...So, my baby is formula fed. I know... The La Leche League is clutching their pearls and tearing out their hair over this. Is it wrong/sad that I feel so much guilt about this? I never thought the simple act of feeding a baby would be so difficult. Giving birth without meds was supposed to be the hard part! Little did I know what a struggle it would be.
My plan was to breastfeed exclusively, on demand, for the first six weeks and then slowly introduce bottles of pumped breast milk after that so he would get used to taking a bottle and used to taking a bottle from other people when he goes to daycare.
But Judah had other plans. He latched on to the breast shortly after birth but hadn't quite figured out the sucking part of it yet. Which is common, so we figured we'd just keep trying until he got the hang of it. However, when he was born he was Coombs positive because of our competing blood types, which led to jaundice. After he still wouldn't latch on and suck, the situation was becoming pretty complicated, as the only way to avoid a NICU stay was to get him to poop out all the excess bilirubin in his system. But without food, there's no way to poop. So supplementing with formula was recommended until his jaundice cleared. At that point, we just wanted to avoid him staying in the NICU and his jaundice getting worse, so we did what we had to do and started feeding him formula. Luckily, this worked and his jaundice got much better after about a week. I continued to pump to get my supply up in hopes he would eventually latch on.
|My little yellow baby.|
I think after that point though, the damage was done. He was used to getting nourishment right away from a bottle and in quite a large amount, and was already used to the feel of a bottle nipple. I don't know who makes bottle nipples, but I've never seen a woman with nipples like that. Needless to say, he didn't really know what to do with a breast after that. We would try to breastfeed and he would literally scream and cry and push me away because he was so hungry, and he could smell the breast milk but just did not know how to get it out!
That first week was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure for not being able to feed my baby like I'd always wanted. My husband would walk by the nursery and see Judah crying and screaming and me crying at the same time. No one was having a good bonding time here, which is what nursing is supposed to be about. We met with a lactation consultant, tried extended skin-to-skin contact, nipple shields..the whole nine yards. Feeding got to a point where I would prepare a bottle of pumped milk, feed him a little so he wasn't starving, try skin-to-skin contact, breastfeed for 30 minutes using nipple shields, and then supplement with the rest of the bottle, THEN pump to keep my supply up. By the time this process was done, it would be time to start it all over again. It was physically and emotionally exhausting for both of us.
After a month of this, I said, "I'm done. We're doing formula only from here on out." And he seems to be happy now that we can just feed him and the process is not so drawn out and complicated. And I'm much happier not stressing out about it. Although I do feel like I have to justify myself whenever someone asks if I'm breastfeeding. I don't mind talking about it, but I do think it's weird when strangers ask me. Isn't that kind of a personal question? It was something I am still sensitive about and extremely disappointed that it didn't work out - not only for the bonding aspect but the financial one as well. I never wanted to deal with buying formula, washing bottles, preparing bottles in the middle of the night, etc. But if that's what's going to feed my baby, then so be it.
I'm already learning as a mother that there's so many things I'm doing that I said I would never do...like formula feeding. And I'm sure this won't be the only thing I do that I said I never would. I just have to be ok with that.