I did set the end of the week as a deadline for myself, and it’s not like The Sing-Off really requires all of my attention (yes, that did end earlier this week. I am WAY behind on my TV-watching this week.), and both boys have been in bed for an hour, so I guess I’m out of excuses. Let’s talk about feeding babies. In particular, these babies —
More specifically, though, I’d like to talk a bit about this one —
I made that.
Yup, you. I made you from scratch.
After my struggles with breastfeeding the first child (terrible supply problems, stressful pumping situation at work, mastitis twice, and a whole lot of worrying all the time about all of it), I had pretty low expectations with this one. I was hopeful that the second time would be better and easier, but I wasn’t counting on it. I was giving it a few weeks and then if it was stressing me out as much as it did with Nathan, I was going to quit. I wasn’t going to drive myself crazy feeling like a failure, I was just going to go out, buy formula and get on with life. Let me tell you, I can not believe how much better it was this time! So much better that it makes me mad that it was so hard with Nathan.
I want to mention something here — this is my story. These are my feelings about my experiences and my opinions about what happened to me. My mom didn’t breastfeed me or my brother and I think we turned out great and I talk to her several times a week (sometimes several times a day!), so I don’t think our relationship has suffered due to my formula-fed infancy. I am not making any judgments here about anyone else’s baby-feeding choices. Do I have strong opinions about how my healthcare providers dealt with me and my babies? Yup. You may think I’m overreacting. That’s fine with me. I just want to share my choices and how I feel about them because this is my blog and I spend a lot of time each day thinking about this. Anyway. Let’s get back to it. =)
Breastfeeding Round Two started out eerily similar to the first time. Emergency Cesarean after several hours of labor. Evan was 10 pounds, 4 ounces when he was born and he was immediately a better eater than his brother (Nathan would try to suck and then get royally ticked off that nothing was happen and just scream at me, while Evan just kept working at it). In spite of his persistence, he still lost more than 10% of his body weight by day 3 and we again had to stay an extra night in the hospital. This time, when we got to the last night and he was just hungry and angry and wanted to eat and I still had not enough to make him happy and all I wanted to do was feed him several bottles of formula so that we could just go home already and figure this out without all these strangers around, a fabulous nurse came in and showed me how to cup feed him tiny little bits of formula so he and I could both calm down a bit and start over. By this point, he was so angry and I was so stressed that he wouldn’t even snuggle with me for some “skin-to-skin” time. Incidentally, it was amusing and stress-relieving to watch him lap formula out of a cup. Calmed us both down.
This time, though, they weren’t really pushing the supplementing the way they did with Nathan. It was mentioned, but we didn’t get any direct “orders” to stuff him full of formula and get his weight back up. Maybe because he was so big and obviously stubborn about trying to find food. I also learned that my thyroid issues can cause milk supply problems. Well. That would have been nice to know last time. Wonder why no one thought to mention it. And it was only mentioned in passing by the discharging nurse because she has the same thyroid troubles and had supply issues with all her babies.
The first “weigh in” that Evan had was my first or second full day home from the hospital. It’s a bit of a blur, but I do remember being mad that they were being so obnoxious and I refused to go. Mike took him in and then they called me on speaker phone. At the time I was super annoyed with the lactation consultant/nurse practitioner that we spoke with. She was pretty pushy and kind of condescending, but she never mentioned supplementing and gave me some good pointers on keeping him awake during feedings (keeping him naked and putting cool washcloths on his back and feet regularly failed to keep him awake) and some helpful tips for increasing my milk supply (more than just “pump after the baby eats”, which is what they told me last time, and which is, frankly, entirely unreasonable). At the time, I disliked her pretty intensely, but looking back, she is a big part of why nursing Evan has been as easy as it has been.
wow. This is getting really long. To shorten things a bit here, Evan never had any more formula after our first day home (and that was only to show my parents how he could drink out of a cup), and until he started eating solid foods, it was all me. I never thought I could do it or that I would still be doing it. There has been no mastitis this time, I don’t pump every night before bed just to get enough to feed him the next day the way I did with Nathan, and I don’t worry about it. When I first went back to work, I worried. I only pump twice a day because I have to walk over to another building where they have more than one lactation room per 10-story building and I just don’t want to give up my lunchtime to fit one more pumping session in. I have only ever gotten about 10 ounces per day. Twelve on a really good day. So that’s what he eats while I’m gone. I will admit to sending a couple freaking-out emails to a friend who gave me great advice and shared what I’m sure had been shared with me several times before but hadn’t clicked until she said it again in just the right way — so long as he is only eating what I can pump while he is not with me, my supply should be maintained. Oh. Right. That makes sense. I can do that. But honestly, without my coworker and pumping-buddy, I think I would be back where I was one child ago. I HATE pumping almost more than I can handle (that hasn’t changed). But I am lucky. I have an employer that provides hospital grade pumps in lactation rooms all over the place and a coworker who goes to pump at the same times I do every day. When she’s not in for a day or two, pumping becomes an unbearable chore again.
So here I am again with a nine month old baby who many days is more interested in roaming around and playing with toys (and chasing his brother) than he is in nursing. But this time, with everything going so well, my plan is to at least nurse him until he’s 12 months old and can start drinking whole milk. It makes me angry that things weren’t this easy with Nathan. I get mad when I start wondering if we really needed to start giving him formula when we did (because we were told we had to) and what would have happened if we had done things differently. Mad because it isn’t what I wanted when we started out. Mad because I feel like I didn’t have all the information I needed to be successful doing what I wanted to be doing. I also feel bad that when I think back to my time nursing Nathan, it’s mostly bad memories. I know it wasn’t all bad, but that’s all I remember and it shouldn’t be that way.
Anyway. It’s way past bedtime. Evan slept through the night last night, but I am under no illusion that it’s going to happen again anytime soon, so I should sign off. In fact, I think I hear him now. So much for editing…