Thursday, January 24, 2013
Life has been so incredibly crazy since Lila was born 7 weeks ago. Ethan has begun to adjust to having a sister and having to share time that used to be all his with her. He loves her! When she cries he gives her the binkie and if she continues he says "No crying Lila!" What's even funnier is the way he says Lila. It comes out "Yiya"
Lila is a good baby. She has had problems with gas and fussiness off & on since she was born. It mostly began when we started supplementing formula at two weeks to get her to gain weight more quickly. I was giving her pumped breast milk when I had the time to pump (very difficult with a toddler & a newborn) but mostly formula to supplement. We kept nursing, but it was not without problems. I would nurse her exclusively during the day, supplementing 1 oz of formula every other feeding. She wanted to eat every hour or two all day and the gas pains made her very uncomfortable. The more formula we gave her the gassier she was.
Meanwhile, she didn't want to nurse unless I was full. After 5 or 10 minutes on one side she would refuse to nurse, but was obviously still hungry. I'd switch sides and she would often take 5 or 10 minutes just to get started and once she did after it was half gone she would scream. I realized that she was a lazy nurser. If she had to work for it she didn't want to and so she was never truly full and needed to eat very often all day long to make up for it.
I kept telling myself that she would figure it out and she was getting enough because she was gaining weight and had wet diapers. However, I was really stressed out and not enjoying breastfeeding. She was obviously unhappy too. This was even more evident when I would give her a full bottle of formula or breast milk. She would lay awake looking so satisfied and happy. I was happy she was happy but also hurt and felt rejected.
After a long weekend away in Bodega Bay with friends, I had enough. She didn't nurse well all weekend because of the noise, over stimulation of people and gas problems. I didn't sleep more than 2.5 hours at a time and averaged 5 hours of sleep total a night. I'm used to Ken getting up once during the night to feed her so we each get a 5 or 6 hour stretch. By Monday morning at 5am I broke down as she screamed and refused to nurse for 30 minutes. I couldn't take the pressure anymore and began to really question whether I really wanted to continue.
It meant so much to me to breastfeed for as long as possible because I thought I'd have an even more special bond with my daughter. Since she's our last I also felt the pressure to give it all I had and make it happen since I'll never experience this again. There really wasn't a better choice. I worried that I would question my decision to stop nursing and that I'd wonder "if only I'd tried harder or did it a little bit longer". In the end, my sanity and the desire to enjoy every moment I have with my daughter won out.
I know how fast Ethan's babyhood went and I don't want to waste hers pushing myself to do something that is considered "the best for your baby". I've never felt that breast milk is truly "better" than formula. They make formula very well these days. I wanted to nurse to bond and to save money.
The funny thing is that when I posted about stopping nursing on facebook I had so many friends who when honest admitted that they too had many problems. Some worked them out, but more than I expected stopped at about this point. If we are honest as mothers about the things we struggle with I think it would take the pressure off of so many moms. As moms we feel like we fail when things don't go as planned or if our child does something others don't. We especially feel like a failure when it appears that other moms have done the same things easily. I wish the mom community could rally together, be honest and open about their struggles and support one another instead of judging.
From this point on I'm going to strive to be a better friend and to support other mothers. We are never truly alone if we can be honest about our struggles.