There I was, sitting in the back seat of my car at a fast food parking lot, nursing Daphne. I had the thousand yard stare. My eyes were staring at the rubber trim around the carseat as Daphne fussed and attempted to eat. My eyes slowly filled up with tears. I was hot. I was tired. I was emotionally drained. I was done.
How did I get there, you ask? Let me start with some background information.
Daphne’s weight checkup appointment was Friday morning.
Sam and I took wagers on what her weight would be. I guessed 9lbs 10 ounces and Sam guessed 9 pounds 8 ounces (Her weight on Wednesday was 9lbs 6 ounces). Who won? Sam. She had gained 2 ounces from her appointment on Wednesday, weighing in at 9lb8oz. The male Sergeant who took her measurements was a chipper fellow, almost like the server from Office Space.
He asked how much Daphne had been eating and I whipped out my notebook. I had been keeping track of feedings and pumping sessions. He said ‘phewww! You have a feeding log! That’s awesome.” He audibly sighed and was way too excited to examine my feeding log.
After she was weighed, we waited a few minutes for Dr. Doom to come in.
Dr. Doom was very pleased.
She was happy to see that Daphs gained a little weight. Again, she pulled me over to the magical mystical chart to see where Daphne was. She commented “She’s stayed at the 4th percentile, which is good.”
Oh yea? Good? When just under 48 hours ago my daughter was bound for the hospital?
I was very happy to see that Doc was happy. She suggested I continue supplementing with more milk that I pump and keep the weight coming on. She scheduled an appointment for Wednesday for another weight check.
She mentioned that I should check out the lactation consultants at WIC and rent a pump from them. I mentioned that I had been toying with the idea of switching to formula.
At that, she backtracked and said “Well, let’s just wait…I think it’d be good to make breastfeeding work, you know?” She seemed to be defending breastfeeding, which honestly took me by surprise.
So, we headed out the door after making an appointment. I was getting pretty shaken up.
I whipped out my phone and googled WIC lactation consultants for my area. Found a list of about 6 women and their numbers. I called 4 different women at 3 locations, and none answered.
I was on the verge of tears.
Here I am, already emotional about the fact that my doctor was doom and gloom to me about my daughter’s growth. She made me feel like I am not taking care of my daughter. She suggested that I supplement my breastfeeding with milk I’ve pumped.
Well, friend, I used up my entire stash of pumped/frozen milk in that day and a half between appointments.
I was discouraged. How in the world am I to keep feeding my baby all this milk when I don’t have it?
Things I’ve tried to help my milk supply:
- I’ve tried fenugreek.
- I’ve tried drinking a beer (okay, I can’t handle beer, so I tried a few sips)
- I’ve tried eating massive amounts of oatmeal.
- I’ve upped my protein.
- I am still drinking massive amounts of water daily.
- I’ve upped the amount of food I eat (I eat healthy anyway, so I just eat more)
Yet in all of this, Daphs still seems hungry and all that’s changing is I am gaining weight and have to pee every 30 minutes.
After my appointment on Wednesday, when I was supplementing her with that extra milk, I noticed something about Daphs— she did seem to be hungry after I was done breastfeeding her. I noticed that after I was done feeding her, she would fuss a bit and calm down again when I gave her more milk.
This lead me to believe that I’m not producing enough for Daphs.
It is possible not to be able to produce enough milk for your baby. Perhaps I am one of them who just perpetually has a low supply.
Because I ran out of my pumped frozen supply on Thursday, and Daphs was still hungry and fussy late in the evening, I fed her formula.
Throw stones at me now.
I made her a bottle of formula and she ate a full 4 ounces. I had never seen her do that before. I must say that my eyes were opened to realize that she is absolutely capable of eating that much and that she may not be getting all the food from me she needs.
That night, Sam and I had a long discussion about whether or not I should continue to breast feed. Here’s basically the gist:
Why I should continue to breastfeed:
- I’ve always been told ‘breast is best.’
- Boob juice is free. Can’t get much better than free.
- Boob juice is convenient—no mixing or measuring.
- It’s a great bonding time.
- I’m able to get my antibodies and nutrition through to her with my milk.
- I pack light. I can get away with carrying my purse, diapers, and wipes. No huge honkin’ tote with bottles and formula.
- On an subconscious level, I feel that I must continue, because all of my immediate family members have breastfed and I would feel a bit black-sheepish if I formula feed.
- I may feel guilty for switching to formula, that I would feel like a failure if I didn’t continue breastfeeding.
- Feeling like super mom–being able to make food for Daphne.
- If I pump milk, I’d be able to keep track of how much she’s eating.
Why I should start formula feeding:
- There’s no guessing with whether Daphs is eating.
- Easy to track her food intake.
- Formula is an option with WIC
- I can eat/exercise how I want, and I could be away from Daphs for more than an hour at a time.
- Sam would be able to feed her for me–sharing in feeding times.
There are many pros and cons to both sides of this story. A lot of the the reasons to formula feed can be refuted with pumping or breastfeeding solutions.
While discussing all of these things with Sam, I started crying. I was overwhelmed and a bit dejected when I finally realized that Daphne was generally still hungry after feeding from me. All the time. Am I not providing what I need for Daphne? Sure, she’s getting nutrition from me, but she could be getting more.
Feelings of failure and disappointing myself and others came to mind. I don’t like being bad at things. I don’t do well with failure. I felt like if I were to quit breastfeeding, I would be a failure at the most basic part of my life as a mother: Feeding my child.
Now, before you rush into “You’re not a failure! Don’t feel that way!” Think of it this way: I have put all of myself into breastfeeding. It’s such a personal and emotional thing. I have altered my diet, I have added and detracted from my normal dietary habits. I change my schedule. I have put all of my effort into making breastfeeding work–yet….it doesn’t seem to be working.
Feelings of inadequacy stem not only from my doctor’s dismay at Daphne’s weight gain, but also in the realization that Daphne is still hungry after eating from me. I can count on one hand the number of times that Daphne has stopped eating and was fat and happy. Usually, after I drain both breasts and she eats all she can from both sides, she is still fussy and latches onto the pacifier with force immediately after eating. She fusses most of the time, sometimes crying, other times just acting a little uneasy.
I feel as if I would be stigmatized for making the switch to formula. It’s not as if I expect to be lashed and stoned from my family members and other breastfeeding mothers. Outward reaction usually doesn’t accompany a person’s decision to formula feed. Usually people keep their opinions to themselves. Still, the disapproving goes on.
So there I was, sitting in the backseat of my car in the parking lot of Jersey Mike’s Subs, hot tears brimming on my eyes.
I have given breastfeeding my all. I have done all I know how to do.
Sam, sensing my defeat, drove me to Wal-mart and we purchased an electric pump (I had been using a manual one that didn’t work very well).
I drove home in a hurry and set it up for my first time use.
Let it be known to you and all future generations in this universe and the next that I despise pumping. The tender pain that accompanies specific areas of said boob afterwards is not pleasant.
So I pumped.
I pumped some more.
I fed Daphs my pumped milk.
She was still hungry after that. I kept offering her my breast to nurse, but she didn’t seem to be getting anything. In a way, I was thankful. It hurt to have her latch on after I had been pumping so much.
The thousand yard stare of defeat from breastfeeding kicked in today.
I woke up with full boobs from a full night of being untouched due to Daphne’s sweet sleep.
I fed Daphs at 630.
Fed her again at 9. Ate all I had and fussed. Pumped an ounce an hour later and she ate that.
Fed her at 11. She barely ate.
Fed her at 12. She ate my 2.5 ounces of pumped frozen milk and cried so much after the bottle was empty.
I had to take a break and remove myself from the situation. I asked Sam to take her and I went to my bedroom and gave myself a time out. I was so emotional. I felt so defeated and confused. What went wrong? I gave it all I had. I did all I feel I could do. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
I went to the kitchen and prepared her 2.5 ounces of formula. Once she latched onto that bottle, she started chugging the formula and I started silently crying. My head was pounding from the headache. My face was swollen and my eyes blurry. I stared down at my daughter and was so thankful that she was eating all that food. I am so happy for that.
After the 2.5 ounces of formula, she still was hungry. I popped the paci and rocked her to sleep.
Top 10 thoughts concerning breastfeeding vs formula feeding:
1. I realize that it is not the end of the world for me to start formula feeding Daphne.
2. Daphne needs more food than I feel I am giving her.
3. I feel as if a little bit of me would die if I stopped breastfeeding.
4. I really wanted breastfeeding to work. I never had planned to formula feed or supplement.
5. I honestly don’t think I can keep up pumping for every feeding. It is quite painful for me.
6. I would feel like a failure to myself if I stopped breastfeeding.
7. In reality, it doesn’t matter how Daphs is fed. Formula vs breastmilk is small potatoes compared to other aspects of raising a child.
8. Sam supports me in any decision I make.
9. This decision is so hard for me, as I’ve been doing it for just under 3 months. It’d be a change for all of us.
10. I love my daughter and want to do what’s best for both of us. I just want her to be healthy and grow.
This decision is so hard. I have not fully decided whether or not I want to switch to formula.
All I know is that I am absolutely an emotional wreck right now. I am so drained–I have very little milk and I have very few tears left.