The moment I first held my daughter in my arms she went straight to my breast and started feeding and the feeling I got is indescribable (I'm sure many of you know that feeling). Breastfeeding Peyton came so natural and seemed incredibly seamless, we were just a perfect fit and I felt on top of the world. I knew I would nourish her with this miracle for as long as necessary and that just made my heart feel so whole.
A few days after we returned home from the hospital I knew it was time to start my pumping regime. I am going to be honest, I really suck at planning, I am more of a wing-it type of girl, and I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I did not have a pumping or feeding schedule, I hadn't done any research, and to be totally honest I was scared as hell to start. That pump machine was so intimidating to me, I was legit terrified to use it, but it was time.
I remember the first time I pumped like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my living room and my husband was helping me make sure I got it working right. When that thing started suctioning on my nipple I nearly screamed. It was the most awkward thing I had ever experienced and my husband and I were hysterically laughing! Fortunately I was getting quite a good amount of breast milk each time so I began to freeze little baggies of it.
The ease of breast feeding only lasted about 2 weeks. I began to notice one of my breasts was not producing milk any more and my other one was the size of a watermelon...it was so HUGE and PAINFUL! I still had breast implants at this point (I recently had them taken out) so you can imagine how big it was. I tried everything to get the other one back in the game. I googled for hours on end how to increase lactation and began implementing so many new things. I tried lactation cookies, watched videos of Peyton breastfeeding (my husband recorded them for me), I began to always start feeding on the "bad" side every time, and I continued to pump each breast but never got any milk from the dud.
Peyton then began to scream bloody murder every single time she breast fed. She would spit everything up and have worst gas than my husband! Oh, and the diapers, oh my goodness they were bad and they were plentiful. After she would feed I started pedaling her feet and messaging her belly in circular motions to help pass the gas (thank you again google) but that didn't help much.
We ended up at the pediatricians office and she proscribed her acid reflux medication which did not help one bit. She was crying for what feels like 20 hours a day, it was absolutely awful. She continued to drop weight as she wasn't keeping anything down. Ultimately we had to stop breastfeeding and put her on soy formula.
It seems so silly now looking back but I felt defeated and devastated. I thought she would not be healthy because I failed at giving her the most nutritious form of food in her first year. When the doctor told me that the first two months are the most important I felt a bit of relieve but still like a failure. Mom guilt is so real and it's a real struggle even five years later.
Peyton LOVED her formula so much and her Colicky behavior completely subsided. She was comfortable and happy, but most importantly she was fed.
And let me tell you, once we switched over to formula my life seriously changed ten fold. I felt rested because she rested, I felt happy because she was happy, I felt free because she was free to thrive, and I can't lie, free because I could go places alone because she no longer needed my boob at all hours!
Was it easy to switch over? For us it really was! You wanna know what I did, I thought it was pretty clever. The day we switched over I made her first bottle of formula and had it ready next to me. We sat down to breastfeed and I let her for about ten seconds and then rapidly put the bottle to her mouth and viola, just like that it was game on. I do feel lucky for the ease at transition, I was really anxious and worried about the process!
If you are struggling with breastfeeding and this story resonates with you please know that you are not alone. A lot of women struggle and feel shame when they don't live up to their own, or other peoples, expectations when it comes to breastfeeding. The number one thing to remember is you are not a failure, you are not wrong to switch to formula, and you are not guilty of anything except trying to do what is best for your baby.
So what's best for your newborn? Getting nutrients that they can handle and having a happy and healthy mama. Do what you know is best for you both, a mother's intuition is a beautiful thing, almost as beautiful as your growing child.