I had Aidan when I was young. I actually turned 21 before she turned two months. I had no clue what to expect and believed that it was the most natural and easy thing. So I knew for the very beginning that I wanted to breastfeed her. I didn't expect to struggle at all. She surprised everyone by coming five weeks early. Aside from being a tiny little thing at barely 6lbs, she was healthy. She latched wonderfully the first try and I thought, we were going to be rock stars. However at her two week check up, she has dropped to 4lbs. I was devastated and unknown to me suffering from postpartum depression. Her doctor suggested supplementing formula, but with my emotions hitting deep lows I gave up. I felt as though I had failed our daughter. I found out later that I didn't fail but that she just has an unusually high metabolism. Now we have a very rambunctious almost 7 year old.
With our second pregnancy, I was determined to be more prepared, but had so many doubts. I knew that I wanted to give our girl the very best and that meant nursing. I knew what it felt like to be depressed but I also knew that there was help. I felt prepared and ready. I was going to nurse our baby and it was going to go smoother this time.
Jozy came into the world 4 weeks early but a little bigger than her sister. She was a healthy little baby, but we struggled with latching. I was able to get some help in the hospital and left feeling comfortable with continuing on my own. Again I felt sure that we were going to succeed with breastfeeding. At her two week and one month checkups she was gaining, not a lot though. With each visit I breathed a sigh of relief. Until her two month check up. She had stopped gaining, but I wasn't going to give up. So I supplemented when we needed to, but I also nursed and pumped.
I would feed Jozy every two hours, even at night, and pump while nursing. I would then offer her the bottle. I was also pumping on the hour in between nursings. I felt like I was more of a feeding station than a mom and Aidan wasn't getting enough attention. On top of the exhaustion, I could feel my emotions slipping into caous So I stopped. I switched Jozy to formula and was able to finally enjoy our baby girl.
With our youngest baby, little Kristianna, I had so many mixed feelings and so many people giving me advise. I went back and forth so many times the first two trimesters. I was terrified that I couldn't care for our baby this way, that I would feel like a failure. In the end my husband, who is my greatest supported, encouraged me to follow my heart. So I refused to by bottles and I dug into research. I pined everything I could find on pintrest. I read every article. I spoke to multiply lactation specialists. I was ready and prepared. I knew that I might not be able to nurse her for long, but I was going to give it my all.
And then the unexpected happened. She came into this world three weeks early and after an hour of loving on her, she was rushed to the NICU. I couldn't touch our girl, or hold her. There was no way that I could nurse her, but that was honestly the furthest from my mind that first night. I felt broken and I had no clue what we were going to do.
We were blessed with incredibly wonderful nurses. After the first night, one of them asked me if I wanted to breastfeed. It was easy to answer yes, and she quickly got me a pump. She taught me the best way to use it and what the best routine would be. All the nurses at the NICU encouraged me, helped me, and cheered me on. They celebrated every pumping victory and helped me through all the sidetracks. Then after two weeks, I was finally able to breastfeed our girl. After a lot of trail and error, we finally got it right. I felt confident and supported.
However, at her two month checkup we ended back in the hospital. Kristianna had stopped gaining. Thankfully our doctor wanted to know why. Even though I felt a little lost, I felt grateful to finally get answers. After several days we finally got some.
I am not able to produce enough milk, no matter what we try. Our kids have high metabolisms and my body can't support them solely. So despite all the criticism I received I supplemented. I pumped and nursed as often as possible without killing myself. I also offered her a bottle of formula. I was able to nurse Kristianna until just shy of her 6 months. She weaned herself and it felt wonderful!
Breastfeeding is hard and there are so many opinions out there on what is right or wrong. I was told so many times to not supplement. I was told with my last two pregnancies to not even try breastfeeding. I had so many people trying to tell me what was right for my baby and my body. But breastfeeding isn't easy and there isn't one right way. I nursed for as long as I could with each baby. Yes, I would love to have gone longer or had less obstacles. But I have three amazing little girls. They are healthy, happy, stubborn and growing. So my advice, don't give up and don't let someone else make you feel less. Do what you believe is right for your baby, and remember that some breast milk is better than none. Get the answer you are looking for, no matter how many times you have to ask.
There is no correct way to be a mom and life is filled with road blocks. All you can do is what you believe is right and what keeps your babies healthy and happy!