I was convinced that breastfeeding would be simple, wonderful & effective. I knew the benefits and I had seen plenty of mothers nurse their babies successfully. In fact, when my daughter was born I hadn’t heard of a single woman that struggled. Imagine my surprise when my nursing relationship with my daughter got off to a rocky start. She was born at 9lbs & by the time we left the hospital she had lost nearly 10% of her weight. She was very jaundice and had become dehydrated as well. Supplementation was ordered in order to help kick start her systems. She had further problems gaining weight. She received at least half of her feedings via formula until 7 months when I decided I was over the frustration of making that little bit of milk I was getting for her.
With my son I thought for sure things would go better. By the time he was 48 hours old, he had already lost over 10% of his weight and by 3 days old he was down to 12%. His problems were different. No jaundice but somehow he had a lot of mucus in his little body that he was vomiting up…followed by anything he had ate. Zantac started helping those issues and our exclusive nursing relationship was starting to look up. He’s satisfied, happy & developmentally exceeding expectations. But he’s not gaining….like at all. At over four months of age, he weights 1 ½ pounds more than he did at birth. We know I don’t have an abundance of milk, but there is milk. We’ve “checked” all the ways (dirty diapers, pumping, skin color, etc) to see if he’s actually getting milk. All systems say “yes”---for the most part. But he is still not putting on weight.
That news is absolutely devastating. As a mother who believes in the importance of breastfeeding….to know that your child is not gaining weight from YOUR milk…well, it can make you feel quite inadequate. Toss in the fact that you now have a distracted eater, a grumpy toddler & a tired momma and that whole problem just escalates.
Yesterday I had had it. Jack was hungry and I felt totally unable to sit down and feed him. I had no pumped milk on hand---but I needed a break. The formula companies thrive on these moments….and as I stood in the kitchen with my husband debating what to do, I decided I needed to give him a bottle of formula. I NEEDED a break. Jack NEEDED a break too.
And so I mixed that bottle, tears in my eyes feeling like a total failure. Why couldn’t I work through this? Why couldn’t I get over the hump? My husband noticed quickly how upset I was and even his reassuring words weren’t enough to make me feel like I wasn't failing my son.
But I sat down with that bottle and Jack looked me in the eyes and gripped my finger tight through the entire feeding. I immediately relaxed. He was being nurtured from milk that I made…. even if it came in the form of a packet or can.