This post is about breastfeeding. And how I suck at it. Well at least that’s how the Committee of Assholes talks to me.
We’ve had a rough go from the start. I didn’t have Max with me for very long when he was first born and then I could’t go see him in the nursery for about 12 hours as I recovered from the forced delivery of the stickiest placenta known to womankind. By the time I got to him, he was on formula for his low blood sugar and had a soother stuck in his mouth. I started breastfeeding him right away but only a few hours later, he was diagnosed with bad jaundice and had to go in the tanning booth. He continued to need the soother since he was in there unless he was eating and being changed. And he had to keep drinking formula to flush the bilirubin out.
We saw the hospital LC the day after we were released and had to come back for the bilirubin test. She told me then to ditch the bottle if I wanted to EBF because in a short time, he would reject the breast. Enter the feeding tube (a.k.a. the thing that made me nearly lose my marbles). The feeding tube was placed in a bottle of formula which I would stuff into my bra strap for holding. Then I would fight with the little tube to get it perfectly in place so Max could suck and still be at the breast. It was a bloody fucking nightmare. Ideally you are supposed to tape it to your breast but that never worked for me. So I was constantly readjusting the tube because it would move… or Max would get the tube wrapped around his hand an pull it out. Feedings were taking up to an hour or more sometimes.
We continued to see an LC through our family doctor pretty much every week after his one week check up. I was taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. And after 2 or 3 weeks I got put on Domperidone. And now I’m on the highest dose at 4x10mg, 4 times/day. My supply is still crap. When I pump without a feed — that’s right — we also have a rented hospital grade pump and I’ve been pumping after feeds to try to increase supply. Got that puppy the day after our release from hospital too. So when I pump without a feed, I’m getting about 2-3 oz.
Just after 5 weeks, we got the okay to ditch the feeding tube and switch to a bottle. Sanity restored instantly!! We bought a special Medela bottle that has very slow flow and reduces nipple confusion/drinking too fast. All this time, Max was not gaining weight like he was supposed to. Hence the continued visits to the LC for weight checks. We were giving him bottles at every other feed in addition to breastmilk. While he was peeing and pooping fine and did not seem dehydrated, he just wasn’t gaining. We went up to formula at every feed and that’s when he started to gain.
Probably in the last couple of weeks, he began pulling off the breast. We attributed this to slow flow. I don’t know if this is truly the case or if it was nipple confusion, because I think he started it after the switch from the the tube. Over the weekend, he flat out refused to nurse. Screamed blue murder at the breast.. and then happily gulped back 5oz of formula from a bottle when offered. When this happened a couple more times, I just gave up. It’s torture to offer my breast and have him be so unhappy. I’m pretty sure feeding your baby shouldn’t feel like child abuse.
So I think I’m done. And I feel like a failure. Logically, I know that he’ll be just fine on formula. We’re both happier — well, he’s happier, I’m less stressed. But it brings up so many old feelings. I can’t make a baby, I can’t keep a baby living and I can’t breastfeed. I am less than. Funny how this experience can negate that fact that I grew a perfectly healthy, full-term, ginormous baby boy that I delivered without any drugs. All the confidence and good feelings washed away but the immense guilt of faulty boobs. So much anger at a body that’s failing me once again. So much wondering if things could have been different “if only”. Such a feeling of loss of another experience taken away from me.
I posted my defeat on Facebook and was shocked by the support and all the people who either commented or messaged me to say that I wasn’t alone. So many people struggled to breastfeed and ultimately switched to formula. Why the hell does nobody talk about it?! It’s almost as taboo as infertility and loss for crying out loud! So much guilt out there for those can’t or don’t want to breastfeed… when there’s a whole club of us!
Max will still breastfeed at his early morning feed — because he’s too dopey to protest and because my boobs are full of milk. Although this morning, the little dude slept extra long and needed a bottle too before he was happy to go back to sleep. I guess we’ll continue on like that as long as he will. And I’m still pumping when I can. Two pumping sessions gets me enough for one feed. I’ll do this for as long as I can and for as long as it’s worthwhile. I can’t say I’ll keep it up if my supply starts to dwindle. I booked an appointment to meet with the LC tomorrow — even though we were “dismissed” last Friday due to the good weight gain. There’s a big piece of me that is relieved to formula feed — so much easier and less stressful. But there’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to “give up” — and she needs to make sure that there is nothing else she can do. C asks me what I was hoping to get the LC to “fix” — and I don’t know. What I really want is to be able to breastfeed my child with ease to his satisfaction. But I don’t think that’s ever going to be possible. I have to make sure. I don’t want to have any regrets — because there have been so many regrets along this “journey” to Max.