Thursday, September 23, 2010

Go ahead call me selfish.

Do you know what I am sick of? I am sick of hearing that breast milk is always best. I am sick of hearing that if you didn’t nurse you were either selfish or just didn’t try hard enough. I’m sick of hearing nursing is hard and only the mothers who are selfish or uneducated switch to formula.

Here’s a little reality check for those who wish to tell me breast milk is always best.

DSCN1127My daughter, Bella, when she was born weighed 7 lbs 2 oz.
While she was by no means a chunky baby, she was healthy and looked healthy.
I nursed her. Not on a schedule, whenever she felt like it and for however long she wanted to nurse. I didn’t have milk supply issues. It always felt like I had more than enough, but she nursed so much and so often it wasn’t a problem.
I loved nursing her and had hoped to be able to continue nursing her for at least a year or even longer.

Fast forward to Belly’s 4 month check up (which she had at 5 months)


By the time Belly went in to have her check up we did notice that she was much, and I do mean much, skinner than it would seem possible with how much she ate. I wasn’t too concerned because I am tiny, and Zach is tiny. But even with Zach being small he never seemed to be getting smaller, just the same skinniness to height ratio he’d always been. Belly was noticeably skinnier. Family members remarked on it, hell strangers remarked on it. But we didn’t worry because surely we’d know if something was wrong.
She was still mainly nursing at this point, but I’d been encouraged by family and my grandmother, who is a nurse, to try adding a little more to her diet to see if it looked like she would put on weight.

Take a moment and look at that baby… does she look like a healthy 5 month old baby to you?

I took Bella to her check up and it was the worst day of my life.

Since Bella had been born she’d only gained a total of 2 1/2 pounds. A few weeks before when I had weighed her for fun she’d been a 1/2 pound heavier than she was at the check up. Bella (up to this point) caught almost every sickness that was around… even if no one she was near was sick. That with her weight worried her doctor. So for the next several months we went through lots of tests, and doctors appointments to find out what was wrong. Her doctor encouraged me to keep feeding her on demand, even to feed her even if she didn’t seem especially hungry, and to try adding just a little more stuff other than just breast milk to her diet.

By the next month Bella did not want to nurse and my milk dried up so we switched full time to formula with a little cereal or baby food mixed in.

And Bella finally noticeably started gaining weight.

Her tests all came back fine and in the end her doctor (along with some of the specialists) agreed it was the breast milk that was the problem. Either her body wasn’t digesting it properly or there was something wrong with the breast milk. Of course by the time they came to this conclusion it was too late to test the milk since I’d long before dried up.

The day my baby developed her first set of rolls I was so happy I cried.

When, at 9 months old she finally completely outgrew her 0-3 month clothes I was beyond happy.

So, don’t you dare tell me breast milk is always best, and don’t you dare tell me that mothers who switch to formula are just lazy or selfish. Me refusing to put her on formula full time or to give her more because I wanted her to be exclusively breastfed was probably one of the most selfish acts I ever committed. Is the case with my daughter the norm? No. But blanket statements are deadly, so think of that the next time you tell someone that breast is always best.

Lastly, my daughter, the healthy happy almost 1 1/2 year old who now weighs 23 pounds.


Melissa said...

I whole heartly agree with you. My daughter was born with a rare medical condition that also came with a milk allgery. At birth she was 8lbs even at 1 month she was 6lbs. We couldn't figure out why since I spent more time a day nursing her then doing anything else. I wrote down how long I nursed her one day and it came up to a total of 17 hours of out of 24 hours she was nursing. At her 2 month appt she was still 6lbs. At this point she started pooping blood. At this time her doctor suggested this completely milk free formula. Within 1 week she gained a pound. Sometimes breast milk is not best. Now at 19 months she is 20lbs (still under weight but part of it is also her medical condition) but at least she's threiving!

Lena Gardner said...

she is SO SO SO CUTE!!!!! ((hugs))

Lisa said...

Ugh....I am so glad you posted this Trish. I could not breast feed Sophia as I had to be put on IV medication the second (and I do mean the SECOND) that Sophia was born in order for me to survive. I then had to be on medication for the next 12 months after her birth, again...for me to survive. No one knew that as we were not "advertising" it to our friends and family members. I got so much grief about how Sophia would have been devleoping and growing at a better rate had I breast fed. Well, I would have loved to, but I chose her growing up with her mother. Thank you....thank you for posting this. I hope people start to see that though for some children breast milk is best, it is not ALWAYS best for ALL families.

Kresta said...

Wow - this is really eye-opening. I've always thought that breast-milk is best, but have never been obnoxious in stating that to others. I nursed my 3 until they wouldn't anymore. Two of them went on formula for a couple months before starting whole milk.

I really appreciate your perspective and story -- it's a great reminder that what seems perfect for you does not necessarily work for others.

Thank you for your honesty and for broadening my perspective!

Amanda said...

I so know where this perspective comes from. My 3rd child, although he was the best nursing baby I'd had, ending up not gaining weight & was given a diagnosis of Failure to Thrive & he was exclusivly breast fed.

I'm pretty sure that's the worst feeling I've ever had...:( He ended up sick & we spent 4 days at UCDavis (which is the closest children's hospital where we live--5 hours away) because of it.

Thankfully everything turned out okay, but I agree with you that NOT everything works the same for everyone.

Looking Glass Scraps said...

*Stands up and claps* Yes! My daughter was born and wouldn't latch properly. I had 3 pediatricians, 4 lactation consultants and 2 OBs try to get her to latch properly and it wasn't working. She screamed constantly from being hungry, I was trying to get her to latch for hours, it was horrible. All I kept hearing was "keep trying" or you aren't trying doing it right or don't give up, she will catch on. After about a week of her just being inconsolable and me with bleeding breasts from her horrible latch I went to the store and bought formula. Everytime I tried to latch her I would nearly scream in pain and she was getting nothing at all. I thought, "How is this bonding, I can't stand this for the agony of her trying to feed." After I went to formula I could finally enjoy feeding her, I continued to pump and that worked well for us. I remember bawling my head off seeing her eating and fall asleep from being full, it was wonderful no matter how she recieved the food.

She weighed 5lb 10oz at birth, she couldn't afford to lose anything and once she dropped into the 4lb territory I thought, to heck with all you people this child needs food and I don't care how it comes. So yes, while I wish it would have worked out, it doesn't make me a bad mother for wanting to feed my little girl.

Nicole Montgomery said...

Trish, as big of a "lactivist" I have become, I hope *I* have never offended you. I do think Bella's case is in the minority, but I am proud of you for putting this out there. Sometimes breast *isn't* best. And no one should judge. Ever. Unfortunately these mommy wars are out of control.

Thomas, I quit after two weeks. I didn't know cracked nipples could be normal. I didn't know I'd be nursing so often. I couldn't get over my fears of nursing in front of anyone other than the hubs. Plus, I had a freak of a son who was drinking 6-8 oz/feeding at 2 WEEKS.

Collin, I vowed to make it in 3 month increments. At 3.5 mos when I went crazy, I was put on Geodon. I was told I could not breastfeed on it. I listened to everyone around me tell me, "Would you rather your child be nursed by a mom who sick, or be formula fed and have a healthy mom?" Had I known then what I know now, I would have tried a more nursing friendly med. But so be it.

Bailey was in the hospital for a week. I could not pump enough for her to have when I was not with her. We have been supplementing since. Yes, since March it is only 1 bottle a day, but still supplementing.

Thomas has been my healthiest child so far. I don't know what the future brings, maybe in the future it will be Bailey. Who knows. Anyway, I am going on and on here, kudos to you for your honesty. Bella, is an amazing little girl with an even more amazing mother who did nothing short of the best for her.

Pom said...

I might be late in posting this here but reading this brought tears to my eyes, Trish. Thank you so much for writing this. Back when Neill was a baby, who knows how much I could have pocketed if I got a penny everytime somebody gave me a you're-not-trying-hard-enough look.

My breast milk didn't come when Neill was born and for the whole first week we pretty much starved him because I was so determined to breastfeed. We really didn't have anything else prepared in case I couldn't do it. I read so much about breastfeeding and wouldn't give my son anything but the best.

Well, turned out I couldn't give him that. I extended the hospital stay but in the end even the doctors and nurses gave up and suggested that he should be given full-on formula. I can't even tell you how much it hurts.

I know it's nobody's fault and it couldn't be helped. But sometimes I want to scream Enough with the look and don't try to make me feel less of a mother because of it!!!!