Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Breast is Best...or is it?

This is late coming but the winner of the Trail Sweepstakes is Bigzigfitness! Please e-mail me at 26.2runforfun@gmail.com

Note:  This post is not meant to offend anyone.  This is just my story and what worked for my family.  I have felt the need to write this post since Lee was 5 weeks old.  I want moms out there to know that they are not alone and they are in no way bad mothers for using formula.  So here we go…

When people meet Baby Lee (as we sometimes refer to him) or rather Lee Michael, the first comment is always “He is such a happy baby.”  And it is true.  I do not like to brag about it especially to other parents who may be having a hard time, because it can be so so hard (having been there I get it).  However, he really is a very very happy baby.  Aaron and I often joke that someone must have finally cut us a break.

 Happy Baby!

Very Happy Baby

However, Lee was not always a happy baby.  For the first 5 weeks of his life, he cried 24/7.  Now, I know babies cry and at first Lee seemed to just cry like any normal baby but by two weeks of age it was clear that his crying was not normal.  I specifically remember the first time he spit up and began crying.  I knew the cry was different.  It was a painful cry.  Something was wrong. 

No mom I am not happy, nope not in the least
From that point on, he never seemed to stop crying.  He would be awake from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  At 4 p.m., he would finally take a 1 to 2 hour nap and then be back up and down for the remainder of the night until 9 a.m. came around once again.  I now know why they use sleep deprivation as a form of getting people to disclose information – it is awful and crazy making.  I knew Lee’s cry was not normal, I knew there was something wrong.  I kept telling everyone, but it seemed like no one would believe me.  I was suffering from postpartum anxiety and I think people just basically, justifiably thought it was that.  I may not have before, but since becoming a mom, I truly believe in a mother’s instinct. 

At our four week appointment, I approached the doctor.  He believed me and tested Lee.  It became clear quite quickly that Lee was one of the many babies who had not yet developed the enzyme needed to break down cow milk protein. This means he was, in essence, allergic to the cow milk he was getting from me through my breast milk, and that was a lot of cow milk.  During pregnancy, I wanted nothing to do with yogurt, but postpartum I was having at least two Chobanis a day.  It pains me even now to think that my baby suffered. It makes me want to cry.


At that doctor’s appointment, my doctor simply stated, no problem you will just go off dairy and soy for a year or so.  He said it like it was no big deal.  I was on the verge of tears.  I was sleep deprieved, overly anxious, and now this guy was telling me no more dairy and soy.  And this was not just no more icecream this meant anything that had any traces of dairy or soy. Now, I know a lot of people live very healthy, happy lives on this type of diet.  But that is not for me.  Based on my history, my health needs, and my palate, a dairy, soy-free diet would not work for me.  I knew this instantly.  I may or may not have have given the doctor a piece of my mind at this point.  I may have acted like a 5 year old stating that “the kid would be getting formula.”   The doctor told me to think about it, that he would support my decision, but also told me how important breast milk is and that while it is an inconvenice, it is not the end of the world to give these things up.
Apparently people have missed the memo about my love for all things dairy

I stormed out of the office, put Lee in the car, and I sat and cried.  I was so upset.  I was angry.  I was even angry at Lee.  But more so I was angry at myself.  How selfish I am, I thought, to not want to do what is “best” for my baby.  I wondered why I was making such a big deal out of things.  I had always told myself, going into this, that if breastfeeding worked, then great and if not, that is O.K.  I never got it when friends talked about how disappointed they were that breastfeeding did not work out.  It just did not seem like it was a big deal.  Turns out, it does feel like a really really big deal when you are in it.

After composing myself, Lee and I went the only place we could – my running partner’s house.  We talked at length.  She let me know that she did not think breastfeeding was for me and that, that was O.K.  She let me cry and be angry.  Over the next week,  I went through hell.  I went off dairy and soy all together.  Aaron did too.  I was so enraged that I told Aaron if I had to do this, so did he.  He was a very good sport.  I had countless conversations with friends, family, doctors, and therapists over what to do.  Deep down, I knew I wanted to go with formula.  Insurance would fully cover it, so that was not an issue.  Everyone could help more, so I could sleep and try to kick the anxiety.  Lee would be happy and off dairy.  There were so many positives.  But it was so hard for me to see that.  All I could see was that I was a failure.  All I could worry about was that we would go off breastmilk and my milk would dry up and I would have made a BIG mistake.  I worried about losing my bond with my baby. I worried about the importance of breastmilk. You name it, I worried about it.  I am not sure who cried more that week, Lee or me.

Ok we did not take pictures but that is basically what it looked like but worse

Aaron quickly saw that the right decision was formula.  I could not see it.  So for the week we decided to do an experiment where Lee would get formula and breastmilk.  The idea being maybe I would just breastfeed a little and give formula the other times.  This was, in the end, ridiculous for me.  The whole point was that (a) I could not give up dairy and soy and (b) I was sick with anxiety, so how would breastfeeding just a little less help?  I would still have to give up dairy and soy and could not fully recover.  That week was more of a mourning process for myself.  I had to let breastfeeding go, but I could not.  Everything I had learned taught me that formula was the devil and that I must breastfeed.  So for the week, we did both, with me pumping in the corner while Aaron fed Lee. It sucked! I HATE pumping. I am so happy I will not be there again.

Baby Tears - so awful...

At the end of the week, I saw my midwife, she diagnosed me with postpartum anxiety brought on by hormonal changes, the 24/7 crying, you name it.  To treat it, she believed I needed medication and therapy. It was recommended that moms do not breastfeed on this medication.  That was the “out” I needed.  Looking back on it, I am sad that I needed an “out” to make this decision.  But at that moment, I was too far “in it” to make a change without a push.

Nutramigen here we come!

Going off breastmilk was one of the best decisions we ever made for Lee and for our entire family.  It was as if a light had turned on inside of Lee.  The crying stopped.  It was like night and day.  All of a sudden, he woke up, he ate, he took a nap, repeat.  He noticed things.  He was happy.  

 Almost immediately, his night feedings went down to two, then one, then none.  I know I should not say this, I know it may just be Lee, but since 8 weeks he has slept through the night without a peep.  I am sure I am jinxing us now.  I do not even want to define for you what that means “sleeping through the night” but be sure it is much more than I get in a night.  Maybe this is just Lee?  I think that is a part of it.  Maybe we are just amazing parents? Well, we like to think so (LOL).  Maybe someone caught us a break but we are screwed next time?  Possibly - I am in denial on that one.  Or, most likely, a significant part has to do with the formula as well.

 I admit it - I love sneaking into Lee's room at night and watching him sleep...the sweetest thing ever

Lee is almost 7 months old.  He is truly the" happiest baby on the block.I wish I was as happy as Lee. He engages everyone.  Aaron says he has my social personality with his relaxed disposition.  He has continued to grow and be healthy. He is about average in weight and above average in height.  He has never been sick (seriously, now I am just asking for it).  He is full of life.  Now, I promise I am not saying that formula, especially Nutramigen, was the only key, but for us, I believe it to be a large part of the puzzle.


More Smiles!

 More and More Smiles!

For me, I love Lee so much it hurts.  In the beginning, I could not say that.  I could not see much. I was so anxious, so unhappy, and so sleep deprived.  I did not know where to turn.  I could not help my baby and felt that I was, of course, a bad mother. I was a bad mother for not catching it sooner, I was a bad mother for not trying hard with breastfeeding.  It took time to move on.  It took medicine and doctors for the anxiety to lessen.  But as it did and Lee continued with formula I began to finally enjoy my baby.  To bond with my baby.  While I was breastfeeding, we were not bonding.  I was crying, Lee was crying, we were a crying a mess.  As Lee became full of life, I also came up for air.  No more pumping, no more midnight feedings, no more “breast is best,” and no more feeling judge.  People say “happy mommy, happy baby.”  But you wonder if they are just being nice.  I could care less what people think.  My baby is happy, my family happy, I am happy.
For Aaron, going to formula was a delight.  He finally felt he could help.  Breastfeeding is really a lonely experience and it does truly leave the husband or partner left out to dry.  From the day we started Aaron was overjoyed to take on feedings.  He took the night feedings that were left.  

 Happy Daddy , Happy Baby!

 We went to visit family.  I had a week off from night feedings.  My dad took Lee in his room for two nights, my aunt and uncle took him for two nights, and my husband took two nights.  I was a wreck.  I needed to sleep and be well. I could not do that breastfeeding.  But with the bottle all of this was possible.  I know, you can pump and get relief, but ladies it is NOT the same, and did I mention how much pumping sucks...

My dad fed him...

 My aunt fed him..

Aaron fed him...

 I fed him...

Lee fed himself, no big deal mom

I do not want to make it sound like this is the best thing ever or give people the wrong impression. It really is what is best for you and your family whether it is breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  But, I feel it is necessary to put such a spin on bottle feeding because no one does.  I mean, maybe some, but most make you feel like you are the worst mother to ever set foot on this earth.  Even if they don’t say it, you feel judged.  It seems like only a select few really were truly behind me and whatever decision I/we made.

I want moms to know, those who are pregnant, looking to become pregnant, have babies already – that you have a choice and either choice is really O.K. No, I mean it, IT IS O.K.  For me, I am like PUT MY BABY’S FACE ON THE FORMULA BOTTLE BECAUSE I LOVE FORMULA.  THANK YOU ENFAMIL  It saved our lives.  For others, breastfeeding is a wonderful experience.  Either way, you can be happy.  Either way you are a good mother.  Please remember that.

Mother's Day 2013 - fully present and happy

And with that, this maybe the longest post ever.  I hope you stuck with me and I hope this helped some of you.

Had enough pictures?

Are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding? What are your thoughts?  Did you ever feel like this either with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or with things that have nothing to do with babies whatsoever.... 

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