If you could tell by the radio silence, this post took me awhile to gather my thoughts. One, because #allthefeels. Two, #newmom. Need I say anymore? Heck, I still don’t even think I gathered all my thoughts. I could ramble on and on about this subject, so this post is a book. I swear I tried to narrow down my thoughts! Since I’ve already covered one taboo subject (pregnancy weight, I’m looking at you), I figured hey what the heck… Let’s get out all of the comments and questions when it comes to breastfeeding. Plus, if sharing my story about my struggle with breastfeeding can help just one new momma or expecting momma, that is why I do this. Going into motherhood, I have to admit I did not expect the heated subject that is breastfeeding. I didn’t have any clue how hard it was, how it affects both mother & baby, the stigma around NOT breastfeeding, or really much about it at all. I just assumed, like most new mothers, yes of course I’d breastfeed my baby.
Well, as you can tell by the title of this post, things didn’t go to plan.
After our absolutely amazing birth (you can read our birth story here), the hospital moves you to the Mother Baby Wing about two hours after you give birth. They wheel your physically-and-mentally-exhausted-but-oh-so-happy self into a tiny room with all your belongings, family members, and beautiful new bundle of joy. It’s a lot of figuring it out after this point. When they put your new baby on your chest after birth for skin-to-skin, the nurse immediately shows you how to breastfeed. Colton immediately latched, and we had no problem at that point. I was very confident that after this experience, duh, I’m a breastfeeding pro! (Naive and very ignorant of me, I know.) Once we settled into the Mother Baby Wing, things took a drastic turn.
Colton would only latch on one breast. Our hospital provided us with lactation consultants which I was hopeful about, but within the two night stay I had heard a lot of varying opinions and suggestions from the different consultants and nurses. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and defeated. At this point, Colton could only be soothed if he was on my breast, and because I couldn’t get him to latch on the right side, my left side was in so much pain. I was completely raw, every time he latched I would just ball tears, curl my toes and try to get through the pain. On our last day at the hospital, we waited for him to pass his jaundice tests so we could be discharged. After he passed them with flying colors, we raced home to start this beautiful new chapter as a family.
Our First Week Home
Once we got home, Colton continued to only be soothed if he was on my breast. Constantly. He would latch, suck, unlatch and cry. Repeat over and over again. Fast forward to 48 hours of this. I woke up on a Sunday morning to the most jaundice looking baby I have ever seen. His skin discolored, cloudy eyes, and absolutely inconsolable. Since it was a Sunday morning, I couldn’t even take him to his first pediatrician appointment until the following day. My momma instincts kicked in and I knew I had to do something. Obviously he wasn’t getting what he needed from my body. At 7:30 AM, I got in my car in my breastmilk stained pajamas and left my baby for the first time to go to Rite Aid and buy formula. I will never forget this experience. As I got out of my car, I realized that Rite Aid wasn’t even open yet, but there was an employee outside sitting on the curb. I asked her if they were closed, she looked at the desperation on my face and said, “I can open early for you sweetie.” I balled. She embraced me with the warmest hug and I will never forget this stranger’s kindness.
Anyway, we started him on formula that morning. He took to the bottle with absolutely no problem. Throughout the day I also continued to attempt to nurse in between bottles. He was still latching no problem, but they were quick latches and he still didn’t seem to be feeding, only latching for comfort. On Sunday night we had an entirely different baby on our hands. No more tears or inconsolable meltdowns, and he was sleeping immediately like a champ. Well, enter postpartum emotions. Sunday night I was the one who was inconsolable. I immediately thought that I had ruined my baby. I thought I ruined the chance of breastfeeding him again. Thank goodness we were off to the pediatrician’s first thing Monday morning.
After explaining our past 48 hours to the pediatrician, plus getting all of Colton’s weight and measurements and all, she immediately told me I made the right decision for my baby, and that after seeing how much weight he had lost since leaving the hospital she would have told us to supplement anyway. (Yes, babies loosing weight after birth is normal. However only up to a 10% loss is normal. Poor Colton had loss more then the recommended 10%.) Woof. The relief. I hadn’t ruined my babe. In fact, I had actually made the best decision possible for my baby. She also explained the difference between nurture nursers and nutrient nursers, and how this was completely normal. Again, two concepts I had never heard of before. But just when I thought everything was looking up…
Since Colton had been nursing so constantly, now that it was time for my milk to come in it came in WAY TOO STRONG. Did I even know this could happen?! Nope. Suddenly my boobs were hard as a rock, with painful lumps and masses everywhere, not to mention I was running a fever. As I started talking around to friends about breastfeeding, this word mastitis kept popping up. I figured I’d google it. Here I was, staring at google images at what looked like my very own boobs. Ok, I guess now I have mastitis? That would explain why I was in that much pain. My doctor suggested to pump more regularly, plus use this to bottle feed my breastmilk along with the formula. Only problem? My insurance messed up the order from my doctor for my pump. So I went another 72 hours with no pump. I went out and bought a hand pump to try and do it on my own, but have you ever tried hand pumping DD breasts?
Basically this entire situation was a cluster f**k. Excuse my language. Looking back on it, I do kind of think it was a blessing in disguise. I was not a fan of pumping. It made me feel like a cow. Sorry, not sorry. I’m sure I’ll get backlash on that statement. Plus, I’m a business owner in our peak season. Leaving or closing our business to pump just doesn’t seem realistic.
So where are we now?
Exclusively formula bottle feeding! Every new momma (and baby — for that matter) needs to find what works for them. Breastfeeding is not for everyone, and neither is formula. I think that is the biggest thing out of this post. You do not HAVE to breastfeed. You do not need to “just stick to it,” or “wait till it gets easier, I promise.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. It didn’t work for us, and that’s ok. Heck, I will totally give it another shot with our future babies… But right now, formula is what works best for us. Even the most judgey of judgmental people will tell you, “Fed is best,” and that was literally my motto to help get me through that first day formula feeding. I didn’t know if I had made the right call, but he was being fed and that was all that mattered. Now he is back to a healthy weight, plus is the happiest baby on the planet so we are just hoping and praying that sticks! LOL.
We get asked a lot about sleep. Right now, he’s usually doing one 3 hour stretch and one 5-6 hour stretch. This is night and day from when we were breastfeeding. Not to mention, bottle feeding helps alleviate some of the pressure on my shoulders. Harrison helps with night feedings and it seriously makes all the difference.
Another thing that people are quick to say is that you’ll loose that connection with your baby if you don’t breastfeed. HA. I’ve never heard anything more untrue. I feel more connected with Colton now then I ever did breastfeeding. Obviously I didn’t want to ever feel this way, because its not their fault, but it’s so hard to not be mad at them when your baby is chapping your entire breast.
In case you couldn’t tell, I could probably come up with a million and one reasons why we are glad we made the switch, but lastly I want to talk about my postpartum. I struggled, a lot. As soon as I got home it hit me like a tidal wave. I was surrounded by all of these amazing friends and family, but alas no one knew how to help. (I DO NOT blame them for this! I’m just adding because it truly took a toll on all of us, not just me.) I have literally always wanted to become a mother, so no one could understand why I just couldn’t stop crying. As soon as we started a little routine and went to the formula, my hormones started to regulate. Granted, I still have my moments, BUT I am no longer an absolute mess. I am so thankful for this. Those were some really cloudy days. And for the women who suffer with it much more intensely and much longer then I did, I’m here for you. No matter where you are. Postpartum depression is really impossible to relate to unless you’ve been there. And if you’re an expecting new mom and have any questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m extremely transparent and will answer whatever it is you’re wanting to know!
To those who helped get me through this and didn’t even know they were helping…
I just want to add a little shout out to two people who probably have no idea the difference they made in this journey. Obviously Harrison’s love and understanding was absolutely unwavering, along with both of our family’s. However, two girls deserve a special shout out. I really don’t know if I would have figured this all out if it wasn’t for them.
First up, Megan. Megan is someone who I had no idea would become this close of a friend but I’m sure glad she did! Throughout my entire pregnancy she’d send me texts like, “How are you doing?” “Can I get you anything?” I mean, come on! She is the one with a one-year-old and working a full time job in the service industry! Then, she shows up at our hospital room with our favorite breakfast. If that wasn’t enough, she was constantly checking on me to make sure I was okay once we were home. When she could tell I wasn’t, she showed up with the sweetest care package and words of encouragement to stop listening to what everyone THINKS you should do and told me pretty point blank to do what was best for us. I will never be able to repay you Megan for all of your kindness and thoughtfulness.
The other person who helped me so much through this was actually someone I went to high school with but she was older then me. She had a beautiful baby boy a few months before me. We started chatting through Instagram, and suddenly she was telling me about her journey and honestly what no one else would tell me. Why and when they switched to formula, how much you have to stop listening to everyone else, and basically just helped debunk the stigma around how to feed your baby. She talked to me, helped me at all hours of the day, and honestly probably didn’t even know how much it meant.