I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement that’s been sent my way in the last twenty-four hours regarding my nursing problems. I didn’t expect such an outpouring — I was just looking to vent my feelings a little.
When I went back to my lactation consultant today (who is, by the way, an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, for those of you who care), we discussed switching Grace over to formula. I told her I had thought about it thoroughly, and I understand how beneficial it is for both the baby and me to nurse, but that it just wasn’t working out with this particular baby.
Surprisingly enough, she was very supportive of my decision. I figured I’d have to argue my side for a really long time, but she was very accepting. Then she weighed Grace, and even with the feeding frenzy she was on yesterday (I fed her fourteen times in a little more than twenty-four hours), she gained not a single ounce. She was still 6 lbs 14.3 oz, exactly what she was yesterday, down to the tenth of an ounce.
For me, that really told me that deciding to switch her over to formula was the right thing to do. And it really is the best thing for her. I gave her a bottle right there in the hospital after our appointment with the consultant, and she was so content to finally get something in her little tummy. I have never seen her so happy before. If she could have smiled, she would have been grinning from ear to ear. She’s no longer a fussy baby because she’s no longer constantly hungry. She’s getting fed, and she’s happy. Pretty soon she’ll really start growing.
Grace is so much more alert now. Before, she was either asleep or screaming. Now she’s quietly alert, looking at everything around her and trying to figure this new world out. Her big blue eyes are just drinking everything in, and it makes me feel so good as her mom that she can focus on something other than her hunger now.
The problem with nursing this particular baby is she wasn’t sucking like she should, and as a result, she didn’t stimulate my milk supply. I could have pumped to increase my milk supply, but that wouldn’t have helped the fact that Grace is just a very lazy eater. She just wasn’t interested in nursing. Several times what I would do to try to keep her interested was to express some milk onto the nipple and rub my nipple across her mouth, but she kept her mouth firmly closed. Even with as hungry as she must have been, she just did not want to nurse. You can drag a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. I forced Grace onto the breast as much as possible, but I could not make her suckle. It just wasn’t happening.
I feel much better myself now too. I didn’t really want to bottle-feed, seeing as I’m so very lazy, and making bottles is a pretty time-consuming thing. But now that the decision has been made, I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off me. I was so stressed ever since she was born regarding her nursing, and now I feel that the stress has disappeared. I don’t really see it as a selfish thing because Grace needs a healthy and happy mommy to take care of her so she can be healthy and happy.
I want to nurse my babies. I know all the health benefits for both the baby and myself, and honestly I really don’t like the smell of formula, especially as it seeps from the pores of a formula-fed baby or after she spits it up. With my next baby, I will definitely go through hell and high water, just like I have been with Grace, in order to nurse him or her. I don’t mind the sore nipples and the lack of sleep and the pain of engorgement and everything else that comes with nursing. I am more than willing to do what it takes to have a successful breastfed baby. But I firmly believe that it wasn’t meant to be this time. We will try again with the next baby, and again with my third. Who knows?? Maybe those babies will attach themselves to the breast and not let go until they’re well over a year old.
What I would like is support of my decision. I know Grace wasn’t going to successfully breastfeed, no matter what I did. So now I don’t want to hear what I should have done otherwise, whether it’s supplemental pumping or continuing to nurse or whatever others think is best. This is the best decision for me and for my baby right now. Now she will no longer lose weight, and I’ll have the happy baby that I know she is. She was starving before — literally — and now she’s not. For that, I am extremely grateful.