The Breastfeeding Diaries: Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason

September 17, 2014

Hi everyone! I'm Elizabeth. Wife to Seth. Mama to Mason. And blogger over at Chasin' Mason. I'm so excited to be here today sharing our breastfeeding experience! Though Mason is now two years old, I still remember our breastfeeding journey quite well.

I'm a planner. I like to have things organized and know what will happen when. So when I was pregnant, I got information on maternity leave and benefits and all that fun stuff way in advance (earlier than my HR department thought I needed it, but hey, I wanted to be prepared). When I was pregnant, before I even had Mason, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. And I also knew that I would need to go back to work when he was three months old, which would lead to pumping at work. I had a lot of anxiety about where I would pump once I went back to work. I work at a bookstore at a community college and there isn't a lot of privacy anywhere. You see, we have security cameras...everywhere. Well everywhere except for the bathroom and offices that have too many windows or no doors at all. Obviously I wasn't going to pump in the bathroom or in an office with no door. So, I started planning early. I contacted the Director of the Health Center and she so graciously offered to let me to come over to pump whenever I needed to. I had my plan in place. I thought I had all my ducks in a row... I had a pump, I had the parts and the bottles, I had the place, and I had a fridge to keep the milk in. I was set...or so I thought.


Then, July 18, 2012 happened and I became a mom! It was the most amazing experience I had ever had. (You can read his birth story here). I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed him right away and the hospital and the nurses were all about that. They immediately brought him over to me and we started feeding. He actually did quite well the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. I even thought "wow, this breastfeeding thing is going to be easy!". Ahh, naive first mom thoughts. Things were actually pretty good at the hospital, but, I think, mainly because there was always a nurse who could help me if I needed help.


We went home a couple days after Mason was born and I was on my own. I mean, my husband was there and he was so, so supportive, but, I mean, how much can he know  about how a boob or how breastfeeding work? I struggled with the right "hold" to hold Mason so he could latch on. I struggled with trying to get him to latch. And knowing if he was actually latched. I struggled with knowing if he was actually getting any milk. He would cry. I thought he was hungry. I would try to feed him more but, again, I had no idea if he was eating or getting enough. I asked for advice from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They suggested I supplement with some of the free samples of formula I had been sent in the mail. So I did. I also made an appointment with the lactation consultant at the hospital.

When Mason was born, he weighed 7lbs. 8oz. When we went to our appointment, he weighed 7lbs. 1oz. This was only a week-ish or two after he was born. Now I know it is normal for babies to lose weight, but that seemed awfully low to me. The lactation consultant even commented on it. She tried to help me get him to latch and even she had a hard time. We tried a nipple shield and that helped a little, but not too much. She had weighed Mason at the beginning of the appointment and again at the end of the appointment and determined that he had not gotten enough milk. We supplemented with formula. She suggested I take some vitamins (supplements? I think it's called Fenugreek?) to stimulate milk production as well as pumping. 

At first, I was devastated. I felt like a failure as a mom

Why can't I breastfeed my own son? Why am I not producing enough milk? Doesn't my body know I just had a baby and he needs milk? 

Society teaches you that moms breastfeed their babies - that mother's milk is best - and I couldn't provide that to my son. I was so upset. I had been a mom for a week and I had already failed my son. I went home and continued trying to breastfeed. I wasn't done trying. I called my OB/GYN and asked about the supplements. She prescribed them that same day and I went to get them and started taking them. I took them for ten days. I also continued pumping. Everyday. Multiple times a day. My husband and I would both wake up in the middle of the night and he would feed Mason a bottle while I pumped. But pumping was awful. Awful. It hurt. A lot. It also took me away from my baby. And the best (worst) part... I produced 1 oz on each side, maybe 2 oz. Maybe. On a good day. I would save what little breast milk I made and mix it with formula when we would feed him. 

And then he would cry. 

I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I continued pumping but stopped mixing it with formula on a few feedings because I thought it was the breast milk that was causing him to cry. That didn't help. He still cried. I cried. We took him to the doctor. They didn't really know what was wrong but they suggested switching to a different formula (we were still using the free samples of Enfamil Newborn at the time). They gave us some free samples of Gerber GoodStart and we tried that. And amazingly enough, it worked! No crying after feedings! ... for like a week. And then it started all over. I remember one afternoon when my husband was back at work that I couldn't get Mason to sleep because he was crying so much. I rocked him. I put him in his swing. I did every thing I could think of. Nothing worked. So, I put him back in his swing, "shushed" him, and cried. Really cried. I couldn't help it. I had no idea how to help my poor baby who was just crying for me to help him. I felt like a failure again.

I asked all my friends and family what they thought could be wrong and did some research online. I give my friend Brooke full credit as to how we figured out what was wrong with Mason - he had silent reflux. Silent reflux is different from regular reflux where he spits up, but swallows it instead of throwing it up. He had all the symptoms. We took Mason back to the pediatrician and I explained what was happening. I was fully prepared to fight for what I thought I needed, but he agreed and suggested we start Mason on Zantac. I asked about switching formulas as well to Similac Alimentum (hypoallergenic formula) and he said no. I should keep one constant if we were starting Zantac. So we did that.... and he was still crying. I knew I needed to do something. My mommy instincts told me something was wrong. So, my husband and I made the decision to switch to Similac Alimentum. And it made a world of difference. Mason was like night and day. My baby was HAPPY again. And I cried tears of happiness. While I'm sure my pediatrician knows what he's talking about, I'm so happy we decided to switch his formula when we did and not wait.

Then on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 we started our monthly purchases of a 6-pack of Similac Alimentum for $170. That stuff was liquid gold but it kept my baby happy and healthy and full and I didn't care. It could cost $170 a can and I would have still bought it. Mason was our whole world and we would do anything to keep him healthy. At his two month check up he weighed 11 lbs. 5 oz. and all my fears were immediately turned into relief. I knew I made the right decision. And while this decision did not include breastfeeding, it included him being happy and healthy. I needed to realize that how Mason got fed was not the most important thing - it was THAT Mason got fed.

The whole experience was a very trying one. And one that I did not picture in the beginning. I had gotten everything I needed for breastfeeding, not bottle feeding. I had already formed this amazing connection with my son after carrying him for all those months and I was so looking forward to that special mother/son bond that I was going to continue. My whole world was turned upside down. I was a healthy 28 year old and couldn't understand why I wasn't producing enough milk. But, as they say, everything happens for a reason. And I fully believe that. And, to be honest, I think bottle feeding was actually a good thing for our family. I still fully felt that special bond with Mason as I would hold him and feed him. I fully feel like we still got our special mother/son time. But, in addition, my husband got special father/son time that he might not have gotten, or at least in the same way. There's something about that bond you get when you feed your child, knowing you are helping them thrive and grow. Looking back, there's probably a
million other things I could have done, but at the time, I felt that the decisions I made were in the best interest of my son and I have no regrets at all.

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.



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6 Comments »

6 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason”

  1. Love your story! So happy to see you as part of this series - every journey is different, and so glad you were able to figure out what Mason had. Love that last photo of him; he looks so happy!

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  2. So often things don't work out the way we planned. Being a new mom, working, just holding down the fort...it can be a LOT. Add to it when breastfeeding doesn't go well, and you just do what you need to do for your child. Letting go of my expectations around nursing was the best thing I did--and led to a just as happy baby, and a MUCH happier/healthier me. :)

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  3. Reading your story felt like reliving my own. I had the same great (or so I thought) breastfeeding experience in hospital, but things went bad really fast after we got home. My baby just wouldn't stop crying and didn't want to latch. She would cry day and night, especially after the feeding. She was born at 37 weeks with low birth weight and needed to eat every two hours, this led to non stop crying. We switched to formula because our pediatrician thought baby was to week to nurse. But nothing helped. I tought I would end up in bedlam, I was exhausted and didn't sleep for 3 months. Then finally pediatrician prescribed drops that helped her process all the excess gas she would gulp with milk. I felt like in one week someone gave me new happy baby and we both slept for a month, both tired. My poor baby couldn't keep her eyes open, she was too exhausted. She is now 8 months and her bowels are still not developed enough and we are facing problems with feeding her, but nothing so terrible as that beginning. I often feel sad that breastfeeding didn't work out for us, I was so sure I would feed my baby I didn't even buy a bottle. But in the end, having a fed and happy baby is the most important thing!

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  4. That happy baby smile is so adorable! You are an awesome mom and I really liked reading your story!

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  5. Thank you so much for having me, Julie!

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  6. Thank you for sharing! My breast feeding experience was nearly identical to yours - so glad to know I'm not alone!

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