Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We are getting a raise!!!!

Okay, not really. But it's going to feel like it! I took Ava in for her 1 year check-up yesterday, and the doctor said those two magical words- WHOLE MILK! YAY!!!! No more formula, no more books, no more breastfeeding Nazis' dirty looks! HAHA! I was talking to my friend Amanda today, who just switched her 7 month old from breast to formula (mostly). And she was talking about how much better her baby is and how much happier they both are now that they are using formula....

I read an article the other day in LR Family about breast vs. bottle, and the person who wrote the piece was clearly and outspokenly a breastfeeding advocate. And that is cool with me. (and I promise when I started out writing this, I didn't intend for it to be a breast vs bottle post). On the magazines FB page, they posted a link to a blog about the pro's and con's of both breastfeeding and formula feeding, which I guess was in response to the backlash they got from the article. But I thought it was funny that the blog's writer says in the first paragraph that she is an outspoken advocate of BF and only formula fed the last of her 5 children because of the death of her young child, the premature birth of her baby, and the subsequent stress involved that made her milk dry up. So much for serving up an unbiased opinion!

So here is my take: Hello. My name is Rachel. And I chose to formula feed my baby. There I said it. Now before you judge, please let me explain....

We wanted to breastfeed Ava. We had so many people tell us that it was the "right" thing to do for our child. Even had a few people tell us that we would be bad parents who didn't love their baby enough if we didn't breastfeed. But I wasn't informed and didn't understand the ins and outs of breastfeeding. I assumed that when Ava came, she would just latch right on and off we would go into this magical world of breastfeeding. After all, it is natural- right?!?! Well.... Ava came 3 weeks early. Which isn't much. But for whatever reason, she just refused to latch on. REFUSE. Like I would put my boob in her mouth and she would jerk away. The lactation consultant showed me all of her tricks. Nipple shield, football hold, rubbing my nipple on her face to trigger the routing reflex. NOTHING WORKED. The kid would not eat. So the lactation consultant suggested we just use our pump. Pump? What pump? After all, breastfeeding was natural. It is supposed to just happen. We didn't get a pump. So we left the hospital that Saturday afternoon with a new baby and a new (and VERY FREAKING EXPENSIVE TOP OF THE LINE THERE GOES HER COLLEGE FUND) breast pump.

Now the idea was to pump until she was strong enough and able to latch on, at which point we would only pump when needed. Ava, my sweet little baby, had other plans. She would never latch on. And not for a lack of trying on my part. I used to spend every waking hour (wish I was joking) just trying to get her to latch on. Maybe I tried too hard, I don't know. But she just never would. So I had to pump EVERY.SINGLE.FEEDING. Now if you have ever had a baby and pumped, you know why this is such a big deal. Not only does it add at least 30 minutes to each feeding, but it isn't the most pleasant experience. OK. IT FREAKING HURTS! Not to mention it really gives you a whole new respect for dairy cows. And our pump has like 450 different parts that must be washed after every use. So lets do the math, shall we???

24 hours in a day.
She was eating roughly every three hours, or 8 times a day.
So 8 feedings each day, and each feeding took about 30 minutes for her to eat. Plus 30 minutes to pump for the next feeding and clean up. So One hour for each feeding. That is 8 hours out of my day that was just spent feeding and pumping. That left 16 hours for other things. Like sleep. Showers. and feeding myself. Doesn't look too bad on paper, but when those 16 hours are spent in 1-2 hour increments, it is miserable.

But I was doing it. Because I loved my baby and I wanted to be a good mom. So I did it. For 7 weeks. 7 of the most exhausting and miserable weeks of my life. (That is 196 hours minimum I spent pumping, by the way. I am not bitter. But the last blister just healed a few weeks ago. FYI)

Around week 5 I started to feel bad. Like, REALLY REALLY BAD. Flu bad. Fever. Chills. Aches. And my boobs hurt. BOTH of my boobs hurt. Like Babe Ruth had used them to practice those famous home runs bad. OUCH. Yup. Double Mastitis. Don't worry. I pumped through it. DOUBLE OUCH. Because I loved my baby. Fast forward two weeks. Feeling really really bad again. Flu bad again. Fever-chills-aches. Again. And more Babe Boobs. OOOUUCH! And Cole was back to work for both of my bouts with double mastitis. So I was sick and taking care of a newborn. Not a fun time.

On top of all of that...
*** and I really didn't want to share this yet because it's not over. But if you read my blog, you know Cole is in the Army- and I just want to say for all of the freaks out there that might come across this blog, I am the granddaughter of a US Marine sharpshooter, the wife of a US Army officer, and I am well armed, have a security system, dogs, and an arsenal of weapons under my bed, and a crack shot-

Well, Ava was born in February, 2010. April 14, 2010- Cole deploys overseas.

SO, in the midst of having a baby, dealing with the BF issues and sickness, I am also trying to emotionally and physically prepare for my husband to deploy for a year. I JUST. COULDN'T.DO.IT. anymore. So after 7 weeks of pumping and breast milk, Ava switched to Similac Sensitive.

She has been a different child. And I mean that in the best way possible. I know the "old school" thought was that a baby can't be intolerant of it's mother's milk. I think that is pure crap. Because I don't care what medical school says, or what doctors say. Ava, I believe with all of my heart, was intolerant of my milk. Her reflux was better. She slept better, she was happier. She cried less...just all around better. Books may say otherwise, but I know what I saw- what happened when we switched to formula. She was better.

And honestly, so was I. The week we decided to change to formula, I must have taken 20 showers. Because that was my quiet, alone time. And I would stand in the shower and just sob and sob because I thought that I was giving up. Taking the easy way. Not loving my child enough. But really, that wasn't true. Cole and I made this decision because I was miserable and exhausted, and because as a pilot, even when he was home those first two months, he couldn't help with the nighttime feedings because he HAS to get sleep. HAS TO. So it was all me. Then when he left, it was ALLLLL me. And I needed sleep. I needed peace. I needed to be as happy as I could.

And I probably shouldn't admit this in print, but I think all moms, if they were honest, would admit to having the same feelings at one point during those first few months- I was beginning to resent my baby. Because I was SO tired and it hurt SO bad (the last few weeks, pumping was rubbing blisters on me, even with the largest cups- because I was so swollen). I won't say that I loved her more after we switched. Because that's not true. But I will say that I enjoyed her more. And still do. And for us, for our family, it was worth the switch. The money that it cost us. Because time with Ava is priceless. And that is what formula gave me.

I know everyone is different, every child is different. And for whatever reason, Ava would never latch on. And I look back now and wish I would have told those people who tried to guilt me into breastfeeding to STICK IT! ;) Will I try again with my next baby- YES. Will I know more what to expect and be better prepared- YES. Will I feel guilty about switching to formula if it doesn't work out- NO. I know breast milk is what God gave us. But he also gave us a brain. Science. The ability to improve our lives. And we, as a human race, have used those tools and done that. So if science and the ideas that come from God-given brains help me to be a better mom, I am okay with that.

I think breastfeeding gets a bad name partly because advocates use guilt and manipulation (and at times, down right lies) to try to sway new parents their way. Parents who just want to do what is best for their baby and their family. I don't think many people read this little blog. But if someone does, a new mom or mother-to-be who is trying to decide- I hope this helps you understand that you have choices. And that you are not a bad parent no matter what you decide- or at least that this particular decision doesn't make you a bad parent. :)

Whew! Sorry for that rant. Not sure where that one came from, but I feel much better!!!!!


Jamie Bradshaw said...

You know what Rachel?? Good for you! I myself am a bf advocate, I think everyone should at least TRY to! If you don't even try, that is really foolish...but you DID! And you really struggled w/ tons of crazy issues that most people only get hit with 1-2 setbacks! Will took a while to latch, but he was fine with a shield. Even that was discouraging so I can't IMAGINE going through all the hurdles you did!! I think you are a great Mom for sticking it out as long as you did, for real, most women don't have it in them to pump that long. It sucks (haha).
You made the right decision and are happier for it. Good to know about things like that b/c I can be a bit "judgy" when I see a mom formula feeding a newborn. It's a humbling reminder to realize that I don't know what all that mother may have already sacrificed for her child and that this bottle of formula is literally the one thing bringing her back to sanity! Ava is precious and perfect and healthy and YOU did it!
(whew, I didn't think I was going to write that much...)

The Brewers said...

Thank you Jamie. I do want to bf our next one. But I also know that it isn't easy, it is work. Hopefully Cole will be around next time to help more. And I am glad that I did it for the first (and everyone says most crucial) 6 weeks at least. Thank you for your encouragement! And for reading one of the longest posts EVER! HAHA!

Kristin Wood said...

Love this post Rachel. My senior year of high school I debated on this topic alot, which required a lot of research on it. Based on all that, I honestly think it is basically a wash. Women need to choose what is right for them and their baby- pressure and guilt free. No woman should ever be made to feel bad over this issue. It so sad. As if being a new mom isn't hard enough. You are amazing and there is NO doubt in anyone's mind how much you love your precious little girl and how happy she is! Everytime I think about what you have gone through in this year, I always think what an amazing, strong woman you are! So proud to have known you for so long!!

Su said...

BFing is the hardest thing ever. More painful than delivery I think...well, I had two c-sections. I BFed the twins for 7 months. Selfishly cause it helped me loose my weight and was free. I supplemented some formula though from the get-go. Anyhow, still now I feel like people judge in public when I give them a bottle. They don't even know the facts but jump to conclusions.