Melissa Beck is a pregnant wife and stay-at-home to two little ladies on Long Island. She was on a vintage season of MTV’s Real World you probably forgot about. She later went on to host Oxygen’s Girls Behaving Badly – not be confused with Girls Gone Wild or Bad Girls Club. Her interests include Hello Kitty, Glassjaw and normalizing breastfeeding in public. Melissa can be followed on Twitter @melissabeck.
Tell me about what made you decide to breastfeed Shalom? Was it harder or easier than you expected? Did your mother or someone you knew breastfeed?
Melissa Beck- My sister became a mother at 19 and she nursed her first baby for two years and her second baby for three years. It honestly looked really easy and this was before being able to Google every possible scenario as to what could be going wrong. She just did it and it seemed like it’s automatic. I had no concept that it could, would or might be complicated so that helped in terms of heading into it without discouragement or trepidation. I was only 14 at the time but it always stuck with me how normal and easy she made it look. And for some women it’s exactly that. But I get that that’s not always the case. Also, a mom friend of mine at the time said, “Melissa, you’re not like her though” regarding another friend who was breastfeeding. She assumed I couldn’t or I wouldn’t and that really pushed me to do it even more. I’m defiant and have to have the last say. So while it was offensive, it was motivating.
Nursing Shalom was a breeze. Just like I imagined it after seeing my nephew nurse all those years earlier. So, I was spoiled by the ease and convenience. I loved saving money. And, I love cuddling my baby all day as I fed her. I loved feeling skinny-ish. I loved reading about why breast milk was so awesome — the true science inside of it. Yes, I loved all of it.
Then came Maja, my second daughter. I had a big head about breastfeeding. I was this expert now you know. My body had to know what to do, right? WRONG. I suffered for 8 long months with painful, stabbing jabs of hot lead in each breast. The lipstick nipple shape. A colicky baby who refused to take pumped milk out of a bottle. Engorgement. You name any problem that would lead a healthy, rational woman to say she’s not going to nurse — I had it. But my baby wouldn’t take a bottle and like I said, I have to have the last say. I couldn’t give up. After endless, sleepless nights Googling, seeing a specialized breastfeeding doctor, two different lactation consultants, I finally entered all the right information to look into an undiagnosed lip tie. Sure enough, that’s what Maja had. Had both her lip and anterior tongue tie lasered at 8 months old and the pain stopped immediately! She had to go through a series of craniosacral therapy — like baby chiropractics — to get her sad little overworked body in alignment but it was mostly smooth sailing after that. She nursed until 22 months because she likes what she likes and a bottle was just never gonna happen.
You’ve spoken before about the struggle that was the first months with Maja. How did you keep going? When you had her ties released, what support was valuable to you in making that decision?
Melissa Beck- Honestly, Twitter. Here’s the thing about breastfeeding. You really do need a village of likeminded people to say YOU GOT THIS. My own husband was like, “You’re killing yourself. Just give her formula.” And I’d be like, but. You see she won’t take a bottle. This was more than my own stubbornness. I wasn’t “trying to be a hero” like condescending people who for some reason want you to NOT breastfeed — what does that even mean?
Anyway, Twitter, when I was up all night in pain with an unsatisfied, uncomfortable baby was a great outlet for me to vent and put my ideas and theories out. And one day everything clicked and I ended up emailing a picture to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, a man I’ve never met, who practices in Oregon and specializes in lip tie as it relates to breastfeeding and with just the “WOW” as a response to my photo — he got me on the right path.
That One Person
It takes one person to listen to you. One person to not dismiss you with “why bother?” or “it’s thrush” or “it’s allergies” or “it’s reflux” or “you don’t make enough milk.” It takes one person to hear you out and help you put all the pieces together to continue along a breastfeeding path. And the thing is, I very well could have quit and I would have still served my daughter to the best of my ability. I could have pumped her full of Zantac like they suggested. I could have bought her that $85 formula when they said she was allergic to my milk protein. And if I believed all those things and my gut said so, I would have served my daughter. But I didn’t believe those diagnoses and instead opted to discover this tiny piece of flesh that was destroy our lives and needed to be snipped. And thankfully, it worked out.
My point is — that gut feeling combined with a need to make everyone who doesn’t support you eat crow — LOL — that’s what worked for me. But I’m a sucker for justice and “I told you so” so that’s probably not the best advice.
Tune in next week for the second part of this interview – and thank you Melissa Beck for speaking with us!
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