Monday, December 8, 2014

Breastfeeding, Bottles, and Swallowing My Pride

Disclaimer, I really don't think my choices are better than anyone else's. I had natural labors, but that doesn't mean I believe that's the "right" way. You wanna schedule that C-section, that's your business. I like to wrap my baby. You use a stroller, cool. I'm telling about my experiences, so don't think I'm declaring my way is the right way. I'm not. It's what was right for me. You do what's right for you. 


I loved breast feeding both Taylor and Rio. Don't get me wrong. It was hard, and I had to fight for it. But it was worth it. It helped me in bonding with them. I absolutely loved that only I could give them what they needed. They were completely dependent on me, their mommy. 

I was able to nurse Taylor a year and Rio 9 months. There were times with both girls where I had to really fight to keep it going by pumping and taking non FDA approved medication, but fight I did. 

So this my third time around, I was soooo excited. I thought this would be super easy since it was number 3. I planned to nurse by demand feeding, meaning I'd let her nurse all the time, whenever she fussed at all. Well, she was born, and nursed right away. Hooray. 

She didn't seem to be a very hungry baby. I would have to wake her up to feed to get my supply up, but after trying everything, she would not eat unless she decided to. Once in the first few days, she went 9 hours refusing to nurse. I was a nervous wreck. Walking around with her trying every thing I could think to get her to nurse. Sobbing. Pleading. Finally she gave in and ate. She seemed to latch on fine once she ate, and she nursed the normal amount of time at each feeding. She wasn't too fussy until night time. 

Then she would cry and cry and, I'd have to wait her out until she would finally fall asleep. I assumed it was just her fussy time of day. Then I go in for her 2 week check-up. She has not made it back to her birth weight. Okay. We can fix this. I will try getting her to nurse more. 

I borrowed a scale to weigh her during feedings and see how much she was taking in. The first time I did it, she nursed an hour and only took in an ounce total. She was casually sucking. I panicked. At each feeding, she wasn't getting enough. I frantically started pumping and supplementing, but it wasn't helping my supply. I was worried constantly that every cry meant she was hungry. I was feeding her, supplementing, pumping, and then doing it all over again. I did that for two weeks, but she still wasn't getting enough. I finally decided I can't keep this up. My other children are being neglected while I'm spending all this time pumping. I was devastated. But I knew when I was beat. So, I made the switch to just formula. 

After a week, I had a new baby. And I knew I had made the right decision. She was happier and sleeping better and gaining weight. 

But the guilt. And the grief. I mourned not being able to nurse her. I wanted to so badly. Grief would strike me out of nowhere and make me so sad. And I made myself feel so guilty. 

My pride. Oh my pride. I also was ashamed that I wasn't nursing. When anyone would see me feeding her a bottle, I immediately felt the need to explain everything, because I didn't want them to judge me for feeding my baby formula, because I was judging me for feeding my baby formula. 

There it is. Boom. Heart revealed. I did think my way was better. How silly of me. Bottle or breast, my baby was getting fed. I do think it's so awesome how God made us able to feed our babies straight from us. But that's not always the best or even possible way for everyone. And that's okay. I could never know all the circumstances that play into a mom making the decision about how to feed her baby. So what would give me the right to pass judgement. 

So, now I say, "Momma, you do what's best for your baby. I'll do what's best for mine." I'm just thankful that such a thing as formula exists. 

And I'll do my best to stop feeling the need to explain myself. 

Breast is best. 

Except when it's not. 

These are the only photos I have of our short-lived breast feeding experience. I will cherish them. But I'll also cherish feeding my baby with that bottle. 

Willow Drew at Two Months

Dearest Willow Drew,

You are the sweetest baby. You are two months old now and so very precious. At your checkup, you weighed 10.10 and were 24 inches long. That puts you in the 40th percentile for both, which is a record for one of my petite babies. Way to go, Sugar. You usually only wake up once at night, take a bottle, and go right back to sleep. Best baby. You've been sleeping in your own bed since 7 weeks old. You and I slept on the couch for the first 5 weeks, then moved into the bed once you were better at turning your head. You've almost always slept on your belly, which is why we were on the firmer couch. You were not the greatest napper unless mommy was holding you or wrapping you, and then you slept great. Right at 2 months old, I realized you were not enjoying being rocked to sleep anymore. You were fussing and having a hard time getting comfortable on me. So I put you in your bed just to see what you'd do. In 5 minutes of quiet fussing, you fell right to sleep. I thought it must be a fluke, but it happened again the next night. Then I tried it at naptime, and surprisingly, you fell asleep again on your own. This is a strange new development that I'm not too sure I like all that much. It is very helpful, but I am sad to miss all those snuggles. Don't worry, I will still wrap you whenever I can because you do still love it. I love wrapping you, and you love it too. As soon as I get you all wrapped tight, you instantly relax and snuggle. Best ever. 

You are such a happy baby. As soon as you make eye contact with anyone, mommy especially, you grin and grin and grin. You will coo and talk my ears off as long as I hold your gaze. Your eyes, pretty and blue like your sisters, are bright and wide when you are awake. 

Oh, and you adore your sisters. If they are in sight, you are focused on them. All I do is put you in your bouncer on the floor, and you are entertained just by watching sisters run around playing. They are always asking to hold you and hug and kiss you. Rio affectionately calls you "new baby". And they both copy whatever mommy does to you. I fake pinch your cheeks and make a kiss noise, they do too. It is an extra joy getting to watch how much they love you, kid. You are lucky to have them as your big sisters. (Don't do what Rio tells you, though she means well.)

No one needs to remind me to cherish every moment, because I'm doing that just fine on my own. Every. Moment. 

You're my favorite Willow. (Just so no one thinks I'm playing favorites. I also say "you're my favorite Taylor. And "you're my favorite River Jane. Notice the lack of comma before the names. 😜)

You are a gift. 

Love always,