Saturday, August 3, 2013

Breastfeeding vs Formula

Are you a mom? Have you tried to breastfeed and either had a rough time at it or had amazing success? Have you struggled and given up, or told to supplement with formula? Or did you just simply give your little one formula? If you said yes to any of those questions then your raising a child, and your doing a great job!

I am writing this post simply because now I have successfully done both! I have formula fed my first son, and now I am successfully breastfeeding my second son! I had struggles with my first child, Brian. He never latched correctly, he was never full or satisfied, and he cried all day and night! I am serious, when he ate he would eat for hours. He never wanted to stop eating and when he was done eating he would close his eyes and sleep for at most ten minutes. Then he would wake up screaming.

When I got pregnant with Brian I had this picture perfect natural birth planned out on paper and in my head. I had this entirely peaceful calming life of breastfeeding and bonding with my little baby. (At the time I did not know if I was having a girl or a boy, we waited until we delivered to find out). When I was 39 weeks pregnant with my son I started having contractions. Over night they became VERY regular and very uncomfortable, they were also ALL back contractions. Back contractions are extremely painful, and I was having only those and none in the front. We went to the hospital on Monday, I was not admitted because I was only 1cm. We went again on Tuesday, again I was not admitted because I was only 2cm. We went again on Wednesday and again I was not admitted because I was 3cm... Finally we went in on Thursday and I was of course checked and was only 4cm. This hospital was on a military base, and because it was a high impacted hospital they required you to be 5cm in order to be admitted.

39 Weeks Old
 Now, I had been there everyday for the last 4 days, and of course almost EVERY nurse, and doctor knew exactly who we were. So it was a shock when the nurse came back into my room to tell me that they were going to send me home. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes, looked back at the nurse (and remembered what one of my friends has told me), and I simply said "if you send me home I WILL take this kid out by myself!" She said she would be back in a few minutes. She returned with some pain medicine to help me dilate. After an hour, she returned and shockingly I was 6 cm! Yes thats all I needed was some help! I then got a room and got an epidural immediately!

Ok so here I was 5 days of labor, with all back contractions and I was already veering away from my ALL natural birth plan. Guess that didn't work out. I wanted so badly to stay away from any other meds, but when I got stuck at 8cm I was placed on pitocin. Yep, yet another med. Oh well, I still could have that bonding and breastfeeding peaceful life I pictured in my head. Right?

WRONG!!! I was so wrong! When we got home, like I said before my son wouldn't latch well, he struggled to get full, and I was so depressed. A week went by and I started to have back pain, and could barely pick up my son. I had such a hard time finding those few peaceful, beautiful moments I dreamed of. My son eventually got the nickname MONSTER, and it was from all the screaming and fussing that he did. Eventually we went to his pediatrician because I wasn't getting any help from anyone and we called his pediatrician to see if something was wrong with him. In the end, our son was perfectly fine, he just wasn't gaining any weight and was still under his birth weight. So, she simply said go buy a can of formula and breast feed him, then if hes still upset offer him a bottle.

Fast forward a week and now my son was only wanting the bottle and his time feeding from me was getting shorter and shorter. I then stopped giving him the breast when we struggled to get him latched. I then pumped for a week and about the end of the week I started to dry up. I was devastated, but all of a sudden I was feeling this bonding that everyone said you wouldn't have with a bottle fed baby. I was enjoying every minute with him and my son and I were getting a long so well. He wasn't screaming after feedings, he wasn't hungry all the time, and he was sleeping long periods like a normal baby does! I was extremely excited when he started to sleep 8 hours at a time at night. He even started sleeping in his own crib in his own room around 2 months. I was a happy mommy and so was my son! He was laughing and smiling, and still to this day he is a very happy kid!

I look back at the situation and I was proud we decided to bottle feed him because the formula filled him up, which was something I couldn't offer him. I was a happier mom, I got sleep and so did my husband. In the end we were better parents because of it. I know theres people out there that will criticize me for formula feeding, but I truly am a better mom because of it. I was sleep deprived and angry when I was breastfeeding him, after formula we were both happier and calmer! Not to mention the hubby got to help out... A LOT!

Fast forward several months and now it was time for round two. I again wanted to do as natural as I could; however, I was a gestational diabetes patient, so I knew being induced was a possibility. When 39 weeks arrived and I still hadn't gone into labor, I opted to be induced. My birth story with my second son can be found over here. An overview is; I was induced and our second son was born with some pain meds, as the induction went slow in the beginning but sped up pretty fast at the end. When he was born I again imagined this calming peaceful breastfeeding and bonding life I didn't have with my first son.

When we left the hospital, I was sure this time would be different. I was determined, and I just had this aggressive emotional want to breast feed. I also had a HUGE support system built up; from a group in the area, friends online, and family members who had breastfed. I just knew I was going to do this this time around. I struggled in the beginning and I had several moments of weakness. I even broke down several times after HOURS of cluster feeding and gave him a bottle. It wasn't perfect like all the pictures and articles paint out, but we were doing it, and we were doing it together. I saw an LC and felt empowered to keep going.

A few days later when my husband was going back to work, and I was home alone with two kids by myself and getting absolutely no sleep. I remember my husband came home from work, and I cried, and cried, and cried. I finally said to him, "I am done. I can't do this. I am getting no sleep, and then I have to be up with both of our sons in the morning and I have to feed and clean and change and everything else, and it was just too much". I remember while my husband walked away I broke down so hard, just crying my eyes out. I could barely breath I was crying so hard. I had done it again. I had lost the will and was going to formula feed another child. I felt like I was letting everyone of my supporters down. I felt like everyone I had leaned on for advice and help was going to just roll their eyes at me and say behind my back how horrible of a mother I was. I went to bed that night, looking forward to my sons pediatric appointment the next morning to discuss formula options.

We got up early and went to his appointment. I was heart broken when the doctor said he was really under weight, and should not be that low at this time. Just adding fuel to the fire, and my pain of struggling to do what was "healthier" for my child. The doctor did all his exams and then looked at me and said would you want to talk to our LC here, shes really great and has had a lot of success. I jumped at the chance!

I recall sitting in her office and listening to EVERY word she said. I asked questions and I was filled with so much joy. My son ate great at that session, and I remember her saying hes eating about 2-3oz! He's doing great! I felt wonderful, and I felt so excited to go home and keep pushing through since that feeding was so perfect. When we got home the feedings went a hundred times better, but he still was fussy here and there and he was still struggling to keep the milk down.

We went back a week later (he was now 3 weeks old) and he had a weight check to make sure he was back on track or still under weight. To my shock he was now back up to his birth weight and 2 oz over! I was ecstatic! I saw the LC again and we discussed even more. This time my little guy showed her how much he spits up and she concluded thats why he was getting sooo fussy after his feedings. He was prescribed some meds to help with the spiting up and I was off to take all the knowledge she was giving me and apply it again to our feedings.

Once again, I felt this push to just keep on going. We were at a month! I had made it to a month! Thats about 2 weeks more then my first son. Today I am 5 weeks and a few days into breastfeeding. I am not sitting here saying its the best thing ever, and you should do it, as its the only thing for your child. No, thats not me. I am simply here to say, after this long I thought I would feel that bonding everyone talks about. I was wondering when the long nights of sleep would kick in, and I am still sitting here struggling to figure out why hes still spitting up, a lot.

Breast feeding is not perfect, and its not for everyone. Its really not for me, but I have such support I am just trying to keep on going as long as I can. I miss my long nights of sleep, I do NOT feel a connection with my son (yet), and I some times feel this anger towards my husband because he doesn't have to feel this pain and discomfort. I want to at least make it another month, but I am not sure if I will. I seriously don't feel like its everything everyone makes it out to be. I praise the amazing moms who do this for a year. I praise the moms who breast feed for two, three and even FOUR years! They have strength that I will NEVER have. I know I am a strong person, but I am a strong person in a very different way.

Double duty!

I plan to update everyone as I continue this journey of breastfeeding and I hope I can make it to two months, but I am proud of myself for making it one month! I am not going to lie to anyone reading this and say its an amazing feeling and a wonderful bonding period, nope, not me. It hasn't happened, and I am not sure it will, but I am glad I am not buying a ton of very expensive formula and I am glad to be helping my husband out with the bills (because of the money were saving from not having to buy formula). Each day has a new challenge and each week I try to conquer and then push to the next.

If you plan to have a natural birth or breast feed, just know that not everything is perfect. Know that having a plan is great, but that life has ups and downs and challenges along the way and that it is OK to veer away from your plan. If you do, NO one will (or at least they shouldn't) judge you and if they do they shouldn't be apart of your friend, or support group. You are a strong person for just the simple task of making a human being within your body! That alone is an amazing thing!

So I leave you with this: I have breastfed and I have formula fed. One has pros and cons and so does the other. When its your choice, always go with the one that has more pros for YOUR lifestyle, not your friends, or your families. Remind yourself each day that this is for YOUR family and no one elses. At the end of the day I want to look back at what I have done and be happy. I want to know I did everything I feel I could, up to this day. Thats all we can do as moms. So, go ahead and make that plan for an all natural birth and breastfeeding but remember that its ok to get that epidural if your in that excruciating pain, and its ok to give your baby a bottle if your just need a break and a few hours of sleep. Its not going to hurt you or your child!

Good luck and congrats to all you new moms or moms to be,

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