Let me set the scene for you, I’m pregnant with my first. And I’m freaking out. Mind you my husband had done it before (he has one child from before my time) so that should put my mind at ease, right? Wrong. I don’t know if it’s the mommy in me, or my type A personality. Either way, I’m reading every book about parenting that was put in my hand. But it doesn’t stop there. It quickly went on to include every magazine, every Mom blog, every article. You name it, I read it. At about 7 months in I realized the hospital I’d be giving birth at offered free educational classes. Guess what my husband and I did the whole month of October? I’m not kidding, I legitimately took time off work just to attend every single class I could.
So in all my research I had decided I wanted to breastfeed because that was best for baby, right? It helps protect your tiny baby’s fragile immune system, it even reduces the chance of SIDS. So come hell or high water I was doing this. No matter what.
I took the classes, read the books, yadda yadda. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I also knew that the payout was huge. So I bought all the accessories; the breast pump, the nursing tops, hell- I even had ice packs for the girls. I was ready.
Or so I thought.
Let me tell you now, breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart.
I had read that you shouldn’t sign up for free samples of formula because in the middle of the night you’d be tempted to fall back on it. So I didn’t.
Not because I wanted to use it late at night as a cop-out, I was completely and totally dedicated to this breastfeeding thing. But because of the weight gain issues.
Now I’m fully aware that babies lose a few ounces right after birth and then gain it back within a few weeks.
But that didn’t happen with our baby.
And we didn’t understand why. I had met with lactation consultants several times and he had a great latch from the get go (I was so incredibly lucky and I knew it). He was eating every two hours like he should and having the right amount of dirty diapers, so why was this still happening?
We’re talking he wasn’t back up to his birth weight for a whole month. Every other day we had to go have his weight checked just to make sure he wasn’t losing. They had me pumping after every time he nursed and trying to feed him all the extra I could get with a bottle.
Getting this kid to gain weight began to consume my life.
We were up all hours of the night feeding on demand and trying to force him to take the extra bottles (my husband was way better at this than I was- thank God or I would’ve lost my mind). Finally at one of his many, many appointments in the first few weeks the doctor asks if I’m willing to “try something.” At this point anything sounds great- I just want a happy, healthy baby.
…And then she walks in with a can of formula.
Cue the emotions. I mean, I’m doing everything in my power here and now I just feel like a failure. How did I let this happen? I thought I had set myself up for success by being ready, having everything on hand…
I quickly tell her I don’t want to ruin my milk supply from feeding formula and I don’t want to deal with all the negatives of formula feeding either (the cost, more spit up, constipation, tummy troubles…). Not that I’m against formula, it just wasn’t the right fit for me and my family.
She quickly calms me and says, “no, add it to the milk you’ve been pumping. It’s a high calorie formula for premies, let’s just see where we get.”
But it was a small amount (half a teaspoon per ounce is what she suggested) and it was mixed with my milk which calmed me a bit. And if it didn’t work by the next appointment (literally two days later) then we could ditch it.
So we continued to feed, pump, feed, pump, feed, pump, but this time adding a teaspoon or so to each bottle for some extra calories. And guess what?
And guess what else? I was so happy my baby was gaining weight that my pride no longer mattered. I quickly realized that my “purely breastfed baby” was just not going to be a reality and that was ok because he was finally healthy.
Fast forward, he’s now 2 months old and is gaining just fine and he no longer needs the formula supplement. But man, those free samples sure would’ve been helpful in the first few weeks while we were floundering.
What I’m trying to say here is that no matter how prepared you think you are, you just never know what life will throw at you. And as much as I swore that my baby would never have any formula, sometimes that’s just not what the good guy in the sky has planned for us. We needed a little extra tlc, but we’re on the right path. And there’s no shame in doing what you gotta do as a mother, even if it goes against everything you’ve prepared for.
I really strongly encourage you to not turn down those free samples regardless of your feeding plan. You really just never know, and have you seen those outrageous prices?! Every mama needs to know that Enfamil will send you a nice sized box full of several different kinds of formula which includes some of those pre-mixed bottles you get at the hospital, which were perfect for an extra ounce or two when he needed a top-off. (You can get your samples here)
You just never know what could happen, but knowing that it’s there if you need it sure takes some stress off. If you don’t need it, even better! Donate it so that you can help less fortunate mamas and babies. A fed baby is a happy baby, and a happy baby makes a happy mama.
Updated 4/9/2018: At 4 months my baby is still breastfeeding, is now 12 lbs 11 oz and is finally in the normal range for his age group. The doctor gave him the all-clear to begin trying baby food because she feels he’s ready! He has met and exceeded all of his 4 month milestones. It’s been a long hard road, but we made it! Thank you to everyone for your prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes!