{battles} with breastfeeding.

i feel i should just preface this entire post with a “i am not judging mama’s that don’t breastfeed” because man, we as women can be super defensive and highly emotional when it comes to this topic.  this is my story.  my journey.  my beliefs.  my struggle.  my path.  i promise there is absolutely no judgement in my heart for the choices any other mama makes for herself and her baby.

i believe breastfeeding is the best thing i can do for my baby.  i have yearned to have a little one attached to my body as i am giving him all the nourishment his body needs to thrive.  today is a hard day.  my eyes are filled with tears.  today i had to come to terms that my baby is not thriving.  in many ways he is but his weight is not.  it is a struggle we have been battling daily since his birth.

he was born with an upper lip frenulum and an ankyloglossia, tongue tie.  both prevent successful breastfeeding hence weight gaining issues and are extremely painful for the mama, both emotional and physically, and frustrating for baby.  both were corrected at two weeks and our little guy didn’t start gaining weight until after his third week of life.  so naturally, he is a little behind.  i thought we were over the hump.  we weren’t.

imagine this. red faced, screaming at the top of his lungs, back arched, kicking legs and throwing fists baby.  is it colic?  is it reflux?  dairy intolerance?  maybe yes to all of the above.  this picture of madness happens daily.  not at every feeding.  but out of the ten feedings i average every day, at least three start like this.  at least once a day we both are in the nursing chair crying.

just last night the husband came home to the both of us stripped down, wrapped in a blanket doing skin-to-skin to calm us down with eyes red from crying for over an hour.

for four months i have had anxiety at the very thought of feeding my child.  and i have cried.  i mean really cried.  it was just so painful, emotionally and physically.  i have been so angry that this was happening to me. i mean, i worked SO hard to have a child.  why did this have to be hard too?  why were my breasts not working? why wasn’t my child able to feed in peace like i had read about?  

the worst moments were when i was alone in the shower. i would stand and cry with the water pouring down my back. my breasts so sore that i could not let the water near them.  the physical pain isn’t the worst.  it is the emotional fear that i am failing.  failing my son.  failing as a mother.  failing as a woman.  

i didn’t want to admit to my friends that i was struggling so badly.  my family, no one understands.  i have felt so alone in this battle.

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after a month of weekly weight checks our little guy is no longer gaining, no longer maintaining, he is losing.  he is not thriving.  i am not thriving.  we are surviving and not well.  i love our pediatrician and after handing me the box of tissues, she told me it was time to try something different.  i am stubborn.  i am determined.  but i am not willing to put myself before the health of my boy.  and i knew this day was coming.

our plan is to supplement with formula.  from weighing on our own baby scale before and after feedings, i am exactly transferring 3 ounces at every feeding.  at his age, he should be getting 4-6 ounces.  the plan is to basically top him off at every feeding.  my goal is to breastfeed as long as possible.  this is tricky when starting to supplement with formula.  the key is to not miss feedings.  if i give him a full bottle because of one of the “fits of unhappiness” described above, i must make sure to go pump to ensure my milk supply does not tank.

our doctor said the biggest pitfall is giving a full bottle of formula before bed.  the benefit, baby boy will sleep soundly all night long.  it takes the body longer to digest formula than breast milk.  the downside, my body will skip the two-three feedings that we are naturally doing right now.  another downside, those are usually my favorite feedings.  yes, i am so tired and i do look forward to the day he can go longer with non-interrupted sleep.  but those feedings go so well.  he is so sweet and snuggly after he finishes feeding.  plus, i don’t want his longer sleep to be artificial.  long ago we decided that our little ones well-being came first. even at the expense of our own comforts.  i feel that to give him formula before bed, just so i can get more sleep would be selfish.  plus, the whole point is to get extra calories to my boy.  more feedings = more calories.

so this is the plan for the next couple of weeks before we start solids.  then we can hopefully replace the formula with solids and continue with the breastfeeding.  or continue to do all three.  in the short four months of being a mama i have learned that i need to be flexible with my goals and plans.  and i desperately need to be more kind to myself.  my plan was to breastfeed until g was two years old.  i still have hopes of that happening but i have to be flexible and supplement when it is in his best interests.

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this is a really hard day.  battling with these feelings that i am failing. that i am not enough.  but i am. {even if in this moment i don’t believe it to be true}. and i am determined to make this combination of breastfeeding, formula and soon solids work in the best interest of my baby boy.  and when he is smiling his dimple grin, everything else fades.