As a new mom, when I found out I was pregnant with my son in 2013, I wanted to experience it all. I wanted to do everything by the book and take all the advice I could get.
One of the biggest areas that mom’s have to consider is, “What is my baby going to eat?” The phrase Breast is Best is pretty well known and something new moms will hear a lot. So that was what I was going to do. That is what I was told was the best way. I mean, my body is going to make milk, so I am obviously suppose to use it.
Fast forward to the day I had my son, May 10th 2013. The day was here! I was a mom!
The nurses had me try nursing my son within minutes of delivering. He wasn’t really all that interested. But ok, I thought, we have time to figure this out.
The first night in the hospital, I was exhausted. It was like 3 am, and I had a screaming baby in the room who wouldn’t latch. I called the nurse and she was pretty indifferent, telling me to keep trying and that a lactation consultant would contact me in the morning. UMMMMM alright?! I honestly can’t remember if I ever spoke with a lactation consultant after that night or not? We just kept trying and they would ask me if my son nursed. As far as I knew he did, I mean he was attached to me for ten minutes. That is nursing right? So no one checked up or questioned it.
We were released from the hospital on Sunday afternoon. By Monday night (or Tuesday morning) around midnight, after HOURS of walking around the house with my tiny newborn screaming his head off, I told my husband we needed to take our son to the ER. He was turning a bright shade of orange and his lips were starting to get chapped and peel. I knew something was wrong.
At the ER we learned our son was severely dehydrated and his jaundice numbers were rising.
They asked me about my milk supply and if it had come in. I didn’t really know. As a new mom, I had no idea what I was supposed the be feeling other than what I had learned in the quick breast-feeding class I attended. To my knowledge I didn’t feel any different. After attempting to pump and getting virtually nothing, we deduced that he was not getting enough to eat with nursing alone.
I remember after making this discovery a nurse making an offhand comment about him crying saying, “well no wonder, you haven’t eaten in three days.”
Talk about the ultimate dagger to my new mommy heart! As I type this it still brings tears to my eyes to think about how miserable he must have been. He spent a few terrifying days in NICU under the lights and getting re-hydrated. I spent those days in the lactation center pumping and doing everything under the sun to get my milk to come in. It never did.
When we got home my husband and I had to talk.
Unless I wanted to spend every waking moment hooked to a pump trying to get enough to fill one bottle, it just was not going to work.
So, we switched to formula. I had my share of judgmental stares as I mixed bottles in public, but luckily nothing that traumatized me. I assure you, I took every supplement, ate every cookie and drank all the tea. I never had a twinge of engorgement or any leaking.
When I had my daughter two years later, the same issues arose but we were better prepared this time and made sure that she was given bottles at the hospital to avoid any emergency trips to the ER.
I feel like I have come to terms with the fact that I was never able to nurse my kids, but I have found that the question still stings a little bit, even all these years later.
I want to give encouragement to any new mom who finds herself struggling. Know it is ok to ask for help. And if they won’t give it to you, keep asking until you get the help you need.
We do not have a gauge on ourselves to see what we have and do not have, nor are we given a manual with these new tiny babies, so please feel no amount of guilt when you don’t have it all figured out. If you decide that it is too hard, or your body just does not make the milk and you have to switch to formula, I want to tell you it is ok. Know that I am sending you a big mommy hug through the computer. You are no less of a mom because you were not able to breastfeed your baby. You are feeding your baby and they are happy and healthy. That is what is important. On the flip side, if you power through and you endure the hardships of breast-feeding I will be the first in line to give you a high five mom! You are a super hero!
I challenge you today, go find a mom who is struggling and give her a high five, or thumbs up from across the room. If you get one of those register coupons for formula, take a walk to the formula isle and leave it for a fellow mom to find. As I can confirm, formula is expensive and one of those coupons from an unexpected source can make all the difference in a day. If we can band together as moms and agree that raising kids is HARD WORK, and encourage each other more, think of what a positive impact that can have on our children who are watching us.
If you read this and are inspired to do something for a fellow mom please share in the comments and keep the positive vibes going!