I debated whether or not to go into the details of my experience with nursing here on the blog, but I finally decided, what the hey! Hopefully someone out there can relate or benefit from my story, so I am happy to share it for that reason.
Starting out, it had never occurred to me that I wouldn't nurse my baby. I planned on it, took it for granted even. I made a nursing cover while I was still pregnant, bought nursing bras, and didn't think twice about it. Of course, I heard all the horror stories about the horrible things that can go wrong when you nurse, but I just figured I would stick it out and everything would be ok in the end.
Well, to make a long story short, it didn't work out for us. After a week of dealing with a screaming, kicking, non-nursing newborn who was losing weight faster than Jessica Simpson after her last pregnancy, I was done. I just couldn't take it anymore. I would lay awake in bed with the most profound sense of failure I had ever felt. Every time I tried to nurse Evie I would end up in tears, either from pain or sheer frustration. We tried everything, and I do mean everything, spending hundreds of dollars on various contraptions and consultants. Finally, we made the decision to pump and feed her a bottle. Although at the time I felt like a failure and it was the last thing I wanted to do, I can see now that God had a plan all along. So began my journey of pumping...
Josh and I found this gas station a couple weeks ago and we had to snap a picture because it so accurately sums up my life for the past few months. I remember feeling like I was basically one step up from a dairy cow. I started out pumping every 2 hours (every 3 at night), for 1/2 hour each time. I did that for about 2 months. Even when my baby was sleeping, I had to get up and pump in the middle of the night. Sometimes it was Pump, Munch, and Cry the entire time. But I stuck it out (by God's grace!). I was just so happy to see Evie start to gain weight and be a happier baby.
I just want to take a moment to say that FORMULA IS OK. It is not a brew concocted in the deepest pit of Hades by the devil himself. It is, in fact, a God-given gift for babies who would not otherwise survive. I'm all for babies who are alive, I'm assuming that most people are. We supplemented with formula for a few weeks while my supply was low, even though the numerous lactation consultants we saw advised us to buy donor breastmilk. I'm convinced that most lactation consultants have never had to buy donor breastmilk. Do you know how expensive that stuff is? Sorry, we couldn't afford that, we had just had a baby for pete's sake.
Once I started to be more open with people about our nursing troubles, I was amazed by how many other moms had gone through the same thing. I remember feeling so alone at first, and I just want other moms out there to know that you are never alone. I heard from at least 6 friends who are currently pumping and bottle feeding, or had to switch to formula. I also heard from several moms who said they had given their children formula out of necessity and those kids were doing just fine.
Now, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm no longer pumping 7-8 times per day (down to 4), and we actually had to buy a deep freezer to store all the extra milk. So whenever I officially stop pumping, Evie will still have about 2 1/2 months beyond that of milk. I'm so glad we were able to make this work. A huge part of that happening was having Josh home with me for 6 weeks after she was born- he was such a huge help! I was pumping constantly at first, so he really took the lion's share of baby care on his shoulders. Moms who have to go it alone or have little ones to take care of on top of the baby probably would not be able to do that.
Here's one last funny (or just ironic) fact- in the 60's when my parents were born, giving children formula was the norm. And do you know what the formula recipe was that my grandma used for her kids? Unsweetened condensed milk (from a cow) and Karo Syrup. Karo Syrup! Can you believe that? And guess what? My mom is doing just fine. She doesn't have cancer or an extra limb, and neither do her siblings.
I hope I haven't opened Pandora's box here with this touchy subject. I think the bottom line for everyone to remember is that parenting is on a case-by-case basis. What works for one parent or child doesn't always work for another. I've learned through my experience that it's best to not question other people's decisions for their children, because they always know the situation much better than anyone else. And even if people do question you, you can rest assured knowing that God entrusted this child/children to YOU and no one else, because He knew that you would be the best fit!