A Look Back: My Partner’s Unwavering Support

Lindsay R, Columbus, Ohio

Editor’s note: As we enter Pride Month, New Beginnings takes a look back at this beautiful story of partner support and perseverance in nursing. Lindsay’s story was originally published on the blog in March 2018.

Lindsay and her wife, wearing sunglasses on a sunny day

When I became pregnant with our first child, I imagined a picture-perfect scene of me easily nursing our beautiful baby, full of love and happiness with my wife being blissfully supportive by my side. Then reality happened.

I became increasingly sick throughout the pregnancy until, at 35 weeks, I was diagnosed with gallbladder disease. Then at 37 weeks, after losing 20 pounds in that short time, the doctor decided to induce labor due to my deteriorating health and a fear that our baby was going to be under stress. We had a perfectly healthy baby boy the next day, and my gallbladder was removed one week later. Needless to say, I was quite sick and that picture perfect scene I had imagined nine months earlier felt like a complete impossibility.

My wife was gently supportive, trying to give me room to nurse, while quietly reminding me of tips we learned in the childbirth class and hospital parenting class. When I would cry, I was convinced there was something wrong with me and that our new precious baby hated me. She was there to reassure me and tell me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She tried to be helpful, but I felt like I was alone on an island with my baby who hated me and without enough milk to sustain him.

Then we took him to the pediatrician for his two-week appointment. I was terrified. I knew he wasn’t nursing well but didn’t know what to do. When he was a day old in the hospital, the doctors told me that we needed to feed him formula every other feeding because my milk hadn’t come in yet. We didn’t know any different, so we followed those instructions.

We spoke to the pediatrician (who was not encouraged by our son’s weight), and he asked a “lactation consultant” to talk to us. I’m not convinced she was an actual lactation consultant, but possibly just a nurse who seemed to know more about breastfeeding than anyone else on staff. She asked a few questions while she watched me nurse our son and then weighed him afterward. After checking his weight, she very coldly told me, “You’ve tried your best, but at this point, I would like to give you information on weaning your son.” I’ll never forget those words and how I felt. I nodded my head, took the paper on how to avoid mastitis while weaning and gathered our belongings to leave.

I broke down the second we got into the car and shut the door. I had failed. I couldn’t do what every mother should be able to do so easily. Yes, I was sick. Yes, I had major surgery. Yes, nutrition was difficult for me because of how sick I was, but for me none of those things were excuses. I cried. A lot. Thankfully, my wife knew me and was determined to help. She contacted the hospital, talked to a lactation consultant on staff, and set up an appointment to see her the next day.

The lactation consultant was amazing. She calmed me down and taught us so much. She helped us figure out what breastfeeding was going to look like for us and reassured me the whole way. She was a lifesaver and stuck with us for seven months until our breastfeeding journey ended. It was never what I imagined, but it was so much more than I thought it could be after those first two weeks.

Between our oldest and youngest babies, my wife had our twins. When I became pregnant with our last child, she was again incredibly supportive from day one. We approached this pregnancy differently. We chose a midwife and a birthing doula. They educated us on the birthing process as well as the magical hour after birth. We were empowered to ask questions and make decisions that we as parents felt were right.

I was amazed to watch our baby go through the nine instinctive stages during that first hour after she was born. I am certain that experiencing this helped give me the confidence I needed to know that my baby and I were enough. We could do it. I was still nervous and checked in with a lactation consultant throughout the first several months, but with the help of our midwives, doula, lactation consultant, and my amazing wife, our daughter will be two years old in a few months and still nurses.

I never went to an LLL Group Meeting in person because it was too difficult to coordinate sitters with four small children under the age of seven. I talked with a Leader on Facebook and found support and encouragement from her as well as from the LLL USA Facebook posts that always seemed to provide the perfect moment of reassurance and sense of community right when I needed it most.

Lindsay and her wife, smiling and looking into the camera. “With our first child, she was my voice when I couldn’t speak through my tears. And now with our youngest, she has been a strong ally, a cheerleader, and a proud partner through almost two years of nursing.”

My wife — my partner and best friend — supported me during the heartbreaking breastfeeding journey with our first child. She was my gentle reminder that I could do it when I didn’t think I could and my voice when I couldn’t speak through the tears. She went to countless lactation appointments with me and reassured me when I doubted myself. And now, with our youngest, she has been a strong ally, a cheerleader, and a proud partner. She has supported us through almost two years of nursing, never once complaining that I was taking time away from her and our other three young children, never once telling me that I shouldn’t still be nursing our daughter, never once doubting our journey. She has been there to support us every moment of every day and helped us to reach our goals.

Please send your story ideas to Kylie at [email protected].

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