I remember the night he was born. I was lying in the hospital bed and he nuzzled over to nurse. Such little cheeks against my chest, he ate a little then unlatched. He snuggled his nose and eyes against my heartbeat. Tears of joy and love trickled down my face. For hours after, I watched him sleep.
As I began motherhood, I fell head over heels in love with my little boy. I breastfed anticipating the joyous bond and connection most mommies delight in. Immediately I felt an overwhelming sense of love whenever I nursed my son. I could nourish him and provide him with the best.
The best is breast they say. They pushed breastfeeding like McDonald’s pushes fries. During every prenatal appointment, there was a conversation about breastfeeding. So much to look forward to it seemed.
After our first week of parenthood, we had our little guy’s check up at the doctor’s office. When the nurse set him on the scale, we saw something unexpected. Our little guy was 10% under his birth weight. Thoughts of whether or not I was starving my baby raced through my exhausted mind. I pumped when I got home to see how much I was producing. A half an ounce was all I could muster. So my breastfeeding regimen was altered and we introduced formula supplementation into the mix.
I began to do research on this matter and encountered articles on how bad it was for your milk supply to supplement with formula. I was constantly torn between breastfeeding and bottle feeding my baby. The first time I gave him the bottle was during one of his night time feedings. Silently I wept, and held onto my son tightly. I felt like a failure being unable to give the “best” to my baby.
For over a month I breast fed, I pumped, I ate brewers yeast, I took fenugreek, I ate oatmeal, I formula fed and did it all over again. Exhausted and anxious, I was at a visit to the lactation consultant with my baby now three weeks old. When the lactation consultant placed him on the scale I almost cried. He had only gained an ounce in one week! That wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Feelings of failure began to creep beneath my eyes, yet I held them back until I was home. I just wanted to give up.
After another three weeks of endless strife of me against the bottle, I decided to stop pumping and enjoy the time I had left of breastfeeding. My little guy wasn’t ever satisfied and cried whenever I nursed him day and night as if aching for more nourishment that I couldn’t provide. I decided it was time to end breastfeeding. My son was just not resting well and I was always an emotional wreck, grieving my inadequate supply. After two months of pumping and breastfeeding and bottle feeding and pumping and breastfeeding and bottle feeding repeat, I decided to exclusively bottle feed. This was a difficult decision for me. Not because I had ill feelings about formula, but because I truly wanted to feel close to my baby and be able to nourish him.
This was and continues to be a very humbling moment in motherhood for me. During this time I had to trust God to lead me to make the right decision for my baby. I praise Him for the little time was able to breastfeed my son. Even though I’ve read articles on both side of the baby feeding spectrum, I had to listen to my own baby’s needs and realize my body just couldn’t satisfy them. Formula or breast milk, bottle or breast, a fed and healthy baby is truly the best.