Not a Milkmaid

Breastfeeding is a complicated thing for my body apparently. I had many struggles with Eva...I didn't even articulate in those posts how bad it really was. Picture sitting in a chair, boobs hanging out, having an infant suck you dry for AN HOUR AND A HALF, pull her off the breast because it's getting a little ridiculous and she MUST be full by now only to have her rooting and screaming in your face 20 minutes later because she is STARVING. I was breastfeeding around the clock...more hours than I slept, ate, talked to my husband, took time for myself or even got to enjoy my child I was having my boobs sucked on. I didn't get to enjoy my infant very much since I was exhausted...and I became very resentful.

After countless visits with the health nurse, lactation consultant, my doctor and hours of pumping, using a tube taped to my breast to supplement my daughter, pills and daily bowls of oatmeal none of it seemed to help. After 8 weeks of tiresome struggle to get my body to produce enough milk for my baby it was all for naught...I just couldn't give her what she needed. So we switched to formula. My baby became happier because she wasn't so starving all the time and I was happier because I didn't spend my days with my infant attached to me.

I was determined that this time would be different. And everything seemed to start out fine...

- Isabella had a great latch
- She didn't feed for an hour and a half
- She was satisfied after she ate...she didn't scream when I pulled her off the breast
- She was sleeping a lot
- My breast milk seemed to come in great and without the pain of engorgement (yay!)

All fine and dandy...for the first 4 days. By Sunday, my breasts didn't seem to be filling up with milk anymore. I had limited Bella to one hour of feeding, but one hour wasn't doin' it for her anymore. She began the same pattern as Eva: feed for an hour and a half and then want more half an hour later. I promised myself that I would supplement before I tired myself out again. So I did. I gave her an ounce of formula to top her up and she was happy.

I felt defeated. I felt like I was admitting I couldn't do it and I had a little pregnancy hormone cry about how I was giving up. I talked with my health nurse the next day who encouraged me that it wasn't "over" and that I could still get my milk supply where it needed to be without going through hell to do it. My new plan was to feed Bella for 40 minutes, if she was still hungry supplement, and then spend 15 minutes hooked up to the breast pump to stimulate my breasts to produce the milk Bella needed.

That worked for about a day and a half....until my breasts started producing almost nothing and I was supplementing Bella with more milk than she was getting from me. It has been emotional to give up breast feeding. I really loved the bonding time and skin-to-skin contact with Isabella. I also feel like a bit of a failure; I stuck it out for 8 weeks with Eva and only a week with Isabella. I had another cry fest about it last night.

But here's the conclusion I have come to: It's okay to switch to formula. It's not my fault.

Instead of looking at it like "look how I gave Eva the benefits of breast milk for 2 months and how much I sacrificed for her which I am not doing for Isabella", I'm looking at it like "look how much I am enjoying Isabella which was really hard to do with Eva because we were so frustrated over breastfeeding for the first 2 months of her life". I'm also able to give Eva more attention this way. With Isabella's and my one hour feeding routine, Eva was getting no time from me...Steve was able to help with her and tend to her, but what the heck was I going to do when he went back to work? I cried and talked with my husband about this big decision last night and we both decided that we should switch to formula.

I second-guessed myself at 3am this morning when I got up to feed Isabella and my bosom's were rock hard full with milk. I started to think that maybe my breasts really were producing the milk she needed and maybe I should just stick with it...until I realized I had skipped 2 feedings and it had been almost 8 hours since I had last breastfed and my breasts were just engorged because of that. Once Isabella drained them I wouldn't have enough milk for the next feeding.

So there's where I'm at. I'm uncomfortable and in great pain. I feel guilty. I feel like I have failed. But my loving husband reminds me that he'd rather have a happy baby, toddler and wife than a breast-fed baby. And that this isn't my body just can't seem to do what other mom's bodies can do.

And that's okay.


Jules said...

Oh hun, this all sounds some what the same to my first! Gage was doing great at first... but he would feed for 1hr 1/2 - 2 hrs but be okay for about 3 hours in between then one night he was getting nothing, I tried to pump and NOTHING came out! I enjoyed the bonding time with him and I actually liked breast feeding but we had to move him to formula! And thats where I am stuck this time, my hubby says dont do it altogether, but men dont understand and I am up in the air about it! Will I really have 2 hrs to breast feed with a 2 yr old... Plus if I formula feed, he can help feed baby too! And he will feel included... Plus when I did stop the first time, I was in major pain for about a week! So its not fun but we do whats best for our babes right!! And I must say its nice to know that your not alone!! :)

Mandy said...

Aww...Kindra I can totally relate! Reading your post made me tear up. I struggled with breastfeeding Gregory for 6 weeks. It was horrible. He was constantly screaming and I was just getting worn out. We switched to formula and it was like we had a new baby. With Layla, I tried to breastfeed. I was happy that it seemed to start out fine. We went home and that night the screaming began! She would nurse for hours on end. Two days later we went to the dr. The doctor said that Layla had dropped too much weight and I needed to supplement with formula. It was then that I just knew that I wasn't going through it all over again. So I quit. I felt like such a failure. I cried for few hours. But once Layla started sleeping and gaining weight, I knew that it was all going to be okay. I know I felt super guilty and I know that for this baby, I am not even going to breastfeed. And I am trying to not feel bad about. We just want what is best for our babies, right? :)
I really hope that all goes well with the formula feeding!

Vanessa said...

My mother-in-law had the same thing happen to her. She said she felt guilty too - until she learned that she doesn't produce enough oxytocin. Some bodies just don't work with breastfeeding. You're obviously not alone! Don't feel guilty - you're doing what's best for Isabella! Isn't it great that there is formula that has been developed enough to be very nutritious? grandmother also had this problem and just put my dad and his siblings on cow's milk and my dad has allergies and had asthma most likely because he was put on cow's milk.

Kindra said...

I appreciate all your stories, it's really nice to know I am not alone in this.

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