Thursday, November 8, 2012

The End of Our Journey

Before your baby is born you have so many hopes and dreams about them and their future.  One thing that I wanted to do for my babies, was nurse them.  Nursing my children was what was best for us.  I will admit, when I see newborn babies with bottles, I always wonder why they aren't being nursed.  What was the mother's journey with her newborn baby?  Is she unable to nurse?  Did she not like nursing?  Does she not produce enough milk?  Did she even try?  Behind every mother and her child, is a nursing journey.  Sometimes that journey lasts days, sometimes years, and sometimes not at all.

The first time I nursed Ryan,  was right after he was born, right in the delivery room.  He latched on perfectly.  Nursing was something that worked for him, it worked for me, and it worked for us.  

 I did not want to feed my baby formula.  I refused to feed him formula.  I nursed in public, I nursed him in my car, I nursed him at other peoples' houses in different bedrooms, I nursed him on an airplane.  With nursing, also comes pumping.  I am a mom, but I am also a teacher.  I would pump 3 times everyday while I worked.  I pumped at lunch, at specials, and at recess.  Pumping is definitely not nursing.

When I took Ryan to the doctor at 4 months old he was 12lbs 4oz.  When I took him 2 months later at 6 months he was 12lbs 8oz.  My baby had gained 4 oz.  Why did he only gain 4 oz.  The doctor was worried and momma and daddy freaked out.  The doctor suggested that I start feeding Ryan bottles after I nursed him to make sure that he was eating enough.  I had plenty of milk frozen, so this was doable.  I would feed him bottles after every time I nursed.  Sometimes he would eat 1oz, sometimes 2 and sometimes he would eat the whole bottle.  Do you know what the doctor told me?  He told me that Ryan was starving.  He told me that babies do a pretty good job at hiding it, but that my baby needed to eat more.  Hearing someone tell me that my child was starving, was probably one of the worst things I have ever heard before.  I came home from the doctor's office crying to Tim.  I had to take Ryan in for weekly check ups for about 6 weeks.  He was slowly starting to gain weight.  

At about 8 months old, I had run out of frozen breast milk.  The doctor had given me a can of formula.  I did not want to open up that can. I pumped more and more, but it just wasn't working.  One early February morning before I left for work, I opened up that can with tears in my eyes as I fed Ryan formula for the first time.

My milk supply was pretty low.  I kept pumping, taking Fenugreek, drinking more water, but nothing really was working.  After a realization that all I was doing was stressing myself out and feeling guilty..I decided it was time to quit pumping, to quit nursing, and fully give in to formula.  I nursed and pumped with Ryan up until a few days before he turned 10 months old. 

You know what I hated?  I hated that people would say.. "Oh you just aren't nursing enough." or "You need to pump more."  No, that wasn't it. I was nursing.  I was pumping all day at work, I pumped all day at home.  I set my alarm on my phone to wake up every two hours so I could pump in the middle of the night.  

It took me a while to realize it, but formula isn't that bad.  Again, you do what's best for your baby.  Ryan needed formula.  I did all that I could to feed him, and when it wasn't working anymore, I had to quit. After the first few days of formula, it really wasn't so bad anymore.  I was still able to hold and snuggle my baby while he ate.  

When I got pregnant with Jakey, I was really hoping that I would be able to make it to a year old.  That was my goal.  

Jake was solely breast fed for the first 7 months.  Around that time, I didn't have enough milk saved up to last him while I was at work.  He would get about 1 formula bottle per day.  After the first month it was about 2 a day. At 9 months old, it was about half formula/ half breast milk. 

Recently, I wasn't making hardly any milk at work.. only about 2oz per day.  After I nurse him at home, I supplement with formula and he always drinks a full 5oz. This time around was different, I didn't try harder.  I didn't stress about it.  I didn't set my alarm in the middle of the night.  I accepted the fact that I was no longer able to provide milk for my baby.  I stocked up on cans of formula.  As I watched the presidential election on the news, I decided it was time.  I held Jakey and nursed him one last time.  That night I washed my breast pump parts and put them away.

I did what was best for Jake.  10 months and 1 week.

I think moms out there need to know that formula is okay for your baby.  Even if I was full of milk, I would still stop at a year old.  There comes a time when nursing is no longer beneficial to your child.  Yes, breast feeding is a great bond between a mother and a child.  However, so is playing puzzles and going for walks.  

Before you judge a mother who has an infant who is formula fed, try to image what the mother's nursing journey was.

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