Thursday, September 2, 2010

Breastfeeding, take three

Breastfeeding has never come naturally for me. In that I mean, my body produces pitiful amounts of prolactin, a significant hormone needed to make breastmilk. I discovered this with my first baby who was minutes away from being admitted to the hospital due to my lack of breastmilk and dutifully following every book, nurse, lactation consultant in that I shouldn't give him the dreaded formula. Well, in the end it came down to formula or dehydration, guess which one I chose for my infant? That's not to say I didn't continue breastfeeding, whatever I had was good right? I went on a high dose of Domperidone (which cruelly sounds like Don Perignon), consulted everyone I could, even Jack Newman and it turns out, my hormone making capacity is screwed when it comes to prolactin, among a few other ones, fortunately less significant in my day to day life. So, easy, simple right? Give baby breastmilk and formula, no biggie, baby is growing, healthy, happy, and they lived happily every after.

Well that is until other people weigh in. I sought help from various organizations, people and mothers and in those wee hours of motherhood, I was pretty much told how much less of a mother I was because I hadn't worked hard enough to produce milk. I wasn't doing this or that and hadn't sacrificed enough. Short of going out to seek help, I was pretty much home, feeding, weighing my baby, obsessing over wet and dirty diapers and tailspinning into a nice case of PPD over it. A public health nurse told me that I was essentially feeding my newborn McDonalds when I supplemented, a LLL mom told me that my kid was destined to grow up to be stupid, fat and sick, some other new moms looked at me in disgust when I pulled out a bottle. As much as I like to tout I have a thick skin, I really don't.

Anyhow, alls well that ends well, well in a way....well, well, well. My milk eventually petered out at around 3-4 months, I ended up making some really awesome mom friends who didn't care what I fed my child, Dearest found a list of people I respected, who were all fed formula, ended up pretty smart, healthy and thin. I am two of the above myself...but my brilliance makes up for the lack of my svelte figure. My baby is almost 5, never an ear infection, has only had antibiotics once due to an unchecked hangnail gone wrong, wonderfully fit and almost as brilliant as his mother. My second, who pretty much followed the same feeding pattern,  unfortunately, he has asthma, like his father-who incidently was breastfed for a year, but no allergies, otherwise healthy, fit and despite a delay in starting to speak has now caught up and is making us laugh daily with his well timed outbursts.

So why was I up last night crying about being unable to provide my youngest with enough milk? Why am I hiding bottles and formula for when the midwife comes over? Why am I terrified for take one on a trip with me, therefore going no where? What the hell is wrong with me? I'm stronger than this...maybe I'm stronger when I've had sleep. Sleep helps...definitely! I think like a lot of breastfeeding mothers who get the stink eye when they feed in public, a lot of us moms who use a bottle aren't in much better shape, you can't win! Sometimes it's just a comment from someone who means well. Which to my grouchy sleep deprived mind today means "I need to educate the world because I've figured it all out and no one can be as together as me." My grouchy sleep deprived mind is prone to rattling off a laundry list of things I do, including taking 40 pills a day just to produce the bit of milk I do and then telling them to cram it, while simultaneously running them over with my stroller. Oh yes, I use a stroller too, shoot me!

Dearest has reminded me that there doesn't need to be either extreme, which is pretty much how we parent, but in these early days of being a mom again, sometimes the common sense...what little I have... has taken a backseat. So will someone please remind me that just over a week ago, I was insanely confident of my parenting abilities and doing my best with what I have and have managed to raise two wonderful guys so far and the fact that they were supplemented with formula was the furthest thing from my mind and worries.


Cecilotta said...

I'm all about running stupid people over with the stroller.

Someone once chewed me out for bfing in public (under a cover, even!). She said her son couldn't stop staring. I had to bite my tongue to refrain from pointing out that if that was the most titillating thing he'd ever seen, he clearly needed to get out more. And in retrospect, I'm not sure why I bothered to bite my tongue, except I didn't feel like getting in an argument while trying to put the baby to sleep.

I think they're just so jealous of your gorgeous babies that they have to think of something quick to make themselves feel superior. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful mom Joy and don’t let anyone make you think different! I was formula fed from the very beginning and I had my first antibiotics (for strep throat) at age 26. My first trip to the hospital was to give birth to Lily. I have an honours degree. Formula is not a death sentence. It’s a preference. And sometimes it’s a choice that you don’t get to make. Don’t beat yourself up about something someone too ignorant to know better says. In 40 years time when Desmond is accepting a nobel prize you can smugly look at that mom who made you feel like crap and say I told you so! Get out there, don’t hide and don’t be embarrassed!

Juliette said...

Joy, this is what formula was designed for. There will always be people judging - you know that. Hell, I get judged for the opposite - not weaning my child "soon enough". Don't I know he'll be a spoiled brat?

You're the first to say it usually - what works for one person isn't the same for the next. Your kids are lucky to have you for a mom. I remember when N was born, and how incredibly stressed you were. Good for you for not letting that happen this time.

Lots of hugs, and enjoy your boys!

Mom2Michael said...

My dear Joy, you know the issues you face and you know how hard you have worked to overcome them. You also know how wonderful and healthy and smart your two big guys are. Screw the opinionated bashers who tell you any different. Keep trying the bf'ing if you want. Or don't. It's up to you, and either way little D will do great. You're a super mom.

What I know for sure is that if you beat yourself up too much and if you don't get your rest, you will be no good to any of your boys or to yourself.

Hell, I didn't even get formula - Carnation milk all the way for me. Mom went back to work within a few weeks of my birth (that was the time). And with a master's degree and a pretty strong career record, I think I'm a fairly decent example of someone who turned out alright in spite of early feeding decisions.

Drag out those bottles and display them proudly.

Joy said...

Thank you everyone. I'm posting at 5 in the morning because I'm nursing (one handed typing too, go me!!!).

I've come back to my "awesome mom smugness" a little. Hard not to as you guys have pointed out, my two big guys are doing great and better by the second, formula and all. World watch out, I'm back to being my usual know it all self.