One Mom, Three Babies, Three Different Stories
Being blessed with caring for an infant is a beautiful, messy, wonderful, challenging, and overall amazing experience. There is so much to learn about caring for someone else, this new life that relies on you for everything he or she needs. Providing for that sweet precious, innocent, sweet baby in your arms is so humbling.
There are many different viewpoints on the ways we should raise our babies: co-sleep vs. crib-sleep, rock to sleep vs. put to bed awake, babywear vs. strollers/bouncers/etc.
We all have opinions and though our opinions may be great for some, we must remember that every family and every baby is different.
One of the many topics that hits close to home for this mama is formula vs. breastfeeding. This is because it is NOT always that simple.
I had my first daughter at 19 years old. She was a whopping 7 lb. 6 oz baby at birth.
I was never around anyone who breastfed and was not familiar with it. No one had educated me on it and no one had even asked me what I was going to do until the hospital. Baby bottles were on my baby shower list and after I had her the nurse asked me if I wanted to try breastfeeding; I said no and that I wanted my baby to have soy formula. No one said anything else. I CHOSE not to breastfeed my baby. I made the choice because I was uncomfortable with breastfeeding. I was unfamiliar with it. I was insecure about it. I made the choice because I felt it was best for my daughter—just like any other mom would do—and I didn’t think twice about it.
I rocked my baby, I fed her, I changed her diapers, I took care of her every need because that is what moms do.
When my second daughter was born I CHOSE to breastfeed. I breastfed her a whole 23 months, at which point she weaned herself. It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was not challenging.
And again, I rocked my baby. I fed her. I changed her diapers. And I took care of her every need because that is what moms do.
Then a couple years later, I became pregnant with my third daughter. I was ecstatic! I did even more research and knew that I was going to CHOOSE to breastfeed again.
My beautiful baby girl was born and latched immediately after birth. She was a fussy baby and didn’t really seem content. She was nursing constantly, and we were both exhausted. A nurse came to our home to see how she was doing at her one-week appointment. Everything was fantastic…and then it wasn’t.
My baby lost over a pound. I was in shock. How could she have lost weight when all she ever seemed to do was nurse? She was not strong enough to get the milk out. So, I began pumping more and giving her what was pumped through a syringe while nursing. She still was not content, and she was not gaining as quickly as we had hoped.
We met with 2 lactation consultants and nurses and doctors and finally came to terms with the fact that we needed to do something different because no matter what we tried or was suggested, I didn’t have a choice anymore: I had to give her formula.
When we gave her formula, she was quiet. She was full. She was content. She was happy. And though I was grateful, I was heartbroken. I, by myself, could not breastfeed her—even though “our bodies are made to do this.” I cried almost every time I nursed her. At this point, I was nursing, pumping, and giving formula. That is all I did. I felt as though I never had a break. I barely spent time with my older two.
Then, to add to these emotionally and physically draining few weeks, I had a hormonal issue come about and needed to begin taking estrogen. With this, my milk supply dropped drastically. Every time I tried to nurse my daughter she cried and at that point I decided to quit. I wrote myself a letter and hung it on the mirror reminding myself that I was brave and that I was doing what was best for my baby.
I had not breastfed her in a few days. I was a little engorged, but not bad. Little one was extremely fussy one evening. My husband and I tried multiple things to calm her down and nothing was working. My intuition told me that I should try to breastfeed her as that is what worked with my second child, but my brain said, “That isn’t what she wants. It doesn’t work”.
Then, after a few more minutes of thought and a crying baby, I took her into her room and sat in the rocking chair. I softly sang to her and attempted to nurse her. She latched on and completely calmed down. I cried. She needed me. She needed to comfort nurse.
Now here we are 10 months later, still formula feeding and still nursing. I know that she still gets a small amount of milk from me and she doesn’t usually nurse for very long. Some nights, especially while teething, we nurse all night.
Every baby is different, and everybody is different. Sometimes things do not go as planned and that is OKAY.
MY baby needs the formula for food and she needs to nurse for comfort. Both of which I am blessed to be able to give her.