I really didn’t give breastfeeding a lot of thought when I was pregnant with my first. My mom had mentioned that a friend of ours never produced enough milk for her baby so she had to purchase formula which was a huge expense for them. I brushed her comment off so quickly because surely, I could and would breastfeed, no questions asked.
When my little Indie was born, she refused to latch. The nurse told me it was my fault. Here I have a brand new baby, screaming at the top of her lungs with crystals in her diaper from dehydration and I can’t feed her. It’s my fault. The nurses were a little hesitant to get me a bottle to feed her but I would rather her eat than continue to watch her cry in pain from hunger. I guess that is the whole reason why I chose formula in the end, among a few other reasons I’ll talk about, but ultimately, I wanted her fed.
When I came home from the hospital, my husband went to the store to buy a shield to possibly help Indie latch. I remember sitting on my moms couch that first day home, holding my screaming baby while trying to figure out how the shield worked. I was bawling my eyes out, Indie was bawling her eyes out and my mom sat next to us probably praying she could do anything to help us. Indie would not latch.
My milk came in the next day and I was in so much pain because she wouldn’t drink from me. I remember calling around to all my mom friends begging for a pump (never got one because I never thought I’d need it). I was finally able to round up a manual pump and I was so grateful. It was the most relieving thing seeing your starving child take a bottle and gulp it down. She was happy and I was happy and life was pretty good in that moment.
The next month was probably one of the darkest times of my life. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you would know I wanted children for the longest time and couldn’t wait to be a mother. I had such a different picture painted in my head as to how it would be and as the weeks went by, that beautiful picture turned into something very dark.
I sat in my room for hours on end, with the blinds closed, pumping and pumping and pumping. I didn’t realize it at the time but pumping for two hours and only making 3 oz was not normal. (Baby usually eats 2 oz every 2 hours at that time). I would pump for two hours, take a hour break and pump for two more hours. I couldn’t keep up with Indie’s feeding demands no matter how fast or long I worked. She was a very unhappy baby and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that she wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed. After a month of this process, lactation drinks/food and other crazy methods, I realized something needed to change.
I was so nervous making that first bottle. I remember reading the instructions a million times to make sure I was doing it right. After making the bottle and giving it to Indie, it was much like the first time she took the pumped milk. She was happy and I was happy and this time it would be permanent. It was THE MOST freeing thing in the world for me. I was finally able to pass the torch on to my husband or mother to help with feedings. Anyone could make her a bottle and feed her and I was starting to see the light. It took us a few tries to see which formula agreed with her the most and once we did, you could see a different light in her eyes. My baby was finally being fed and as a mother to this person I loved more than anything, I didn’t care where that food was coming from.
I didn’t notice how bad off I was with Postpartum Depression after Indie (a lot of it having to do with feeding her), until Tyler mentioned to me how worried he was that I would fall back into that same state after I gave birth to our second. After he said that, all the dark memories came back and I was truly terrified to give birth and go through that newborn, no sleep, breastfeeding stage. I worried about it for a few weeks and then realized I had all the knowledge I needed to know to keep this baby fed and happy. We would try breastfeeding and if that didn’t work out, we knew exactly what to do.
The day came when we introduced our second little girl, Vincent, into the world. She was beautiful and happy and latched immediately. My heart was so, so happy. The first night was great. She slept from 11-6 and the nurses were so impressed. She continued to latch wonderfully until later that night. It was about 2 in the morning and she had been latched since 8 pm. I was in so much pain and didn’t understand why she wouldn’t stop eating. The nurse assured me it was just cluster feeding. At around 4 am, I tried taking her off and she wouldn’t stop screaming.
Didn’t you just eat for like 8 hours straight??
I called the nurse back into the room while I bawled my eyes out from frustration and exhaustion. She then asked me to see how much colostrum I was actually making and to catch it on a spoon. Nothing. I had nothing. She hadn’t been eating that whole time. I was devastated. The nurse then asked if she could feed her a bottle and let us sleep for a little bit. I was so grateful for that kind gesture and allowed her to feed her.
The next day we were able to come home and we stopped off at the store to purchase some formula incase anything should happen again. My milk finally came in and she continued to latch and eat great during the day and then I would supplement formula at night. After about a week Vincent finally realized it was much easier to get food from a bottle than from me. It was a mix of emotions. I was so grateful I was able to breastfeed her. I was sad that that bond was so quickly taken away. I was so relieved I didn’t have to breastfeed anymore.
That last statement is the scariest thing to admit. We live in such a world of judgment and condemnation as parents who are just trying to do what’s best for their children and for themselves. I did have a desire to breastfeed Vincent but in the back of my head I always knew I would resort to formula. My mental health was the biggest factor in these decisions and if giving my child formula kept me around for the rest of their lives, I’d give every single one of my children formula.
Yes, I could have seen a lactation consultant in Indie’s case. I could have had someone help with her latch. I could have tried more to increase my milk supply. I could have waited to give Vincent a bottle from the hospital. I could have not supplemented formula for night time feedings. I could have done so many things differently but I know that giving my children formula was the best decision for all three of us. A lot of people disagree and a lot of people would have done more but breastfeeding is HARD. Pumping is HARD. Being a mother is HARD. We are doing the best we can and if my babies are fed and I am alive, I think that is just fine.
Baby boy will be here in 8 short weeks and if he breastfeeds, that will be wonderful, but I am planning to use formula and if that is what works best, praise our Father in Heaven that I have a healthy boy that has the ability to even eat.
You’ve got this parents. Keep them fed. Keep them happy. Love them.