We are joyfully expecting our third sweet babe in November. We eagerly await the time we get to meet, cuddle, nurture, and love our little one. My heart has always yearned for a third child and has been excited about all the details of welcoming another child into our family…
That is except for feeding our new baby. My heart was heavy at the thought of having a baby and again dealing with the heartbreak of not being able to breastfeed our child. This would be the third time my heart was broken to pieces by not being enough for our baby to grow. I have had such heavy thoughts about failing again that I even thought about stopping our family at two children. However, rational thought took over. I realized that another baby would be such a blessing and it would be a tragedy to not try for more children because of my own insecurities with nursing.
For those of you who do not know my story, my body is physically incapable of producing enough milk to help my babies grow. With our first child, I exclusively nursed her six weeks, during which time she hardly grew at all, struggled with jaundice, and was angry all hours of the day. I sought out help from the Le Leche League, our lactation counselor, our doctor, power pumping, skin to skin, the golden hour at birth, co-sleeping, fenugreek, mother’s tea, and even lactation cookies. I tried so hard and used every resource I could. She just would not grow…. At six weeks old we fed our daughter her first formula bottle and she grew. She grew in weight and she grew in happiness. My heart was broken by not being enough for her, as I had fully intended to nurse her whole first year, but I quickly learned that breastfeeding just is not that simple. It is not as simple as making the choice to nurse.
When we went on to have our son, I was even more determined to make it work. This time we used support from the Le Leche League, our lactation counselor (whom which we saw 5 times in our first two weeks), our doctor, power pumping, skin to skin, the golden hour at birth, co-sleeping, fenugreek, mother’s tea, lactation cookies, clipped his tied tongue, and this time I on demand feed our boy at every feeding sign….. and yet, our sweet boy did not grow. He was so angry all the time, constantly wanting to nurse, and starving. I did not let it go as long this time. Our little boy got his first formula bottle at two weeks old. He also grew in weight and grew in happiness.
I knew the signs. I knew the reality. Our doctor knew the reality. Our lactation counselor knew the reality. My body could not make enough good milk to help our babies grow. We will never truly know the reason my body cannot make enough milk, but have some strong ideas.
1-hypoplastic breasts. This means that my breasts are made without enough glandular tissue to produce milk. Based on the shape of my breasts, there is a strong suspicion that I have hypoplastic breasts. However, my breasts could also have a more narrow and specific shape because of idea number 2.
2- gastric bypass. I had gastric bypass at 23 years old. This was a huge and life changing decision for me. I am still very grateful for the opportunities that it has created. However, I do have very saggy, flat, mother of 17 kids, breasts from it. That is what happens when you lose 140 lbs. Gastric bypass may have lead to me being unable to create great milk because my body processes nutrients differently now. I have to take a lot of vitamins every day to make sure I am getting the key nutrients I need to stay healthy. My body does not take as many nutrients from food as non-gastric bypass bodies. With my body getting far less nutrients for itself, it is very likely that I do not have enough nutrients to create nutrient rich milk.
Whatever the reason may be, the reality is that my babies need to be formula fed in order to grow.
Flashback to March of this year when we found out that we were pregnant with our third baby… Such an incredible blessing! My mind immediately imagined baby’s sweet face, kissing baby’s scrunched newborn cheeks, introducing our other two children to their new siblings, which family names we would choose to name baby, and feeding baby. Ugh. Feeding baby.
What would this look like in the hospital? I have always nursed baby in the hospital. I have also always had jaundiced, crabby, and small babies. Would I want to nurse baby during the golden hour for the bond and start the stimulation to bring in my milk? (Ironically it took over a month for me to completely dry up with both my babies. I would leak and ruin my shirts, yet it was not enough nutrient rich milk to help them grow. Breaking my heart with every single, ironic drop.) Did I even want to go down the path of nursing and creating milk, just to have to stop and switch to formula, or would I just start with formula and focus on the bonding?
* I know milk will still come in, but I do not need to encourage it even more so.
It has taken me until now, week 24 of pregnancy, to have a solid answer to this.
I have decided to feed my baby.
That seems like an obvious answer, doesn’t it? Yet, it is a very loaded answer. I am going to feed my baby. My breasts do not feed my babies. To offer my baby my breast is just the same as offering them a pacifier. There is no nutrients in it, just comfort. I am going to feed my baby nutrients. This means that I am going to give my newborn baby formula in the hospital. I will undoubtedly do this while holding my baby skin to skin. I will be on-demand feeding my baby a bottle. I will do everything I would have done as a nursing mom, except this time I will be actually feeding my baby.
Will this path always break my heart? Yes.
Is this still a very sensitive subject for me? Yes.
Are my two formula fed children incredibly wonderful? Yes.
Will this baby be just as wonderful having never breastfed? Yes.
Is it time for me to accept reality and do what is best for both my babies and myself? Yes.
Am I grateful that this is the only struggle I have regarding bringing my babies into the world? Yes. 1 million times, yes. Every single day.
Our journey in parenting is going to have many heartbreaking moments, many far more difficult than the ones we have faced so far. I am just so grateful that this heartbreaking moment could be solved by simply choosing to feed our baby formula.
If only all parenting problems could be solved with a simple bottle.