Hi, my name is Morgan and I blog over at Pampers & Pearls. I come from a breast family. No, not large chested women, but women who all exclusively breastfed. My mother breastfed my brother and I through the first year, my sister in law breastfed all my nieces and nephew through the first year, and even my mother-in-law breastfed my husband and his siblings until they were drinking out of a cup. Bottles just weren’t a thing in my family, and I assumed that I would breastfeed exclusively as well. Well you know what they say about assuming!
I gave birth to my son Wakeland on February 17, 2013. My labor was long, and just straight up sucked! Wake was occiput posterior, meaning the back of his skull was laying on the the back of my pelvis. He was head down...just not right side down. So every time I had a contraction his skull would push on my sacrum and send a shooting pain up my spine. It was terrible. Needless to say I got my epidural when I was 3cm. Other than that his birth was fine and he was perfectly healthy; 7lbs, 7oz, 21.5 inches long. Yes...very long. Now I know why I couldn’t sit towards the end of my pregnancy, his legs were legitimately up under my ribs. He was our little string-bean but latched on to the breast like a champ!!
We packed him up after only 24 hours at the hospital and headed home. We were first time parents so everything was new to us. We just went with the flow whenever he seemed to need something. He ate for 45 minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours; this was “normal” for us. Looking back on it I now know why I was so exhausted; that schedule is ridiculous! For example, Wake would eat from 10 - 10:45pm, go to bed, and then be back up between midnight - 1am to eat again. This was giving both of us only 2 hour periods of sleep at a time. Then one day when he was about 2 weeks old, I sat on the couch and fed him for 2 hours straight. He took a 45 min nap and woke up hungry again! Everything was now going in reverse in an even worse direction! I was losing it! I called my pediatrician, mother in law, sister in law, etc... asking for help. They all gave me different advice; he’s just using me as a pacifier, my milk isn’t fatty/filling enough, I’m not making enough, and so on and so forth. So the first step was to try and increase/ fatten up my milk. I ate everything that I read/heard could do this; spoonfuls of coconut oil (BARF), peanut/almond butter, avocado, cheese, etc... I drank tons of water and an occasional dark beer. I tried it all...and nothing was making a difference.
Finally at Wake’s 2 month appointment I told my pediatrician that something had to give. I was defeated and desperate. I don’t even want to tell you what my nipples felt/looked like. Wake was completely perfect and healthy so the pediatrician simply “diagnosed” him as a very hungry baby and said I would need to start supplementing with formula. It was suggested that I feed him on each breast for 15 mins at a time (total of 30) every 3 hours, and if he still seemed hungry, offer him 1-2 oz. of formula. Well, Wake was ALWAYS still hungry and he always took the extra formula.
Now I’m not an OCD person. The only thing on my birth plan was NO MIRRORS, I did not need to see my va-jay-jay in that state, gracias! Otherwise I went into my pregnancy and labor with zero pre-conceived notions or expectations. I was 100% confidant that between the doctors, my husband, and myself that we would all work together to make the right decisions for my baby as things progressed. However, the one thing I had planned on, not thinking it would be an issue, was breastfeeding. And here I was unable to keep up with my baby’s demands. I was sad. I felt like I had fail6y`1ed him as a mommy. However, as much as I vacillated about giving him formula (I hated the thought of pumping him with unnatural, manufactured stuff) he was finally full and satisfied. He was eating larger quantities of food over a shorter period of time which allowed both of us a little bit more sleep and peace.
As time went on Wake took the breast less and the bottle more. The bottle was easier; he didn’t have to work hard at sucking and the formula filled him up more too. By the time he was 6 months old I was completely dried up. It was bittersweet. I was sad to not have that intimate moment of cradling, connecting and providing for him, but now his eating was more independent which gave everyone in the family the opportunity to feed him.
Now I was really lucky when it came to work. I was a teacher, so with my maternity leave and having Wake in February I didn’t have to return to school until the very last week for finals. With this little bit of luck in timing we didn’t have to put him in daycare, and I was able (albeit very time consuming and painstakingly) to pump enough milk to get him through the week while I was back at work. I was also able to pump in my (empty and locked) classroom during my planning period and lunch break which kept my milk flowing. Then it was summer and I was right back on schedule with my little nugget. BUT with how much Wake was progressing away from the boob at the time I can only assume that we would not have even made it to the 6 month mark at all had I had to go back to work permanently right after maternity leave.
Looking back on it, I did not really have a difficult time. However everything was strange and new and difficult to process when you have a specific idea of how you want to raise your child. I had this vision of effortlessly breastfeeding Wake like Giselle (that bitch) until he was over a year. I’d never heard of anyone else experiencing something like this before. But once I started talking about it, and asking questions, so many people told me they had the exact same thing happen with their babies. I had always only ever thought people exclusively breastfed or formula fed, but apparently supplementing very hungry little ones is very common. I wish I had known all of this beforehand because I think it would have saved the whole family a lot of stress. But you live and you learn and love your nugget no matter what.
Wake is now 18 months old and is healthy and contagiously happy. He is still off the chart in height and eating like he’s going to the “chair.” It’s just who he is; Stretch Armstrong with a Buddha belly and I wouldn’t change a thing!!
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