Okay… where was I… If you’ve missed Part One… you can read it here.
HEADS UP: This is a WAY more sensitive topic for me than how my son came into the world. This affects me every single day. Breastfeeding is a topic that many mamas feel passionate about. *I get it, I really do. I have heard everyones suggestions and thoughts about what I should do… tintures I should take and how often I should nurse. I can assure you that I am doing the BEST I can to feed my baby. Please allow me this moment to just share my experience and my sadness. If you want to help me… then SEE me and where I am. Thank you.
So… unless you didn’t know… not EVERY woman has a full supply of breast milk.
Yep… I guess I should’ve read more books… because I had NO idea that women can have supply issues. I truly thought that when the baby comes out… that the mama can feed her baby with her breasts. Sounds so… like a little girl understanding but honestly… that’s what I thought. I knew that the first few days would be colostrum… that it would take a few days for my milk to “come in”… but as soon as that happened… it’s like the faucet was turned on.
Another one of those things I wasn’t expecting… at ALL.
To begin… during my “labor” (more like a joke), I watched my doula who was breastfeeding her 6 month old, pump TWO full bottles of breast milk in like 20 minutes. Like 5 oz in each bottle. I watched with amazement and excitement that I would soon be able to do the same. In hindsight… I think seeing her do this might been a detriment to how I’m feeling about this topic. *NOT her fault at all.
So it’s normal for a baby to lose a percentage of weight loss those first few days of life. The hospital gauges that anything over a certain percentage of weight loss (my guess is 5%) that they suggest supplementing with formula until the mamas milk come in. Well if you read part one… the nurse decided to tell us this at like 2am on our second night when we could not get him to stop crying (read Second Day Syndrome) that he lost about 7% of his body weight (He started out at 6lbs to begin with…so 7% is a lot) little did we know he also was probably crying because he was really hungry. I was NOT very friendly to the nurse who suggested supplementing at 2am. NOT the time to tell us this. What? 48 hours after my son was cut out of me… I already have to give up my dreams of feeding my baby myself? Uh HELL NO.
I try to push this out of my mind cause we were having such a not fun night.
That is.. until we were checking out… we got the news from the lactation consultant as she calmly attempted to explain it again… Leo needed to be supplemented. I think I would honestly have waited a few days if Leo started out at 8 lbs, etc… but since he was such an itty bitty and lost 7% of his weight already… that’s dipping into the 5lb range… I didn’t want to risk him losing more weight and it being dangerous. It was SO FUCKING HARD to watch him suck down that first 15ml of formula. Just thinking about it now makes me cry. The pediatrician, the nurses and the lactation consultant kept pushing that I can ween him off this formula when my milk comes in. Which I held onto like it was the secret to life.
They gave us enough formula for a few days… which I thought would be enough before I could ween him off this and onto my breast milk when the faucet turned on. The AVERAGE a womans milk comes in is 3-7 days. I thought.. okay, I could just do this for a few days. I kept breastfeeding him, hoping he was getting enough and I would argue with Peter about giving him the LEAST amount of formula so he wouldn’t get used to it.
*Side Note: That was a BIG argument… being overweight people… I didn’t want to start Leo early with the philosophy that he can eat his feelings… I know, he’s just days old but it really bothered me. It seemed that when Leo cried… and because there was no cycle yet (wake up/eat/play sleep) that it meant that he was always hungry. The only thing that helped me understand Peters philosophy is the fact that he was so little (6 lbs.) again, if he was 8lbs or more.. I probably would have pushed a bit more on this. This argument went on a LONG time. I still, 9 weeks later, still have trouble feeding him again, if he seems hungry prior to every three -four hours. More on my experience with Peter in Part Three.
Another side note: My dear kindred/coach friend Laura suggested I find a way to reframe how I see formula. See it as a positive instead of an enemy. I can see why she suggested that but I’m honestly not there yet. I am still working so hard to feed him myself … and formula is still winning. Maybe one day I will be able to, just not today.
Days would go by… and I wasn’t getting any more supply. I googled mamas who didn’t get her milk until 2 weeks… three weeks. I sat at the pump for 30… 40 minutes with barely more than a few drops coming out. I went to my pediatricians lactation consultant, hired a consultant to come to the house… and in that experience she told me that I was 90% behind where I needed to be to feed my baby exclusively. She jerry rigged a supplemental nursing system so I could experience breastfeeding while feeding him formula. Watching him actually feed at my breast and taking in a full mouthful made me SO emotional. I wanted SO BADLY to do that myself. Even today…. I still want that SO badly. I am still trying so hard. This is SO important to me.
So I can officially say that Leo is a 90% formula fed baby. I am able to pump enough to give him ONE bottle, every OTHER day. I still have him breastfeed before every bottle, so he can get as much as he can, I am taking FenuGreek three times a day to get my 3600mg daily dose, I can tell it helps but I still don’t get enough. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this. I am working SO HARD to give him whatever I can, but honestly… this is HARD. I don’t know how I will not look back on these early months in sadness because I could not feed my baby.
Hearing other moms who pump enough to feed their baby multiple bottles, who have enough to freeze and store their milk… make me sad in my soul. I would give ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING to be able to do that. In my vision as a mama… I saw breastfeeding being a part of it and honestly I feel like a death has occurred in my experiencing being a mama.
Add to that… anyone can feed him a bottle. Grandma and Grandpa… definitely Auntie can feed him… what makes ME special as his mama? I know… everyone says that he knows I’m his mama but I’m just not sure. I feel I have lost that bond with him and I cannot tell you how much that has affected me. Yea yea.. post partum depression… I got it. I am allowed to feel THIS sadness about this.
So again….. I feel like my body has failed me yet AGAIN. There is nothing anyone can say to change this or make me feel better. It just is what it is. The ONLY thing I can do now is find a way to cope with feeling this way. I love my son SO much… seeing his beautiful million dollar smile lights up my life, but when it comes to how I’m feeling as a woman and a mama… a part of me is missing. A part of me that I’m not sure will ever be whole again.
As a Sensitive person… this was SO important to me. I will tell you that I have not always been open to considering myself a mama. It’s taken me a LONG time for me to be open to this experience and part of my vision around this was to be able to feed my baby. I feel SO raw about this… I have had two complete meltdowns about this and honestly, writing this out makes me feel like there will always be another one in tow.
That said.. I am not giving up. I will keep pumping as long as I can. I will attempt to add/change my solutions to hopefully get more supply (I hear that supply can increase up to five-six months) and I will continue to honor my sadness about this situation.
So I have two more parts of me in this sharing… Part Three is about how Leo coming into my world has affected my relationship with my husband. And the finale is how I felt before my lovebug came about having a boy.. and how I feel now.
Thank you for your support.