This is a personal post that I need to write. I am actually really nervous as I sit down to write this. I am waiting for the negative comments and the crazy email telling me I am a horrible mom. But with that said, I feel the need to get this out. Maybe just maybe there are other Moms out there that can relate or hear my words and don’t feel so alone.
The world does not know my baby.
For those of you that follow me, you know that our baby boy has not been the happiest of babies in his three months of life. If you follow me on Instagram you get your daily dose of Nixon aka Mr. Fussy Pants.
He is not our first baby. I am not a new mommy. This is not our first rodeo. But Nixon has tested our parenting skills. The girls were soooo very easy. Like stupid easy. We should have known we could not be so lucky to have all three babies be a breeze.
I was unable to nurse my girls. It didn’t work… at all.
My oldest was in the NICU for a week, I was extremely sick when I delivered. She got bottles the first week while I pumped my heart out trying to get a milk supply in. By the time she was in my arms, she wanted nothing to do with nursing. She wanted the bottle that was so much easier for her. This girl could down three to four ounces from day 1 and she never slowed down. Lactation consultants were a let down in the hospital and really didn’t help me much. One nurse did try a trick where they taped a tube to my breast next to my nipple to teach her she could get food from me. Nope. She hated it and refused to eat. I pretty much gave up and continued bottles and pumped my brains out for very little reward. I had little to no milk supply. I told myself even if I could just give her one or two bottles of breast milk a day that that was better than nothing. This lasted about four or five weeks before I dried up completely. From then on she was formula fed.
My second girl was lazy. Like super super lazy. I said my big girl downed four ounces from day one. This child barely drank two ounces at a time for the first year of her life. I tried nursing. She just laid there at my breast never wanting to suck. I couldn’t get her to latch on during the hospital visit. I feel like the nurses actually pushed me to just give her a bottle. After my first child, I told myself I wouldn’t stress it because my oldest was the epitome of health and was striving. I gave in and gave her a bottle. I began the joy of pumping again. Again, milk was barely there. It took almost two weeks to really come in and when it did it didn’t last long. I could feed her a little more than my first child only because she ate so very little but even so, I lasted about six weeks before drying up completely.
I was disappointed each time. I felt the shame that society puts on mothers who don’t breastfeed. I heard it from friends and family, little comments that hurt even if they weren’t said intentionally.
Fast forward and I’m pregnant with baby number three. I gave myself pep talks throughout my pregnancy. I was not going to stress out about breastfeeding. My two girls are seriously the healthiest two kids you will ever meet. We have been so blessed to really only have had maybe a handful of antibiotic needed illnesses in the past six years. Amazing! But as my pregnancy neared the end… I started feeling the pressure and anxiety of nursing. I reeeeeeally wanted it to work this time. I researched articles online and was convinced I was going to make it work. I know people say that it is all about the water and not necessarily your diet but in my case it is a lot about my diet. I am a vegetarian. And not a carb loading vegetarian. I pretty much eat fruits and veggies. I knew I was going to have to eat and drink my brains out for any type of milk supply.
Fast forward again. January 11th Nixon Riot entered this world. Right after birth his levels (I can’t remember what test it was not), was through the roof. They told me to try and nurse but if levels didn’t go down he would end up in NICU. Solution? Feed him formula and levels would decrease. My dream of breastfeeding flashed before my eyes. I saw that as my spiral downhill but I didn’t want to send my baby boy off to the NICU. So I gave him a bottle. He sucked it down and levels dropped back to normal range. I knew I wanted to try to nurse again quickly to see if he latched. Shortly after the family met Nixon, I tried again. He seemed interested but couldn’t really get it. I had an AMAZING nurse my first night in the hospital. She was great about coming in and trying to help me. She was more supportive than any other nurse I ever had in my previous births. She brought me a guard to use and said some babies need this to help them latch. I tried it and the rest is history. Nixon was a breastfeeding champ…. And never let go!
Like. Ever. It has been a nursing marathon these past three months. I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say my butt has been glued to my couch. Days I tried to accomplish something, I would end up spending hours in my car nursing him instead of doing what I set out to do. If he wasn’t nursing, he was screaming. All this kid wanted to do was eat. You have seen pictures of him right? He is a chunkster! Kid can eat! So you are thinking… Awesome! Third times a charm! Right?
Wrong! I was miserable. Nixon was miserable! Something was wrong. People kept asking me if he had colic. What was wrong with him? He seriously just cried and cried and cried. All I knew to do was to keep feeding him. I pumped and pumped during the few moments he wasn’t on my boob. My supply was never huge but obviously he wasn’t starving he was gaining weight like a champ. Pediatrician told me to run an experiment. Nurse him for as long as he wants and then give him a formula bottle afterwards. If he got enough nursing he will not drink the bottle. If he isn’t getting enough he will attempt the bottle. I nursed him for TWO HOURS!!!! When I say nurse, I mean nurse. He wasn’t sleeping. He was sucking and swallowing. He finished and was not happy. So we made a bottle. He continued to suck down four ounces of formula after a nursing marathon!!! That’s not normal. This kid was hungry!!!
I didn’t know what to do. Breastfeeding was working! I was doing it! I found what worked for me after speaking to a handful of consultants. It was hard work. I was eating like crazy and taking supplements but it was working! But then again was it really working? Nixon was a mess. The girls were miserable because I couldn’t do anything with them. If I wasn’t nursing I was rocking Nixon trying to figure out what was wrong. He was almost three months old and we really had never seen our baby boy smile. This was not right.
I was torn. I started feeling the pressure and the shame of just giving up. I don’t know why. My brain was telling me that the girls had formula with a few breast milk bottles sprinkled in and were 100% fine. He got more breast milk than they ever got. I should be proud I made it this far. But my mommy heart was feeling major guilt.
I decided I would slowly start the transition. When I gave him a bottle he actually seemed to relax his body and was just able to be content for a while. If I nursed him for a stretch of the day, he was miserable.
Last week completed the transition and he is now 100% formula fed starting this week. He is happy (he still has Mr. Fussy Pants moments but there has been a noticeable difference). It took almost three months but our little guy smiles and giggles for us!!!!! He can hang out between feedings and not scream his head off asking for more food. In my heart I believe he was not getting what he needed from me. Whether it was my diet or not enough of a supply, it was not working for him. I made the decision for my baby and I feel like it was the right decision.
The world does not know my baby.
It drives me crazy that society still makes Mommy’s feel like they are inadequate or bad moms if they are unable or choose not to breastfeed. Women do this to other women. It’s just not fair. I’m not a bad mother. I am a damn good mom. It’s not fair that I had to keep telling myself that over and over again during this process because half of my brain was saying “Other moms could do it. If you were a better mom you could make it work.” I don’t love my child any less because for whatever reason my boobs/body is not what is working best for him. I love my child to the moon and back. Even through all the fussiness in his first three months I loved him more than words can describe. And as his mother, seeing his smiles for the first time just confirms that I made the right decision for him.
So please, just because you know what worked best for you, please do not attempt to know what works for others. Please don’t act like your way is the only way. Please don’t put that guilt onto another mother. Because believe me, she already feels it. Encourage another woman in the fact that she is an amazing woman and mother and will know what is best for her child. And for any other mothers out there that have been unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, know that you are not alone and I do not judge you. I don’t pretend to know your situation or your baby. You know your baby best. The world does not know your baby.
First two images of Nixon on his Birth Date compliments of Danielle at DHM Photography. (We have grown to know this Fussy face very well.)