Jan 7, 2019

The One All About Breastfeeding

When we got pregnant with Emma, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again. I also knew that most likely it wouldn't last long and we would be making the switch to formula. My other two were formula fed and turned out fine - granted a little weird - but just fine all the same. So I was okay with the change that would be coming - it was just a matter of when.

With Addison we tried for two months before I switched to exclusively pumping so we could see how much she was getting. It only lasted a month before I gave up on that pursuit thanks to a low milk supply. We were having to supplement with formula and she was getting way more formula than breastmilk so it turned out to be worth it to me anymore. So we made the change. I struggled a lot with her and once we made the change to formula, things improved. As hard as this is to admit as a mom, I actually like my daughter better. Instead of spending an hour feeding or hooked up to a breast pump, ever forty-five minutes (yes it was that bad), I could feed her and enjoy having her.

With Connor, I made it just shy of three weeks before I threw in the towel. We learned a lot through our experience with Addison and I knew better than to let it go as long as it did. I wanted to end breastfeeding on better terms. I wanted to have a better experience. But he was still eating a lot, so I hurt and by the time I stopped I was pretty much in tears every single time he wanted to eat. I just wanted to be done. I was tired and it wasn't working. I was miserable. But I got to end breastfeeding on my terms and they were much happier terms. I still felt good about my decision.

I didn't exactly have high hopes heading into breastfeeding with Emma. But I was going to try. I declined meeting the lactation specialist in the hospital because the past two experiences ended up terrible with me feeling like they made it their personal mission to make it work for me. I hated the whole thing so I decided I didn't want to do that again this time. I would make it as long as I could and be okay with the switch to formula.

Things actually started out great. Emma was just like the other two and latched great. She fed great and they were fairly short feeding sessions and she seemed content. But we did have to start supplementing while still in the hospital. Because I had gestational diabetes, her blood sugars had to be checked before each time she wanted to eat which meant if they were too low than she had to have formula to get those levels up quickly. I had no issue with giving her formula but that probably did help with keeping those breastfeeding sessions shorter because she was eating so much formula. Pretty soon we ended up having to supplement after every feeding just to keep her blood sugar from dipping.

The day we were set to leave the hospital, I woke up that morning feeling very full and knew my milk had come in. That was probably the earliest I have ever gotten my milk so that was definitely a good sign. We continued to supplement in the hospital however. Her blood sugars evened out and her doctor said that she wanted her in later that week for a weigh check and unless we felt like she really needed it, we didn't need to supplement.

So we headed home with the plan to just breastfeed. And much to my surprise things were going really well. Unlike with the other kids Emma wasn't eating as long or as often and she seemed to be content. We were able to go 3 hours between feedings and she was eating anywhere from 15-30 minutes. She seemed satisfied. Me on the other hand wasn't doing as well. I had a milk duct in my armpit that was clogged and had basically become a massive hard painful rock. I worked hard to get it unclogged and keep things pleasant.

We went in for the weight check and were surprised to find that she had gained a little. We had left the hospital at 6 lbs 9 oz and she was up to 6 lbs 10 oz. Granted it wasn't a huge improvement but it was an improvement. We were definitely happy about that. But we would be going back for another weight check in a week because she wasn't quite up to her birth weight yet. And the meantime, we were going to continue doing what we were doing.

But that road started to hit a snag because it seemed that she wasn't getting enough anymore. We started adding in more supplemental bottles. She was eating longer, and Rob and I started talking about making the switch to just formula. We decided to see how much she wanted and how much I was able to provide. We waited until she was ready to eat after 3 hours and she would have formula while I pumped. It was clear that my breastfeeding days were numbered at that point. Emma easily ate 2 ounces while I pumped less than an ounces (from both sides). I just couldn't give her as much as she wanted.

My other clear sign that my days were numbered when I started to feel less full. I decided to wait until after her next weight check before I made a final decision on when I was going to stop. I didn't know why I was dragging my feet but I definitely was. So we continued breastfeeding then supplementing with formula after. We went in for a weight check and we were not surprised to find that she was over her birth weight at 7 lbs 1 oz. She was definitely getting a lot more formula so we knew she was gaining weight.

Basically I would breastfeed her when I felt full and she would have just a bottle when I didn't. But the times between when I felt full started lengthening out. First I was only feeding her during the night then it was every 8 hours then it was every 12 hours then suddenly it was 24 hours. Then suddenly I realized it had been 48 hours since I nursed her and knew it was over. My breastfeeding days were over and I wasn't sure I was completely ready for her.

The last time I had nursed her was right after Christmas at 2 in the morning. I remember while I was nursing her thinking that I was ready for this to be over. I was ready to switch to just formula. I was ready to move on. But now that I was really moving on, I was feeling emotional about it.

Don't get me wrong, every single time I nursed her I hated it. I was uncomfortable. It actually made me feel nauseous. I knew she wasn't getting enough so I was stressed about how much she was eating and how would we knew if she needed a bottle or not. I was stressed about her not sleeping as well because she was hungry (like Addison). It just wasn't a pleasant thing for me. Breastfeeding for me was nothing but a struggle.

But being done made me sad. It was another chapter that I was closing for good and that was a hard thing to deal with. I knew in the end both Emma and I would be better off.

Since that change happened, I have let my milk dry up completely now. I haven't had any problems with clogged painful ducts. I haven't been uncomfortable or felt full. It was just so quickly the end. And Emma is thriving. She is eating formula like a champ. She is growing - she is already looking so big. She is sleeping great at night, usually around 5 hours although she did have a 7 hour chunk in there. Things are better off for us (well, maybe not for our wallets...).

Rob is able to help more and take middle of the night feedings. I'm not so uncomfortable and now starting my own journey towards feeling better and more like me again (pregnancy is super hard on me yo). Emma is just doing awesome.

I have moments where I still get a little emotional when I think about the fact that my breastfeeding days are behind me. Sometimes it's just plain hard on me to think that my body couldn't do something else that it was supposed to do. But mostly I'm good with the choice. I'm doing what I need to do - what's best for my daughter. I am giving her what she needs, it's just through formula and that's okay. 

1 comment:

  1. It's always best to do what's best for your kids and yourself. Sounds like you did everything right!



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