struggles and the subsequent comments and criticisms from bloggers, I find myself wishing they’d just lay off. True, maybe she opened herself up to the grief after making her breastfeeding a public affair (see picture above). And I, for one, HATE celebrities that put out this life-is-totally-perfect-and-wonderful image when in reality they’re dealing with the same crap we all have to deal with.

But I give her credit for being honest about the difficulties she experienced. Why? Because when you’re struggling with something that so many well-meaning moms take for granted as “natural”, or something that some people have a tendency to pass judgement on if you decide not to do (or for whatever reason, cannot do), there’s no lonelier place. And sometimes it’s a little comforting to know that you’re really not alone.

~tcb

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17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Woody // Nov 21, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I agree. When it’s your boobs and your baby, then you have a vote. Until then, go bother someone else.

    It’s the same thing with any type of personal thing. My husband and I struggled with infertility for years (still nothing after 18 years!). But initially it was so painful a topic when people would ask when we were planning on starting a family, I reached a point that I would reply that I didn’t want children just to avoid having to go into the whole discussion and having to hear their advice. Boy, you talk about being judged!!

    Woodys last blog post..Hobbies

  • 2 Frankie // Nov 21, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    this hits so close to home.. I admire you doing so well – I gave up much sooner than you. I literally avoid talking to other new mothers because I don’t want to have to admit my breastfeeding failures.

  • 3 Steph // Nov 21, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    After reading your story, I was surprised you went for 6 months! You did an awesome job! And to Frankie, please don’t think you were a failure. Be proud of whatever effort you made! Breastfeeding is HARD.

    I received judgement from a medical professional when I went to see her because I was starting to wean and developed a clogged duct. She immediately launched into the “breast is best” speech, as if I hadn’t heard it before. Then she threw in the fact that she’d been breastfeeding her son for 14 months.

    I’ll never understand why she had to make me feel low to make herself feel good. She was already doing great…why did she need the extra reassurance at my expense?

    I also don’t understand why people feel free to make personal comments when it comes to anything related to pregnancy.

    Thanks for posting! You’re not alone.

    Stephs last blog post..Staying Healthy When You Visit Mount Wannahakaloogie

  • 4 thatcoolbroad // Nov 21, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone! It DOES help to talk with people who’ve had similar experiences. I guess that’s what support groups are for.

    @Frankie…even though at the time I considered my breastfeeding woes a failure, now I think of them more as a complication. Everyone is faced with complications in life and breastfeeding was one of mine. I remember talking to a woman who delivered her babies via C-section and felt like a failure for not being able to deliver them vaginally. I never would have thought someone would feel that way. But, I guess that was her “complication”. But we do the best we can and that can never be considered to be a failure.

    @ Steph…looking back, I AM surprised I made it so long considering the obstacles I faced. So I give myself kudos for that. Thanks for your kind words:)

    @Woody…it IS amazing how people seem to think it’s ok to make comments or judge you for such personal things. Those kinds of people have about as much empathy as I have in my little finger…and they definitely ain’t cool (in my book). Maybe it’s because they’ve never walked in our shoes. But you shouldn’t have to experience every experience in order to understand it (in my opinion).

  • 5 Stacy // Nov 22, 2008 at 10:40 am

    OMG I DIDN’T KNOW WE WERE TWIN SOULS except you’re so much cooler than me.

    I had a lot of struggles too, and I was one who never gave breastfeeding a second thought, so much so that I wouldn’t even look at formula or get any bottles. Perhaps I will blog about mine and we can flood the world with the truth.
    *whips off bra and burns it in protest*

    Stacys last blog post..A fairly accurate picture of my usual life

  • 6 thatcoolbroad // Nov 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    @Stacy…I can hear the fire alarm in your house going off from here:) I can’t wait to read your post!

  • 7 Daniel // Nov 23, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I admire you for speaking out. My wife had a similar problem like you described. Although we made it about six months the stress was incredible. I watched my wife cry every night while trying to get enough milk out. La Leche League people were a nightmare and made her feel like she was an unfit mother. I also admire Angelina for speaking on this. There are just some people who have a difficult time with it. Whether it be mental or physical it really is no ones business.

  • 8 Philly // Nov 23, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Never breast fed, never wanted to. That is just me. I not a fan of Angelina, but who freeking cares if she breasts feeds or not?

    #1

    Phillys last blog post..Fellas , listen to your woman

  • 9 Monkeytoemomma // Nov 24, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I breastfed my first for maybe a month. Something my husband still gives me a hard time about. It’s easy to criticize when you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself.

    I breastfed my twins, double football hold, for nine months. At which point, my milk all but dried up and the twins were getting little to nothing. I have learned since then that milk production and progesterone levels are linked. I have had multiple miscarriages because my progesterone levels were so low that I could not carry a baby through the first trimester. I’ve stopped feeling like a failure. I don’t listen to the criticism of people who don’t or wont understand that sometimes it’s not a choice, it’s just biology. Screw them! I think AJ is doing a great job and you know what, she’s making the best choice for HER babies and herself.

    Monkeytoemommas last blog post..I’ve Been Bitten

  • 10 mommypie // Nov 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Breastfeeding is HARD. I totally thought it’d come so naturally, but I had a baby who didn’t have much of an appetite, which left me with very little milk. Which meant aaalll the lovely contraptions. I made it to 10 months, at which point my daughter weaned herself, but I DID beat myself up for not making it to a year. *I* turned out to be my own worst critic.

    People need to lay off AJ. She’s human.

  • 11 Suzanne // Nov 25, 2008 at 11:06 am

    You know – I got all teary-eyed reading your blog. My experience was VERY similar, except I had a lac specialist tell me I was just going to have to starve him until he was willing to nurse. I didn’t have a lot of milk and I have small, flat nipples (I know, TMI), so it was hard for him and he just didn’t want to work that hard at it. After a couple of days with both of us crying in frustration, I pumped. For 3 months. I had to supplement with formula, but he had breastmilk for most of the 3 months. I have always felt gypped too – I wanted that breastfeeding time with him. BUT, he’s 11, and he is healthier than most of my friends’ kids who breastfed them for like 5 years (I exaggerate). It’s amazing the guilt we put on ourselves, isn’t it?

    Suzannes last blog post..My Christmas resolution

  • 12 Anna // Nov 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you! I breastfed my baby and I barely lasted 3 months because:

    a) I didn’t have that much milk–didn’t want my baby to starve, so I gave half breastmilk/half-formula.
    b) I had to go back to work after 8 weeks and I couldn’t keep up the pumping at the office.
    c) Did I mention that I had to go back to work?

    As much as bonding with my child felt fulfilling, it was SO DIFFICULT. It’s not easy at all, so I do respect Angelica Jolie for putting that out there, and I do hate it when people get all judgmental about breastfeeding. I hated the comments I got after I quit–how they fucking breastfed for a year and that I “gave up” so soon. :0 If they only knew how annoying they sounded.

  • 13 Heather // Nov 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I think it is sad that some women take it apon themselves to judge others. Feeding a baby is a small part of the big picture. Just because you wont or can’t nurse doesn’t make you a bad mom. Holding, cuddling and talking to your baby are most importand. Formula is expensive and not at all convienent, it’s a given that a mother spends a lot of time thinking it over, so don’t judge her. Judge the mom who puts grape soda in the bottle not the one with the formula. Or just ignore grape soda mom all together.

  • 14 Suzanne // Nov 25, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Be careful judging the grape soda mom…my son was so constipated, I fed him prune juice mixed with apple juice in his bottle once a day. Looked a LOT like Coke, and I answered a LOT of moms who judged me…incorrectly!

    Suzannes last blog post..My Christmas resolution

  • 15 thatcoolbroad // Nov 26, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    It’s great reading everyone’s comments and I really appreciate you taking the time to leave them. I also think that when other mothers who struggle with breastfeeding read your comments, they will feel comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone…and that WE think they’re the BEST for trying to do the best for their babies.

    And Heather is right…nursing IS such a small part of the big picture. If you think about it, what they eat after the first year and the good habits you teach them regarding nutrition will benefit them the rest of their lives. And then, of course, there’s all those hugs!

    So be proud of yourselves, ladies! (I’m proud of you)

    :)tcb

  • 16 pamela from the dayton time // Nov 26, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Breastfeeding is so hard, and sometimes it doesn’t work. You should be very proud of all the hard work you did! I was fortunate enough to have a fairly smooth time of it, but I don’t know if I would have been brave/persistent/determined enough to do what you did. Bravo to you!

    pamela from the dayton times last blog post..this is serious, people. really.

  • 17 Kylie Batt // Apr 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    ??? ?? ???? ?????? ?????!…

    ??????? ?????????, ???????, ?????????????, ???????, ?????????????? ? ????? a gavel…try not to judge…..

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