Monday, September 3, 2012

How I Grew to Hate a Bottle OR A Very Long Post on Nursing

Linc drinks from a bottle. There I said it out loud. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So, I admit it. He drinks from a bottle.

And I hate it.

It started at around 4 months. Linc wasn't sleeping through the night, he was cranky after every feeding, & generally very unhappy. Now this wasn't my first baby rodeo so I knew to give it some time. Not stress out. Not run to the doctor at the slightest worry. So, I did give it time. Did some research. Asked some other mamas I trust. I started eliminating things from my diet to see if something I was eating bugged his tummy & after about a month of this, Linc was waking up nearly every hour in the night.

I finally took him to the doctor. He'd dropped from 76% in weight to 8%. "I think it's a problem with your milk supply." he suggested. ''But I nurse him constantly. Shouldn't it just regulate to what he needs." I held back the tears welling up (mama's not sleeping are scary creatures). He smiled as if he could read my mind, "Usually it does. But it doesn't look like its happening right now."

I had successfully nursed a HUGE child, Rob, for a solid year & I knew I could do it this time too. So, I went home & tried a holistic approach. Linc & I stayed in bed for nearly 3 days straight. I rested, took Fenugreek, drank a Mother Milk herb tea, nursed him all day long, & had lots of skin to skin time.

I tried the more medical approach. Drinking tons of water & power pumping in between nursing. I took the darn thing with me on errands. I called my doctor & started taking medicine 4 times a day that might help. But nothing was working. It was getting worse.

Finally I broke down & gave him a bottle. He sucked the nasty smelling thing like his ship was going down. I was crushed. I called the doctor again, he said keep nursing but start giving him bottles & that I had done everything I could. I talked to friends, got advice, & agreed. Both he & I needed to sleep & Lincoln McSkinnyArms needed more calories.

I gave him bottles & he kept guzzling them. And I grew to hate that bottle. He now looked adoringly at the bottle the way he used to look at me.
It was hard.
But he was starting to plump up. And sleep. And be happy again.

I once openly nursed Linc, dared people to give me dirty looks. Suddenly I was hiding in the bathroom or the car to feed him a bottle. I just couldn't take the embarrassment of not giving him the best I could.

We are down to nursing once or twice a day. Even that is getting slim. The bottle & I still have a love/hate relationship. He keeps Linc alive & I deal with having to share Lincs affection.

Why I'm posting this & what I'm trying to say is, that nursing is hard. Keep with it. Do your best. Try everything you can think of. But if you can't, if it's just not working, then don't beat yourself up. Don't cry yourself to sleep over the guilt that you're a failure. Baby is going to be just fine. Now make it so you are going to be fine.

So, this week I'm making a goal to, while in public, snuggle Linc up, bust out the bottle & feed him in front of everyone.

I'm going to embrace it.
Stinky bottle, skinny baby, and all.


Tara said...

Oh I so can relate! This was exactly what happened with Lucy and it was hard to deal with. But, I loved your words and I love that you are embracing it, because that is really all you can do at this point too. So good job doing a hard thing mama!

Anelieze said...

ok, liv, clarke is 4 1/2 months right now and seems to be going through the same thing: not sleeping through the night, cranky after every feeding...i've been wondering if my milk supply isn't enough, and i've been feeding him what seems to be every two hours! he wakes up at 3 am, then at 4, then finally at 5 i nurse him, then we go back to sleep until 8:30. yesterday we started him on cereal to supplement, so i hope i can use that instead of a bottle to fill him up.

anyways, i wanted to say that your post was so timely, and that i'll keep doing what you suggested--give it time. he's pretty happy so i don't think (i hope) i'm starving him. he's small, and we don't go in for a checkup until next week, and i'm afraid of what the doctor will say, but i won't let that stop me!

i'm sorry you had to go through this! i could feel the pain through your words. you're a great mommy, though, and i know you're doing what's best for you and Linc!

chin up, sister! and thank you. luvs.

brook said...


Mandi said...

Olivia, I love you and I know that you are a wonderful mother. Linc loves you as his mom and not as his food source, just as it should be.

bedelia said...

Check his tongue. Weirdest advice ever. Under the tongue is a little thing called the frenulum, it can be connected to far forward and make it very difficult for babies to suck. My first had this problem and everyone told me it was my milk supply. I eventually gave up. Turns out he just couldn't suck. Even my son's pediatrician didn't figure it out. So I always like to share the info, just in case. We found out when he was 6 months old and had it clipped. He went from drinking a 4 oz bottle in over an hour to drinking it in 10 mins.

Oh, this is commonly called tongue-tied so if you wanna google it.

And I've fed all 4 of my kids bottles exclusively starting between 2 days old and 6 weeks and I felt so guilty every time. I just have to tell myself all bodies are not created equally and I can't force mine to do something it can't.

Kristal said...

You know, I kinda felt the same way when things didn't go EXACTLY the way I wanted them to when I delivered Natalie, but ultimately I love some advice a friend gave me before I had her... anything that results in a happy healthy baby is a good experience. So while you may be sad or disappointed about your nursing experience with Linc, he's happy and healthy and so that's really all that matters. Don't beat yourself up over it lady, you're a great mom!

Eva Lavelle said...

Ohhhh, this post brought tears to my eyes. I have so many memories of trying my utmost to breastfeed both my children.
I just could not figure out why I couldnt produce copious amounts of milk with my overly large breasts. I was devastated to find out that I just did not and could not (not even after doing most of the things you have written Olivia) produce enough milk to feed my babies.
With Miss 7 (who was born early and was pretty tiny to begin with) I completely beat myself up the fact I couldnt solely breastfeed her. But like you, I looked at her little skinny self and thought what is best for my baby is combining the breast with the bottle and that is what I did and we never looked back (she was around 6 months old when I fully started breast & bottle and I struggled so horribly up till then). She thrived and looking at her little cheeks grow and her tiny skinny legs chunk up it made it absolutely worth while.
With Master 4, I also tried soley breastfeeding for about 1 day (picture a child born on the 20th December, me out of hospital on the 23rd December and then running to the chemist on the 24th December to get the formula I needed to fill up my baby boy...not alot of Christmas cheer at that time I can assure you!).
I feel your pain regarding the love the little urchins have for the bottle and I really missed the contact (even though I still breastfed) but at the end of the day seeing the bubs both grow so beautifully eases any of the guilt I felt over not breastfeeding.

Jill said...

You are a wonderful mom, and you could maybe embrace THAT. I know you are because you are taking the best care of your little guy that you can, in the best way that works right now. Enjoy him, he is a cutie, and he is not needing you any less.

Smithy said...

man oh man, nanny. breastfeeding is such a heated topic. i totally feel for you and admire your honesty.

Esther Noelle said...

My dear Liv! I'm sorry this has been such a frustrating experience and that there's not anything I can do to take away this frustration!!! You are an amazing momma and Lincoln is so lucky to have you! I love your goal to feed him proudly from a bottle this week! :)

Rachel+Co said...

you are the best momma i know. that little boy is so loved and he totally knows it.

Katie said...

Such a good remember to us all that people are always going through something that we have no idea about - that everyone has their struggles and when something comes easy to us, we should be saying a prayer of gratitude for it, not thinking we are superior because of it. Love your perspective. I am sorry you have had to go through this, but happy that you shared.

Treble Clef ♪ said...

Like you said, "Don't beat yourself up." And don't worry about others opinions on the matter. After my first baby I was unable to nurse and the other three had the bottle. They are all fine and well adjusted, I think;) *And make of this what you will, but my first baby developed asthma but the others didn't. Weird huh? You are a rockin' mama!!

Variety said...

My first switched to a bottle at 6 weeks when I had gallstone attacks. Turns out, he was a lazy eater, and the bottle was easier. I was able to justify by saying I couldn't help it when I was sick and he had to take a bottle, then subsequently wouldn't nurse. Then child #2 came along. Hubs and I were planning a vacation, so I started switching to bottle so we could leave her at Grandmas. Didn't work. We ended up taking her, but after the vacation, something went wrong. 2 months later, she had lost 7 lbs (4 mo/18 lbs to 6 mo/11 lbs) and neither of us was sleeping. Come to find out, my milk had dried up without my knowing, and she was hungry. Doctor and Nutritionist both said to give her anything, but she still wouldn't take a bottle. Needless to say, it was a long summer of sleepless nights, force feedings, and finally lots of apple juice (which was the only thing she'd drink from a bottle) and introducing a cup earlier than planned (she'd drink milk from the cup) just to get her some calories.

It was hard to come to terms with my inability to feed my child. But I finally realized that we are not meant to control everything. Sometimes, what is best for our child isn't what we want for them, and we have to learn to let go. You are a great momma for giving your child what he needs.

And as a side note, I think the reason that particular child had this particular challenge was to teach me to let go. I think there's going to be a lot of things she needs (maybe even lessons to learn) that I don't want for her. I think watching her grow up will be (and has already been) heartbreaking at times.

Christie said...

HUGS I certainly know this struggle.

desert dispatches said...

Struggled with this with my first kid....and felt like a failure...then my mom said something really simple to me..."What do you want for him in life?" I answered I wanted him to be brave, t be kind to women, to follow through...stuff like that that you would want for your son. And then she said, "Does giving him a bottle affect any of that?" And the answer was no, and I never worried bout it again, nor did I ever care what anyone thought, or what I thought they were thinking. Nursing is fabulous, it really is, and if someone really wants to do it, they should give it a real shot. And if it doesn't work out, we sigh, buy the best formula we can, and we love them to death either way.