Now that I have passed the halfway mark in this pregnancy, I am beginning to think about my birth plan and things I want/hope to go certain ways this time around. I didn’t really have a birth plan last time because I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. I wanted to deliver vaginally if possible and I was just going for the wait and see approach when it came to the epidural. Well, I’m not sure exactly what I expected but it definitely didn’t go that way. I learned I have a very low pain threshold and I was begging for that epidural. I couldn’t get it for a while because I wasn’t far enough along, so I hope things progress quicker this time around. While waiting for the progression they did give me some drugs to take the edge off. I do not want to do that again. I felt very out of control and that wasn’t a good feeling for me. But again, who really knows how this will go down so it could all change when we are in the moment.
Something I wasn’t prepared for was breastfeeding. I thought you just decided to breastfeed or not. Boy was I wrong! I wanted to breastfeed for a number of different reasons and I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself when it didn’t go as planned. It all started when we were in the hospital and nothing was happening when they attached the pump to me. I was doing everything the lactation consultants recommended and there was no milk in sight. Lyla had a perfect latch and I was just stressing because I knew my baby needed to eat. Our second night in the hospital was so rough. She was screaming and I knew she was starving so I called the nurse and asked for some formula. Immediately she calmed down and slept. That was my first taste of trusting my mommy gut.
We came home and I continued to pump trying to get my milk to come in while formula feeding at the same time. We stayed in bed skin to skin all day long. She slept in my room and we would try over and over again with her on me followed by pumping. It was a process but I was a determined mommy. The pump finally showed about a half an oz so I felt like we were headed towards a successful mission. I made the lactation cookies, I drank the tea, I ate everything that was recommended to help with milk production. Still a half an oz was all the babies would produce. I didn’t know this was something that happened.
I went deep down the google rabbit hole. I read every blog and website that had anything to say about breastfeeding. But I never shared this on my social media because I was ashamed and I felt like I wasn’t a good mother. I couldn’t provide for my baby. This is such a controversial topic and I honestly didn’t want to hear it from people who disagreed or who thought this should be easy. I was quickly spiraling into a post partum haze and I was missing out on my beautiful newborn because I was consumed with why I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed my baby. I felt so much guilt giving her formula because that’s how people talk about the topic. I found myself fumbling when people would ask if I was breastfeeding. I was embarrassed to say ‘Well kind of....I’m pumping but I don’t produce enough so we are also giving formula.’ Now looking back I wonder why people even ask this question?? They are basically asking if you are feeding your child. Why is this a question? Why does it matter? Why is it anyone’s business how a mother chooses to feed her child?
I scheduled an appointment with the hospital’s lactation consultant and decided I would let a professional tell me what I was doing wrong. So many people said that Lyla was probably getting more milk from me than the pump was showing, but I didn’t feel that was the case. So we went in and she watched us breastfeed. She weighed Lyla before and after the feeding. My gut was right. She was getting the same, maybe even less off me than I was getting from the pump. While this confirmed that I needed to give Lyla formula as a supplement, it fired me up to keep trying. I just couldn’t give up because I felt like eventually I would wake up with milk pouring from my chest. Well, that never happened. I ended up getting thrush a couple of times and seriously considered throwing in the towel, but I pushed on pumping for almost 4 months.
Finally, we went on vacation without Lyla. I took the pump with me and while I was on that trip I decided that I had enough. I spent the first 4 months of her life with terrible anxiety stressing over why this wasn’t working. I missed out on some bonding moments because I was attached to a pump for hours every day. When I mentioned this to my friends on our trip, they all experienced the same thing. Why didn’t I know this?!?! Because no one talks about it!!
It came down to the fact that my baby was fed. She was healthy and happy and thriving with a mix of breastmilk and formula. That was a wonderful thing! I needed to stop stressing about where she was getting her food and focus on the fact that she was fed. Period. I will try it again, but I definitely won’t stress this time around if it doesn’t work for us. I don’t want to miss out on the little things so I will feed my baby however necessary and that’s all that matters.