Sorry guys today I am talking about breastfeeding. I know look away, it is uncomfortable to talk about, put them away who would talk about such things in public…shame shame. Well my plan didn’t go as I planned and I want to talk about it.
Before I even had my son I wanted to breast feed. Not only for the mother son bonding but also because hands down it was going to save me a lot of money. So I researched early, I knew that due to the Affordable Care Act my insurance should cover a breast pump and that the hospital I was delivering at was very pro-breast feeding. I started figuring out what I needed to do to get a pump so that I could breast feed and pump once I went back to work. I called my insurance company and figured out the details only to discover that my insurance didn’t cover breast pumps. But how you ask, they are required by law you may say. Unless your work went through the paperwork to be exempt from certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act which mine did. This was annoying, how could a company for helping people not help its own employees. So I went to HR and was like hmm, isn’t it weird that our consumers insurance covers these things but our insurance doesn’t. I did what I tell every single person I work with to do, I advocated for myself and eventually got them to write the insurance company for an exception to cover my breast pump. Hopefully anyone who comes after me knows to do the same thing because it was frustrating and I cried over my computer screen looking at the cost of breast pumps and how that would be too weird to ask for at a baby shower gift. Once all of that was settled I confirmed with the insurance probably four times because I was nervous to all of a sudden get a bill from the medical supply company saying hey you owe us 250 dollars pay up. It worked out OSF was great and I was able to pick it up about 2 blocks from my house instead of waiting for it to be delivered.
Once I had my little one breast-feeding felt like it was going okay at the hospital. He had a good latch, and besides him cracking one side, which hurts to even think about, I thought he was doing well. The consultant made some minor adjustments but I thought things were going well. The issue with breast feeding though is you don’t know how much they are actually getting. I didn’t know how much was normal to be getting when I pump. I wish I had, because than the next several months wouldn’t have been so dang difficult and stressful. I started pumping before I went back to work so that I could get used to it, and figure everything out. Even went to an additional consultation because I felt like I wasn’t using it right, size of the pump shields matter, who would have thought it made such a difference. But I never got the big surplus and that freaked me out. I started drinking the tea and joined la leche league online and thought I was getting some good information. It was all very supportive and I continued to think I got this. All the while I was feeling like a dairy cow. Because I wasn’t pumping a whole lot anything I did pump was liquid gold and used for emergencies which meant that I was the one doing all of the feedings. As much as I wanted to have my husband do feedings I just didn’t have the extra supply. This was exhausting but still worth it because I wanted to get to the 6-month mark.
Fast forward a little bit and we were having difficulty getting into the new pediatrician because of a transfer of records So when we finally did get in he was already 3.5 months old. When he did his weight check I was devastated he was severely underweight. We all knew he was tiny because he was so long but getting the numbers that he was less than 1% was heart breaking. So we increased how much he ate his bottles got bigger and he still wasn’t gaining. So we had to do weekly weight checks for a while until our pediatrician told us something that devastated me. I had to start supplementing with formula. I was mad, I was sad, I was so many things when I got this info that I couldn’t really process it.
I was mad. I was mad at the pediatrician for taking so long to get us in. I was basically starving my son and if we had gotten in more timely if they hadn’t lost his records the first time we sent them they would have caught it sooner. I was mad because how did I not realize that it wasn’t just that he was a colicky baby but that he was hungry, I wasn’t providing him enough nutrients. I was mad because I had to switch OBs last-minute and they should have mentioned that because of some things in my medical history and that because I was a first time mom my supply might not be enough. I was mad because I had been made to believe breast-is-best, and that I was doing the right thing by sticking to it and not supplementing from the evil formula industry.
I was sad. I was sad because I felt like a failure. I was sad because I could have done long-term damage to my son just because I was listening to the breast-is-best community and ignoring the fact that I knew I was not producing enough. I was sad because I felt like I would be losing that bond because now he needed a bottle as well as me when I was home. I was sad because I felt like I wasn’t a good enough mom because I wasn’t enough.
The worst part of all of this was that a small part of me was also relieved. I was relieved that it meant that my husband could take him for a late night feeding. I was relieved that the stress was reduced because I could breathe a little if I didn’t pump enough that one work day that was chaotic.
Once we started supplementing and mixing bottles he started to put on weight the weekly weight checks got to stop. He left the scary under 1% on the charts. While the doctor was never concerned about his life because of the fact that he has always been such an active child and never lethargic. We got to see our normally very fussy colicky baby calm down. He seemed more content and not wanting to eat every hour.
I still get mad thinking about what could have happened if the pediatrician hadn’t been so amazing and supportive in regards to the supplementing. He understood that it was an emotional impact on me and encouraged me to still breast feed as long as I want as well. It became an addition and not a replacement which helped. I see these heartbreaking stories about people who never had a pediatrician encourage them in the right way. Stories about infants who weren’t lucky enough to have weight noticed and corrected. I am so lucky that I started supplementing because my little one is growing like a weed.
I know now that I still get to bond with him because I am the one who can get him down for the night. He still comes to me when he needs soothed. But now my husband gets to bond with him too, my husband gets to give him his morning bottle so I can get a little more sleep.
I was a firm believer in breast-is-best unless you have to do something else. Now I realize how damaging that mantra can be because it makes people who cant do it feel like less of a mom. Now I believe in Fed-is-Best, and however you choose to do that if you and your baby are healthy because of it. Go for it.
*edit* I had my normal game and baking round up but it didn’t feel right, look for it next week.
Until next time