Throughout my pregnancy with Hudson, many women would ask if I planned to breastfeed. I’m not exactly sure why that is a common topic for small talk (I’d rather talk about the weather, to be honest), but it was a common question. And I always told the women who asked that I planned to try to breastfeed.
Hudson took to it like a champ. But he was a hungry little booger and weighed almost 10 pounds at birth, and I couldn’t keep up with his demands. He lost a good bit of weight before we left the hospital. His bilirubin levels were elevated and he had to have some phototherapy at home. We had weight checks daily for the first three weeks of his life, until he finally got back to his birth weight.
After countless visits with the lactation consultant, it was determined that we had to supplement with formula for Hudson’s sake. So we did. And he started gaining weight again. I did the nursing/supplementing combination for six weeks before we went straight to formula because I stopped producing milk completely.
When Hayes was born, I was even more determined to make breastfeeding work. I’m not sure why I set myself up for it again, but we experienced the exact same thing: a large baby who lost a lot of weight because I couldn’t make enough milk for him.
When the nurse at the hospital told me that Hayes really needed to get some formula before he lost any more weight, I fell apart in the middle of the hospital hallway. I had just gone on my “mandatory lap” around the hall as part of my c-section recovery. I was tired. I was stressed because I knew that nursing wasn’t going all that well with Hayes. And I knew that my milk hadn’t come in yet and I had a very hungry baby who, in my mind, was being starved by his mother!
By the time my milk came in, things changed a little bit. I was making enough for him, but Hayes was a “lazy eater” and wasn’t doing the work to get the milk. I started pumping so I could give him a bottle and he’d stop falling asleep during feedings. This time I was only able to do the pumping/bottle feeding/supplementing combination for three weeks before the demands of all of it caught up with me.
I know now that I was being too hard on myself. But isn’t so much of motherhood filled with moments where we’re too hard on ourselves? Both of my boys are healthy and I only occasionally get sad that breastfeeding didn’t work out with them. But I am so thankful that formula was an option. They’re growing, they’re strong, and I think they’re pretty wonderful!
Finding my way to figuring out what was going to work for my kids, keep them happy, and keep their bellies full took a while. But we did find a solution that worked for us. What surprises did you face when feeding your baby? Did nursing come easily for you? Did you struggle with the decision to use formula?
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