31 Days of Blogging – Day 15

I am devastated, but I’m also desperate.  R is five days old and has dropped in weight more than what the pediatrician is comfortable with.  She wants us to start supplementing with formula.  After 37 hours of labor, not being able to keep food or water in my system, and a C-section, I have been very out of it.  I’m not thinking particularly clearly and am at the mercy of everyone around me.

R’s bilirubin was high in the hospital.  Not to a worrisome level, but enough that we were told we needed to keep an eye on it.  She was very sleepy and had a poor latch because of this.  I was having to wake her up to feed, and most of the time she snoozed during feedings.  I had tried different positions, skin-to-skin, massaging her while feeding, breast compression – anything to help stimulate her.

By the time we had gone home from the hospital, my milk wasn’t in yet but I was hopeful.  The doctor had scheduled an appointment for her fourth day of life to check her bilirubin again.  Somehow, in my haze, I had missed that this would also be a weight check.  It didn’t click with me that feeding was something we would talk about.  I don’t know why, but I thought we were doing okay because I was working very hard at it.  I didn’t realize that I was starting out behind.

The first night home is awful – she cries so much and won’t go to sleep until around 3:00 am.  I didn’t have any rest or energy to begin with, so it is a very hard time for me.  On her first doctor’s visit, her bilirubin is lower and the pediatrician says she isn’t worried.  If R keeps having regular bowel movements and wet diapers, it will work itself out.  She then talks to me about how feeding is going.  I mention R’s lethargy, and that my milk isn’t in yet.  She says we’ll give it another day and then do a recheck.  In the meantime she suggests that I pump at the end of feedings to encourage my milk to come in.  A lactation consultant comes in and helps with position ideas and ways to help her latch.  R thrusts her tongue, so the consultant prints off exercises we can do to help with that.  I can do this.  I have hope.  The night is still a hard one, R seems overly hard to calm.  I do the best I can.

Well, day five is here and I’m being told to supplement.  I’m so tired I just agree to it.  The lactation consultant comes in, and we talk about how to go about supplementing.  She suggests I use a syringe instead of a bottle.  I think it is a good idea, to keep nipple confusion from happening.  The doctor has gone to get us some already mixed formula samples to take home.  When she gets back, I mention the L.C.’s idea about the syringe.  She says, “Oh, don’t worry about that, just use the bottles the formula comes in.”  Since she’s the doctor, I go with this.  The syringe might be hard to use anyway.  To this day I wonder if it would have been different if I had just used the syringe…

That night is drastically different!  R sleeps better; we all sleep better.  We have another weight check two days later, and I am anxious.  We go into the appointment smiling, and the pediatrician notes that we look like a completely different crowd.  R seems to be doing much better, and we learn she has gained a few ounces.  I am glad she’s doing well and gaining – but I also feel guilty.  Why can’t my body provide for her on its own?  It also takes up so much time.  It takes her an hour to feed, then I have to pump, and she eats every two hours.  This doesn’t leave much time for rest, or eating, or much of anything else.

The plan is for me to supplement until I feel that I have a good supply, then slowly take the formula away.

R turned three months old last Thursday, and we are still supplementing.  No, it is not what I had in mind.  Yes, I’ve tried to stop.

I came to a place where I know I just have to do what I have to do to keep her healthy.  She is a good baby.  She started sleeping through the night at six weeks old.  At around ten or eleven weeks, I saw an increase in my supply (thanks lactation cookies and tea!) and during the day had gotten her down to only two or three bottles – she had several feedings without supplementation!  And then, about a week before she turned three months old, it all went out the window.  She started freaking out when I would try to nurse, but she also seemed hungry ALL.  THE.  TIME.  She was going through a nursing strike and a growth spurt all at the same time.  She stopped sleeping through the night, too, which was hard since I had just gotten used to sleeping again.

I wanted to nurse as much as possible, but she would refuse and flip out so I would have to give her a bottle.  All my hard work building up my supply, and then this happens.  I don’t even have much expressed milk – I do not get very much when I pump, and originally I tried using what I pumped as supplement rather than formula.  It also gets hard to find the time to pump after every feeding.  I do the best I can.  Occasionally she will still have a feeding or two without the need of formula – it was that way this morning, in fact.

This feeding journey has been quite a trial.  Some days, I am just fine with the way things are.  I say to myself, “Whatever I need to do for her to be healthy, that’s what I’ll do.”

Other days are hard, and I feel a piece of me die inside each time I mix a bottle.  The Nerd encourages me by saying that it’s great that even though we use formula, I am still able to nurse quite a bit.  We still use the same amount of formula we did at first, which means my supply has grown.  He says many women would have given up by now.  I try to focus on these positive things, but every once in a while the what ifs and negativity hit me hard:

I should have fed her every two hours in the hospital instead of every three.

I should have read more about breastfeeding before I had her.

The first time the lactation consultant came to see me in the hospital, too many guests from my family were in the room and I had to tell her to come back later.  I wish I had let her stay and told them to leave!

We had too many visitors in general in the beginning and I felt overwhelmed, but was too tired and too worried about offending someone to say anything.  I should have stood up for us more.

I should have used the syringe instead of a bottle.

I should still pump more than I do.

Formula is way too expensive and The Nerd works so hard as it is.

Focusing on these things isn’t helpful, I know, but this is a really hard struggle for me.  I think I’m just trying to work it all out in my mind.

Right now, I’m looking at my beautiful girl as she sucks her thumb and plays with her zebra rattle.  I see how her cheeks are full and she’s growing every day.  And I know she will be okay.  I know one day I will be too.  I try not to be sad.  I do what I need to do.  I trust the Lord with my daughter and hope to be a good mother to her.  She is my sweet Boo-Bear.


21 thoughts on “31 Days of Blogging – Day 15

      • I am so sorry you have a had to go through that. I am a big advocate for breast feeding so I totally understand how you could feel a little out of sorts with all of this, but your blog name seems so appropriate in all of this. You are a warrior. You are a wonderful mothering doing everything that is best for your little one. Way to go! I am sure your experience will help many in similar situations.

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  2. Wow. I just want to say, you’re doing good, mama. Almost the EXACT same thing happened with my oldest son. After a 36 hour labor, his bilirubin got high, he lost way more weight than he was supposed to, and we had to choose between supplementing or hospitalization for bilirubin. So of course, I chose supplementing. Even with that, he had to be on a light bed in our home and a home nurse came every day for a week. I used the syringe. I taped it to my breast. I pumped. I cried. I ran through the scenario over and over wondering what I could have done differently. And in the end, I mustered all of my mama strength and admitted it wasn’t going to work. This thing that comes so naturally to every other mom and baby (big lie!!), I just couldn’t get. So he became a formula-only baby. He’s 3 now, and amazing! And his younger brother and sister – no problems nursing. So don’t lose heart, Mama.

    • What a trial for you! It is comforting to know that this isn’t really easy for anyone, but at the same time frustrating. Shouldn’t this all come “naturally”?

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the encouragement! I needed it today!

  3. Oh my goodness! Your post just brought back a flood of memories. I had a hard time to with my supply. I did read books and all those other things. It still did not make a difference. I mean I invested in everything you could thing of that was legal! Milk Thistle, fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, biscuits…everything! I still felt that way just …blah & failure! My bestie said at the end of the day a healthy momma & baby is what really matters. I was supplementing and pumping and breast feeding. I was exhausted. I just had to make the discussion. Rested momma & healthy baby may equal formula/bottle fed! Here is the best news! HE is healthy! 6 years old now. However, I feel so tender towards you right now reading this post. We are all moms at the end of the day..we want happy healthy children & we want to be healthy & happy ourselves! No matter which road we took we end up there together! Hang in there momma. Blessings to you….

    • Thank you for sharing. I think what I’m going through is much more common than it feels like it is. I am glad she is happy and healthy, and I just keep trying to remind myself!

      I feel blessed by all the encouragement this post has brought me! I think mostly I just needed to get it written out to help me feel better. I know sharing my story could help someone else down the road…

  4. Sweet Mama… love that baby!!! Hang in there. Cherish every precious memory.
    Thank you for sharing your struggle. While I can’t relate to the specific topic (I breastfed with supplementation for about 3 months until I went back to work as a nurse… it was just too hard for me to pump like I needed to. And that was hard for me… but no guilt!) I can definitely relate to your wonderings about what ifs! This post inspired me to keep looking toward the positive… it kind of seems to be theme for me this month =)

  5. Loved this post! Because of health issues, I had to supplement and use formula with all 3 of my boys. I had HUGE amounts of wrestless nights, beating myself up for not being able to provide for my babies naturally. Yet, now I look back and see how much more I was able to love my babies by going beyond what I couldn’t provide naturally. You just go, be the best momma you can be!

  6. You’re doing the best for you and your baby momma! Hang in there momma and trust God’s provisions. Don’t stress about the little things, just focus on you and your baby and don’t worry about the what if’s and could have beens. You’re doing a fantastic job!

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  8. Oh my friend! I have walked in your shoes three times over. Each of my experiences has been slightly different and each have involved a lot of momma guilt over not being able to feed my babies in the way that practically ALL my friends have been able to do. I had another friend who struggled with her supply and succeeded in exclusively nursing her son and I felt so guilty because I felt like I hadn’t tried hard enough. This last time (with our soon to be 2 year old baby girl) was especially heartbreaking because she was dropping weight fast and her little cries were like those of someone who is in great pain because they’re starving. It was also really hard for me emotionally because I tried to do a nursing/syringe supplementing combination thing, but after the first syringe of formula, I tried offering her my breast at the next feeding time and she refused it. This was at 4 days old. I felt like the world’s worst mother because I reasoned that only a child who had been actively starving for days would so forcefully refuse the breast at only 4 days old. It hurt so badly and still stings a little bit when I think about it. In the end though, the thing that has helped me a LOT is the realisation that what matters most is that my babies are fed and healthy because that’s healthy for them AND me. ((((hugs)))) Blessings and prayers!

    • It’s very hard, sorry to hear that you had to deal with this too! I’m learning that apparently it is very, very different for everyone, and as long as your child ends up healthy in the end, you’ve done what you need to.


  9. We didn’t have lactation consultants when mine were born (they’re 30, 27, and 21 now). I am so glad someone “invented” them! I never could get anything out when I tried to pump, so I guess I must have been doing it wrong. We thought things were going fine with my firstborn until a weight check when he dropped off his percentile and I was advised to supplement. That went against everything else I had read, but I figured the doctor knew what he was doing, and he was a father as well, so they had to have dealt with feeding issues personally. Breastfeeding AND making bottles is like the worst of both worlds. But like you say, you do what you have to so they will be healthy. We ended up supplementing til he was 9 months old, and then I had to have gallbladder surgery (the old fashioned way before the laparascopic approach). I went to full bottle feeding then. With my second we only had to supplement for a few weeks, and with my youngest not at all (thankfully, since he would not take a bottle or even a pacifier). I guess it just took my body a while to get with the program.

    My middle son and d-i-l just had a son born 10 1/2 weeks premature, and he spent the time from his birth to his due date in the NICU, so feeding was an issue. She pumped because she couldn’t be there 24/7 (and he was on a feeding tube at first anyway), and when she apologized that she couldn’t produce much, they reassured her that any amount of breast milk was beneficial. She did eventually go to full bottle feeding – I think the disruptive schedule just made it too hard, plus he had a prolonged problem with his heart rate dropping when he got too relaxed, and that would always happen when she nursed him. He’s doing fine now – 6 months old yesterday and 19 lbs.

    There is a WIC program to help with mother and baby nutrition – I am not sure if it is a state federal thing. But maybe that would help with the formula costs.

    • BTW, when I said having to breast and bottle feed at the same time was the worst of both worlds, I just meant in terms of having to do all you have to do with both at the same time instead of either/or. For my oldest, that’s what got him through, so I am happy we had access to formula even though making up bottles wasn’t my favorite thing to do and though I felt sad at not being able to solely breastfeed. As so many have said, what matters most is that they are getting what they need to be healthy.

      • I understood what you meant. It’s crazy how something so “natural” can be so difficult. But, many things in life are. What matters most is that we do our best. Thank you for sharing your story in this regard. It helps to know I’m not alone.

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