April 23, 2007

Reasonable Doubt

(This post was originally posted on 11/30/06. In a cheap way to avoid having to draft a whole new post, I'm just updating this one. Read below for the latest.)

I never thought I would say it, but nursing seems to have a lot of pitfalls. I nursed all three- well still nursing #3 actually, and I do believe that "breast is best" but... there seems to be sound reasoning behind the occasional, if not more frequent, use of formula to provide baby some supplemental feedings every now and again. Nursing is just really hard and Mama needs a break after 6 + months. I'm not ready to throw in the towel to the whole concept, I just think that breastfeeding can be extremely difficult, time consuming and sometimes, hard on your health.

First, we all know, the first few weeks are traumatic for mother and baby. I can only think of one case in where it was a totally beautiful, stress free, pain free experience for both mother and baby(J. Smith). Every other woman I know has had some sort of drama and trauma when it comes to it. If it's not the first few weeks, then it happens at some point during the process. For example, my cousin who has a 5 month old, nurses 24/7. Her baby "refuses" the bottle, so she's her only source of food. During months 2-4, that nursing mama suffered from thrush for almost two months straight. Luckily, her baby never had a full blown outbreak. But, as some of you may know, it can cause extreme pain or discomfort in the mother. I know since I've had it with all three babies at some point or time and believe me, it's no fun. We're talking sensitive nipples, painful letdown, and full blown pain- much like the first few days of nursing. She would cry and nurse at the same time. How is that supposed to be a beautiful/bonding experience for mother/daughter?

On Monday, I was diagnosed with "acute mastisis of the right breast." Translation, you feel like your dying but really, it's just a clogged/infected milk gland, that if it goes untreated, will require immediate surgery. I hadn't felt that bad since I had Congestive Heart Failure. Anyhow, after reevaluating the whole situation, I'm proud to have breastfeed all three of my babies, but I can't help but think, how much easier my life would have been if I just gave them formula. And to make this even a little bit more interesting, my oldest baby who I supplemented with formula much earlier than my other babies, is my smartest and healthiest of the bunch. My youngest on the other hand, who never has had formula (except for the half ounce the nurses tried to give him while we were in the hospital since they claimed my milk was not yet in - another issue on it's own) has the sniffles on a weekly basis. So what gives?? Has my exclusive breastfeeding for 7.5 months been in vain? Should I just supplement now, or what? I'm starting to have doubt.

Update: Hip, hip, hooray!! I made it to 12 months. This was my goal, and I am so proud of myself, despite the pitfalls and struggles. Since I worked part-time, for the most part, it was much easier to maintain my supply. But I'm still proud of myself. At one point I thought I was done, so I tried to introduce formula again. My mom got him to take it a few times. Then I had a freezer of pumped milk. So I stopped the formula. Anyhow, now there's a new issue, of course. It's getting "B" on board with my weaning plan, for the most part. Here's the problem.

Four weeks ago, Little "B," aka Baby Brother, started day care. The first two weeks he was on a hunger strike. He refused the bottle and any solid foods. This had me very nervous and on edge the entire time. I called the pediatrician a couple of times. She assured me he would make it, without IVs. "Give it time. But he's a stubborn one!" is what she'd say. Seeing as how he was only two weeks away from turning one, (his birthday was Thursday), I figured he would adjust fine in day care after he got used it. Not. Four weeks later, he eats, but not so much better. Just enough it seems. Some days he'll eat decently. Others, his infant gram (daily log of bottles, naps and poops) is full of "refused lunch" "refused bottle" "refused sippy cup." Usually on Mondays and Tuesdays. When we start the whole traumatic thing again. Anyhow, at his 12 month well child he dropped weight. Not good, I'm not happy.

Prior to day care, he was doing just fine with solids. In fact, he was eating mostly table food and would have a bottle or nurse three times a day. During the hunger strike, as soon as I picked him up from day care, it was a nurse'a'thon. I'm sure it was part starvation, part need for comfort. Even at home, he would not eat solids well. It was very frustrating.

Even though he eats better, he has not taken a bottle since mid-march. He will not take milk any other way except from yours truly. Not even from a sippy cup. So now if I stop nursing, he will not get any milk. That's not good. A growing baby needs milk! Yes, I can give him yogurt, and that's his favorite thing to eat at day care, but he needs milk, and a balanced diet. Yogurt is not balanced. Then my pediatrician tells me how hard it is to break an older infant from their habits/routines. I knew this, but just didn't think I would be in this boat. I nurse only in the AM and at night. Okay, sometimes during the day. But only after nearly having my shirt ripped off by the child, and him screaming and having a meltdown. This was not the plan. I suppose I don't mind, for now. But I would love to just give him a nice warm bottle of whole milk and call it a day. At least I stopped pumping some time back. That helped, greatly.

My point is, your damned if you do, damned if you don't. Believe me, I'm grateful, but geeze.


Justice Ny said...

I do believe in the "breast is best" mantra and that's partly because of you ladies. But, I will say that if there is another baby, I'm going to supplement. I will primarily breastfeed but a little formula now and then isn't going to hurt. In fact, it will help exhausted, sleep deprived mama.
I breastfed Lady Day exclusively until she was six months old (except for a few formula bottles during the first week of life) and then I started with solids. But yet, DD still wasn't satisfied so I was up three-four times a night nursing. That was no walk-in-the-park. So, Justice Jones...I say forge on with some formula...DS has had a very solid foundation.

Justice Jones said...

So J. Ny- are you still breastfeeding? Or did you stop or supplement with formula after the solids? I remember you were trying to wean at 9 months. If so, how did that go? Yes, Mr. Cam seems to get up more now then he did when he was 2 months old. DH tried to stuff him with veggies during supperonce DS started solids but that didn't seem to help at all. (Even though I told DH that this will probably make him uncomfortable and cause him to not to sleep well, he still tried it, it didn't work). So, on any given night, we're up 1-4 times between 7-7 am. On average, at least 2, but 3 is not uncommon. And yes, I said "we" because for 6 months, it was primarily just me. Now, DH gets up to change him while I try to get an extra 30 seconds of sleep.

Justice Fergie said...

I think that the both of you have done stellar jobs with respect to nursing. As a mom who had to supplement, I totally think that supplementing at this stage is perfectly fine for Mr. Cam, J. Jones. You've done your motherly duty in terms of giving him the best start to life that you possibly could!

Justice Fergie said...

One more thing...

Your breastfeeding for 7.5 months definitely has not been in vain! Breast is best, just as J. Ny said. As for formula-fed children being smarter than breast-fed children (and vice-versa), we just can never know. But you do know that the breast is what nature intended. As long as you follow your heart, you can't go wrong. Rock on mommies!

Justice Fergie said...

GREAT JOB ON THE HYPERLINKS J. JONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Justice Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justice Jones said...

Here is my update on the whole supplement, mastisis, etc. Two weeks ago I tried to offer a bottle of formula to Little Brother and as soon as he tasted it he made this horrible face. This is a first for me since I have never been able to make it to 8 months without having to supplement with formula. With Miss Cyd, she started getting formula around 4-5 months. Oldest started much earlier. I think around 2 months. Maybe earlier.

Anyhow, I'm not going to mess up a good thing. I know I would like to continue to breastfeed until Little B. is one year and I suppose that since that's only four months away, it shouldn't be too difficult. What's another four months?? So far, no more mastisis or feeling like Death was knocking on my door. He's not a big fan of solid food either but he'll take it and it has taken some of the pressure off of me. I alternate between me and the spoon during the day so that gives me some of the relief I was looking for.

One last commment, since classes have been over and the nanny left me hanging, Little B. has hardly needed to take a bottle since I am around pretty much 24/7. Well, last night, hubby tried to give him a bottle and he refused. We are also in the process of trying out a new nanny who came yesterday and she reported the same thing. This could be a minor setback.

JeniBeans said...

Congratulations to all of you for BF'ing for as long as you have, whether it be 6 mths or 1 year. I always wanted to nurse for 1 year, but my last two boys got so FAT on breast milk that I felt like I was nursing a 5 year old with them both! LOL I ended up starting them on whole milk or 2% milk at 10.5 mths. Then with this last baby, our only girl (so far) she is still nursing and her birthday was the 12th of April. I am so proud of us for making it this far. Granted, she has slacked off quite a bit...which in my mind is due in part to the latest pregnancy (number 5 !) and she has also taken alot more interest in table food, which is all she eats. She has gotten dreadfully sick on jarred baby food so after that happened twice I gave it up for good. That was probably at least 4 mths ago.

I have suffered from Mastitis during nursing each child, at least once. With my youngest son I had it probably 2 or 3 times. I had a knot come up on my chest that was HUGE and required surgical drainage (TMI, sorry!) and suffered from the severe flu-like symtoms too...isn't it amazing how something like a clogged milk duct can give you a high fever and body aches and chills so bad you actually think you've got the FLU..and think you're dying! LOL

It's all worth it. :-)

I'm proud of you all! Great job, mama's!

*sorry to write a novel. LOL*

Lawyer Mama said...

Congrats on making it to 1 year!

We had *exactly* the same problem when my youngest started daycare. The bottle strike went on for about 8 weeks and it was a non stop nurse a thon at night. I swear we tried every bottle under the sun to try and get him to eat. What finally worked was to trick him. For some bizarre reason he would only take breastmilk from ME not a bottle. But formula was fine from a bottle. I guess because he didn't associate the taste with me. So, rather than give up breastfeeding or pump and dump at work, we mixed 1 ounce of formula in with 3 ounces of breastmilk for his daycare bottles. I guess the taste was different enough that it fooled him and he started taking the bottles. But it took us 2 months to figure this out.

Is he on milk now? Does he just refuse formula from a bottle or breastmilk too?

I know what you mean about how we're damned either way. We just can't win!

Justice Jones said...

Thanks Lawyer Mama on the tips! He had formula a handful of times a few months ago. But he will not take formula, breastmilk or whole milk in the bottle or sippy cup. He started taking a few sips at day care about a week or so ago. Just enough to wet his throat I think. But a few sips is not cutting it. I will keep trying though.

Jenibeans, good for you! And I enjoyed the long comment. Thanks for the feedback. I'm sure you've heard this a million times, but here goes...."Five babies! You have your handsful." Congrats on baby number 5, what a blessing!

Justice Ny said...

First of all....happy birthday Cam!!! I can't believe he's one year old already.

My siggestion - try soy formula. I remember that was one of the tricks that I tried with Lady Day. Of course, she didn't want to stop breastfeeding and she absolutely hated formula (I would too, have you tried it?; heck, in fact, have you smelled it?).

Anyway, my pediatrician suggested soy formula because it tastes (and smells) so much better. That worked out for us. Of course, Little B is much older than Day was when I tried to wean, and it may be more difficult, but try it and see if that works. Try the liquid formula first because I believe that is a little sweeter than the powdered formula.

And he'll be fine. He won't starve himself.... he might drop a few pounds, but he's not going to starve. I think the worst part is all the fussing that goes with the process.

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