Pro-Breastfeeding Mama & Why I Chose Formula

The stigma with formula frustrates me. I know breastfeeding is best…. After all, my Mother breastfed me until I was 2 years old so that means so should I, right?

This post will go in and out so try to follow me…

I sat in the chair in tears. Absolute sobbing. The fourth trimester hormones could have attributed to this but at that moment I was not thinking of that.

I recalled the birth of my son. Panic attack on the surgery table. A C-Section. A planned C-Section. And yes that didn’t go over well for starters with some. Should I rewind the clock a little more for you?

I was told in October of 2012 (4 months after I said “I do”) that my hormones prevented from getting pregnant and if I didn’t get them fixed I wasn’t ever going to get pregnant. This was told to me by a naturopath that will remain anonymous. I didn’t think that I would ever have an issue like this and I just didn’t want to believe it.

I chose not to believe it and did not go through with the hormone replacement therapy that was prescribed for me.

March 2013 I received a positive pregnancy test. Elated… was an understatement. I honestly couldn’t believe it. Nervous, happy, excited, and relieved are the emotions that I felt run through my body all at the same time. I clasped my hand over my mouth as I showed my husband the positive test, not quite sure how to even mutter these words after going through the past 4-5 months of uncertainty but I was… pregnant.

The next 8-9 months went on and I did not have a smooth pregnancy. I tried to embrace this beautiful human being growing in my body but it was hard. Every month posed new issues. Health issues. One after another. Come August and I was on bedrest. Straight up. Lay there. Don’t do anything. And rest. Yeah telling that to Brianne… pssshh. Hardest thing I had to do! I read blog after blog from women that were in my shoes and I tried to take their advice. “Make your bed… do your make up…” Those seem trivial but they were hard to do. And most days I failed.

Approaching my due date about a month or so left and I developed PUPPS. Any of you that have had PUPPS you will know that you wouldn’t wish this on your enemy. It is really hell on earth. Look it up, you will see. So the only way to relieve PUPPS is to deliver.

In addition to this, my little boy was breech. 100% of the pregnancy. Kicking the heck out of my crotch, daily. I tried hypnobabies (as my previous post let you know) and a whole bunch of different remedies but nothing got him to turn.

Needless to say when November hit, I was d-o-n-e…

C-Section?

Sure, sign me up.

Done.

November 13th arrives and there I am getting prepped for surgery. Getting stuck 5-6 times (I lost count actually) to try to get my IV in was NOT fun.

Proceed to the surgery room… walking. Not getting wheeled in… I see the room and I just start shaking… a nervous WRECK. Crying ensues….

I kept trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my stomach is getting cut wide open while I’m fully awake… When I look up and through the reflection of the light above I can see everything. By then I am shaking so bad everyone in the room is trying to calm me down. They give probably every drug under the sun to get me to calm down but I can’t. “I can…see…myself….open” is all I can mutter and I’m trying my hardest to focus on listening for a baby cry or that these things have been done a million times and I’ll be okay.

Gentry arrives… healthy (so far that we know of) beautiful… full head of hair and crying. We cry… the whole nine.

So my panic attack starts to subside but by then I was shaking from all the anesthetic that was pumped through my body.

They wheel me into the recovery area where I get to hold my son for the first time. Beautiful. I wish I can bottle that emotion up and spray it on me every time I think I’m failing as a Mama.

So here’s where the breast feeding was going to work out and all will be good right? Well they prep you that it might not be rainbows and butterflies so I went in there open minded but very focused and determined to breastfeed.

10 minutes into the “Golden Hour” after birth and the OR recovery nurse tells me that I need a nipple shield. A nipple WHAT..? I never heard of this thing and I have seen many a women breast feed and I knew my breasts weren’t abnormal. But because I was pumped with so much stuff… the baby couldn’t latch on right away. So enter nipple shield.

Love hate relationship really. Each Lactation Consultant thereafter said that I didn’t need one. We tried to (that early on) get him off of the shield but it just wasn’t working out. He already was having nipple confusion… could this be true?

I delivered on a Wednesday and left the hospital on a Sunday. I developed postpartum preeclampsia Β (yes that is possible) and was not having the best recovery which is why I stayed a couple days extra. The next day (Monday) was squirts first pediatric appointment. When the Pediatrician listened to Gentry’s heart for the first time, he excused himself out of the exam room and came back a few minutes later. I thought this was odd but tried not to panic. He came back and said that he heard a murmur and that he already booked me an appointment with a Pediatric Cardiologist across town… that day… to just go over there right now andΒ “Don’t worry it could be nothing” and to just call him after the appointment.

We go… and find out my little baby isn’t the healthy baby I thought I delivered. I was told my baby had three holes in his heart, VSD, ASD, and PDA. Said that he was classified as having Cardiac Failure and he had Congenital Heart Defect dubbed CHD. Crying sobbing mess. I was told NOT to Google these (because I’d probably not like what I saw and to this day I haven’t). How could this be? Mama & Papa are perfectly healthy and we don’t have any history with this and here’s this beautiful baby who is having heart failure! I was told that I need to make sure this baby doesn’t loose any unnecessary calories (which meant no crying etc…) to add formula to my breast milk so that he will have a calorie boost, to feed him every 2-3 hours regardless if he is sleeping – I HAD to wake him up and pray.

I started to add supplementation to my pumped breast milk. Gent wasn’t having it. It didn’t go over well. So I made a Mama decision and went against the doctors word and pumped like a mad woman. I mean mad woman and just feed him my breast milk. I slept for about 45 minutes at a time and when I wasn’t sleeping, I was pumping, feeding or doing other motherly duties. I was tied to the pump. And what kept me going was telling myself that this miracle milk… this liquid gold was going to help his little body heal his heart. So that’s just what I did.

My Son has a superhero heart. That little thing has healed itself. Just about all of the way. Its still working on closing the VSD but the other two are closed. He was so….close to being hospitalized and he wasn’t. Superhero heart I told you…

Before all this craziness, I told myself I wanted to breastfed until he was a year. That was my goal. My breastfeeding goal.

And here is my son who is pretty much strictly fed my breast milk via bottle because I had to measure how much he was drinking to insure he was receiving enough calories. The Pediatrician gave me the green light that I no longer needed to measure his intake when he was approximately 2 months… two months of his little heart showing progress. So I proceeded to try to use the nipple shield again. It was extremely difficult. I had a very patient Lactation Consultant who tried her hardest to help my breast-feeding relationship with and without the nipple shield. But it failed. It just didn’t work out. I gave up. I was investing my emotions too much into trying to fix this breast-feeding thing that I became engulfed in it. I was researching… beating myself up about it… and I finally said I will continue to pump… So I packed up my nipple shield.

And pumped.

And pumped.

And pumped some more.

My little Hygeia pump sure got its use out of her…

I still had no Mommy life. I felt that I was pulling time away from my son to be tied to a pump. My little guy was growing up before me while I was tied to my pump. I would sit there and try to get his attention just for a few minutes of eye to eye contact just for him to pull away and want to go play, roll, stare at the fan, you know baby stuff. And I felt bad that I wasn’t connecting more with him. I was so worried about my supply that I was focused on keeping a schedule of my pumping and it was sorta taking over. Then one day my supply was gone. Just like that. And I was a nervous wreck. What do I do? Do I pump like a crazy woman even more? Is that even possible? and maybe… just hope my body gets the hint? My baby is going to be hungry in about an hour and my fridge stash is gone… Frozen milk is gone… And I have a couple of bottles of… formula. Yikes. Not giving my son a milkshake. No. No. I hear so many bad things about it. I can’t…. but… I have to.

I sat in the chair in tears. Absolute sobbing. Placed that bottle to my sons lips… Recalled the past 9 month pregnancy… the nipple shield issue… just everything. And I feel like I failed. I’m giving something to my son that people talk so much crap on. Its “so horrible”.

But … I had to.

For more reasons than one obviously.

I had so many mixed emotions running through me and I felt so bad. I wished I knew someone who was in my shoes. That could just tell me it was going to be “Okay”.

I sucked it up. I wiped the tears with my finger and held onto my little boy. Kissed his forehead. Said sorry but Mama had to.

I hate that society has such a stigma about formula that it has distorted my thinking so much so that I felt I was a horrible Mama for choosing to do this.

It took me a few days to recover and realize my baby didn’t freak out with the formula and he was still his happy little self.

I continued to pump like a mad woman.

I told myself… Just make it to 6 months. Not a year… You need more time with your little… A year? No…

My supply continually had issues and after my body got used to supplements {that I loved by the way}… and no longer had an effect on my supply.

Well baby Gentry liked those little milkshakes (lol…) and started turning away from my breast milk bottles. It hurt a little bit. But this was around 5-5 and a half months so I knew this would be an ample time when I can really start to bring on the formula. Give this Mama so much-needed time with her son and not be tied to this pump. His superhero heart was still thriving and closing itself.

It took me awhile to understand my baby won’t break because he was drinking formula.

My baby went from a breastmilk-fed baby to a formula-fed baby.Β And I was finally okay with that.

I hope this story resonatesΒ with someone out there. I feel you… I know what it feels like… I know society has so much tilt with breastfeeding. I know why breastfeeding is SO important but I also understand why I chose formula and why it was right for me.

 

xoxo,

The Sentimental Mama

Brianne Geiger
  • Jenisa

    You’re an awesome mom for trying so hard Brianne…what an awesome story πŸ™‚ I love your persistence and admire your courage… so discouraging when mom’s wont even try nursing cause it’s “gross” or they just don’t want to, or on their first few days just “aren’t producing enough milk” and just give up. They should read this blog and see what it takes… it’s not an overnight success. Proud of you girl… and love the pics of your little man… he’s SO cute!

    • Thanks Jenisa!!! And thank you for reading… I really appreciate it!

  • Yurie

    I totally understand what you went through! I have 2 boys and 1 on the way….I also was told I may not be able to get pregnant at first, now going to be a mom of 3! I too had a very hard time breast feeding and never had enough supply, even with taking stuff to make more….helped a little, not enough. Also my milk didn’t come in until after about a week, or week and half. And by that time my boys were used to the bottle, yes it happened with both my boys, so had to pump and feed….and my supply only lasted about 8 months with boy 1 and 6 months with boy 2. Breast feeding was the most stressful time for me. I always felt I failed……so I totally understand! Also all my pregnancies were difficult, and I had PUPPS with my first! Good luck! And you are doing great!!! Mommies always knows best!!!

    • Thanks Yurie! And thank you so much for reading my post. It means so much to have another Mama out there that went through similar situations!