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.
supply. stress. sleep. supplementing.
remember in my last post when i said my supply is a little low? i was downplaying that a little bit. for a couple of weeks now i have been pumping and getting barely enough for each feed. the milk i stockpiled in our freezer in those first days is gone. sometimes i get 2 ounces a side. sometimes, like the other night, i pump for 20 minutes and get less than an ounce total. i know it is not my fault. i am doing everything right. i am doing everything i can. i eat a healthy (if excruciatingly bland) organic diet. i drink glass after glass of water. i drink 3 cups of mother's milk tea per day. i take my prenatal vitamins everyday without fail. i eat so much oatmeal i think i might be a quaker now.
this lack of supply leads to stress, which perpetuates a vicious cycle. the more i stress over my supply the worse it gets. sleep deprivation makes all of this more difficult. that pump session when i got less than an ounce? that was at 2 in the morning. i was not a pretty sight after that. let's just say there was a lot of frustrated crying and spilled milk involved. travis (my knight in shining armor, as usual) calmed me down enough to sleep. he sat up with sylvie the rest of the night so i could rest. i felt much better that next morning.
after a lot of talking, crying (on my part), and a kind message from a good friend we have decided to supplement with formula every other feeding for the next week. 5 formula feedings a day for 7 days means i can pump and get 35 bags of milk in the freezer. it means i can stop stressing about my supply and (hopefully) produce a little bit more. it means the difference between another late night nervous breakdown and calm, nurturing feedings.
i am a mother. it is my job to feed my daughter however that needs to happen. it took me a few days to come to terms with formula. everything i had read lead me to look at it as liquid evil. it isn't. we bought organic, dairy-free, dha and ara fortified powder. and you know what? she likes it. at first she looked at me with a expression that screamed WTF MOM?, but her first meal of it later and she is sleeping soundly in her father's arms. i have two 3 ounce bags of milk in the freezer and i haven't cried from the weight of it at all today. i'm doing what i have to and i don't feel bad about it anymore. my hope is that, once the colic has passed, we can nurse exclusively again. i hope that this foray into formula is a very temporary roadblock on our journey together. the bottom line is that my daughter is a happy, healthy and well-loved almost 6-week-old, and i am a much happier mom.