Since the moment Charlie was born, I’ve had a flurry of friends and medical professionals asking how he’s being fed. What’s interesting to me about this is that when I say Charlie is breastfed, nearly everyone assumes Fox was too.
Let me back up to 4 years ago when Fox was born.
Naively, I had done absolutely zero research on breastfeeding. I had seen the dreamy photos of women nursing their babies and just knew something so natural had to come easily to both baby and mom, right?
Fox came out totally disgusted by the idea of a nipple, refusing to put his mouth anywhere near it, and within a few days he was down 20% weight which is nearly failure to thrive levels.
I was terrified that something so small and fragile wouldn’t survive.
I tried pumping, breast shields, feeding him through a tube attached to my finger, feeding him through a tube attached to a breast shield, 3 different lactation consultants — nothing seemed to work.
At my last visit to the LC, Fox and I were surrounded by two women and my husband all trying to coax him to latch. He finally did! Well, he did for about 20 seconds. Everyone clapped and then the LC handed me a pack of formula and patted my back. If a team of 5, a Boppy, 2 pillows, and a nursing chair couldn’t make my baby nurse for more than 20 seconds, it just wasn’t feasible to think he would get enough to survive.
I pumped as much as I could moving forward, but my supply withered away quickly and by 3.5 weeks old, Fox was exclusively formula fed.
There was a lot of shame that came along with formula feeding.
It definitely added to a (thankfully short) bout with postpartum depression because I felt like a complete failure.
I was living in San Diego at the time which was filled with women openly feeding their babies sans covers in restaurants, at the zoo, walking through museums, and at the beach.
I felt dirty every time I shook up a bottle filled with white powder and water.
As Fox got older I realized he was turning out just fine. He didn’t have weight issues, he didn’t get sick until he was over a year old, and he’s smart as a whip! I promised myself that if breastfeeding wasn’t working for me this time around, I wouldn’t feel shame or guilt — I’d simply move on.
When Charlie was handed to me straight out of the womb, he had his mouth wide open and knew exactly where to point it. His suck was so strong I couldn’t get him off of me even after he fell asleep.
I was elated that breastfeeding worked out this time around! But with that said…
I’ve needed a lot of help with breastfeeding. A-freaking-lot.
Like every other day parked in the lactation consultant’s office with a new issue.
Charlie is barely over 2 weeks old and I’ve already experienced cracked nipples, a minor allergy, latch issues, infant weight loss, and (worst of all) mastitis.
The difference is that after we figured out his latch issue 2 days post-hospital, he’s been steadily gaining weight, my milk production is excellent, and I’m confident we’ll work together to continue to make this a positive bond for both of us.
I know there’s lots of women out there struggling on their breastfeeding journey or beating themselves up over formula feeding, but I strongly believe that fed is best.
One Happy Mama = One Happy Baby
Oh! Remember to check out a few products that have made nursing run a bit more smoothly for me.
[…] those beautiful images breastfeeding mamas were posting of the tree of life several years back? Those always felt like a kick in the gut, even […]