I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long while and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make my fingers or my brain do the work and didn’t want to admit to everyone that I had failed. But… I’m formula feeding Paityn. (With a little side of nursing a few times a day.) I hate it and I wish it were different but it’s not.
She started on formula right off the bat, something I didn’t plan on, but her blood sugar was low and as a tiny, early baby she needed to eat. I was fine with it and a little formula was the last thing on my list of worries when having a baby 4-5 weeks early. I started to nurse her and pump in between and soon the milk started flowing. So did the spit up.
I was creating my milk stash and patting myself on the back for all the future bottles I was making. Then it started to become obvious that something was not settling with her and I thought we were headed down the milk protein allergy road like we had with Brady. We made our way through the list of possibilities and finally settled on lactose intolerance. Preemie babies have a temporary intolerance many times because they don’t produce the enzyme that breaks it down.
That meant the only way to get breast milk was through a bottle with lacTASE (not lacTOSE) added. That requires pre-pumping the milk, warming, then letting the drops sit in the milk for 30 minutes. And it’s not so easy to guess half an hour out when your baby will want to eat. The timing was awful and pumping was awful. Within a few days my milk was starting to dry and the ratio between breast milk bottles and formula bottles was starting to pull in the other direction.
I’ve beat myself up about this until I can’t go any further. And the funny thing is, that I would never want anyone else to feel that way. I would tell them it’s ok, that they tried, and that their babies are plenty healthy without it.
Brady was on my boob constantly, I never felt like I had enough to give, he was always unhappy and… hungry? I would not let him have formula for any reason and in hindsight I recognize that my poor babe was starving. Starving because I wouldn’t give in and fill his belly. At four months I let go and began to lightly supplement and looking back at photos you can tell.
I feel embarrassed that I don’t breastfeed Paityn. I feel like I’m doing something wrong and that I’m doing her a complete disservice. I’ve vented to her pediatrician that I’m worried she won’t be smart and I’m worried she will be overweight. She assures me she will not be.
It’s good to advocate for breast feeding, it truly is wonderful for baby, but all the pushing and statistic preaching also makes the ones of us that can’t, feel terrible. Like a bad mother and we’re not. You are not.
I’m learning to let go and spend the time that I can nurse Paityn being happy that I’m still able to do it here and there. I’ll keep nursing her on lunch breaks and in the middle of the night until I’ve run completely dry. And whenever that time comes I will try my best to be proud of my healthy, chunky girl and give myself a high-five.
Sher Bailey is a writer in the Midwest who believes the power of humor, Mod Podge, and grandkids can fix most problems in life. You can find her at SherBailey.com.