Ahhh the joy of spending $30 a pop on a tub of formula…did we really have a choice in the matter though? Actually we didn’t after a rough first 8 weeks with Juliette. It’s a great debate…formula vs. breastmilk, and I have to admit I believed that breast was best. My daughter did get breastfed at least for a little while, not as long as I had hoped, but there was reason for that.
Let’s back up a bit here, I believe in a woman’s right to choose in many ways. Now, I am not going to go out on a limb (like Mr. Bloomberg did) and decide to take away formula from any place, but I will say that choices are there and they are made for a REASON, not just for convenience. Unto the whole nursing issue, I was so very excited preparing for all of the things motherhood brought upon me, and one of the most important things was my ability to breastfeed (and my bigger cup size too might I add).
When I first started to breastfeed Juliette it was not easy as I had hoped, but I told myself that it was going to be ‘ok,’ I wasn’t expecting it to be. A nipple-shield helped a lot at first, especially with that precious “liquid-gold” colostrum that comes in those first few days. Then, as the milk came in, the shields were used less as Juliette latched on much better. Unfortunately though, this is not where the story ends. I so wish I was like one of those women who easily popped their baby on their boob and delightfully fed them on each side. I envied those women!! This was not the case for me…the first problem was, Juliette never seemed full, and was also quite colic after almost a week at home with us, especially at feeding time. After one very worried trip to the ER, many pediatrician appointments, a meeting with a lactation consultant, and joining La Leche League, I began to also pump my milk. They all agreed that, most likely, our somewhat discontented newborn wasn’t getting enough milk or and when she was, she wasn’t getting it fast enough. Every new mom will learn that all babies lose weight once they come home from the hospital, but she wasn’t gaining any and loosing too much.
I admit that it was frustrating, (not to mention those very, very sore and leaky nipples to boot), and I was quite worried and felt somewhat inadequate. But, I would not be defeated!!! So, after her feedings, I would pump, then hydrate, try my best to replenish my insatiable hunger, and by the time this process was done I was left with maybe 15 minutes or perhaps 25 minutes, (if I was lucky), before her next feeding. So, there I was exhausted, feeding her directly from the breasts, then offered her some from the bottle with pumped milk (if she was still hungry), then burped her (she was a very tough burper), followed by pumping, eating/drinking for myself, and then having barely any time left to do anything for myself, like brush my hair or go to the bathroom. Still, I was not giving up, I was determined to do this. By her next doctor’s appointment she seemed to be getting enough now, however she had begun to spit up a lot more and was having an even harder time burping. On top of that, she still hadn’t gained much, but (AH-HA!) something was working because she hadn’t lost any weight! Unfortunately though, due to the gassy, non-burping and constantly spitting up baby Juliette had become after just a few weeks, they suggested changing my diet. So, I gave up dairy first, which wasn’t too bad. My husband stocked us up with many new types of food for my diet, after a week though, still no change, so then they suggested to try to soy free diet. Well, I really feel very badly for anyone who can’t eat soy, because it’s in almost EVERYTHING!! This diet was hard, but I pressed on and kept at it, sent Steve to the store almost daily to find something to eat that way soy free and filled me up…but still no change, and a lot more crying and spitting up. Next up, I tried a soy and dairy free diet, this was the hardest one, but I was doing this for the better of my child, so I still didn’t give up! Much to my chagrin though, no change with Juliette. She was not so happy at feeding time especially, and the poor thing couldn’t keep anything down. I went back to my regular diet and just exclusively on the breast and she would cry and cry and cry and not even want to eat. What was happening? Was she self-weaning already? What did she want? It was so hard to tell!! Would there ever be a resolution to this? Will I ever enjoy my new daughter? Why can’t I just feed her my milk? Bottle or breast is best? Why does she cry every time she is nursing????? So many questions and I NEEDED ANSWERS!!!
Finally, after six long and stressful weeks of this…she was diagnosed with ACID REFLUX, and with the right formula and meds, she was like a new baby! I couldn’t believe it!!! Why didn’t we know this before? Apparently it is VERY common, and my younger sister and mother-in-law even had it when they were babies…who knew? Finding the right formula and meds wasn’t easy either, and I even kept trying to sneak in my pumped breast-milk too, but every single time I did, she puked and had a sour stomach. Plus, because as this point I was just pumping, my supply was going down. So, I finally and unfortunately stopped breastfeeding after 8 weeks of putting my all into it! It was very sad day for me, and I shed many tears over it, but no one could say I didn’t try, because I did everything I possibly could. My loving husband was very supportive of the fact that I had to stop, and he was my biggest supporter through all of this. In conclusion, I did not have a choice but to give up nursing my baby, unless I wanted to make her sick everyday…I think NOT!
I started to enjoy Juliette so much more, and from that moment on there was stress here and there, but nothing so bad that we couldn’t handle it. Burp cloths, bibs, and wipes became my new best friends, and burping every 2 ounces was much better for my hard to burp baby. As she became an adorably happy and, might I add, very full baby, who by her third month was in the 95th percentile for weight, and has stayed around that same mark since, we knew we did the right thing for her.
So, trust me, they made formula for a reason, not just for women who chose not to breastfeed (which if you chose that too, I have no judgment there either because breastfeeding, even if it agrees with them, is serious business), but it was also made for those babies who couldn’t be exclusively breastfed. It was a long road, and once she started solids her acid reflux kept getting better, her spit-ups diminished, and she now loves practically all food. Skip to the present time…today was her last day of her beloved soy formula, which took us so long to find the right one after those six weeks. Today it’s all whole milk. This was a 3-week milk project, adding more whole milk and less formula every week…and I was quite nervous about it, because of all her problems feeding in the beginning, but I am happy to report that so far, so good!
So, all you new moms hear me out- DO NOT be too hard on yourself, if for whatever the reason, you can not breastfeed, because you do have choices. I tried my very best, and still do hope to be able to breastfeed (for a longer period of time) with the next child, when that time comes. But when that day does comes, if it doesn’t work out I am not going to be too hard on myself, because I have a very happy and healthy baby now. And if you are successful in breastfeeding easily, congratulations to you, I am very jealous!
Got milk? Yes, we all do, but it comes in many different shapes, forms, sizes, and brands, and yes you do have the right to choose! Please remember that ladies, your baby’s health and happiness comes first, and don’t be too hard on yourself like I was…it’s unnecessary in the end! J
PS: Any questions about acid reflux, feel free to ask me anytime! I had a hard time finding enough information out there about it, and while I’m no expert, I can try my best advice to help.