Thursday, November 18, 2010

Breast or Bottle?

First off, I want to clarify that I do love being a mommy and I'm treasuring my time at home with Atticus.  I feel like I need to explain that because, alas, I'm about to embark on yet another bewildered mommy post.   I find writing about all my mommy successes, failures, and milestones helps me maintain focus and the comments I get are always inspiring and encouraging.

I know it has been 10 years since Hope was an infant, but I didn't think becoming a mother a second time would floor me as much as it has.  I was very ideological going into this pregnancy:  I wanted natural childbirth, I abhorred pacifers, I would breast feed for a year.... everything would be all "hippie sunshine."

Let me tell you folks, I AM EATING MY WORDS.  I had a c-section after giving in to pain meds and an epidural.  Little Man is currently sporting a pacifer.  And BREASTFEEDING IS KICKING MY ASS.

Hope was a vaginal birth.  Hope never used a pacifer.  I exclusively breastfed Hope for a solid 8 months.  I have positive memories of feeding her all curled up next to me....

... so why are things so difficult this time around?

Things were bad today.  REALLY BAD.  Atticus eats every hour and a half to two hours.  He guzzles, but naps and is hard to wake, so each feeding lasts at least 45 minutes.  I am feeding him constantly.  My shoulders ache, my nipples are sore, and I'm (alas) looking at feeding time as a chore.  Last night things were worse; Atticus was up every 45 minutes to eat and he spit up everything.  All day -- since 3 a.m. -- guzzle, spit up, scream.  I gave him gas drops, I analyzed my diet, I tried different feeding positions.  Nothing worked.

I could hear his belly growling and there was a span of four hours with nary a wet diaper.  I called Sam crying around 2:30 and he called the doctor.  We have an appointment for tomorrow morning, but I didn't know what to do tonight.  Finally, around 3:30 I grabbed a bottle of formula the hospital sent home with us.

He drank nearly 8 ounces.

Then he burped, cuddled up next to me, and cooed sweetly.  And now he is asleep.

I'm so tired.  If the lengthy feedings and lack of sleep weren't bad enough, my c-section isn't healing very well.  A little portion reopened and I'm feeling run down and weak.

What do I do?  I want Atticus to have all the golden antibodies in breast milk, but I AM SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING SWITCHING TO FORMULA.  I was considering a compromise, pumping 3 times a day and supplementing the breast milk with formula.

Help me, mommies, what do I do?



Erin said...

I'm not a mommy but your compromise sounds good. You're smart enough to do what's best for your baby regardless of your preconceived notions of what constitutes the "perfect" mom you want to be. "Perfect" is responding to your baby's, family's, and your own needs in a way that ensures you are all as healthy as you can be. If there is a single person out there who is going to judge you for making a decision that's right for you and those you love, you don't need to listen to their opinion anyway. And I'll kick 'em in the teeth.

nerdybookgirl said...

Erin -- you absolutely rock. Thanks for being the awesome supportive person you are.

Jennifer said...

Ok, you sound a lot like where I was when Miles was about the same age. I desperately tried breastfeeding. It was horrible. He wasn't interested, he wasn't getting enough, yadda, yadda. After a while, I was almost resentful at every failed attempt. So I tried in vain to pump to make the milk happen. I probably could have done it after a while, but it would have taken weeks to get it right. I was missing out on about 45 good quality minutes with my baby in order to do "what's best" because those nipple nazis shoved that down my throat 24/7 at the hospital. It struck me during a figure skating competition in the winter Olympics (at like midnight) that maybe the bonding that Miles would experience from having a well-rested, happy mommy giving him a bottle that made his belly happy would outweigh the "best" practice that simply wasn't working for us.

So I went with formula and never looked back. Honestly, it's not that much different. Both my parents are college grads, and Dad has a Ph.D. and they were formula babies back before formula resembled anything CLOSE to breast milk.
As for Miles, you know he is super smart, handsome, and NOT hurting for complete nutrition! Oh, and I'm happier and feel like a better version of me, so he's getting my best. Sure I cried and felt like a failure and like he'd rejected me personally for a few days, but ultimately I gave up my ideal (after also giving up natural childbirth for a c section), and he got his ideal.

Ignore the experts. They're not there to hear his cries over his upset tummy or to see how miserable you are. I'm sure they're all perfect and wonderful, and their kids are probably just as screwed up in the end as everyone else. You're kid's going to need therapy because you're weird as hell and crazy, NOT because you chose to feed him formula. :) At least, that's what I tell myself.

Giggly Mama said...

At 10 lbs 5 oz 23 inches at birth, my baby Max I had this same issue. He ate every hour on the hour 24 hours. I tried so hard to keep up with him, but finally, even my own milk wasn't enough. I kept nursing through the night and pumping during the day, plus formula supplement. I too, felt like a failure, but Max stayed full a little longer and I could finally start healing those sore nipples. I was a little worried that he'd gain weight like crazy, but he was just a little/tall/baby/man with a big/healthy appetite. :) my breast feeding consultant recommended the formula supplement, after I tried Fenugreek, which was a natural way to increase my breast milk. We did breast/bottle until he weaned himself at 9 months.

You're doing awesome BTW, and don't feel bad if he ends up on formula alone. Their are new formulas out there that are better than the ones that were out 10 years ago. Just remember that you are the mama and you know what's best for your baby. I had to learn to ignore most parents and their judgments, I had to learn to do what was right for me, my baby, and my family. Never feel bad about having to make adjustments for your babies needs. XOXOX I love reading your posts about your sweet little family, you're one of my favorite mama's. :)

Katie said...

I'm going to say something that is only based on my experiences, so take it for what it is.

Don't quit breastfeeding. Not yet anyway.

Give it a while. Every time you want to quit, tell yourself only 2 more weeks. At that 2 weeks, reassess.

I know so many people who quit and admittedly regret it. More than that though, I know for me {and not necessarily for everyone who has ever had a c/s} it was the MOST healing thing imaginable. I was seriously scarred and depressed after my envisioned "perfect" birth didn't happen, but breastfeeding truly convinced me that my body does work. It was hard - Jude didn't even latch for a whole month! After that my nipples literally BLED for weeks from his compressed suck resulting from a tongue tie. It was horrific. But now, 13 months later, I am SO grateful for that aspect of motherhood and proud of my hard work.

Do you have access to lactation consultants? They saved Jude and my breastfeeding relationship. For sure. Insurance often pays for them. Check it out. Also - there is a woman named Anne Grider who is basically famous in ATL as THE BEST LC around. She helps over the phone for no charge if at all possible. A 3 minute conversation with this woman was the best thing ever for me. Call her.

FWIW, don't try to pump and not feed directly. I had to do that out of necessity for a month and it makes feeding TWO steps not one. It sucks. It also diminishes milk supply.

You know what's right for you; don't feel guilty if you are losing your mind and give a bottle once in a blue moon. We've all done it. But just try a little longer before giving up.

I sound like a lactation crazy, I know. I hope I'm not coming across a bossy and mean. It just means so much to me in terms of healing and confidence. :) Breastfeeding is the one reason I was not medicated this year. I'm not even kidding!

If it helps. I've been there:

Thinking of you. It's not easy, and in the end Atticus will love you no matter what. Don't feel guilty either way, and know you are a good mama regardless of breast or bottle.

Giggly Mama said...

Mom brain: I meant "there" are new formulas. Not "their" are new formulas. Eek!

Land of Lovings said...

Nursing can be so hard. I know what you're going through and it is exhausting. Traveler and I struggled in the beginning and for a while it felt like I spent 99% of my day with my top off and a baby latched (painfully) to my boob. I swear there was one day when he nursed for 2 hours straight.

For me the answer was nursing as much as I could handle, pumping at night and supplementing with the occasional bottle of formula after a month. There was no strict schedule with it and I just basically did what I could when I could. Having a happy baby means having a happy and rested momma, too. I will say I thought the advice I had gotten about nursing getting easier after 2 weeks was a total lie. It was a good month before things clicked for us. After that it ended up being way easier than bottle feeding and we ended up not using formula much at all.

My only real advice would be not to put too much pressure on yourself. You've created a new human being, had major abdominal surgery and spent weeks as the sole source of nutrition for said new human being (not to mention all the while being a mommy to another kiddo and a wife!). You are awesome! And you know what is best for you and Atticus. Trust your mommy instincts! : )

Land of Lovings said...

Oops, I meant I supplemented with formula after the first couple weeks not a month. I held off out of pure stubbornness but gave in after one big crying episode (the baby was crying...not me. Well, maybe I cried a little, too!) Once we figured out our rhythm of nursing/pumping/formula things got much, much better. And he ended up nursing until he was 17 months old.

catherine said...

zoë and atticus were about the same size at birth, and you know we had similar birth experiences. with her, i ended up exclusively pumping while my nipples healed (the latch was seriously messed up since the pump was easier on the boobs than the baby, you know?) i did end up with her on formula off and on, but she was primarily breastfed.

and seriously amanda, you know this - mommyhood is a state of compromise. so don't let the haters get you down. i would, in your situation, pump, breastfeed after the girls get a break, and supplement with formula if you're out of bottled milk and he's still hungry. it's never a perfect solution, but nothing truly is. besides, if anyone disses on your choice, i'm with erin. i'll kick em in the teeth.

also, i need to call you sometime, we're gonna be in g'ville wednesday and friday. <3 you!

Elizabeth said...

Just remember, you are not alone with your struggles. If that helps, small consolation when you are so tired I'm sure. Most women I know had some struggle or another with breast feeding (mine wouldn't latch for a month, then I couldn't get her to stop until she was 2). I agree with Katie to still give it a couple of weeks and then reassess because things might just improve on their own. I do think you should ask the doctor if there is anything you are eating that could be causing Atticus to have digestive problems. I've heard of that happening before, though it might not be related at all for your problems.

Lots of luck (and sympathies!! I hope you get some sleep tonight!). Just remember, as hard as it is now this will pass. Things will get better. And don't worry about doing what you need to do (formula or breast) to get through it.

Shelley said...

Reading through the comments it's clear that everyone has their own unique experience. I hope that if you continue breastfeeding you will end up having a good experience, and if you decide to bottle-feed, you don't feel guilty about it. The most important thing is for you to be able to enjoy the time you spend with your little one, whatever ends up making that possible.
I'm so glad for you that you have a place to voice your experiences. I sometimes wish blogging had been around when my kids were little. I think it would have been very therapeutic!

Melissa said...

As head mother-in-law and memaw I want you to know that you are a WONDERFUL mommy and wife and that in itself is a success. You are not defined how you feed Atticus only that he is healthy and happy. Sometimes that means compromising between breast and bottle. It is not a crime nor will it have any effect on Atticus. All little man knows is that his belly is full. Sam was a bottle baby and it took a while to even find a formula that would satisfy his hunger. Now you know the story that when Sam was 3 weeks old I started feeding him cereal (very thinned out with formula) and this finally filled him up and he slept all night long from then on. I'm certainly not suggesting that of course but it was what he needed so that important thing is to find out what it is that Atticus needs. We all have it in our minds just how we want things to go...well you might as well throw that out the window because babies don't always go along with our ideas but that DOES NOT make you a failure at motherhood it just means you adjust. Amanda I love you and you are by far an amazing young woman. The next time Atticus has you at your wits end and I mean ANY time during the day or on memaw because that is the reason I am here. Don't be afraid to call on me....I want to help. You don't have to do this alone. I love you all!!!

Elisabeth said...

I had a lot of nursing issues with my first. I did not have enough milk and lots of infections but did not want to give up nursing. I am stubborn. My pediatrician suggested I nurse first, and then give the baby a bottle. It worked like a charm. The best of both.

Breast or Bottle, an update… « Fig and Thistle said...

[...] 26, 2010 by nerdybookgirl A little over a week ago, I was frustrated with breastfeeding.  Exhausted, sore, conflicted, guilty, and more than a little bit depressed, I turned to this [...]