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The Hard Stuff

14 Sep

Like I promised in my last post, I want to be honest about this experience. So bear with me, this one is going to be long, and hard.

We got released from the hospital when the Bunny was 2 days old. The first day home was awesome. I was still riding on a complete high. Breastfeeding seemed to be going ok (though the Bunny kept falling asleep while nursing), we were getting in a groove. Mind you, I hadn’t slept a wink literally for a week, but at that point it didn’t bother me.

The next day, my milk came in, my hormones crashed, and that’s when the fit started hitting the shan.

My back started spasming and hurting like a mofo.

I was beginning to feel anxious, all the time.

I didn’t have an appetite, and was having problems keeping food down.

I couldn’t sleep a wink. Even when Shmerson sent me to the bedroom while he watched the Bunny I would shut my eyes, and nothing would come. It was like this animal instinct. Whenever I would start to fade into sleep I would immediately wake up with a start, feeling panicky. It was like this chemical cycle was triggered in my brain to stay awake at all costs, and nothing would shut it down.

This went on for three days. I had gotten all together maybe 3 hours of sleep. The only time I could sleep was when I would put the Bunny on the couch, and then curl up right next to her on half the couch and put my hand on her chest so I could feel her breathing.

By the third day I was melting down. I knew this was a chemical thing. I was frustrated beyond belief because I also knew that all I needed to make it go away was a single dose of Xan.ax. But I knew I couldn’t take it, because it would transfer into my breastmilk. I was in hell. I’m not exaggerating. Here I was, with this beautiful baby girl, so exhausted I couldn’t function, and too anxious to enjoy her even one little bit.

The next day in the morning I made some phone calls, talked to my shrink, and finally found a pill similar to xan.ax (though much weaker) that was safe while breastfeeding. Shmerson went to pick up the prescription, and within hours I finally got some blessed sleep. The pills are helping to keep the anxiety managed, but I’m still feeling anxious and I find myself crying, a lot. I know some of this may go away in the next week and it’s normal, but I’m not sure how much of it will linger. At least now I can sleep.

But even with the pills, things kept on getting harder. No matter what I tried, Bunny would not stay awake while nursing (and I really did try EVERYTHING). And with every session, she would detach quicker and quicker, and fight me at every turn. Every feeding was becoming a battle, and yet another source for anxiety.

My cousin, who is a lactation consultant, was supporting me through this, but all she could do was give advice. At this point I was truly getting worried that Bunny was not getting enough to eat.

Then on Thursday, when she was a week old we went in to get her weighed, and my concern became justified. She hadn’t gained an ounce since we were discharged. She wasn’t eating enough.

After losing it for a bit, I talked to my cousin and we started a new regimen: Every three hours we try the boo.b, then I pump for 20 minutes while Shmerson bottle feeds Bunny either pumped milk if there is any, or formula if there isn’t. Feeding has become an hour long ordeal, where I fight with Bunny for her to stay awake and latched, we fail miserably for about 30 minutes, she finally latches but barely sucks anything, and then off she goes to get real food from her daddy while I pump.

24 hours after starting this, there was another crisis. Bunny hadn’t peed for 20 hours straight. After consulting with a nurse she told us to go straight to the ER, so we did. I was crying hysterically the entire way. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared in my life.

Of course, the second Bunny was put down to get examined, she peed like a champ. Shmerson and I laughed with relief, the doc examined her, and she was pronounced perfect as usual.  She also gained a little weight since the day before, which made me feel better.

So back to the feeding nightmare we went.

I think what happened was that I have a supply issue as a result of Bunny’s sleepiness in the first days when my milk came in. At that point I was in such a haze that I did what I could to keep her eating, but it obviously wasn’t enough to get my supply up to scratch.

I’m on day three of pumping and I’m not feeling as if there’s an increase in my supply, and we’re still in a serious struggle to get Bunny to latch, stay awake, and suck when she’s on my boo.b.

I know when we bring her in to get weighed tomorrow she’ll have gained because of the bottle feedings, but I just don’t know what’s next. I’m not sure my supply will increase, and once we’ve started supplementation, is there really any going back?

I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to give up and move to formula. I hate that every feeding becomes a fight. I dread the clock going off and having to start it all over again. I’m not enjoying my daughter enough because of this, and I’m seriously starting to wonder if it’s worth it. Why not just give her formula, stop the fighting, and always know for sure that she’s getting enough to eat?

Do I really need MORE reasons for anxiety right now? If I move to formula I also know I’d be free to take whatever meds I need to get my moods stable and truly enjoy my daughter.

But then there’s another part of me that says that we’ve worked so hard, it’s a shame to throw it away now. And the guilt of course, and the fear of missing out on all of that bonding and all of those benefits that are supposed to happen when you breastfeed (though right now there’s really none of that, just the anxiety).

But I was brought up on formula, and so was Shmerson, and honestly – so were a lot of people I know. We all came out just fine. Is it really worth all of the drama?

As of now, the decision is to give it till Wednesday and re-assess. If my supply isn’t up by then and we’re still relying almost completely on formula, I think I’ll probably give up the boo.b. Shmerson is going back to work in a week and it’s critical we get a good routine established (and my mood stable) before that happens. So Wednesday seems like a good day to cut things off and assess the situation.

I’m at a loss about what to do. I thought that giving up or pushing on would be an easy, clear-cut decision, but it’s murky and emotional and anything but clear-cut.

I just want to enjoy my daughter, and know that she is eating enough. But I don’t want her to miss out on things that would be good for her. This is so freaking hard.

Just a note here: I know breastfeeding is a touchy subject. I appreciate all of your feedback and please do leave it, but for FSM’s sake – no preaching, it’s the last thing I need right now. And no fighting amongst yourselves either. Breastfeeding and formula feeding are both legitimate choices and we shouldn’t judge anyone for choosing either. That being said, I would love to hear what you guys think. Let’s just keep it civil and non-preachy please. Thanks. 

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54 Responses to “The Hard Stuff”

  1. Moira September 14, 2013 at 13:07 #

    I could have written that post about my boy.

    I totally understand and basically I’m trying not I preach but my view is formula feed. Maybe try to keep pumping to supplement with breast milk if you can but don’t make things harder than caring for a new born already is.

    I get FURIOUS with the breast brigade. Yeah I know it easy and good for your baby but you know what, so is formula and hormones and chemicals and feelings are so hard to deal with I think you should give yourself a break. Feed your baby how you need to hun.

    Bunny is perfect and her name is SUPERB and frankly who cares how you feed your kid so long as it works for you ALL!!

    Take care!

  2. Moira September 14, 2013 at 13:09 #

    Ps that sounded like her name had something to do with it … Ha ha. Badly written but I hadn’t before said how much I adore it that’s all 🙂

  3. CourtneyAnna September 14, 2013 at 13:14 #

    Hang in there Mo! Breast feeding was a nightmare for me. Since my son had open heart surgery two days after he was born, he never got to nurse so I strictly pumped. But I had gone so long without pumping in those first crucial days, that I barely made anything! I would pump 10 times a day for maybe 12 oz if I was lucky. I felt guilty about formula for … Um… Maybe a second. Hahahahaha! Trust me, Bunny wil be fine and you will be fine too. Stress reduces your supply even more. I did try the mothers milk tea and fenugreek and they did help but warming: the fenugreek makes your pee smell like syrup. You may never eat waffles again.

  4. Amy September 14, 2013 at 13:25 #

    Oh, man. How scary and stressful.

    Honey pie, I would highly suggest having her evaluated for lip tie and tongue tie. Falling off the breast and falling asleep on the breast are common symptoms. Asher’s breastfeeding issues and the stress and exhaustion that cane from trying to BF, then pump anf bottle feed were a HUGE contributor to my PPD and PPA. I kept it up for one day shy of 7 weeks. Perhaps I could have continued had I gotten on meds earlier instead of that same week, but it broke me. Even though we had his ties laser corrected when he was 17 days old, he has a very dysfunctional suck to this day (he’s 12w1d today).

    Still, a lot of people find relief with tie revision. There’s a FB group called Tongue Tie Babies that’s very helpful.

    Big love!!

    • Mo September 14, 2013 at 13:37 #

      My cousin did take a look at Bunny’s mouth and everything there seems ok. I’ll double check to make sure though when we get her weighed tomorrow.

  5. SRB September 14, 2013 at 13:49 #

    I am always of the opinion that feeding your baby with love, so that you are both getting what you need, is the right thing to do. However you do it, is the right thing to do. It’s not about whose needs are being put first because right now, they are one and the same and shall always be linked in some way. Whoever judges you for your choices to keep everyone well-fed, well-rested, and well-loved can go fuck themselves.

  6. Courtney September 14, 2013 at 14:14 #

    Feeding babies is not supposed to be this hard. Yes, breastfeeding is HARD, but what you’re dealing with sounds almost impossible. It’s just breastmilk. Tell yourself that. It’s just breast milk. Pumping and feeding isn’t helping you bond. It isn’t helping you enjoy your bunny. If you’re not bonding and/or enjoying it, I seriously would ask yourself, “what’s the point?”. You’ve fought too hard to get here to not enjoy these early days.

    I am totally pro breastfeeding, but only if it’s giving you both what you need Neither of you are getting what you need. Don’t feel at all bad if you want to quit! Go and enjoy that bunny!

  7. Broedkipje September 14, 2013 at 14:26 #

    Given your story, I’d say go for formula and have her take the boob for dessert and comfort as long as you are comfortable. I did exclusively pumping for 6 weeks, had 3 bouts of mastitis, one from trying to increase my supply, and super slowly weaned from 6w to 5 months. I would like to call myself fairly emotionally stable, but I felt very very insecure, sad, hormonal, guilty, angry, frustrated over the whole breastfeeding journey. At some point it started to intefere with my ability to take care of my babies and it sure took some fun out of the first months. But I get this is not an easy decision. Not at all. Rally for support, DON’T read the BF websites but do what is right for you, Schmerson and Bunny. All the love & hugs.

  8. JourneyGirl September 14, 2013 at 14:33 #

    You do what you need to take care of your precious daughter as well as yourself. I had supply issues with my first, he was supplemented with formula from day 3 of his life, I kept breastfeeding and pumping and it dwindled over 5 months, he is a super healthy and smart 3 year old now. With my second, I decided if I had supply issues, I wouldn’t put myself through the grief of pumping for 40mins after every feed but I haven’t had supply issues this time, I take fenugreek, blessed thistle, brewers yeast and alfalfa supplements to increase my supply. That being said, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about whatever choice you make, you are the only one spending 24/7 with Bunny, you are the expert on her, you know her better than anyone. Good luck!!

  9. ozifrog September 14, 2013 at 14:45 #

    Poor Mo. I was crapola when my milk came in, mental for three days, and still stupid anxious for a couple of weeks til my mummy radar found its level.

    It took three people to feed jman at first. One to provide boobs, two to scratch the soles of his feet to keep him awake.

    Just stop worrying about “is she getting enough”. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If she gets bloody hungry she will drink better, and if she drinks better you make more. Forget the “is there enough” question. Research shows of women who state they give up for lack of supply, hardly any REALLY LACK SUPPLY.

    What you can pump is absolutely NO MEASURE of how much milk you actually have. You can have LOADS to feed, and be unable to pump any.

    But none of this is judgement, Mo. you do what you need to do, you do what keeps you sane.

    I don’t know if it helps, but feed as though you have heaps, act AS IF you do have loads of supply. And if she isn’t getting enough, she will work harder, and tomorrow there WILL be enough.

    Bfeeding after infertility is hard because you can’t measure it, you can’t get a number on a test that proves its ok. But when i let go of this, I found it WAS ok.

    It all changes, mo, and fast. Bunny at three weeks is totally different to Bunny now. Bunny at six weeks? Different again. So however hard it is, remember in just a matter of days everything will change. Feeds get quicker, rest gets easier…it won’t stay like it is now.

  10. conceptionchronicles September 14, 2013 at 15:07 #

    I went through the EXACT same thing. I switched to formula after 6 weeks, and even though there was guilt about not breastfeeding, my husband can bond with our daughters, I can go out for a much needed break, etc. You will be a good or bad mom NOT by your baby’s food choice, but by the love, care, and attention you give her. Hope this helps. By the way – you can always be a pumping mom. That was my transition from nursing to formula when it hurt too badto nurse.

  11. tracyturn34 September 14, 2013 at 15:27 #

    Mo, I’m not a mother and have never breast-fed, but I just wanted to send you all my support and love. So, all I can say is this: Trust your gut and do what you think is best for you and your daughter. You are smart, well-informed, and courageous, so whatever you do, you’ll make the best decision for your family, and everybody will be great. If it helps at all, my mother didn’t breast-feed me back in the day (not enough supply), and I turned out wonderfully, if I do say so myself! 🙂 And my mom and I have a rock-solid bond!!! Anyway, Mo, you are my hero for being honest and real about your struggles. Anxiety and depressions are monsters to battle, but you will emerge victorious!

  12. Erin September 14, 2013 at 15:37 #

    I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. I breastfed all 3 of my kids to at least a year. But when it comes to what is best for Bunny, what is truly best and most important is that she have a happy healthy mommy. Formula these days are very very very good. I think you have and still are giving it a really good try and if on Wednesday you guys switch to formula there should be no guilt there.

    IF you are still really conflicted about formula though, and I am not saying you should be, have you considered looking into donated milk? While I had difficulty nursing 2 of my kids due to their health issues, I actually had an overabundance of milk and I donated my milk. In the US there are milk banks but that can be REALLY expensive to buy milk from. So there are websites that match up moms with extra milk to moms that need milk. One of my best friends had a baby 6 weeks older than my second and I fed her baby for a while and my cousin by marriage had quintuplets and I was able to donate enough to feed all 5 babies long enough to get them out of the NICU. Through the websites here you usually only pay for the milk containers and shipping costs if there are any, mainly just off setting the cost to the donating mom.

    Hugs, health, and bunny snuggles, Mo. You deserve to enjoy this time to its fullest.

  13. Lise September 14, 2013 at 16:15 #

    I’m so sorry breastfeeding is hard on you! It’s great when it works but if it makes it impossible to completely enjoy Bunny I wouldn’t think it’s worth it. Personally I have loved breastfeeding almost from the start, but the first two weeks were tough since I had so sore nipples (baby girl is strong!). When the nipples finally healed it was (and is) great. For me. Only you and Shmerson know what is best for you, you should never feel guilty about doing what’s right for you. A happy mummy is more important than any breast milk.

  14. melliempa September 14, 2013 at 16:17 #

    I too, had major supply issues with my son. Even with pumping, I never made enough to nourish him. So, he was formula fed. I was so pro-breastfeeding and when I was at my wits end, a very kind lactation consultant said: “I think you need to revise your goal to one that has your son eat. The good news is that they still let you keep him and he doesn’t need to wear a special tag when he goes to school.” Honestly, switching to formula did wonders for my personal sanity, it helped me relax and be a better Mommy, and Daddy was thrilled to get involved in the game by snuggling down with a bottle.” You’ve been through too much not to enjoy this time.

  15. Amanda P. September 14, 2013 at 16:36 #

    I went through the same thing. I only lasted about a week of the pumping/my husband gets to feed J & see him awake instead of me thing. It pushed me into a deep depression, anxious and crying all the time. Switching to formula was a very difficult thing to do, but turned out to be the right thing for me. J is happy and thriving and we are bonded. I wrote about it on my blog http://readingeachpage.blogspot.com/2013/08/thank-goodness-for-formula.html Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  16. nelipotting September 14, 2013 at 17:26 #

    Oh my, what a rough go you have had! I’ve struggled with bf quite a bit. I have a really bad thyroid condition (on top of pcos)… and it turns out that about half of the women with it simply don’t make breast milk. Lucky me, I’m in the crap half… of course. Oh sure, I can squeeze out maybe 2oz a day if I’m on the highest dose allowed of medication to make me lactate, but obviously that’s never going to cut it long term. But I didn’t know any of that until I lived through breast feeding hell. Finally I broke down at the pediatrician’s office, and he told me… the BEST advice I’ve ever gotten from ANYONE… “Breast milk is good. But it isn’t the only good thing. Your baby needs you. She needs a Mommy who is happy and engaged and enjoying everything about her. Breast milk is good, and you should be proud for whatever you gave her… but she needs you so much more than she needs breast milk.” And he actually banned me from breast feeding ever again. LOL. I don’t know what you’ll decide, it’s such a personal thing. And I’m sure you’ll know what’s best for your family. My only advice is to make sure that breast feeding is just ONE of the considerations, and don’t weigh it too heavily. There are much more important factors in your life and the life of your sweet girl. *hugs*

  17. Kerstin September 14, 2013 at 17:39 #

    First of all: Formula is totally fine. Yes, I mean it. But if you decide to give breastfeeding some more time I want to share with you what they recommend here in Germany:

    – Take your girl and go to bed or snuggle on the couch, naked if possible. Giver her lots of skin to skin time. And I mean lots. You can test that stroller another time. It’s naked girl on girl time!
    – Help her latch on whenever she wants. Even hanging out and sleeping on the boob is good. Preferably all the time. (Yes you can go pee alone.) She will smell the milk and want to have a sip now and then.
    – If she falls asleep, tingle her. (My girl kept going while tingling her on the spot between ear and chin. I had a lazy sleepy girl and freaked out, too.)
    – Let Shmerson keep all visitors away that might cause you any stress. (My mother in law gave me my first mastitis, thank you very much.) He can do the phone calls, too. I am sure he has a great voice, let him use it!
    – Make sure to eat and drink enough. (Delivered pizza and chocolate are your best friends right now. You can switch to healthy food next week. Or month. Let 2014 be your year of lettuce.)
    – Try to put that formula away for a day or two, if possible. At least reduce it, if you feel that it might be worth a try. Your supply can hardy increase if she gets too much from the bottle. Well you know that already. I know you are frightened to starve her. You will not. You know what signs to look out for.

    I have no advice on the pumping, it never worked for me. I had enough milk but pumped nearly nothing. Expressing milk by hand was much easier for me, you might want to look into that if you feel you don’t pump enough.

    Those first days and weeks scared me so much. I felt that keeping her alive was so fucking difficult and just up to me. I know a little how you might feel.

  18. Daryl September 14, 2013 at 18:02 #

    Oh, Mo. I’m sorry this has been so hard for you. I have zero firsthand experience with breastfeeding or caring for a newborn 24/7, but I do work with moms, babies, and families every day. From that experience, I can tell you that the best thing for you and Bunny is what works for you. No one else can tell you what that is. You are the expert on your baby and your family’s needs. If that means switching to formula only so that you can take care of yourself and Bunny, so be it. I hope by Wednesday, you’re feeling a little clearer about whatever you decide to do. Hugs!

  19. Finding MyNew Normal (@FindMyNewNormal) September 14, 2013 at 18:31 #

    If it’s causing you this much stress and it isn’t working then I would say switch to formula. I had a terrible time breastfeeding Frostina. So bad that she finally flat out refused to do it. I pumped and cried, and pumped and cried, and she wouldn’t latch, and I hardly had any milk. The first day we were formula only I felt like a failure.

    But then I thought about the fact that it’s amazing that in this day and age we have options when breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Formula is a perfectly healthy way to feed your baby. Once I accepted that I was soooooo much happier and more relaxed. Being more relaxed made me a better Mommy to Frostina. She’s now a healthy and happy 15 month old.

  20. Amy September 14, 2013 at 18:36 #

    I think you’ve already gotten just about all the good advice that can be given above, but of course I will go ahead and throw out some other thoughts, too. I did the Mother’s Milk tea at the beginngin and later on some fenugreek capsules and some milk thistle ones, too (someone told me the tea doesn’t really contain enough of the active herbs to be very effective, though it can help you keep your hydration levels up – I happen to love the taste, but many people hate it). Oatmeal is supposed to be good for supply, too (I can hardly choke it down on its own, but have someone make you some cookies if you can!). All that said – breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing, though I know you know this already. You could start at the boob, top off with formula, or start with formula and top off on the boob, keep pumping if you can stand it, or not. (This is so duh, I know, because you’re already combo-ing, it sounds like.) The sleepiness may abate as she gets a bit older, too, so if you can try to keep up the supply you have now (try not to stress about increasing it for now, would be my first thought), the possibility is real that she will ramp it back up for you once she’s more alert and can stay awake for a whole nursing session, especially when she gets into cluster feeding. But these are just ideas to consider if you want to keep that option open, and only even matter if they wouldn’t interfere with you doing whatever you need to do to take care of YOU, FIRST. YOU FIRST. If going to all formula ends up making a significant difference in how you are feeling and enjoying your daughter, then it becomes clearly the right choice. And if at any point in the not-too-distant future you wanted to go back to breastfeeding, there are things you could try to relactate, too if you completely dry up. Trying different things at this point doesn’t necessarily close any doors, so you just keep doing whatever you gotta do and give yourself absolute permission to keep changing it up as necessary to get closest to what will work for you. You are doing so great, Mo, and we support you 100% not matter what you decide, and no matter how many times it may change!

  21. Jenny September 14, 2013 at 18:59 #

    Reading this post made me feel as if I was reliving my first few days with my son. We had an absolutely terrible time with breast feeding – which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was exhausted and an emotional mess. My poor little guy was so dehydrated that he developed a bad case of jaundice and had to be hospitalized. While in the hospital they had me nursing, supplementing and pumping, so a feed usually took at least an hour. Because of his jaundice he had to be fed every three hours. Consequently I got almost no sleep. I cried constantly and, like you, felt that I wasn’t enjoying my time with my baby. My life revolved around my breasts and the pathetic amount of milk I was desperately trying to squeeze out of them. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I gave up on the boob. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t produce enough food for my son and cried for weeks afterward when I thought about it. But I don’t regret my decision. I know it was best for both of us. And we still bond during feeds while he stares sleepily into my eyes and holds tight to my finger. 🙂

    Just cut out all the noise and opinions around you and do what you need to do for your health and happiness (and, of course, for Bunny’s).

  22. Theresa September 14, 2013 at 19:12 #

    Breast fed or formula fed bunny will
    Grow up to be healthy and that’s what matters. I say do what you feel is best for you, her and your family. Hugs

  23. Maggie May September 14, 2013 at 22:37 #

    Congratulations on the arrival of Bunny! I just wanted to let you know I had bad PPA and a lot of your post is very familiar to me. Breastfeeding was tough but we got through that first difficult time. The things that made the most difference to my supply (and general wellbeing) were enough food, fluids and rest (preferably sleep). When I was in the grip of anxiety I could not sleep – I relate to your inability to relax unless she is right next to you – so my supply would drop and i found life pretty difficult. I needed a lot of help, but we got there and i bf to 17 months. I guess I just wanted to share that it does get better, certain hormones will pass, feeding becomes so so much easier. And on a personal level, I found breastfeeding very healing. The moments when I was feeding her later on were very good for my mental health. Having said that, I also know that if you are rested and happy you can enjoy your daughter and motherhood much more, so if formula gets you there, even temporarily for top ups, then that’s valuable. I hope it gets easier. Sending you lots of supportive good wishes 🙂

  24. lifelossandotherthings September 15, 2013 at 00:32 #

    With my first, I know that I finally decided to switch to formula after recognizing that I would be a better mother if I wasn’t constantly preoccupied with feedings, pain, supply issues, latch issues. It was a hard break up. I cried and cried and had to have my husband repeatedly tell me that I was doing the right thing. It was so hard because, like you, I wanted what was best for him. There is a lot of peace that comes with seeing your baby with a full tummy, resting sweetly, and having that visual of how much milk baby actually consumed. I don’t regret my decision to say goodbye to BFing because I really think that once I stopped and made peace with that decision, I really felt so much closer to my son. I packed away the breast pump and swapped that time for baby snuggles and cat naps.

    Do whatever you think is going to put you in the best position to connect and have positive bonding moments. If it is sticking it out with BFing, wonderful. If it is formula feeding, wonderful. You are doing a great job! Congratulations on your sweet Bunny!

  25. slese1014 September 15, 2013 at 02:23 #

    So I read this in my email this morning and couldn’t comment then. Now it seems as if everyone has said what I would have and then some. it comes down to basic needs. Feed your baby however is best for both of you…that is all. HUGS lady…this is a tough tough time!!!

  26. robinflynn September 15, 2013 at 04:13 #

    Just remember in an emergency you have to put on your gas mask first and then your baby’s. Do what you need to to take care of yourself because bunny needs a functioning mama more than she needs breast milk.

  27. Keisha September 15, 2013 at 04:15 #

    Mo, I had a lot of the same feelings when my daughter was fresh out the womb. I remember dreading the next feeding, wondering how much of a failure I would feel like if it didn’t go well. I’m sorry you’re feeling that way now, and I’m glad that you are not quitting on your worst day. Taking the time to assess the situation is a good thing.
    I would like to mention that I also supplemented with formula at three weeks, and though I did experience a drop in supply, by the time she was a few months old I had phased the formula completely out and was exclusively breastfeeding again. It is possible.
    It’s a hard choice, but you have to do what will be best for you and the Bunny. If that means preserving your mental well being by taking medicine and formula feeding, that’s what it will be.

  28. firstcomes September 15, 2013 at 04:23 #

    I agree with most of this ^
    It took 4 days for my milk to come in and even once it did I was lousy at pumping. Im not sure whether it was because I have big boobs (32h) or whether I just tensed up because I didn’t really feel comfortable with it but whatever the reason pumping wasn’t for me. For 2 weeks I did 2 breast feeds 1 formula (and pumped) 2 bf and 1 formula etc.. and I was getting hardly any when I pumped but when he fed he was getting enough that he would fall asleep with milk pouring out of his open mouth. After 2 weeks I was confident that I did actually have enough milk so I dropped the formula. He’s now 13 months and still breast fed. I’ve been lucky and not had a single problem since, no mastitis or anything.
    What im trying to say is if you choose to persist through this initial rough patch it could be smooth sailing from here on – what seems impossible today might just click for you tomorrow and once its established breast feeding is so easy and convenient and FREE (my favourite part! !)
    However, if you feel you can’t wait it out any longer then go with formula and don’t feel bad about it, sometimes its just the best option for everyone involved and it does allow schmerson to have a bigger roll in the feeding (& night feeds!!) which is lovely for dad and a blessing tired mama.

    Lastly – things that I found helpful
    Oats
    Fenugreek
    Spirulina
    Flaxseed/linseed
    Drinking LOTS of water
    Putting a hot facewasher on your breast before feeding/pumping can also help the flow

    I told you my story to help shine a bit of hope on a gloomy situation not to preach that what I did is the only way! I hope that you find a happy resolution soon. It all does get easier and the love you feel now will
    multiply.

  29. sorrelen September 15, 2013 at 04:26 #

    I have a boy that wouldn’t breastfeed. NICU made him lazy. I pumped for 4 months but it was awful. Switched to formula and haven’t looked back.

    • newmom September 16, 2013 at 17:51 #

      I had the same experience. In the NICU, once the feeding tube is out, trying to breast feed with so many people around was hard and uncomfortable for me. Plus I wanted him to come home, and eating was how that happens (well sort of lol). So he got breastmilk in a bottle. I pumped while he was in the hospital, and after he came home. But then once he was home all I did was pump, feed the baby a bottle, pump, maybe get to eat, feed the baby…..it wasn’t working out! Plus his reflux was so bad. I tried one bottle of sensitive formula, he didn’t projectile vomit…I never looked back.

      Mo do what’s best for you and your Bunny, there’s no wrong choice here!

  30. Amanda September 15, 2013 at 05:37 #

    Feed your baby. Period. Love her. How ever that can happen it is the best way.

    From my personal experience giving up a short career in breast feeding was emotionally strange. I mourned not breast feeding, but not having to pump instead of holding my baby and sleeping was such a wonderful thing and a relief as well. I did not get to truly bond with my son until I gave up all that pumping.

    I know from experience that you can bond with your baby holding her and bottle feeding her. Heck, you can do it pretty much as you were breast feeding her, skin to skin and all. So, really that is the last thing you need to be worrying about.

    I wish you the best of luck. I do hope you are able to get your supply up, but if you don’t, try to be kind to yourself about stopping.

  31. alissa s September 15, 2013 at 05:41 #

    I know most all mother’s want to nurse and it’s a good thing. I tried to get through the feedings for two months until I was so miserable I eventually became an exclusive pumper. And my supply sucked. C totally fought me at every feeding and I dreaded feedings. I understand your feelings about it. In my opinion you may want to go to pumping only or formula. If you are miserable and the bunny seems frustrated and you are in need of real anxiety meds you should move on. I know lots of people will try to talk you into continuing but if you truly think you would be happier bottle feeding then do it. You worked hard to bring bunny home and you should be enjoying it all. I wish someone would have encouraged me to stop instead of the ol’ try try again. If it feels right even if its not your ideal then you should do it.

  32. Heather September 15, 2013 at 07:50 #

    Sheesh, Mo, you have had a rough time.
    Just remember the beginning is the worst, if you can get through that, you can get through anything.
    I pumped for the first month. I would try and breastfeed sometimes and fail. Little Nicky just couldn’t latch / or I couldn’t figure it out either. If the LC would come I would just feel what’s the point, we can’t do it… At least she said, ok just carry on pumping.
    I also use formula those first few months because I had supply issues. It also helped for night feeds (no ways was I pumping in the middle of the night, although I did as late as I could and early morning)

    The good news: by 3/4 months baby can actually latch! Yay! So I could switch completely over to breastfeeding and by that time my supply was ok and I could ditch the formula. I would recommend breastfeeding because – it’s a good thing for their nutrition and less trips to the ER!

  33. chon September 15, 2013 at 09:09 #

    Best advice I was ever given; feed yo babeez (from SRB) when I had a freak out because Molly had to go on formula from about 4m once a day. Doesn’t matter how they get fed as long as they do. Bunny sounds like a total champ though. TOTAL champ. Breastfeeding is awesome but f me nobody prepares you for how tough it is. I mean it is HARD. You think it is going to be all bunnies and rainbows but it bloody isn’t. Just do what you have to do and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

  34. jjiraffe September 15, 2013 at 09:42 #

    Tons of good advice here Mo.

    First of all, big hugs. Definitely echo everyone who says do what’s best for you. I won’t bore you with my long story about supply issues (since others have shared much more relevant and better accounts) but I had a somewhat similar experience and it made me feel bad for a while until I was like, Fuck it, and did the best I could.

    Do what’s best for you, hun.

  35. Hurricane Laura September 15, 2013 at 16:23 #

    First of all, congratulations on her birth…but I’m so sorry feeding is stressful. Your not-sleeping thing actually sounds a lot like a woman who was in my pregnancy/infant loss support group – she (and her doc here) called it “hypervigilance” and it was something her doctor told her might happen as a result of the PTSD from her infant loss. She couldn’t sleep because she had to constantly monitor to make sure her baby was okay. She knew going in that she was probably going to have a problem relaxing or sleeping so she had pills to take as well. I think it did actually affect her ability to nurse at first – the lack of sleeping probably impacts supply a bit and it definitely makes you stressed – but after a week or so of good sleep and plenty of hydration, she was able to get into a groove. I think she did supplement actually but her rule was that as long as the baby gets SOME breastmilk (even just 2 oz a day) it was better than no breastmilk. And the rest of the feedings were formula and that is totally fine. Momma and baby have to both recover and thrive, and however you get to that point is perfectly good.

    As for me, I had a similar experience – a lesser kind of hypervigiliance because of my losses and around 4-5 months my breastfeeding started to crap out because my body is just so worn out from 3 years of struggle and heartbreak. I could never feed my boy alone; I always had to supplement. It was one of those things that I mourned for a few weeks – yet another thing taken away from me – but very slowly the realization that I finally have my sweet little boy and life is getting better dawned on me and I was able to relax. The newborn phase is its own kind of trauma – “good” trauma, but still, hard. A few weeks from now, as she starts changing and growing and you get to see so many small miracles happening, you will find your groove.

    One thing that always strikes me about your blog is that you’ve faced so many challenges and you admit openly to your moments of breakdown/anxiety, but you never let them stop you. You push through it and keep going. It is impressive – actually it is just plain Heroic with a capital-H. I think you are an excellent example of what true bravery looks like – not an absence of fear or discomfort, but a refusal to let that define you. And I am honored and very moved that you are willing to share that publicly. I still can’t really talk much about my situation, so women like you are my heroes. You are now and will continue to be a heroic, awesome mom – to Nadav and to Bunny. Thank you for letting us share a piece of that with you.

  36. robin September 15, 2013 at 16:36 #

    When I switched to bottles my anxiety and depression did decrease. It is a huge relief. However, I still grieve breastfeeding (but I tried for 4 months, it was a long and hard battle, I don’t know that I recommend it). I think you should do what feels right to you, and if that is going on meds and bottle feeding, that is the right decision. Whatever allows you to spend more time enjoying your baby. I spent so much time during those first 4 months focusing on feeding, and the feedings took up ALL of their awake time – an hour and a half or more! – that I really didn’t get any time to do anything else with the babies. If they WERE awake after the feeding was over, I was generally too tired and stressed to enjoy them.

    Also, I guess I didn’t really “enjoy” the benefits of breastfeeding. I didn’t lose weight, I didn’t feel bonded with the babies. The babies had more illnesses while I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t (constantly sick from 3-6 months old!), had smelly gas, and lots of reflux. Switched to bottles with air vents to prevent gas – suddenly, no more stinky fart bombs, much less reflux. Coincidentally less sick? And when they were sick, they didn’t fight the bottle the way they fought the breast when their noses were plugged.

    Now the babies can feed themselves. I hand them bottles and they do the rest. They also feed themselves their own solid foods. So really, I am barely involved in feeding now, besides presenting food. And it is wonderful.

    If you do switch to bottles, use the lowest flow nipple you can for as long as you can (at some point it will become obvious she will want a higher flow nipple, but don’t switch until she wants it). Even though the feedings take longer, I think in the long run it is better because she will learn portion control. The breast automatically does this – it is the lowest flow possible, the baby has to make it higher flow by sucking much harder – so breastfed babies are (generally) good at portion control once they get to solids.

    If you do want to stay with breastfeeding, also use the lowest flow nipple, and take the bottle out of her mouth at semi-regular intervals – this was advice from my lactation consultant when I was still trying to breastfeed after bottle feeding for months. Basically, make bottle feeding as inconvenient as possible. Every few minutes just take it out and give her a minute break. You don’t have to yank it out, just gently pull until she releases it. The reason babies don’t like to go back to the breast after the bottle is because bottle feeding is so easy and the food comes to them with very little effort on their part, so if you make bottle feeding less appealing then she will hopefully prefer the breast.

    Good luck ❤

  37. Louisa September 15, 2013 at 19:27 #

    My son never latched on, it sucked (but not literally ha ha). So the compromise I can up with was to pump 3-4 times a day, feed him that via bootle and then supplement with formula. I did this for 6 months and he is now a very healthy 2 year old who rarely gets sick. You are so right on Mo, not letting the feeding issue get in the way of enjoying your wonderful bunny.

  38. katerina September 15, 2013 at 21:57 #

    sorry, I haven’t read the other comments, so forgive me if i am repeating what others have said. first thing i would do is get your thyroid checked, as hypothyroidism is a cause of low milk supply. also, some women with pcos don’t have enough glandular breast tissue to make adequate milk.
    i had a similar issue with my son falling asleep constantly. Have you tried the wet washcloth? she will outgrow the sleepiness soon, hang in there. don’t make a choice hastily that you might regret. i had issues with feeding my son originally and then went on to nurse him successfully for 25 months.
    look into milk thistle and fenugreek to increase your supply. I hear they work. i did try it for a while, made my milk smell like maple syrup. my milk supply did increase but i also made a point of staying hydrated, which i think was the real problem.
    DRINK LOTS OF WATER!! I know it seems like common sense but make a point of drinking a whole glass every time you nurse. it makes a HUGE difference.
    Lack of sleep can also do horrible things to your supply.
    My advice is to stay in bed with her all day for a couple of days, wet wash cloth in hand, and stay super hydrated. In the meantime have the doc run a thyroid panel (TSH, FT4 and FT3, not just TSH). TSH should ideally be under 2.
    I always find it funny when someone says “well, I did that and i’m fine.” No, formula fed people aren’t going to have horns growing out of their heads but there is also evidence that breastfed infants are less likely to be diabetic as adults, as well as reducing your own risk of permanent diabetes. Here’s an article but I warn you it has some words you don’t like
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/
    Please hang in there, Mo. It gets better, I promise. Might want to try the little medela tubie thing that you attach to your nipple to deliver the formula, to avoid nipple confusion.
    Nobody expects her to gain weight so quickly. She only has to be back up to her birth weight by her 2 week checkup. Most babies lose at least 7% of their weight in the beginning. Babies of GD moms retain more water in the womb, so they tend to lose a lot of water weight after birth. My 3 month old daughter lost a bit in the beginning and had some trouble maintaining her sugars for a couple of days. Now she is fat and happy.

  39. daysofserenity September 15, 2013 at 22:28 #

    I don’t ever comment, but I wanted to share two things. First, I want to affirm you. You are doing it right and everything you said is true. Your bunny is loved and cared for. That is all that matters. Doesn’t matter what you decide your bunny, and you, will be fine. Secondly, I wanted to encourage you in case you do decide to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is TOUGH!! I had twins and lost a lot of blood during delivery which resulted in my milk coming later than normal. As a result my girls developed jaundice and were readmitted to the hospital. We had to supplement with formula and bottles which resulted in nipple confusion. Add in all the usual nipple pain and latch problems associated with breastfeeding and I had one super storm. With the help of lc I was able to get established. No matter how good it got it was still tough. It wasn’t until about 8 months where I reached a point of “Oh this is nice!” It finally got enjoyable. All that to say I’m glad I stuck it out because I finally reached a point where I got some payback. For soo long it was just a commitment I made and was determined to keep. I only share this so you if you do keep breastfeeding you know it does eventually get better. Oh and even though I’m breastfeeding mine still get formula from time to time. Both are legitimate nutritional options. Good luck!

  40. St. Elsewhere September 16, 2013 at 12:30 #

    Dear Mo,

    The low that comes after the first high is very hard-hitting. I know because I have been there. And we came back home after a week of hospital stay, so it was bollocks.

    I would say: Breast Feed + Formula.

    That is what I switched to when my kid was 6 weeks plus, because she was not sucking enough, and was not gaining weight, and her jaundice was not going.

    But adding formula took stress off me, and breastfeeding her allowed me to stay connected with me. My supply stayed well till she was 11 months, when I weaned her completely because she was biting me like nuts.

  41. Yael September 16, 2013 at 15:17 #

    I’m sorry you are struggling so much. If you can make it to 6 weeks, it does start getting really good, but admittedly I didn’t have the issues you are having. There are some major pluses for the formula mommies – I’m still tied to my babe at 8 months, he’s crazy attached to me, and won’t take a bottle. He also wakes up at night and I’m the only one who can feed him.

  42. psychsarah September 16, 2013 at 16:19 #

    It’s so hard to walk the line between encouraging and preaching in comments… I want to affirm and encourage your efforts, and let you know that I did the same thing for about a week (feed, pump, feed the pumped milk etc.) and it felt like pure hell. I never would have gotten through it if it hadn’t been for DH being with us. I have never felt so helpless and useless in all my life. When I’d get barely 1/2 an ounce and then at least half of that got “lost” between the tubing (supplemental nursing system) and my son’s mouth I would just weep. Though it did get MUCH better after that. The first 6 weeks of having a newborn are SO hard, then life slowly gets better and easier. My best friend had a 6 month old when my son was born and she would repeatedly tell me, “it gets better” if I talked about troubles BF’g, sleep deprivation, worry etc. She was right. I guess I’m trying to walk the in-between line. If you have the energy to keep at it a little longer, do, as it will improve. If you are at your wit’s end, don’t sacrifice your health. All the best to you and the family. Thinking thoughts of strength, rest and peace for you all.

  43. Claudine September 16, 2013 at 16:33 #

    This sounds just like my first few weeks home (and from the looks above, many others have had similar issues). You have to do what is best for you. A happy mama is a happy baby. I was in your exact situation….anxiety, not able to take Xan.ax, etc. My doctor did put me back on my anti-anxiety meds that were safe when breastfeeding but I knew that they would take weeks to work, I couldn’t eat (and I LOVE to eat….I have never in my life NOT been able to get food down), I couldn’t sleep. Breastfeeding did work well for me…but I still had to supplement with formula and by 6 weeks, it was all formula. My daughter is a thriving almost three year old today.
    You really have to take care of what works for you, regardless of what that is. Your bunny needs you.
    This time will pass so quickly and you don’t want it to pass you by.
    It is the hormones and it will pass…I promise you it will but until it does, use formula, let Daddy feed her…do whatever it takes. The whole new motherhood thing is hard, especially for those of us who have had to work stupidly hard just to take a baby home.
    Hang in there Mama, it will get better.

  44. marwil September 16, 2013 at 16:34 #

    You have got such good advice here. I know nothing about these things but apprecate your honesty and writing openly about it. There is no right or wrong here, a sane mama and a happy and well-fed Bunny is what’s most important, no matter how it happen.

  45. fromheretomotherhood September 16, 2013 at 18:05 #

    I really want to be able to breastfeed too, but I think there is so much pressure on moms to do so and with raging hormones, your history of anxiety, and milk supply issues, I can understand how it would be too much. I think that only you can decide what’s best for you and Bunny, but I wouldn’t judge you one bit if you switch to formula after having given it a good try. I think your sanity is extremely important for both you and Bunny, so if getting on the right meds and feeling reassured that she’s getting enough food will help, so be it. Also, as you said, many people are raised on formula for one reason or another and turn out perfectly healthy. If you’re feeling better in general, that will also help the bonding process so even though you wouldn’t have the exact same bonding experience as breastfeeding, the end result might be a stronger, happier bond for both of you given the circumstances. Good luck with whatever you decide and please allow yourself to be ok with your decision. There is so much mommy-guilt around and as long as you’re trying to do what’s best for your daughter (which includes taking care of yourself) and your actions come from a place of love, I think you’re doing a wonderful job!

  46. katerina September 16, 2013 at 20:08 #

    Hi Mo,
    ive already commented on this one but i just wanted to second what someone else said. after the first month or so of figuring it out, breastfeeding was very therapeutic and relaxing for me. It really was a joy once we both got into the rhythm of things. The first three weeks are the hardest. For me, the physical pain of breastfeeding during letdown was almost as bad as labour (and i had an unmedicated birth) but also questioning my ability to provide adequate nourishment for my baby was very stressful. I would say there were 3 milestones for me- at 3 weeks the stabbing pains started to subside; at 6 weeks the pain completely subsided, and at 12 weeks, it was second nature to both of us.
    Please dont make any rash decisions when you are so anxious and sleep deprived. Once you make the decision to wean, there’s no going back (without great difficulty) but you can always do both until you can assess things with a clear mind. I know ive already mentioned this but the medela supplemental nursing system is such a godsend for preventing nipple confusion
    http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/52/starter-supplemental-nursing-system-sns
    i found nursing to be a very lonely experience in the beginning, with both of my children. no one ever talks about that. i dreaded going to sleep, not knowing how many minutes of sleep i would get before they were awake again and i was up at all hours alone. it gets better, i promise, especially if you are lucky enough to get a sleeper.

  47. pjsarecomfyn September 16, 2013 at 23:05 #

    I remember the first few weeks being quite a struggle to get bfing going. I was constantly worried if Jack was eating enough and I was either pumping or feeding him every hour and a half to get things going and him gaining weight. So in part I know where you are at and how you feel. And here’s the deal – for us it got better. My supply increased (not without plenty of stressing about it and supplements (I took mother’s milk plus)) and latching got better (i.e. it stopped feeling like someone was cutting my nipple off with a dull rusty exacto knife). For me it was just a matter of getting over the hurdle.

    That being said – there is nothing wrong with going to formula. My situation was completely different than yours. My mental state/anxiety levels were at different levels and the only person who can make the call is you. You’re totally right though, Bunny is going to turn out just fine no matter which way you go. I’d say if moving to formula and tapering off breastmilk is going to make your life better and your time with her more enjoyable than do it!

    I am proud of you for giving it a real go!

  48. l September 16, 2013 at 23:24 #

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! breast milk for over a week. Terrific for Bunny and for you.
    Know you will make your correct decision come Wednesday…… but what you have done already, with lots of tough stuff ongoing….. WELL! CONGRATULATIONS ! Good job and well done MOM and Dad!

  49. mrs. brightside September 17, 2013 at 05:26 #

    First off, congrats on your beautiful daughter, dear Mo. I shed tears of joy and relief when I saw the news. You did it, mama, and she is here, safe and sound. But then it gets hard, right, just when you think it should be all sunshine and lollipops? I related to SO MUCH in this post, and I’m so sorry it has been a scary and challenging first week. I can say with confidence that it WILL get better – your confidence will grow, she will grow to be less tiny and fragile, and somehow you start to see light again. I think that whatever decision you make on BF/formula will be the right one, and only you can make it. Know that, in case I don’t explain myself very well (brain no work so good) but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps you. I felt like that when breastfeeding brought on some challenges, all I heard was “well, just give him formula.” It felt like a convenient solution that benefitted the people around me, but not my baby, and not even me. It was like the equivalent of “just relax” or something. Which in this weird way made me stubbornly dig in my heels to make a go at it. I didn’t like it not being on MY terms, the decision to breastfeed or not. I was totally paranoid about low supply, and in hindsight I realize that EVERYONE has low supply at the beginning. Your body needs a chance to catch up, and if you keep stimulating it with “demand” the milk will likely come. Buddy was slow to gain weight, was a super slow sleepy eater, I kept getting blocked milk ducts, I would pump almost nothing. Every night he would fuss and my mom and husband would say “he must be hungry, give him some formula” which my sleep-deprived hormonal brain would translate into “you are failing your son so let us fix him.” I saw the spiral of supplementing, and one day just decided, No, me and buddy are going to work through this, no more bottles. And we did it. I’ve been able to exclusively BF, aside from supplementing on days I’m at work and when just plain more convenient to give a bottle.

    Breastfeeding has been one of the best, but also one of the toughest, aspects of being a new mom. There are definite upsides and downsides to whichever decision you make. Go with your heart or your gut or whatever just feels right, and Bunny will be better for it. I just encourage you to figure out what YOU want to do, without feeling like your body or others have already made this decision for you. Hugs to you, Mo!! Even on the toughest days, you will get surges of joy like you will not believe, just looking at this precious girl!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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