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Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Can't Possibly Make That Big of a Difference...

I breastfeed the Buddha. I win. I have been waiting by the mailbox for my medal. I get first place! Because everyone knows that if you give your child formula instead of breastfeeding you are no better than Britney Spears as a mother and your child will never amount to anything. In fact, I heard that if you give a baby formula they have a 90% chance of going deaf from all the ear infections they will no doubt get.

And this is how I felt after going to my first (and last) breastfeeding meeting.

I don't think anyone can deny that breastmilk is better than formula. And I truly love the bond that the Buddha and I share because I nurse her. She is comforted by it, and so am I. But formula fed babies are just as healthy, just as bonded to their moms. Someone once described breastmilk v. formula as the difference between getting an A+ and getting an A. Breastmilk is better than formula...but not by much.

The thing is, at a certain point, it becomes impractical to exclusively breastfeed the baby. People go back to work; they have to take medications; or get sick; or frankly, it just gets too demanding. And these mothers who either couldn't breastfeed or can no longer breastfeed are made to feel guilty, like they are purposefully depriving their child of something that could make or break their children's futures.

I call the people who do this: The Breastfeeding Nazi's. And they are all members of my local breastfeeding club.

I went because while I am a great nurser, I am what you would call an "unproductive pumper." meaning, despite lugging the electric pump with all the accessories back and forth to work every day and pumping for 30 minutes 4 times a day at work while trying to maintain my billable hours and getting up at 3 am every night to pump, I have only just enough milk to get her through a work day. Which means all of that work only gets me three feedings for her. I nurse her before I go to work, and all night once I get home. I nurse her when she wakes around 4 in the morning too.

I love nursing her. But the pumping is starting to kill me. I should just let go and cave into giving her a single God Damn bottle of formula a day. But I can't. I can't because I am too guilty. I drank the cool aid, and even though I know it won't make a hill of bean difference, I just can't let it go.

If she has to have formula, I feel like I failed her.

And that meeting I went try and see if I was maybe pumping wrong, or get some tips on production of milk... Those women made me feel like I should go to the ends of the earth to breastfeed my Buddha. That I should do it at all costs, because "you love her don't you?"

I would go to the ends of the earth for that child, if she needed me to. But does she need me to for this? Does some formula really make a difference?

There was a woman who was adopting a child. She wanted to breastfeed her. SHE WANTED TO BREASTFEED THE ADOPTED CHILD. I didn't even know you could do that. Apparently, you can take hormones and herbs and pump like crazy, and you can trick your body into producing milk. Everyone at the meeting praised her. She should get a medal. She was a real mother, they said. "That's what motherhood is about!"

Is it? Because I have to say: I don't think that is what motherhood is about. No one is keeping score, there are no prizes (except the end result of raising a well adjusted and loved child). I looked at that woman and thought "You are a freaking idiot." Get over yourself. You and the woman next to you that breastfed until her kid was 8 and who still comes to the meetings even though that was 15 years ago! GET THE HELL OVER YOURSELVES.

And yet, I continue to get up each and every night at 3 am. I continue to lug the pump to and from work. I continue to sit for a half hour at a time, four times a day while on conference calls with judges with my boobs hooked up to a milking device. Just to avoid giving her a single serving of formula a day.

I'll let you know when the mailman delivers my first place trophy!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I hope I can offer some helpful words, but I suppose you may not want any and I wouldn't blame you lol!

I nursed my baby 15 minutes after she was born, it was great. It lasted 5 minutes and I was too exhausted to do the other side... I nursed her in the hospital and also supplamanted with formula because her latch hurt and I wanted to know she was eating. So the first week she had a lot of formula, and also some pumped milk. I could only pump at that point and my milk slowly came in and I healed, then I tried to BF again and it was HELL, I hated it and only some words from my sister kept me going (no words like your group though, just encouragment). At 6 weeks all was well and I could nurse her just fine. I even liked it. Now at 4 months she has started pulling and fussing and having to hold my hand.. I've found no help. I've considered quiting. So far I am holding out, I worked to damn hard to give up just yet.

Now, I will tell you something, I give her a bottle of formula every night :) I've never remotley felt guilty about it. It gives me a break. When she was younger and didn't make it through the night all the time my husband gave her a bottle at 2am. now I just nurse her if she wakes up at 5am and wants to eat but then I was just too tired. I hate pumping too!

I got the fancy medala PISA, the limited editiojn one and the actual pump unit is a little sqaure box that easilt fits into a normal purse... I don't know why they don't sell them all like that instead of attaching them in those big things.

You shouldn't feel guilty at all for giving her formula. My sister was BF, I was FF.. My sister has horrible alergies, I've never been allergic to anything. I call my mother nearly 5 times a week to chat, my sister talks to my mom maybe once a week.

I'm glad I BF'd my baby, and I am proud because it was hard work, but how long I do it is up to me and I don't care what anyone else thinks. Grandted I sometimes feel like I'll let myself down if I stopped earlty but to be honest what stops me most at this point seeing as how not so fun nursing is at the moment, is the money. I don't want to spend forumla or have something else I have to buy. I'm sure people will think I'm awful, but when she pulls at my nipple and it hurts like hell and she does it over and over again well sorry I can't be sane!

Sorry wrote this in a hurry, sleeping baby on my lap.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I tried. I was all hellbent when LM was born that I.Was.Breastfeeding. But we immediately had issues. I got mastitis right off the bat and so we had to put him on a bottle. And then I just hated it so much and I couldn't seem to get it right that I found myself mad every time he was hungry. Not a good combo. So, we quit. And so LM was BF for maybe two weeks of his whole life and he's still a wonderful, healthy, genius little child who loves his mother and has no known allergies or food aversions. So that's my input.

My BF group were freakazoids, too. I just couldn't take it. I'm all in favor, if at all possible, but there comes a point when I say enough.

As in 99.9% of all parenting advice I will EVER give is "do what works for you". (I only reserve the .1% for those wingnuts who think a baseball bat to the head is a good way to get a child's attention... - oh, and for those people who put leashes on their kids. Yeah, that I might object to.)

5:24 PM  
Blogger krystyn said...

Wow---so this is what I have to look forward to in a couple wks. I think I'll skip out on the Breastfeeding Club's bad enough that'll I'll likely HAVE to go back to work in 4-6 wks, so this dilemma will likely become HUGE for me. Argh!

I understand what you mean about feeling guilty...I want to BF cuz it's 'better' (so they say), but actually right now the financial advantage is a big deal for me right now (long story). Anyway, I just hope the pumping works for me after reading your post.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Katrina said...

I got the medal. It was cheap and tin and turned my skin green. But then I only made it around seven months with either one of the munchkins. Katie went off the breast rather suddenly, deciding one day that the bottle was a lot less work and left her more time for playing with carpet fibers. Caleb bit me once, twice, and the third time he was out (fortunately, the nipple is still attached and eventually regained!)

Anyway, I'm with Amy--"do what works best for you and your baby" is almost always the best parenting advice there is. You are obviously a wonderful, loving, thoughtful mother, and that has nothing to do with where your baby gets her calories.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Marcy said...

Maybe the problem isn't you but your breastpump? I've heard many stories of women who had a hell of a time pumping with certain pumps, and others worked a lot better. Unfortunately even if you give formula during the day you'll probably still need to pump at work otherwise you risk lowering your milk supply...

I'm caught in a weird place where I do feel that every mother who can should at least try to breastfeed, and I know I want to do everything I (reasonably) can to do so for my child (which will be much easier since I won't have to work) but I also realize that for some women it just don't work and that's not the end of the world. Yes, there are lots of benefits to mom and child from BFing, but like you said it's not like you're dooming your child to a lifetime of failure and idiocy if you formula feed.

Good luck and whatever you decide to do, know that you are a wonderful mother and your baby adores you no matter what. =)

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you had such a bad experience at the group you went to! I exclusively breastfeed my 9 month old baby and love it. I nursed her right after being wheeled out of the OR, and have never given her a bottle of formula or pacifier. It can be difficult, and there have been times I've wanted to RUN to the store and buy formula! Luckily,I never have, thanks a great deal to the breastfeeding group I attended. My first few meetings were a little bit uncomfortable but I got used to the openness of nursing there. The lactation consultant always told us to give it a week if we felt like giving up, and somehow if I feel like quitting Monday, by Friday the problem is better or gone.

Breastfeeding isn't what motherhood is all about but it is best for our babies (in any amount) and it is what they are meant to have. I believe it's the choice that any knowledgeable mother who loves their baby would make, and if it's for the first year then great, and if it's only for the first week, then that's fine too. Breast milk in any amount is best. *And if a mom needs to supplement because of low supply, breast milk is very potent in formula so it might even end up evening out. As for an adoptive mother nursing.. I think it's great. There are so many advantages for baby and mom when you choose nursing, and adoptive moms can and should have those too. Even if an adoptive mother can't provide full nourishment with breast milk, they can provide other benefits, for example- the suckling babies do while nursing is good for their speech and gums, the closeness which may be even more important when adopting, the eye development you get from switching left and right...

Breastfeeding does make a difference. I think every mom should make every effort to breastfeed, and it sounds like you are! I have had some pumping problems too.. I'm staying home with my daughter, and made the mistake of not offering her a bottle until it was too late, but I still pump occasionally to make rice cereal, and to have some stored just in case. I use a medela
electric pump and I love it. There was probably a whole month when I was unable to pump, not for lack of trying. Stress can make it impossible to get any milk, also the size of the "head" makes a big difference. I have some friends that needed to buy a different size because it wasn't comfortable to breastfeed. Stimulation is another big thing while pumping. If you have a picture or something else that reminds you of your baby that can help. Another thing that might help is familiarity with the breast pump. If your only pumping at work it can be difficult for your body to adjust to the pump. It may seem hard since your probably tired after/before work but, try breastfeeding your baby while pumping on your other breast. (I know that seems impossible but once your baby is latched on and in a comfortable position it's not so hard) The double stimulation will get more milk out for you to save, and your body will gradually get more familiar with the pump. Once you have enough milk stored you can stop worrying so much about the supply and pump just one time at work (or not even) and then just make sure to do good long feedings at home, and as long as your doing that, your breasts will make more at the times your feeding. Hope your able to keep trying! If not then supplementing is the next best thing!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ok, so you've gotten a few books here, so I'll put my 2 cents in as quickly as possible. My problem was having too much milk...I could sit & pump for 5 minutes and get 8 ounces (I kid you not!). It was ridiculous!!! I had to get up & change my clothes 3 or 4 times a night, sleep on several towels, replace the sheets daily, and change my street clothes at least a few times a day (and yes, I stuffed my bras with men's hankerchiefs and the heavy-duty breast pads, but to no avail); then there was the clothes changes for the kiddo because milk was spewing out of me and choking them, dripping everywhere because they couldn't swallow fast enough, etc. And, forget feeding in public; if they pulled off, which they usually did when my milk let down because it shot out, milk went everywhere and I couldn't be discreet. It was sheer torture and I hated it every time they got hungry.

My first got cut-off when I got the flu and was away from him for 3 days! My second got cut off at 3 weeks old - she had colic for 1 day and that was all it took - I switched her to soy formula and never looked back. The worst part of that was stopping cold-turkey; I swelled up and was in severe pain for about a week. My 3rd had his first bottle of formula at only an hour old - he never had the boobie :) It was the absolutely best decision I feel that I made. When you feed your baby, it shouldn't be a chore or an outlet for anger. It should be fun and relaxing, which is what the bottle offered me. And, the Nazi's I knew (I never attended a meeting) gave me Hell about my decisions - the biggest dissenter being my mother-in-law - and my hubby put her in her place 3 or 4 times before she finally dropped it. But, it worked for me, and we were all happy.

So, along with Amy & Katrina, I think you should do whatever works best for you, then don't doubt your decisions. Stick with your decision, no matter how much input and 'advice' you get :) You'll be me!

P.S. My youngest is the healthiest kiddo I have and he never had breast milk! I love reminder my MIL of that little fact :)

5:46 PM  
Blogger Regina said...

Your blog is so well written! You have had me crying on several of your posts, and while I'm not a big commentator (just not enough time), I wanted to commend you on how far you've already come with working and breastfeeding. From one working lawyer mother to another, I can so relate to pumping during conference calls!! Hahaha!! I even once excused myself from a mediation with an adjuster to go pump in the car. Where there's a will there's a way! I'm sure you have pictures of your little one in your office, but that really helped me. I would look at her picture and imagine myself at home nursing her. I also had to do quite a bit of squeezing and manipulating with the old gals, which made it hard to be able to do any work while pumping. I went back to work at 2 months and pumped until she was 12 months. I had pumped a lot before I went back to work, so I had a freezer supply too. We always managed to have just enough, yet formula slipped into the equation when my pediatrician insisted I add 2 scoopfuls of formula to each of her pumped bottles to boost the calories since she was underweight. What kept me going I guess was that I enjoyed the nursing time with her and didn't want to chance not being able to breastfeed on weekends or other days off. I would simply echo what others have said and encourage you not to stress about it too much. Stress messes with your supply, you know! : ) So just relax and go with the flow . . .

4:02 PM  

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