Sunday, March 28, 2010

Breastfeeding Woes.

I thought I'd give a little "how the baby's doing" update on my blog since many of you are probably wondering. Henry is a super sweet addition to our family and we are enjoying our new life as a family of four. Alex is very sweet with the baby and has really taken to his new role of Big Brother.

One thing that hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be is feeding Henry. He had an improper latch from the beginning, and I let it go for about 10 days. I was extremely sore, but wrote it off as normal soreness. When I took Henry back to the pedi for his 2 week check up, he had only gained 2 ounces in 6 days and was still 2 ounces away from his original birth weight. The pedi was concerned, and as the day wore on and Henry was less and less interested in eating, my pedi (Jason) was also concerned. So we started supplementing him with formula and he was more alert and eating more after a day - a noticeable difference. For those of you who have had a similar issue, I'm sure you understand how anxiety-inducing it is for you to think that your baby is not getting enough to eat. Not to mention the fact that as a mom, there is the never-going-away feeling that somehow you have failed your baby when breastfeeding doesn't work out exactly as planned. I tell you, trying to breastfeed and being unsuccessful (even if for a time) is very, very difficult...both for mom and for baby.

With Alex, I never had any breastfeeding issues. He latched on properly at first and I had good help in the hospital with friends and lactation nurses. Now that I have had a totally different experience with Henry, I fear that I didn't have enough grace for others who had "issues". At the time I was in a small group of women who all had different experiences with breastfeeding, some positive and some negative. While I would have never intentionally been proud of my breastfeeding success, there is a nagging feeling inside me now that perhaps I was. Oh, how good it is now (despite its difficulty to accept and the sadness it brings) to say that I have been humbled. I now have a better perspective and have accepted the fact that God has different journeys for everyone with newborns, hopefully all leading believers to trust Him more and see His goodness in different ways. After all, we have been blessed with health and the gift of knowing Him personally. Who am I to demand more from Him?

Not everyone succeeds at the breastfeeding task. No matter how easy the books and other moms make it sound, breastfeeding is hard work. And sometimes it doesn't work at all. And actually that's okay.

For now, I am pumping my milk and feeding Henry with a bottle. This seems to be more functional for our family than trying to get him to latch on for 20 minutes, hearing him cry and seeing him get frustrated, and ultimately giving up and giving him the bottle. We are going to see a lactation counselor this week to get some advice and guidance about what to do next. So many people have told me stories about how their baby didn't learn to breastfeed properly until a month or two. Of course I am hoping Henry will be in this camp - for the simple fact that it's just plain easier to do the breast than to do the pump/bottle. But there comes a time when we as a family will have to be okay with Henry eating from a bottle if he needs to. Lots of babies do it and it's gonna be okay. In the meantime, we are praying and trusting that God will give us everything we need for today.
And for tomorrow.
And for the next day.

I'm blogging about this because it has sometimes been my experience in parenting that people rarely share about the difficult issues they have with newborns. They are quick to report how much they sleep, how well they eat, how much weight they are gaining, etc., but rarely offer details about the difficult parts. I know lots of seasoned moms, new moms, and expecting moms read this blog. Let our current experience be an encouragement to you - just as the stories of successful breastfeeding are.

I will keep you posted on our progress.


Melissa said...

I know your feeling Nicole! I remember when you brought us a meal when Jackson was born and I was having a crying breakdown upstairs because Jack wouldn't nurse and I had to pump when he was only 1 week old! He completely stopped nursing when he was 9 months. Breastfeeding is hard and I believe it is rare for someone to be able to nurse without problems and especially for a year like most of us would like for our kids. Good for you for posting this so others don't feel like they are alone with nursing issues! Miss you!

Jack and Sheryl said...

Sorry you are having problems, friend! As someone who has cried BUCKETS of tears over nursing or not nursing all three of my children, I appreciate you posting that. I think as women sometimes we quite wrongly equite nursing our baby with some sort of ultra-femininity or something. Having to stop nursing Lorelai when I did was one of the major disappointments of my LIFE, which always seemed weird to me. There's a lot of emotions wrapped up with breastfeeding! I know it's stressful when they aren't gaining weight like they should. I'm glad you have some good help/advice. I always had to trust whether it was all formula or all breastfeeding or a mixture of the two that God knew how my baby needed to be nourished. Pumping is a lot of work, too. You're a great mama, Nicole. Hang in there.

Sarah and Eric Jordan said...

Hi there! I am Todd Schulz's sister and have been enjoying your blog for the last few weeks. Congratulations on your beautiful addition to your family! I, too, had major issues (for about 2-3 months) with breastfeeding and after realizing he just wasn't getting any (after trying for hours each day), we finally had to make the call at week 3 to pump and bottle. As interesting as that was, there are some things that worked out great... the flexibility to have your husband help out (and become very involved in feedings) by feeding baby a bottle, etc. Funny enough, around 3 months of age, he all of a sudden became a great nurser (although I was back at work) and we still nurse at the feeding right before bed.

Just know (and I'm sure you know this) that you are doing everything you can for your little man... whether it be with a bottle, the breast, or formula. I don't know you personally, but I can tell just from the way you write that you are an incredibly loving and creative mother.

I've been working on a post on my blog about our "journey" of breastfeeding too. It was so great to see yours. I really enjoy your blog!


The Marshmans said...

It took Georgia about 5 weeks to get it right. We were at the lactation office three times a week for a month working it out... IT WAS HARD. I totally understand how heart breaking the struggle to get it can be!

Praise God that he is working all of this into you through Henry, as unfun as it is it is always a good thing!

Hang tight mama, we Marshmans are praying and thinking of you during this time.

The G Family said...

Yeah, breastfeeding Jack was extremely difficult for several reasons. After three months of frustration and constant stress, I switched him to formula (I was in Cambodia at the time and did not have a breastpump). I felt so defeated at first - like I had failed at something that should have been so natural for a real mother - but then God just gave me this overwhelming peace. I was so much happier not having to stress about how much he was getting...and in turn, he became a much happier baby, too. So glad, you shared this on your blog. I am sorry you are going through this trial but I know other new moms will hopefully be encouraged by your post.

Camp Quartet said...

Congratulations on your new little man Nicole! Two boys we understand. :) I was a breastfeeding educator before I even breastfed (weird, I know). But when it came time for me to nurse, it was hard. Then my sister's milk never came in and I realized how many factors come in to play with breastfeeding. I think you summed it up nicely with "Grace". I've been given a nice dose of humility several times in regards to child-rearing and breastfeeding LOL! God is so patient with us. Praying blessings on you and Henry's growth. Love and blessings to your growing family!

Kevin and Keri Sheckler said...

The experiences between #1 child and #2 child are a great reminder of how God takes care of our needs in different ways yet His love for all does not change.
My #1 child was a pretty good nurser. Was able to go back and forth between bottle and nursing which was wonderful considering I was still working part-time.
#2 child gave me the hardest time nursing until around 2 months. She was a cluster eater for about a month (which I simply viewed as necessary mommy and baby time) and then finally after becoming a good nurser decided she didn't want a bottle at all and never did have again.
My girls are sooooo's hard at times to continue learning how to parent but as you shared, it is by God's GRACE and with my reliance on HIM daily that I go forward.
Thanks for sharing.

Nicole said...

Thank you, Ladies, for all of your encouraging words. I think the hardest thing in the whole process is feeling like you are all alone and must be the only woman on earth who ever had this struggle. Thankful to know that is definitely NOT the case! =) Blogging about it helps me to stay honest and hopefully encourages others. I am glad to know that perhaps it has on some level. Thanks again for all your encouragement and sharing your experiences.

Leigh Anne said...

Thanks for sharing your heart, Nicole. Breastfeeding can be so hard and so unnatural at the same time. I've shed many tears throughout the process w/ my 2 boys. I know your post will encourage others, and just know that you are not alone. Many other mothers share your struggles, and the LORD hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart! Your such a good mamma to try so hard to breast feed. Many mammas just quit or don't even start. Will be praying that things smooth out quickly for you & Henry.
Blessings to you all!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Nicole. It was a good rebuke for me to realize that I may have been prideful at times too with my breastfeeding success with Isaiah. We are doing okay with Glory, but it has definitely been more work than it was with Isaiah.
I have enjoyed reading your blog, keep it up!
Love, Kerry