the beginning of the end?

after a couple of weeks of supplementing with formula, we have finally found a brand that works for sylvie. she has a sensitivity to both milk protein and soy. the original formula we got for her, earth’s best organic soy and lactose-free, made her even fussier. that’s how we found out about her soy protein sensitivity. enter the nutramigen. no soy and lactose. everything should have been good, right? WRONG. this stuff smelled FOUL. satan’s armpit FOUL. it would take 45 minutes of constant screaming to get her to choke down an ounce. obviously, this was no good.

last night, after a few days of breast milk only and an exceedingly fussy and gassy baby (a baby that hadn’t pooped in 5 DAYS), we purchased a canister of gerber good start gentle plus. at almost $10 cheaper per canister than the nutramigen and $5 cheaper than the organic soy, we figured it was worth a shot. like the nutramigen, the milk proteins are hydrolyzed and broken down. this makes them much easier to digest.

my milk supply never came back up. in fact, it has gone down a bit more since she started nursing again a few days ago. she has never been a strong nurser. for the last 5 weeks it has been an uphill battle to get her fed and keep my supply going. we gave her a few consecutive feedings with the new formula last night while i pumped to help my supply out. she went down to sleep at 10:30 last night and didn’t get up to feed again until 3:30 this morning. then she went right back down until 8:00. no fussing. no excessive gas. no screaming in pain. no startling herself awake by spitting up. she woke up a new baby. she is smiling. she is engaging us and grasping at toys. she is doing all the things she was in too much pain to enjoy before. she is cuddly and content again. she is the baby i came home from the hospital with, the one who was replaced by fussy mcgee at 3 weeks. she has never napped without my holding her before today.

for now, i am continuing to pump to keep a supply going. we are going to give the new formula another few days to settle in. we are going to make sure it works for her and that she continues to tolerate it. if all goes well i think it’s time to slowly ease up on the pumping and come to a stop. i have come to terms with the fact that NOTHING has gone the way i planned. my perfect natural birth turned into a c-section. my breast fed baby will likely be formula only within a few weeks. the idea of breast feeding was difficult to let go of. she fought me at EVERY SINGLE FEEDING for the last 4+ weeks. she was excessively gassy around the clock to the point of constant straining, fussing, and crying. i gave up dairy and soy. i ate incredibly bland foods at every meal day after day. nothing eased her troubled tummy. the bottom line is my baby can’t tolerate my breast milk and to continue to feed her that way because i can’t let go would be SELFISH. i want a happy, well-fed baby. for us, this seems to be the answer.

i wanted this to work out so badly. in the weeks after her birth, when i was still grieving over my c-section, nursing was all that kept me sane. i couldn’t BIRTH her, but i could FEED her. at 2 and a half weeks, a switch flipped and the room went dark. i have spent everyday since then pumping around the clock, offering her the breast only to have it pushed away, listening to her scream and cry through every feeding. this morning i fed my child a bottle, which she contentedly and vigorously drank down. after a quick burp she was napping in my arms, smiling in her sleep.

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12 responses to “the beginning of the end?

  1. Aw, man. Your hopes and dreams for this little one have REALLY been turned upside down, haven’t they?
    BUT, you know what? You tried. And you (hopefully) have found something that works for your daughter. I hope she continues to be that cooing, calm little babe that you first fell in love with. Even if that means formula feeding.
    And, if someone ever tries to say something negative about it, just shrug and say, “hey, I tried. I REALLY tried. It didn’t work and, a kid’s gotta eat.”

    • Thanks, Jess. I definitely expected a few negative comments. I almost didn’t press publish on this post. The decision was hard enough, you know? I’m glad I did, though. Your comment and the ones after you have really given me support. Thank you.

  2. Sara- I can only imagine what this whole experience has been like. I wish I was closer. I don’t know what I can do to help so let me know if you need ANYTHING.
    I am proud of you- and in awe at your strength. You are such a good Mommy!!

  3. i know from recent experience this is a very hard thing to reconcile but if you allow yourself to get through this without guilt, you will be much happier. there is nothing wrong with you, you do not need to justify it to anyone, and this does not change your awesome mom status.
    i still feel a twinge of hurt when i make a bottle of formula but when i think of the stress that both me and baby girl were going through during breastfeeding, i thank the stars that i am now able to enjoy her 100%, even if it was not what i had planned.

    in any case, please watch this video. i think you will be happily surprised to see what my baby girl is looking at!

    the art critic
    • I LOVE that video! So cute. Thank you for showing me. I’m so glad Aviva likes her A!

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I know this is the right choice for us. My baby’s smiles are the only confirmation I need. 🙂

  4. I am still coming to terms with my c-section, too. My natural water birth that did a complete 180. I haven’t had any trouble breastfeeding though, for which I am lucky and thankful. In the end, ALL that matters is that your baby is happy and healthy. We don’t care or remember how we come into the world. I had to be born by c-section, and you know what? I’ve never had a beef with it. I don’t think my daughter is going to mind a bit. I know tons of people who were fed formula as babies, and they are thriving and smiling decades and decades later. Somonee told me a great quote the other day: There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one. Just do what works for Sylvie and keep your head up!

  5. Oh, I’m so sorry; I can’t imagine how hard it must be to let go of so many things you wanted for your little one. BUT, you’re doing SUCH a great job at doing what’s best for her. You’re an AWESOME mom, because you care so much. Keep it up; Sylvie is a lucky girl!

  6. i can’t imagine how it felt having your perfect natural birth planned out and then having a c-section. however, i can kind of relate to how you feel about the breastfeeding issue. my son had no problem with breastfeeding, and i had no problem producing milk. but when i returned to work at 8 weeks (only part time) i dried up within 3 days!! i totally wasn’t expecting that and couldn’t figure out what i had done wrong. it was definitely a struggle for me, and the same thought of “now anyone can feed him. what good am i??” kept running through my head over and over. and then i realized that i was the one who carried him for 9 months, and no one could ever take that away from me.

    i know there are boob nazis out there who might try to berate you, but i think you are doing what is best for sylvie, and that’s the most selfless thing in the world.

  7. wow. 3 days. that’s crazy. i’m in the (painful) process of trying to dry out.

    thank you so much for the kind words of encouragement.

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