Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Trouble with Nursing

Let's just say it isn't going well. I can make up excuses (which I have done), I have beaten myself up thinking I am not adequate, and I have finally settled on this:
It doesn't matter if I nurse or not, what matters is that mommy and baby are both healthy and happy.

Obviously, I am still feeling some guilt over the subject, or else I wouldn't be writing about it looking for approval from all of my mommy friends.

Let me give you a little history. Before Connor was born, I went to a breastfeeding class and learned so much. I took to heart every single thing that the teacher instructed and when Connor was born, he latched on like a charm! He ate constantly, but that's what babies, do...right? He refused to take a bottle or a binky, so I was his only source of nutrition. But I loved nursing him. I didn't realize how demanding and time consuming it was. So I quit my job, quit teaching seminary and took a little hiatus from school.

The cute little guy plumped up so quickly and I couldn't have been happier with myself! At 6 months I had lost all of my baby weight...by 9 months I had lost an additional 10 pounds (I can't credit it all with nursing, I did change my exercising and eating habits).

I told my success story to a nursing coach and she had me speak at one of the classes. I told them all of the good stuff and how easy and naturally nursing came for both me and Connor. If only I could go back now! I have 3 completely different stories to tell.

With Abi, the nursing came along horribly. She never latched on right, so it was always painful. Then she was re-hospitalized and I had to bottle feed her. I did pump, however, my milk supply decreased. She was on a strict two-hour feeding regimen until her bili levels were normal and she had to have formula (it helped the levels to go down).

A few days after she was discharged, I met with a lactation consultant about the problems I was having with Abi not latching on correctly. She said that Abi would eventually learn, but in order to get her to latch on right, she had to be crying (that's the only time her mouth would open wide enough). It was too frustrating for me. I surrendered.

This time around, Carly has mastered the latching on. No pain! Yeah! I thought we were on a roll. That was until she started refusing my left breast. Now I get almost no milk from my left breast. I have tried pumping...but with a toddler and an almost 3 year old running around, I don't exactly have the time to sit there and pump that often.

For the last three nights in a row, Carly wakes for a feeding at midnight and latches on fine and eats well. 3 am she wakes and refuses to latch on at all. She cries and cries and I cry and cry and keep trying to get her to latch on. In exhaustion I give her a bottle and she settles down (she doesn't go back to sleep though...that takes some more work). She nurses the right side fine during the day, but after each feeding I have to give her at least 4 ounces of formula.

I have even pumped my own milk before bed and tried to give it to her in the middle of the night, and she refused that. I thought it might have been something I ate, but I hadn't had onions or broccoli or caffeine or milk (yes, I did have chocolate...but there are some things I will NOT give up).

I'm ready to give up, again. I am no longer a poster-child for nursing. If I could, I would re-do that class and tell the mommies that nursing is amazing. Definitely give it a try. But when it starts causing you to doubt your abilities as a mom and you and your baby aren't happy...try a different approach.

I suppose I will have to drop the baby weight the old fashioned way. Jogging and eating right. Yuck. But I can't live with these thunder thighs and humongo hips (do they spread further with each child?) for the rest of my life.

There...the whining is over.


Live everyday to its fullest said...

OH Mel, quit being so hard on yourself! If you cant do it, you cant!!! If it is making you and Carly miserable STOP!!!! Honestly Mel if you have given it your all and it isnt working STOP! You'll be able to get her on a better schedual too cuz bottles fill them up better! Mel I support you no matter what...YOu are a good mom and breastfeeding isnt a necessity!

angie said...

I agree 100%. Carly will be fine if you switch to formula. You are such a good mommy Mel. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed does NOT determine that!!!!

Shay said...

Good for you to do what is best for you and Carly...I'm so glad you had a success story though. Breastfeeding is the hardest thing for me...I am in so much pain, anxious and miserable. I yearn for a successful breastfeeding story. Both my boys have been bottle fed and they are healthy and happy. I did take up running when my baby was 4 months old and the weight will come off. You are an amazing mom!

Ethan's Mom said...

Totally agree with everyone else. Ethan nursed great, but I had to give it up after a few months because my body decided that making milk was more important than making sure I was keeping the nutrients I needed. So Ethan was doing great, but I wasn't. This time, I fully intend to give it a try, but if it's a problem, totally switch to bottles. It's not worth being miserable. Especially if you did manage to nurse for a little while to pass on some of the initial immunity. After that, a bottle is just as good.

Cassi said...

Congrats on your cute little addition. She is a doll. I am so sorry about the horrible nursing drama. I had a "Connor" experience with Cameron and thought, "who wouldn't nurse". Then came Josh and we struggled from the beginning. He was such a content baby until I tried to feed him and he'd just scream. Finally I found out I have an overactive milk letdown and he just couldn't handle it. We pushed through until 5 months and then he started biting me with his teeth and refused to nurse. Anyway sorry for the long story....But I felt so guilty and didn't want to quite but he has been on a bottle for 4 months now and he's doing great--and smart too. Anyway good luck. If you ever need to vent some more I'd love to listen. It is SO stressful!

Emilee said...

I think that each child is so different! You do what's best for you & your sweetie! I'm sold on nursing, too but Caitlyn wasn't as much. She QUIT on her own at 7 months & there are definitely some EASY elements to formula feeding. (Sans the expense of course!)

Mel said...


Heather said...

Hey Mel! Sorry to hear, I know you're disappointed, but like everyone else has said, Carly will be just fine, and eventually you will lose the weight, just like you did with the Abi weight. I don't know about the hips getting wider every time (chuckle chuckle) but I'll let you know when I've had #2 and #3. :)
love ya.

Steve, Ashley and Kalli said...

Thunder-thighs... my foot. So- my two cents on nursing- I had to quit earlier than I planned also. I also remember feeling so guilty about it. Isn't parenting full of guilt already? Don't let something as simple as nursing let you feel that way. You are a wonderful mom and nursing from one side, or strictly bottlefeeding can never take away from that.

Also- the weight will still come off your tiny little frame. Remember you're not alone in this quest!!