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A Story of Struggle and Success {World Breastfeeding Week}

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Breastfeeding | Tags: Blog Hop, Breastfeeding, Formula, supplements, World Breastfeeding Week | 7 Comments »

When you are feeling crushed under the pressure of a baby not gaining weight and you are doing everything you can think of (and everything everyone is telling you to do) and you are still struggling and the latch is perfect and comfortable and you couldn’t have more support if you tried and it’s still not the happy blissful act you dreamed it would be, but rather nothing but frustration as your baby cries in anguished hunger because you just don’t have enough to give him- I give you permission to scream into your pillow about the unfairness of it all. Cry in the shower and get all that tension that is building up out of your system: breastfeeding is hard, breastfeeding sucks.

Then pick yourself up and try something new.

For me, my biggest no-no was formula. I wasn’t going to do it. Nasty horrible formula companies, what were they trying to do? Undermine me as a breastfeeding mother? Assholes! (This is what I was being told by the lactivists- and I believed them.) So, I nursed and then pumped (next to nothing because we were nursing probably an hour out of every two hours) and then supplemented what I had pumped with a dropper (because HELLO! bottles and their damn nipple confusion are right there in bed with those asshole formula companies*).

So, you can imagine my surprise when after 2 weeks of weight checks every 2 days and *still* not being back up to birth weight (not even close, actually), I started contemplating formula. Just to get us over this sleepy jaundice hump. Jaundice is sneaky that way- you get rid of the bilirubin from pooping, and you have to eat to poop, but the jaundice makes you too sleepy to stay awake enough to eat effectively, so you don’t poop…it’s a vicious circle of awesomness.

So, we finally bit the bullet. Against all advice from everyone (except my pediatrician, he was letting me choose the path but had a feeling formula might help get us over the hump). I finally gave him a bottle. Of formula. Having him attached to my breasts 50% of the day wasn’t getting us anywhere, With the constant emptying, there just wasn’t anything there to get.

He sucked the bottle down so fast I couldn’t believe it. Then he went to sleep and woke up 2 hours later, happy as a clam. At our next appointment, he finally was at his birth weight. To top it off he had had a nursing strike the previous day where he wouldn’t eat anything at all. It was unreal.

Soon his jaundice was gone and he was sleeping and waking and eating on a more regular schedule. So, once a day between feedings I gave him a little bottle of formula to top him off. It gave us all a break. He was happier, I was happier. We had made it over the hump.

We were back to 100% breastfeeding by the time I went back to work, which ended up being short lived because between the nursing and supplementing I could never pump enough for an entire shift
(or pump enough on my shift) and my boss wasn’t too excited to have my husband pleading for me to come home early to feed a crying baby every few days.

What are your options here? You can’t NOT feed your baby, I couldn’t leave my husband with an inconsolable infant with no options…back to the formula supplement. Because of this, nursing for us never really hit a comfortable stride until I quit my job. Then I could sit in a chair nursing (and tweeting) all day long if I wanted. And I did. But, we still needed that little extra to fill that tummy and calm him down.

Even with that little top-off bottle of formula (there was never enough to pump with all of that nursing) we still nursed every 90 minutes or so for months, we are still nursing at night (although he also drinks cow’s milk out of a cup and eats all meals at the table with the rest of the family).

He’s about to turn 1 here in a few days. He weighs 2 pounds less than his brothers who are almost 3. He’s my little tank.

It was a struggle for sure, and there were days and weeks (that 3 months of thrush!) where I was certain it was all going to end at any minute. But he LOVES to nurse, and I love to nurse. So, we nurse.

*Obviously this is sarcasm. I have no problem with formula, all of my kids have had formula to some degree.

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7 Comments on “A Story of Struggle and Success {World Breastfeeding Week}”

  1. 1 Tat said at 12:32 am on August 4th, 2011:

    Breastfeeding came easily to me and I'm so grateful for it, but I wish it was that way for everyone. It must have been heart-breaking to have to make the formula decision when your baby is 2 weeks old and you are a mess of raging hormones (yes, I still remember the baby blues). But you have to do what you have to do and as you said, you can't not feed your baby. I'm glad breastfeeding ended up working for you in the end and hopefully your story will help other mothers to feel no guilt (ok, maybe no guilt is unrealistic, but at lest less guilt) about their choices. .

  2. 2 erinclot said at 12:42 am on August 4th, 2011:

    My sister is enjoying that easy experience, I must say I would have given my right arm for that. Then again I appreciate every day a little bit more knowing how much work we put in up front, how invested i had to be to get where I am now. And yes, no matter what, I think all moms have guilt over something. I didn't bat an eyelash over having C-Sections but breastfeeding? Gallons of tears shed.

  3. 3 Mama G said at 9:33 am on August 4th, 2011:

    Wow, he is a tank! I think you've done a great job, Momma. I'm so glad that breastfeeding worked out for you, and that formula did the trick when he was just a baby. I really enjoyed reading your story 🙂

  4. 4 erinclot said at 10:01 am on August 4th, 2011:

    Thanks! I am actually quite surprised we made it to a year. Now he can stop whenever he wants and I will be OK with it. We may have crawled over the finish line, but we are here.

  5. 5 Lori said at 9:45 am on August 4th, 2011:

    I was right there with you. Jaundice, formula supplementation, starving screaming baby, BUCKETS of tears. We're still nursing (with no supplementation) 10 months later.

  6. 6 erinclot said at 9:59 am on August 4th, 2011:

    I know, I love reading our story. I feel like it\’s this little club of breastfeeding suckiness that no one wants to belong to. I get way more out of a story like yours than one that nothing but rainbows and unicorns.

  7. 7 motherwifeteacher said at 5:42 am on August 24th, 2011:

    That sounds SO much like my nursing experience with Grant, except for not making weight checks. Grant gained fine, but he was attached to my boob nearly 24/7 it seemed. He would cluster feed for hours and hours and hours– the record was 7 hours straight. So, he gained, but it was such misery for me to not be able to do ANYTHING but nurse a hungry baby. I felt so much guilt for introducing formula top-offs, but it made a HUGE difference. He went from nursing all.the.time. to eating every few hours like "they" say is normal baby behavior. Once I went back to work, I only had one break per day to pump, so my supply took a nose-dive. He was probably 50/50 breastfed and formula fed until my cycles came back, my supply took another big dive, and he self-weaned at 11 months.

    With this one, I'll add in some of the things that can help increase milk supply, and I'll be able to have 3 times per day to pump (thank you, new federal law protecting BFing mothers at work!). I'm hoping that those things will help me to use less formula, but if I have a baby that wants to be attached to my boob for 7 hours straight again I WILL be supplementing. Yes, breast is best, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

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