How Breast Milk Jewelry Healed My Breastfeeding Misery

One of the benefits of designing jewelry for mothers is that I get to hear from other mothers who, just like me, have gone through the many highs and lows of breastfeeding.

One customer, Mehley, shared her story with me after she received the Milk Drop necklace she ordered from Precious Mammaries. She felt an overwhelming release of pain through it.

You can read her story below.

Mehley and Baby Ruby’s breastfeeding journey

My baby girl, Ruby, and I struggled to nurse since day 1. She was diagnosed very late with tongue and upper lip ties, which were revised at six weeks. She also struggled with her suck-swallow reflex and had difficulty breathing while she ate. Because she wasn’t able to pull the milk enough, I had to supplement with formula starting at day 3 when she had dropped 15% of her body weight. Even though I was pumping around the clock, my milk supply never came in fully. She would nurse for over an hour each time, then would need to be supplemented with formula.

Through all of this, Ruby kept trying to nurse. She refused the breast two days before her revisions. After the revisions, she had extreme mouth aversion and didn’t want anything to come near her mouth. I was devastated. I wanted to nurse my baby so badly. I had dreamed about it since the day I found out I was pregnant. And here I was, shedding more teardrops than milk-drops, while I fed my baby a bottle of formula.

I got her back to the breast a week later with the help of a nipple shield and a private lactation consultant. She nursed for a week with the shield, then she refused again. Her pattern became nursing for two days, refusing for seven. It was a roller coaster of emotion for me. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. And I felt so desperate to nurse my Ruby.

Ruby finally refused the breast for so long that I decided to listen to her. She didn’t want to nurse. It was too hard for her. So I accepted that and decided to begin looking for breastmilk donors. She still nursed overnight, so I kept nursing her through the night, and began feeding her only bottles during the day.

At 3.5 months, I started noticing that Ruby’s diapers were completely dry every morning. She wasn’t gaining weight well, and she was inconsolable in the mornings, which used to be a time when she was able to nurse well and feel satisfied for a few hours before needing a bottle. I knew my supply was declining, and I knew I needed to make a choice. So, I put my own feelings aside, and I listened to my baby. She needed a full tummy more than she needed to breastfeed, and it was time to listen to her. So I let go. That morning, while Ruby cried out in hunger, I walked to the kitchen and heated up a bottle of donor milk. I returned to the bedroom and fed her the bottle of milk. While her tears stopped flowing, I could feel my own run down my face and into her belly. While I was hurting, my daughter was fed by another woman.

I was devastated. I knew I needed to grieve, and to heal. Not being able to nurse was a terrible loss for me. Then I found Precious Mammaries, and I knew that preserving my breastmilk would help me with this difficult transition. I chose to order a necklace. Preparing my milk for my necklace was an emotional moment. I knew it was the beginning of the end. When I received my necklace in the mail, I felt such a release. I wear it close to my heart every day, as a reminder that I am a breastfeeding mother. Even though it was hard, and even though it didn’t go as planned, I am a breastfeeding mother, and I deserve to wear that badge with pride. My breastmilk necklace is my badge. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me that gift.

-Mehley McDonald

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