Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Old College Try

It is hard to believe, but in just a few days my little guy will be two months old!!  Time truly has flown!  And it is amazing how much I have learned over these two months about poop, spit up, sleeping (or lack there of), and all things baby.  For instance, I have learned that formula poop is the consistency of peanut butter (but JJ’s is a lovely green color), you can do just about anything with one hand while holding a baby in the other, and there are times in life when getting three straight hours of sleep can feel amazing!  However, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that just because woman have been doing it for centuries,  breastfeeding is not natural and easy for all moms/ babies no matter what all the experts and lactation consultants want to say. 
When I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted to try breastfeeding, but figured if it didn’t work, no big deal.  However, as time passed, I really wanted to be able to breastfeed JJ for a year so he could have all the benefits that come with the supposedly great milk babies get from their mothers.  I mean, there are even billboards on I-70 reminding you, “breast is best.”  Apparently, whoever put up this billboard, had better boobs than I’ve got. 
In preparation for these “free” meals I would give JJ, I got well prepared before I gave birth.  I bought the best pump on the market, I was stocked up on lanolin cream, had a cabinet full of breast milk storage bags, and had a number of nursing bras and tanks ready for action.  All I was missing was the baby to feed. 
When he finally came, it didn’t take long for the problems to start.  While in the hospital, little man struggled to latch on.  From time to time, he’d get a good latch, but he was far from a natural.  The nurse gave me some nipple shells to help (these lovely shells are plastic semi-circle thing a ma jigs that are supposed to help pull out your nipple).  I couldn’t really tell much difference, and, as I’ve never done this before, I don’t think I realized his struggles to latch were not typical. 
When I got home, I pulled out my fancy schmancy pump and would pump after he ate to start stocking up my supply for when I return to work.  After about a week of breastfeeding, we decided to try a bottle so that Jeff could also feed him and to see how he did with the bottle since our latching issues were still a problem.  The bottle was amazing.  He ate like a champ.  So, we started using more bottles and I was pumping as much as possible.  It didn’t take long before we gave up the fight to get him to latch and went to full time pumping and bottle feeding.  However, when my family left, Jeff returned to work, and I was home alone with a baby who refused to be put down, frequent pumping became an impossibility.  Plus, even though I’d heard pumping didn’t hurt, my poor nipples felt like they were being rubbed raw! 
After a week of bottles, one of my friends suggested trying nipple shields.  At this point, I was bound and determined to make the whole breast feeding thing work, so I gave it a shot and JJ latched right on and ate like he’d never done before.  I was thrilled!!  Problems solved, right?  Wrong.  (And I’m still not sure why this was never recommended by the lactation consultants during my numerous calls to them).
According to the experts, nipple shields are supposed to be used for a few days to teach the infant to latch and then you wean them off.  JJ never really got the weaning thing, but honestly, I didn’t care if I used the nipple shields forever, at least he was eating.  And I continued to pump when possible, but never got the huge amounts of milk I expected.  And I know they say that boob size has nothing to do with milk production, but I still figured these big old jugs would be able to feed half the babies this side of the Mississippi.  Wrong, again.  However, I did discover that I apparently have XXL nipples (yep, one more issue to add to the list) and needed bigger parts for the pump, so at least the pain of pumping has subsided. 
So it is finally time to go to JJ’s one month doctor’s appointment (he is actually five weeks).  The first thing they do it put him on the scale.  He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces when he was born, so I’m looking at the scale expecting well over nine pounds.  It stops at 7 pounds 12 ounces.  What??  Less than his birth weight.  So I sit in the room and wait for the doctor worrying what can possibly be wrong with my little angel.  Turns out the doctor thinks I produce low calorie breast milk.  Can’t say I’ve ever heard of this, but with the way breastfeeding has gone so far, why not add one more struggle to the list.  He recommends we give him two bottles of formula each day to get him more calories and see if that helps.  He said to let him eat as much as formula as he wants during these feedings.  This got me to thinking.  In my breastfeeding class and everything I’d read, it said to feed your baby 10 to 15 minutes on each breast.  I’d been feeding him 15 on each, thinking that was plenty.  Since he wasn’t gaining weight, I let him eat until he gave up, not by the clock.  This increased our feeding times to no less than 45 minutes.  And he apparently realized he needed to gain weight, because he was eating every hour and a half.  Yep, only 45 minutes between each feeding.  I pretty much had a kid attached to me ½ of the day! 
Now I am just feeling like a bad mom.  Not only do I have crappy milk, but I haven’t been giving him enough of it.  We decide to go back to bottles and pumping.  At least this way, we know how much of my crappy milk he is getting.  After two weeks, he’d gained 2 ½ pounds!!  I am thrilled, but still feel guilty for starving my baby!  Things seem to be on track, except for one thing.  I can’t pump enough to keep up with what he is eating, even with him eating formula twice each day.  I start talking to other moms and hear how much milk they get when they pump and realize my boobs are complete failures.  I try to stick with it, but each time I pump, I get less and less.  After six weeks, it is time to face reality.  These boobs just aren’t meant to breastfeed and I now have a formula baby. 
We had a stash of frozen milk left, and the good ole lactation consultants said to give him one bottle of breast milk each day so he could still get the positive effects of breast milk.  So that is what we were doing.  We quickly discovered the formula designed for babies that spit up and it worked amazingly to reduce his spit up.  This also made us realize how awful he felt after he drank breast milk, so even the frozen stuff got cut out.  The one last thing I had to hang on to feel good about and cross that one off the list, too! 
In the end, JJ is a much happier and healthier baby now that he is on formula and I know that is what matters, but it was tough to admit that I couldn’t provide the “good stuff” to him.  Oh well, at least he’s got comfy pills to sleep on!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover