An Absolutely Brutal Week and the Decision to Stop Breastfeeding

I recently made the decision to transition from breastfeeding to formula feeding and I have to admit, it was not an easy decision to make. We have been all over the map in terms of feeding since the moment Ainsley was born.

At the hospital, I nursed during the days and she took a bottle in the nursery at night. When we got home, our pediatrician was concerned she had lost too much weight since birth and recommended we supplement nursing with formula. While recovering from delivery, I was living in a fog from lack of sleep and pain meds, so letting others feed while I napped was a gift. However, it did cause my milk supply to slow down and by the time family left town and I was on my own again, I had to make a quick decision about how I was going to feed – breast or bottle. When faced with the decision alone, without any outside influences in favor of or against either option, I made the decision to nurse exclusively. For the first time ever, I felt like my mom instinct kicked in and when we went back to the pediatrician a few weeks later, Ainsley had gained weight. Huge relief.

I had to work hard to get my milk supply back up. I hired a Lactation Consultant to come to my house, fondle me quite a bit, and get me back on track. I ate dozens of lactation cookies, drank Mother’s Milk tea, took supplements, the works. Finally, we were up-and-running again. Ainsley continued to thrive the next two months. We were smooth sailing.

When she hit her three-month birthday, we experienced a week like no other. Note to self: Do not get on this girl’s bad side because she will make life miserable for all who cross her path. Jake and I could not figure out what was wrong with her that week. She whined and cried and fussed all week long. It was torture for all three of us. We were terrified our happy-go-lucky girl was gone and had been replaced by a miserable little being whose sole desire was to suck the life out of everyone she came in contact with.

And then it hit us. This was a total Mom and Dad fail. We realized… she was crying after every meal (although to our credit she was also crying the rest of the day too)… she might be hungry. Or tired. Or both. The girl would not nap. She would fight it and fight it and fight it and being the novice parents that we are, we would succumb to her tears and hold her. All day.

But on top being sleepy, the girl was hungry. Her cries screamed, “Feed me!” Sadly though, I did not have enough milk to offer the poor love. So here we were again, back to supplementing, only this time my mommy instinct told me it was all good. Baby girl got happy once her tummy was satisfied. Everything shifted again. Our sweet, joyful, smiley girl was back.

Sweet, Happy Baby

Sweet, Happy Baby

As the feeding saga continued, and little A continued to grow, I stopped being able to keep up with her needs and my milk supply began to dwindle again. After a couple weeks I was pumping like 3 oz. a day. Not nearly enough for one meal let alone a day’s worth.

And that leads us to where we are today. As of the four-month mark, she is exclusively a formula-fed baby. I struggled with this transition. I wasn’t sure how hard I should push to keep the nursing going. I was also a little embarrassed to admit that I had officially gone to the other side (no offense to you formula feeding moms out there. Just keeping in real. These were my struggles).

That said, we just had her four-month checkup and the doctor said she was thriving. She is smiling, giggling, oohing and aahing. She actually seems happier than ever. She is finally napping and eats way more than anyone would ever expect considering her size. I can only imagine the girl has the kind of metabolism the rest of us only dream about.

She can't believe she is 4 months old either!

She can’t believe she is 4 months old either!

Plus, I know plenty of formula fed babies that like never, ever get sick. It is kind of crazy. Like never. And as my friend and I discussed just this week, we were formula fed babies and obviously we are perfect in every way.

So I wonder why I struggle with these feelings? I think part of it is just me. If I am not wrestling with one issue it’s another. I am one of those people that can never be happy just being happy. Part of it also is my tendency to compare myself with others. Are other moms stronger than me? Do they have superhuman milk-producing powers that I don’t have? Does not nursing make me a bad mom? I know the answers to all of the above are no, no and no. But I still question. I still wonder.

All that to say, the decision is made and the milk is no longer. I am back to enjoying wine, cheese and broccoli again. Okay, maybe not enjoying broccoli, but I am back to eating it again.

Pasta Salad with... drum roll... broccoli!

Pasta Salad with… drum roll… broccoli!

As moms we can only do our very best. We do have a mommy instinct that kicks in for even the least maternal among us (i.e. me). We can research and seek the opinions of others but ultimately we all have to make our own decisions. No judgment. No comparing. And that includes ourselves.

Current and future moms – Are you (or did you) breastfeed or formula feed? What was your thought process when you made your decision? Leave a comment… I would love to know your thoughts.

Comments

  1. Ange – I breastfed David exclusively for 5 months. He is allergic to 120 out of 143 things. Elizabeth had to go onto formula at 6 weeks when I had emergency gall bladder surgery. She has never been allergic to a single thing. Emilia was a complete formula baby; Bennett has been a some of each baby. They are both extremely healthy. I think that lactation specialists make you feel like a terrible mother when you are not 100% breast feeding, yet when you talk to a pediatrician, they just want the baby to be well fed and nourished! So don’t be hard on yourself because what is important is that your little darling is well cared for — and that she is!

    • acharlescoach says:

      I agree… thankfully our pediatrician’s office, like you said, is supportive of either option – formula or breast milk. As long as mommy and baby are happy and healthy, all is good. Thanks for commenting!
      Angela :)

  2. Ang! I haven’t been able to nurse any of my kids past 3 months… my milk supply goes, and that’s that! Everyone is so different… and formula is great! It’s actually nice to have a little more freedom, and my babies always sleep better when they’re switched. :)

    • acharlescoach says:

      It’s so weird. I wonder why that happens! Ainsley has not been sleeping well at night lately but I don’t think that has to do with formula vs. breast milk. I think it is because we tried to wean her off her reflux meds and it is not working… the girl is burping and having reflux like crazy still! So we are going to hold off a bit. Totally agree about having more freedom though!!
      Angela :)

  3. Hi Angela
    I don’t know you but this post showed up on my news feed on Facebook and I’m glad it did. My little boy is 3 months old and we had a similar start to his life. There have been many tears shed at the beginning because i couldnt produce enough milk for him to gain weight. So for the past 2 months I have been breastfeeding and following it up with a bottle of formula. Lately I have been thinking about starting to wean him but felt guilty since I am a stay at home mom right now. So it’s was nice to hear that someone was having a similar experience because all of my friends produce too much milk. Thank you for sharing and you are right, I was formula and I turned out fine :).

    • acharlescoach says:

      There was a brief period of time when I was producing enough milk to store extra. It was such a good feeling. It is so hard being in the position of not having enough for our babies. One of the hardest things I have gone through as a mom so far because you feel so helpless. We didn’t think Ainsley would do well on formula either because her first few months she was having a sensitivity to lactose. It seems she has outgrown that though so we are very thankful. Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting. Hope to see you hear again!
      Angela :)

  4. Now, 8 years in and a lot of tough decisions or unexpected turns under my belt, I have learned to turn to grace over and over. It has become my go to. I see mom’s burdened down by the shoulds and the shouldn’t and the constant questioning. I saw it on myself too and knew I couldn’t stay there. I needed to walk in grace and let the hard pieces draw me towards intentional prayer for my kids. Life doesn’t allow us to parent perfectly but God is able to use my imperfections for good in my kid’s lives and I rest in that. Love to you and your sweet girl. I trust this will be good!

    • acharlescoach says:

      Thanks Kaitlyn. Aaahhh… prayer… and grace… that is all we have. It is hard to trust in God when it comes to our kids and not try to control everything ourselves. I do pray that God will use my imperfections for good so that my kids are healthier than me and their kids healthier than them etc. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Angela :)

  5. Hey Angela! I thought I would give my 2 cents. I was never able to breast feed Adler. I really wanted to, but he just didn’t latch on well and I didn’t produce much at all. I would pump as much as possible (which was VERY little!) and then mix that with his formula. He has no allergies, never had an ear infection, slept well from the start, and has been healthy all of his 16 years (with the occassional cold here and there). God only knows what the future will bring, but as for his “baby” health on formula, it really couldn’t have been better! You’re so conscientious, don’t beat yourself up over any of your decisions. You and Jake are making good, thoughtful decisions as you go:)

    • acharlescoach says:

      Good to know… another healthy formula baby! I wonder why you hear so often about kids getting sicker and having more allergies on formula. So far all I have heard about are healthy babies! I am glad you shared your two cents!!
      Angela :)

  6. Thanks for sharing! I BF my baby exclusively for 10 months and then had to start supplementing with formula until 11 months when I stopped nursing all together and she was exclusively a formula/bottle fed baby. It was a LONG journey to even EBF for 10 months! I struggled big time with giving her formula for many reasons you listed. My LO is now almost 13 months and I look back at breast feeding and I feel so grateful to have that experience and time with her. As I look ahead to future kids… Let’s just say I will probably not fight formula as much as I did the first time.

    • acharlescoach says:

      The breastfeeding time is very special but at the same time, I agree about future kids. I am definitely going to try to nurse for a bit but then if the milk dries up, so be it! Thanks so much for commenting!
      Angela :)

  7. Great job! You tried and did your best and if the baby is hungry from not enough milk, then what’s wrong with actually feeding her? It’s the best decision you can make as a mother- to do the best you can. I know how much pressure we face now-a-days to breastfeed until kids go to school (well almost) but honestly, You can only do what you can. Thank you for sharing!

    happymedley.blogspot.com

  8. acharlescoach says:

    Yes! Thank you! When the kid is hungry it is in everyone’s best interest to feed her!! Either that or face her wrath of a hungry child which nobody wants to do. Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again!
    Angela :)

  9. I already feel like there is so much pressure as a mom and you feel like you have to do everything “right” but I am learning that there isn’t a right answer. every mom and baby have to do what works for them! And I am so glad that your sweet girl is doing better. That sounds like it was so hard and stressful! She is adorable!

    • acharlescoach says:

      Thank you! Yes there is no one “right” way to do things. In fact, I know plenty of people who go against recommended guidelines even and their babies do just fine. All of the advice and guidelines are incredibly valuable to pay attention to, but ultimately I am realizing that a mother’s intuition can be just as important. Thanks for stopping by! Come again!

  10. Benefits of breast-feeding and vaginal birth include getting mom’s good bacteria. Of course, if Mom has used antibiotics and had other stresses, what she may pass on may not be complete. Supplementation to the rescue. Here’s a link to more info on probiotics for babies. http://bit.ly/1mACS91

  11. Great post! We will hit the 4 month nursing mark this coming Saturday. However I return to work the Tuesday after. I have a no nap ninja. I battle with this feeding decision every. single. day. It’s nice to know that there are other mommas who worry too much about everyone else’s opinion. I don’t know if I’ll switch just yet, but this post is very reassuring. Thank you. :)

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