Sunday, July 11, 2010

How We Came to Formula Feed Our Babies

Feeling inspired by another blogger about a different topic to share then my usual, I am writing today about how and why Jon and I made the decision to formula feed both our kids. And I am also working on getting both their birth stories written up! It will be nice to share with them someday as they have their own children!

In the hospital, after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, I was exhausted. I don't know if it was that reason, or it just wasn't destined to be, but I never felt the proper bond with Natalie. Not when they first laid her in my arms, and not when I first put her to my breast. After getting help from the nurses I managed to get her to latch on but within 5-10 minutes she stopped sucking and acted like she was done. I believed she was latched on correctly, it didn't hurt as badly as I had expected despite being told that it shouldn't hurt if you are doing it properly. Either way, I was determined to be a breastfeeding mommy.
The day and a half we spent before being released from the hospital, I loved being close to and feeding Natalie. It seemed though that she couldn't go longer then 5 minutes on each side, and then was crying for another feeding within 20 minutes. After 31 hours of labor, I was torn between intense exhaustion and constantly feeding her. I don't know why, but for some reason I expected things to get better once we got home with Natalie, and I pushed to be able to leave when we did. I had quickly grown immune to modesty as there were constantly male hospital workers coming in and out while I fed Natalie, checking my vitals, the babies feedings and keeping our room clean. Maybe that was a little of my reasoning, at heart it was demeaning to think my breasts were now not only mine, but my child's, and apparently out there for almost anyone to see!
We went home and the panic set in. Natalie constantly cried and it seemed she could sense the loss of help coming with the push of a button. We had no one to call and were on the opposite side of the country from all our family and close friends (gotta love the Navy). After another day in which I was feeding Natalie every 20 minutes, I was a zombie and I was wondering how much longer I could possibly go on like this. I came to the conclusion that she must not be latching on properly to be getting enough to eat, so we made an appointment to go back in to see a doctor for help. Of course as I attempted to feed Natalie in front of the doctor, she latched on quickly and correctly and fed for a full half an hour each side. I foolishly thought the issue was over.
Like when you take your car to the mechanic because its making a funny noise, but for the mechanic it purrs like a kitten, that is until you get it home again. That was the same game Natalie was playing on us. Our third day home with her, and another sleepless night and day for me, her feeding machine, I caved. On Jon's suggestion we went out to buy formula, just to tide her over a little while so I could rest. It was like a miracle had happened! Someone must've switched our baby out! Natalie went 2 full hours between feedings after gulping down merely 3 ozs of formula. And I got 4 hours of sleep as Jon watched over her and fed her using a bottle.
My strength somewhat renewed, I tried once again to bring her to my breast, but the struggle continued, for her with latching on, and I, with sleep deprivation. Through many tears and fears of losing that emotional bond breastfeeding is supposed to bring, the toughest decision was mine to make. I could've pumped- though we didn't have money to buy a good one. I could've had someone from the La Leche League come to help- though I was only vaguely aware of the help they may have offered and didn't know how to contact them or how quickly they could come. But I decided to value my sanity first, as we moved forward with formula feeding.
It was never my first choice. I even tried breastfeeding again with my son. On the opposite end of the scale, he latched on within his first hour, and was still eating nearly 3 hrs later! He also was much more aggressive then I was prepared for, and though I questioned his latch, the nurses having barely glanced my way assured me he was fine. I was crying by the time I had to pry him off, and I couldn't imagine continuing. Of course the decision was easier this time, not as emotional since we had already gone through it once. And my choices were fewer since, though now better aware of the La Leche League it was not available to me here on Guam. Before we were out of the hospital, I had begun asking for formula to feed Zachary, at which point the exact same nurses questioned why I wasn't breastfeeding. When I answered about how seriously painful it was, the response I got was 'Must've had a bad latch.' (?!?!?!)
I don't regret either decision, though when we have a third, I am hoping to find a middle ground between my over aggressive eater and my snacker. I know now having 2 happy healthy kids, that it won't be the end of the world if I need to resort to formula. I may actually get a breast pump next time so I can be more prepared. But what ended up being best for our family with both our first and second children, during very stressful times in our lives, was to bottle feed. And my husband really enjoyed being able to be a part of that experience as well. In fact, in the beginning, we used to fight over who got to feed the baby, at least during the day!
Nope I wouldn't change anything about those early days with our little bundles of joy, and I truly look forward to doing it again. Even the childbirth, I look on and think of with very happy thoughts- though of course I had an epidural each time- I still get a feeling of accomplishment remembering it, no matter whether I breastfed or not!


  1. This is a great post! I know several women who had similar trouble breastfeeding & had to end up formula feedings. They said it was tough & emotional at first, but that it ended up not being a big deal because what IS a big deal is making sure that baby is eating well & mommy is emotionally & physically prepared to take care of the baby.

  2. Great post! I wrote about this very topic. You can find it in my right side bar, under "Nursing Babies".... thank you! I will be back to follow you. For some reason, Firefox browser isn't letting me. I have to go back in through Explorer to follow someone's blog now. Ugg.

    Thanks again for your objective view on the Twilight post too! Love, Traci


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