Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.
Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.
This evening, FFF Lisa shares her story of how she fed her two babies. I love how her narrative shows just how different every experience can be – even within the same family. Lisa always offers such lovely support for everyone’s journey, and I hope we can all return the favor!
Happy Friday, fearless ones…
I’d like to share my two stories at breastfeeding. I have 2 wonderful sons who are now 3.5 years old and 20 months old. They are wonderful, and they were both formula feed.
My lovely little boy #1 was born at 41 weeks after induction at the grand weight of 6lbs 14oz, coming in under the 10th percentile. The reason I mention this is that because he was under the 10th percentile, he had to have his blood sugar level every 3 hours for the first 24 hours of his brand new life.
I was able to get him onto the breast fairly quickly after birth, we were getting things going, it wasn’t easy, but we were doing ok. So the little guy was getting his blood sugar tested every 3 hours, basically using a diabetic monitor. If he didn’t score a certain number the lab had to come in and take a vial of blood and use a more sensitive meter. This happened twice. The first time the nurse called the lab, and my baby boy cried while we were waiting. He was hungry, so I fed him.
The lab came just a few minutes later and said that was wonderful, they’d be able to take the blood while he was distracted and it wasn’t a problem. The nurse came back and yelled at me because feeding him would affect the results. She hadn’t told me NOT to feed him, and my baby cried, so I fed him. Luckily I was taken off this nurse’s rotation and given another nurse. So later that night, when they had to come in again and poke my little guys foot yet ANOTHER time, the number was low again. This nurse didn’t want to have to call the lab (it was more invasive to take a vial of blood and his little heels were already purple grapes); she explained that the meter they use wasn’t as sensitive, so she asked me if she could give him a little bit of formula from a cup to get his blood sugar level up. I said yes. She gave him just a few drop and took his reading again, and it was fine. That was ALL the formula he got.
I went to the breastfeeding clinic in the hospital the next day because hey, I was there. Got some advice, fixed a few things, and was told I was doing great. So I was happy about that. Discharged, and home we went. Things were going well, until that first night home. I know that the first few nights are always the toughest, everyone is getting used to everything. Well my sweet baby boy decided that he was happiest sucking, so this little man nursed every 15 to 20 mins for 6 hours – yes 6 hours! That is beyond cluster feeding for sure! At that point I said the hubby go and sterilize a soother NOW. I was not going to be a human pacifier! So the first few days I don’t even remember. Then the pain of the nipples started; then my little guy decided he was going to become a “sipper”. He’d latch, suck a few times, swallow, let go, look around. Latch, suck a few times, swallow,let go, look around. And that’s how the feedings started to go. He’d take 45 mins to an hour just to eat. Then it seemed we’d start all over again.
After 2 weeks, I was SO tired, SO sore and hating EVERY minute of the whole feeding process. He’d wake to feed and I’d try anything else to comfort him and put it off. Then I tried pumping and using a bottle, but the little monkey did the same thing with the bottle (he went on to do this for his whole bottle feeding time; as he got older and could hold his soother, he’d drink a few sips spit the bottle out, put the soother in, take that out, take a few pulls and on and on). Well, I got fed up with that, I only had a single pump and I’d miss holding him and look at him and cry. I went back and forth and back and forth for a few more weeks. My husband trying to convince me to keep going. Then one night my sweet baby boy spit up (he was fond of that) and he spit up blood, my hubby freaked a little and I said oh, don’t worry – that’s from me. After that he said maybe switching was the way to go.
I really really really struggled with my decision to make the switch. There was really NO reason, but for the fact that I HATED nursing. HATED it, I couldn’t force my son to stay latched on because then we got into a power sturuggle and he’d just end up SCREAMING and it made it ALL worse. So I made the switch, I talked to my doctor and she said because he was so young that going cold turkey wouldn’t hurt him. So that’s what I did. Drying up hurt, but wasn’t too bad. But then I could enjoy him, I actually enjoyed him. I could sit and feed him a bottle and look into his little face and stroke his little cheek and LOVE the time spent with him. It was a turning point & I loved it. I felt much more connected to my son after that & I don’t regret it for a minute. Could I have continued, probably, but to what expense?
My lovely little boy #2: Ah – my boy! He was born at 39 weeks after induction at 6lbs 8oz, just making it over the 10th percentile so I didn’t have to go through the blood sugar tests! YEAH!! I had him on the breast minutes after birth, he was on and he was great. Him and I managed to establish a great nursing relationship right from the start. WOW, what an experience that was. He came home slightly jaundiced so had to nurse him every 2 to 3 hours, which was ok. This little guy would latch nurse away and be done. We managed this relationship for 3.5 months. Which was wonderful, we went to San Diego for a vacation when he was 3 months and if he got fussy, I’d just nurse him. It was great. At 3.5 months I got mastitis, very very badly. I was in pain, everytime my little one would latch on I would literally cry out in pain and it took all I could to not just rip him off again. So I pumped the affected side and tried to bottle feed him the breast milk. He was NOT having it, that was NOT how he got that & he wouldn’t take breast milk from a bottle and I tried every one I had in my house. So being desperate I mixed in a little formula to change up the taste. That did the trick. So for a few days that’s how we got by, I’d feed on the unaffected side every time that side came up, then pump and feed a mix of milk & formula on the affected side and do one or two feedings on that side a day to try and clear the blockage. We were successful, we managed to work through that, latching wasn’t so bad, I could tolerate it.
Then, the other pain started. I’d nurse on the affected side and for 2 to 3 hours after that the intense stabbing pain started. It was like someone was stabbing my breast with an ice pick, sometimes it wasn’t so bad, other times it was so bad I’d cry out, after that subsided, the dull ache started in. Then it would be time to nurse on that side again & it would start all over. I managed to deal (with the help of Tylenol & Advil) for a few days, but I knew drying up was easier than that, so I pumped a few more days & thought that he’d gotten a few extra months over his brother, his brother was perfectly fine, what was I doing to myself. I was EXHAUSTED, I hadn’t slept for days, it was time to make the change. So again I went cold turkey and he was great. He started sleeping through the night and just seemed a little fuller. This time though, I did feel a little guilty…I felt like I’d broken something that was so wonderful and amazing. Also, after nursing for so long, making the switch to bottles was a bit of struggle. I actually went out 2 or 3 times and forgot a bottle! I was so used to being able to just go I had to make that adjustment again.
So that is my story of my two attempts at nursing. If this helps anyone in their decision to nurse/formula feed/combo feed, or even provided some support, I am happy.
Share your story – send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org.