I May Have Fed My Baby Differently, But I Support You

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

 

I May Have Fed My Baby Differently, But I Support YouI read about a recent campaign started by three bloggers called “I Support You” which called for support of mothers however they chose to feed their babies.  I think this is amazing to celebrate moms feeding their babies in whatever way works for their family.

The campaign asked bloggers to interview moms who fed their babies differently from themselves.  And, although I didn’t do that (I found out about it the day before it was to be posted), I would like to share my own feeding story and ask that you share yours too, if you feel comfortable.  Bloggers can link-up posts (old or new) and other moms can share their stories in the comments.  It can be as simple as “I breastfed, and I support however your feed your babies” to a whole story.  Just nothing negative about how others choose to feed their little ones please – those comments will be deleted so that no one’s feelings are hurt. We don’t need any more mommy guilt flying around!

 

Here are my experiences with feeding my babies:

The story about feeding my daughter actually made it into my very first post ever on this blog here.

But I’ve never told the story of my little guy.

His Birth

He was born unexpectedly at 36 weeks.  As I lay on the table after having an emergency c-section for a torn placenta, I could hear him but not see him.  But he was crying and I was so happy that he was okay after such a sudden and frightening early birth.  I smiled, thinking the worst was over.

Then the calm became panic as a nurse shouted, “He’s grunting!  Where’s the NICU team?!”

They whisked my little guy, who I hadn’t even met yet, away to this scary-sounding place called the NICU.  He would be fine, I was told.  He just needed some extra oxygen because his lungs were premature.

When I was wheeled on my bed to my little guy’s bedside, we were told he just needed some time to adjust to being out in the world a little earlier than expected.  I got to meet him, hold him, and cuddle him.  I whispered his name into his ear and told him that I was his mommy.  I instantly loved him so much.  It was hard to see him with the oxygen mask (CPAP) on, but everyone was very encouraging.  It would just be a day or two, they said.

I Pumped

When I got back to the room, I asked for a pump so that I could collect what colostrum I could for him.  He had an NG tube through which he could be fed whatever I collected.  I was familiar with pumping for my daughter, but this was some sort of super-pump.  It was able to get the few drops that I was producing.  I proudly handed the nearly empty container to the nurse who pushed it down the tiny tube that went down his adorable nose into his belly.

And I kept pumping.  As my son’s condition worsened and we weren’t sure what was going to happen, I pumped.  I pumped at his bedside for something to do since I was no longer able to hold him because of the IV’s, central line, and ventilator that were added to his bedside and his body.  I was pumping when they told me that his heart had a defect that would normally require immediate repair but since his lungs were so sick, they would have to wait or he wouldn’t survive the surgery.  I was pumping when they told me that he would have to have yet another blood transfusion.  I pumped when he received what seemed like his hundredth heart echo or chest x-ray.  I pumped after they sent me home without him.  I pumped in the middle of the night when I woke up from nightmares and frantically dialed the NICU.  And I pumped while I cried when they told me that they weren’t sure that his lungs would ever get better.  It was all that I could do, the only bit that I could contribute to his health.

He wasn’t eating it, of course.  His NG tube had been pulled long ago, and he was getting all of his nutrients from the numerous bags attached to the IV that drained into his tiny body.  My milk was stored in the huge freezer attached to the NICU.  But before I would hand over whatever small amount I produced, I took a few drops on a Q-Tip and touched it to his dry lips.  They told me that it helped when the colostrum was put on a sick baby’s lips, but this was no longer colostrum.  But I didn’t care.  It was all I could do.

And Then I Stopped

His lungs slowly got better, his heart had the first two surgeries, and he was diagnosed with a condition with his thyroid.  Things were getting easier as we adjusted to this new way of life, though there was a long road ahead.  He was still in the hospital awaiting yet another heart surgery.  He was suddenly switched to formula because of a suspected milk protein allergy, but I was encouraged to keep pumping and eliminate dairy from my diet.

It was then that I looked down at the pump in disgust.  Every minute that I was attached to it was one fewer minute that I was holding him, touching him, connecting with him.  It had been my security object through the worst times and now it was just a reminder of them.

And so I stopped.  I chose to.  I could have kept pumping, but I felt that my son needed me more than my milk.  And I needed stress of pumping to be off of my shoulders.  I still had some breastmilk in the NICU storage, but it wouldn’t last long.  I was done.

I got some grief for my choice, from other moms and even doctors.  But when I brought him home and set up the formula to go through his NG tube, I knew that having that extra time with him in my arms was much better than running off to pump.

And now, he is a strong and big guy who loves to eat.  He has exceeded everyone’s expectations in regards to weight and development.  He still has some health problems, but he is generally very healthy.  I don’t regret giving up pumping for a second.  It took some of the stress off of me, he and I were able to connect more fully, and he still got the nutrition he needed through the formula.  It was the best decision for our family.

 

That is my story.  And however you choose to feed your baby, I support you.

Did you have trouble producing milk for your baby?  Find out why you’re not alone here.

14 Comments on I May Have Fed My Baby Differently, But I Support You

  1. Elizabeth (Rock-A-Bye Parents)
    August 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm (12 months ago)

    I’m so glad everything turned out well with your son. It must have been so hard and scary. I bottle fed my son and am happy to say that I wasn’t given too much grief for my choice. I have IBS and the meds I take were not approved for pregnancy or nursing. I went off them for my pregnancy but it meant I wasn’t able to eat as well as I should. Staying off of my meds would have meant not eating as healthy as I should and it would have caused me to be really drained. By bottle feeding my husband was also able to help so I could get more sleep (lack of sleep makes me really sick from my IBS). I have no problem with how anyone chooses to feed their little one. It’s truly not a black and white choice and everyone has to decide what’s best for them and their child.
    Elizabeth (Rock-A-Bye Parents) recently posted…10 Tips For How To Save On GasMy Profile

    Reply
    • Amber Schultz
      August 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm (12 months ago)

      I liked having my hubby be able to help with the bottle feeding too! And you are so right about it not being a black and white choice – well said! Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  2. Kellie
    August 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm (12 months ago)

    I so love this!! I nursed my son for 10 weeks and we had a horrible time at it. It got to the point where I was getting angry with him, blaming him for our problems because he was too lazy of a nurser or couldn’t/wouldn’t suck strong enough. mix that in with severe PPD and we were not a great pair together. After 10 weeks of both of us being miserable I decided that while “breast is best” in our case switching to formula was what was best for our situation. looking back I wish I had chosen to exclusively pump for a little longer, but I stand strong in my decision and if anyone tries to make me feel inferior for it I tell them just exactly where they can shove their opinion and stand strong in the knowledge that baby #2 is another chance to get it right

    Reply
    • Amber Schultz
      August 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm (12 months ago)

      It sounds to me like you got it right with #1 too! Doing whatever is best for the family is the right decision, and that’s exactly what you did. Thanks for sharing your story!

      Reply
  3. Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families
    August 6, 2013 at 10:18 am (12 months ago)

    I am pro-breastfeeding but I don’t want women to feel as if breastfeeding is their only choice. Breastfeeding wasn’t a big deal when I had my daughter and the only reason that I knew anything about breastfeeding was due to my own mom giving my twin sisters breastmilk. She didn’t breastfeed for very long but she did give them as much breastmilk that she could. When I found out that I was pregnant at 19, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my child. I was a young mother and I knew that I could afford to pay for formula at that time. I wasn’t aware of all of the other benefits that I know now. I went on to breastfed her for a year. It was an amazing experience. Like you, my mom eventually ditched the breastpump shortly after she had to return to work. She rented a hospital pump for a few months.
    Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families recently posted…10 Tips to Successfully Potty Train Your ToddlerMy Profile

    Reply
    • Amber Schultz
      August 6, 2013 at 10:35 am (12 months ago)

      Definitely, breastfeeding is easier on the pocketbook! Thanks for sharing your story!

      Reply
  4. Laura
    August 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm (12 months ago)

    Amber thanks for sharing your story!! I give you a lot of credit for pumping through all the beginning with all the unknown and knowing when enough was enough for your family.

    I am the accidental extended breastfeeding Mom. I didn’t go into breastfeeding with any expectation. I did it because we knew it was good for our girls and we thought well, we’ll see how it goes. I had two induced vaginal deliveries for both my girls. We had virtually the same delivery experience with both girls and I was able to breastfeed immediately after birth. It was a little tricky and painful getting started both times, actually worse with my second daughter, but after a few weeks everything was going smoothly. Then it was time to go back to work so I pumped to build my stash, and I pumped 2-3 times while I was at work till my girls were just a week or two from their 1st birthday. I was so glad to throw that pump in my closet that I didn’t care what happened after that.. Suddenly my girls were 13 months, 14 months, 15 months old with no signs of loosing interest in nursing. I felt like what I do I do now?? It’s not like I can just turn these things off! People were starting to comment about how long we were nursing and I was like well try taking this from my girls, they would have something to say! This was about the time I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter and it seemed that things changed and my older daughter knew there was a difference and weaned slowly by 22 months. I got 5 moths off before my second daughter was born. Now my younger daughter is 18 months and again I am faced with the challenge of how to gently, kindly wean. I am really ready to be done, but she is not. I did not expect when I started this journey to have a child who not only asks to nurse but demands to. I am very lucky to have made it this far on the beeastfeeding journey, but it seems so hard to gracefully end the journey without having the feelings of guilt for giving it up or taking this from your child. I guess that feeling is there no matter if you stop after two weeks or nearly two years.

    I support breastfeeding and I support every mom no matter what they choose. It empowered me to hear other women tell me to hang in there it will get easier and I try to pass that on to other moms who breastfeed, but I know that is not always the case and that choice should be supported just as much. We all feed our children our love just the same.

    Reply
  5. Growing Up Madison
    August 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm (12 months ago)

    Thank you for sharing your story. I breastfed Madison for 13 months but she was actually the only one that I breastfed that long. All the others stopped on their own by the time they were 6 months. I pumped in the hospital since Madison was born 4 weeks early as well due to issues with her heart rate but she turned out fine. I breastfed exclusively while at home and when I went back to work 6 weeks later I breastfed and pumped and fed from a bottle. I didn’t introduce formula until about 6 months. I support you no matter how you feed your child. If you choose to breastfeed, kudos to you. If you choose not to, kudos to you as well. It’s your choice to breastfeed or not and that doesn’t make you an inept mother. I love this campaign.
    Growing Up Madison recently posted…Almost Wordless Wednesday: Shopping With Your ToddlerMy Profile

    Reply
  6. Andrea @the Distracted Housewife.com
    August 8, 2013 at 9:10 am (12 months ago)

    I breastfed my daughter to 6 months old and I am still breastfeeding my 15 month old son. I wish I had breast fed my daughter longer but not because I am ashamed that we switched to formula but because I could have gone longer. Instead I gave up because pumping at work was inconvenient. But thinking back now it really wasn’t all that bad. However I have always always felt that the entire breast vs bottle debate is ridiculous. As long as the baby is loved and fed who cares! Thanks for sharing this! I am so glad your son is doing well!
    Andrea @the Distracted Housewife.com recently posted…Maybe You Really Do Have It AllMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Anonymous
    August 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm (11 months ago)

    In terms of myth busting, I am wondering if “I Support You” is approved of or consistent with World Breastfeeding Week. It seems unlikely.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous
    August 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm (11 months ago)

    I am wondering if “I Support You” is a compatible message with “World Breastfeeding Week”. I think it would be an interesting exercise in myth busting to examine whether it is or is not. Do the World Breastfeeding Week organizers approve of “I Support You”? Do they know it exists? Are there aspects of “I Support You” that are at odds with breastfeeding support. I am thinking of the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes as well as the emphasis on judging and guilt.

    Reply
    • Amber Schultz
      August 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm (11 months ago)

      You bring up some interesting points. I’ll have to look into that further. I do know that the “I Support You” movement was met with some opposition, but they reported that 80-90% of people supported it. I am curious what the World Breastfeeding Week organizers thought of it though.

      Reply
    • Amber Schultz
      October 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm (10 months ago)

      It’s never too late! Thanks for adding your post and perspective!

      Reply

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