Maybe this is happening because it’s race season in FL and I keep seeing people post about each awesome event they’ve run.
Or maybe it’s because I keep seeing people register for fall marathons.
Or maybe even because I’m completely embarrassed at the fact that I weigh almost as much today as I did the day before I delivered AJ.
Whatever the reason, this is happened today:
Even if it takes me 12 (or more weeks) to finish the 9-week program, I’m just glad I started.
When I was pregnant, I went from “I have no desire at all to breastfeed” to “I want to breastfeed for at least 6 months, 12 if we can handle it” thanks to the birthing and baby-care classes we took. I was so convinced I could do it I even attended classes dedicated to breastfeeding and pumping (for once I returned to work).
I was ready. I had nursing bras, nursing tanks and nursing shirts ready to go. I had a nursing pillow and lots of cover-ups. I even had a fancy schmancy pump on standby.
And then Andrew made his appearance. I tried like mad for 2 days in the hospital to nurse, but we were having problems latching and I wasn’t producing colostrum.
AJ was dropping weight right away – more than usual for a newborn – so our pediatrician suggested that we start supplementing the morning we were headed home and that I start pumping after feedings to stimulate production. (I should note that our our pediatrician is VERY pro-breastfeeding. Very.)
I had several nurses helping me in the hospital and over the phone & met with a lactation consultant. But nothing was helping. Andrew just wasn’t learning to latch, I still wasn’t producing anything, and we were all getting stressed out.
We continued trying – through lots and lots of tears – both mine and AJ’s when we got home. It got worse (for me) when we realized AJ had a mild case of reflux and spit up nearly as much as he took in. That precious milk!
All the while, I continued pumping after feedings, and we continued supplementing with formula – Ryan would give him the formula while I pumped. I continued to have consultations with the lactation consultant at our pediatrician’s office – nearly every day on the phone, and an extra appointment in person since AJ needed to be seen more often because of how fast he was dropping weight. I was constantly crying about how awful it was that I just couldn’t give my baby what he needed. What was wrong with me? Am I not trying hard enough? Am I not smart enough to figure this out?
My anxiety levels were skyrocketing. Things just weren’t getting better. I wasn’t sleeping – because with the every-two-hour feedings that took ages with a baby that couldn’t latch well, and the time I needed to pump afterwards I was getting about 20 minutes of down time before I needed to start the process over again. I dreaded every session.
Not once did I feel like I was bonding with my baby while breast feeding.
Eventually I tried pumping first & then feeding AJ the pumped milk. I’d be lucky if I could get 1/2 an ounce – combined – from both sides. He’d still spit a lot of that up & we were still supplementing.
It’s amazing how quickly I was spiraling into a cycle of anxiety and depression after only 7 days of trying to make breastfeeding work for us. Between sore and bloody nipples, stress over whether AJ was getting enough, continued crying during and after feedings, and my ever-increasing anxiety levels over the whole process, I decided enough was enough.
At AJ’s next appointment I broke down in the pediatrician’s office and told the nurse through tears, “I just don’t think I can do this anymore.”
And you know what her response was? “Ok. What kind of formula do you want to use?” No lectures about how breast is best (because, frankly, that had been drilled into my head enough already). No lectures about giving it more time just to see if the kinks would work themselves out.
Maybe she could tell how stressed I was. Or maybe she just understands that, although breast really is best, sometimes mothers need to take a different route to feed their baby. The pediatrician was just as supportive: “You know, Theresa, every mother has to pick her battles. Do what works best for you and AJ.” And then he proceeded to tell me about how his own wife didn’t breastfeed their youngest child, which made me feel immensely better.
AJ got his first bottle in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office. And the relief was immediate – both his and mine. He didn’t cry during the feeding, and neither did I. He even kept more down than usual.
I never really got engorged with milk, but some came in two days after I decided to start bottle feeding. (Day 9 for anyone who is counting). Maybe this is why we were struggling so much?
Now everyone is happy during feedings. And AJ is growing and thriving. I’ve actually been able to bond with my baby during feedings, instead of crying.
I do still wish breastfeeding worked for us. I’m no dummy – I now it’s definitely the most ideal nutrition for babies. Well, and washing all of those bottles (and…finding which bottle worked for us) is a total pain in the ass…Always being afraid I’m going to get held-up somewhere and not have enough formula with me is constantly on my mind.
I occasionally get looks when we’re mixing a bottle in public. But I know that breastfeeding mothers sometimes get “looks” too. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t, right?
The moral of this long-winded story: We’re happy and healthy, physically and mentally. And in the end, I think reaching that THAT point was more important for me than struggling to make breastfeeding work for me and my baby.
Happy half-birthday to my favorite person on the world! It seems like just yesterday little AJ made his way into this world, and yet here we are with a 6-month old baby that’s getting bigger by the minute. He’s sitting up on his own & rolling back and forth like it’s nobody’s business. …even in his sleep giving me a…read more →
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August 24th is always a hard day for me. It’s the day I lost my Dad. And this year I’m even more emotional than usual — largely because this guy is in my life now: I know Dad would have been thrilled to be “Pap Pap” to another grandbaby. He was, after all, over the moon with my brother’s kids…read more →
At just over 3 weeks after giving birth to Andrew, I’m starting to feel like myself again. Truth be told, I sort of feel like a new me physically speaking. I’m still not quite sure how I managed to do this, but I currently weigh less than I did when I got pregnant…significantly less. I knew that I was eating well during…read more →