When I was pregnant I decided that I would be neutral on the breastfeeding issue. I didn’t feel strongly either way but wanted to give it a try. My philosophy was: if it works, great; if not, no worries. I was imagining the scene where I was crying and the baby was screaming, and that was something that I wanted to avoid. I wanted it to be blissful, but you hear so many breastfeeding horror stories, I wanted to have my expectations in check.
In addition to that, I was an all or nothing girl. I was either going to breastfeed or I was going to do formula. I was set that I was not going to do both and supplement. I had made these decisions, and this was my game plan.
When Annelise arrived everything was going picture perfect with breastfeeding. She latched perfectly, and we were doing great. On day two during one of the many routine baby checks they do in the hospital, nurses noticed that she was losing weight at a faster than normal pace. Of course the lactation nurses (the boob Nazis as my husband referred to them) swarmed in trying to help. But from the second that I found out that Annelise was having weight issues, it became emotional.
Between the hormones and the oodles of lactation nurses pouring in to the room I was stressed and crying. I know they thought they were helping, but when you have all of these nurses standing there looking at you and you don’t have a shirt on, you feel exposed. I felt that the more they pushed trying to help me, the more that I sank lower into an emotional hole. Add a crying and hungry baby into the mix, and this was the exact experience that I was trying to avoid.
At one point a lactation nurse showed up with a plastic take-out spoon and was trying to express milk on to the spoon. I freaked out but could not help myself. In the midst of the chaos my face must have said it all because my husband threw them all out of the room.
At that moment it was just us and we could figure out what we need to do. We called the hospital pediatrician in for consultation. She talked to us about her concerns and that the weight drop was only increasing. With that information, together, we decided that we needed to go to formula. Our daughter needed calories, and we needed to make sure that we could get nutrients in her to stabilize the weight loss.
We knew that my milk had not come in and that I was not giving her what she needed, so we needed to change game plans. While yes, this sounds very logical, the emotional roller coaster that I was on was not this rational. I mean, it is supposed to be so natural to breastfeed your child and here I was a mother of two days and I could not do the most basic thing: feed my child. Ugh!
Was I a bad mother because I could not give her what she needed? Was I already failing at my new job? Would my child be less healthy if she was formula fed and not breastfed?
My husband did a wonderful job of reminding me that I was doing what our daughter needed and my game plan was not to fret over breastfeeding. But, I think that at that point in motherhood there is more of a hormone/ emotional/exhaustion blur than there is rational thinking and understanding.
By day three when we left the hospital Annelise’s weight was on track and she was gaining. Clearly this was the reinforcement that I needed to feel that we made the right decision. Formula ended up working out well for us. Hubby, grandparents, siblings and friends could share in the bonding time during feedings. In the end, I feel that this was what we needed to do. Of course I still remember those emotions from the hospital stay, but I am glad that I was not set on having to breastfeed because you never know what will happen when that baby arrives. I try to stay flexible and adjust my plans to suit her needs. So far that is working out well for us, as we have made it to two years old.