Oh hey! Back at this again.
To say the last few months have been a blur would be a serious understatement. People definitely hinted that moving from one kid to two was, let’s say, challenging, but I, the Maternal Mental Health Professional, am here to tell you that it’s been somewhat surprising.
Luckily for the no-time-to-pay-attention part of me, Will has been a champion feeder since day 1. He was very intuitive with latching and sucking, which the nurses kindly reminded me had something to do with me as well – I know how to nurse this time, so only one human in this relationship had to learn what they were doing.
In the first few days, I never had to worry about Will being too sleepy to eat like some babies born before 40 weeks. I had some regular pain getting used to the constant nursing, but it lasted less than two weeks, THANK THE LORD.
But then, just like with Beck, Will’s super duper weight gain slowed a little bit, the pediatrician threw out a casual “maybe add a power pump!” (he’s a man, he doesn’t know), and Hello Darkness My Old Friend.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nursing is wonderful for some people, pumping is a means to an end. It is not sweet, it is not cozy, and it extracts less milk than the baby BUT takes twice as long (for me, at least), thereby producing tons of I’M STARVING MY BABY anxiety and sucking up precious time.
In the last three months or so I’ve done lots of different things to be sure that Will’s weight gain doesn’t slow any more and he still has mostly breastmilk to drink on days when I’m not with him. The biggest gift I gave myself was pumping a ton right at the beginning of his life when I had a ton of milk and he couldn’t possibly drink it all. That extra pumping right at the beginning of his life meant that when I went back to work I didn’t have to worry about pumping what he was drinking ounce-for-ounce, which is practically impossible for me.
The milk I had frozen and stored lasted until just a few weeks ago. When that happened, I decided to use formula on the days I’m not with him after he finished whatever I’d pumped that week or the day before. Honestly, there is a little bit of me that feels kind of sad that this happened, but not because I think formula is bad AT ALL. It’s more that I think I know where I went wrong with nursing and pumping at the beginning, and I wish I could go back and do a little more to hang on to that nice oversupply from the beginning.
When Will was little he only nursed on one side at a time, and (hindsight, ugh) it would have been super easy to pump on the opposite side every time to 1. store more and 2. keep my supply up. Instead, my body got used to him only eating on one side at a time and BOOM bye bye huge weight gain for baby.
At least we’re used to this, kids dropping off a curve. Luckily Will has chunky thighs and is hitting milestones and our pediatrician doesn’t pay too much attention to weight vs those other things. And then there’s the small sad afraid mom that wants to do more, better, anything for her babies, and this time more pumping, better output, and never sleeping just weren’t options for Will.
There was about a 6 week stretch where I was pumping three times per day for one hour at a time to try and increase my supply and store more milk. Time where Beck was in front of the TV, time where I wasn’t doing….anything…I wanted to be doing, time, frankly, that I wasted. I finally realized this, but I still have a pretty strong mental block against formula that I’m really aware of.
The most ridiculous thing about this mental block is that I recommend people use formula when it works for them all.the.time. I see what nursing and pumping and worrying about weight gain does to moms I work with, and it just isn’t worth it. And yet, for me, it took longer than it should have, but I’m so glad I’m here now.
It’s not a particularly exciting or dramatic story, especially compared to what some people go through. And, yes, in hindsight if I’d done some things differently maybe I’d be pumping 10 extra ounces per day. Or maybe I wouldn’t be. Or maybe I should have stopped any and all pumping four months ago and just used formula when I went to work full stop holy COW why didn’t I do that. I have often thought that if I never had to pump I’d actually get more out of nursing, that maybe it would feel even more special than it already does. I love it.
That’s another reason why I stopped pumping as much. I was resenting it so much, and so filled with worry and anxiety about what was coming out and what other things I should be doing, and WHOA BUY A CAN OF THE POWDERED STUFF PROBLEM SOLVED. I mean, really.
Given what I do for a living, I have a really wide variety of stories in my arsenal about how babies are fed. I know women who exclusively nurse and/or pump and/or some combo of the two for years. I know women who think it’s gross and start formula as soon as they can comfortably dry up their supply.
Research now is showing us more and more that kids (age five or so) who were breastfed vs formula fed have very few, if any, differences that couldn’t be attributed to other things. Are there some health benefits for the mother? Sure, but not as miraculous as we act like they are. Is breastmilk better than formula? Maybe, but better is a really subjective word and formula was designed to mimic breastmilk very closely.
Healthy babies are important. Fed babies are important. Healthy mamas are important. Happy mamas are really important. There are about 1,297 ways to accomplish this, and I’m working hard to not only preach that out loud but correct my thoughts and judgments toward myself about feeding as well.
I had originally planned for this to be a post with some tips and tricks for pumping OR formula feeding, but that implies that one is better than the other, and I just don’t think it’s that simple or even true. Instead, this can be just one story of how one mother is feeding her baby.
He had like five pretzels yesterday from a container at a bar that lots of people stuck their hands in, too.
That being said, there are some things that I do like for feeding in general! The biggest thing is the Spectra S1 breast pump. It’s made pumping more enjoyable than with Beck, although you’ll never see me look back on these pumping months very fondly.
Other baby feeding favorites can be found in this post about how I make my own baby food!
Beyond that, I’ll just be over here trying to not go totally broke buying formula because WOW what an expense.