My struggle to feed baby number 4

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When I found out I was expecting baby number four, I knew right away what my feeding plan would be. Like all of my other babies, I was going to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and I'd continue to nurse well past the 1 year mark. Breastfeeding was something that always came pretty easily to me- something I realize now that I kind of took for granted, and it was actually one of my favorite parts of being a new mom. I loved nursing my babies. I loved the closeness, the bonding, the sweet snuggles, and the convenience of just whipping out a boob and having immediate nourishment at the perfect temperature at any given time. For me, it was a real time and money saver, plus it was a great way to burn off some of that baby weight and not have to deal with buying formula, washing bottles, and all of that. I never thought in a million years that baby four would come along and totally throw my perfect little plan right out the window, but that's exactly what happened, and I was so not prepared. 

Then Josiah was born and everything started off great. As with my previous babies, I had more than enough milk in the beginning. I could pump more than 6 ounces in about 5 minutes flat and I had a nice little stockpile of extra breast milk in the freezer. It wasn't until he was about 3 months old that the stress of having four kids- a 12 year old, an 8 year old, a very needy 2 year old, and a newborn, started to wear on me. I was exhausted. I was the only person who could feed Josiah because, hello...I had the milk. I was angry, resentful, and stressed to the max. Sure, there's always a little adjustment period after adding a new baby to the family, but this was way more than just that. I knew I had some postpartum issues going on and I talked to my doctor. 

I decided to switch to pumping so that my husband and the bigger kids could help feed Josiah and give myself a little break. I had already noticed that my milk wasn't as abundant as it had been in the beginning, but figured maybe my milk supply was finally leveling out. Josiah loved taking a bottle- he had always been an impatient nurser, so the instant gratification of having a bottle gushing milk was exactly what he wanted. I began to pump less and less milk, much to my frustration. I was finding myself taking bags of milk out of the freezer when I'd go to pump and get frustrated because I could only get an ounce or two. That became more and more of a thing, until I realized we'd gone through all of the 40+ bags of milk I'd been stockpiling. Pumping was a nightmare, even though I had a great pump and a routine. I was suddenly hardly able to pump anything, and not having frozen milk in the freezer really stressed me out. My husband suggested buying some formula to supplement, but I told him that would only make my dwindling milk supply even worse. When he suggested just stopping the pumping and switching to formula I looked at him like he'd lost his mind. I can do this! I screamed at him. I wasn't ready to give up- I could do it. I'd breastfed my last baby for 16 months and I had about 3 years of breastfeeding under my belt- I was a pro! I wasn't going to give it up for anything. I'd figure out what the problem was and make it work. I was no quitter and I wasn't going to be defeated.

I tried everything. Drinking tons of water, eating better, and trying to get more rest (which was impossible with a now 4 month old with no real sleep schedule). I tried supplements, special herbal teas, and power pumping. I tried to not stress even more about it, which is easier said than done when you have a crying baby and literally nothing to feed him. I was pumping just a few drops. I felt like I was at war with my body- why, oh why, could I not make any milk for Josiah, when I'd never had this problem with any of my other children? I felt like I was being punished or something. It wasn't until one evening, after a hellish day at home with the kids, after sweating and crying just trying to get a little milk for Josiah, that my husband came home with some formula. He mixed up a 6 ounce bottle, took the baby from me, and fed him, and I felt like a weight had been instantly lifted off of my shoulders. That was the day I quit breastfeeding and 100% switched to formula feeding, and I have absolutely zero regrets about my decision. 

Fast-forward 6 months and I now have a completely healthy and happy 10 month old baby boy who is totally thriving. Those painful, gut-wrenching months are behind me, where I questioned myself as a mother and wondered if I was doing the right thing constantly. Do I miss breastfeeding? Yes. Do I wish I was able to breastfeed my 10 month old? Yes. But sometimes your plan doesn't match up with reality, and for whatever reason, my body just couldn't do it this time around. And you know what? That's OK! 

How I wish I'd known about the Happy Family Infant Feeding Platform, which was made to ensure all families feel supported during their infant feeding journey. New moms and dads need all the help they can get, and this amazing platform would have come in handy for me when I was struggling. Creating a dialogue for infant feeding is crucial, as it's safe to say that millions of other women like me struggle with this as well. Whether your plan is to breastfeed, bottle feed, supplement, or whatever the case may be, it's so reassuring knowing that there are certified specialists and lactation consultants just a click away on their nifty live-chat feature. They are ready and willing to help new parents!

If you're a new parent please take advantage of  Happy Family Infant Feeding Platform! Everyone's parenting journey is going to be different and you're going to have your own struggles and victories, but it's so reassuring knowing the support is there. Even if you're not a new parent, I'm sure you know of one, so do that mom or dad a huge favor and pass this website link along to them. I'm sure they will thank you later! 

A big thank you to Happy Family Brands for sponsoring this post! And thank you to all of my readers for supporting the partners that make this little blog possible.

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