Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the first month is over and how bottle feeding saved me

Tomorrow Hero will be 1 month old. 

These past four weeks have flown by. 
And, to be honest, I'm glad they're over. 

Turns out, I was sort of a postpartum spaz. 
I'm doing much, much better now but those first weeks were really tough for me. 

Ever since Hero was born, I was surprised at how disconnected I felt from her. I kept thinking things would start feeling better, more natural and easy, but they didn't. I was having crying spells almost daily and felt mostly numb inside. 

And then there was the breast feeding. Oh the breast feeding. 
Although it was starting to become less physically painful for me to nurse her, I still didn't enjoy it. In fact, I almost hated it. Nursing felt only like hard work and nothing more. And what I hated the most was that every time she was hungry (which was a lot of the time), the smallest part of me felt angry and resentful of her because I knew it meant I had to nurse. That feeling was the absolute worst. 

I think my negative experience with nursing started to generalize out and taint my entire experience with Hero and motherhood. 
Suddenly, everything started to feel unhappy. I felt blocked off from all the feelings of love and joy that I not only wanted so desperately to feel but also knew I deserved to feel. 

My struggles all culminated the first weekend at the cabin. 

On Friday night at the cabin, through sobs, I told my mom and Chas about all this.
That's when we decided I should look into getting a prescription for Zoloft, which we did the next morning. 

That same morning I also discovered that I had Mastitis for which I needed antibiotics and had come down with one of the most awful stomach flu viruses I've ever experienced. 

That was a hard, hard day. 

It was such a blessing that I was at the cabin during that time. 
My mom and sisters took care of Hero while I was basically incapacitated for those few days. 
I love them so much for what they did for me during that time. 

Two days later, after much thought, prayer, and anxiety, I decided to stop breast feeding and switch to formula. 
It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. 

I felt guilty for allowing my body to simply absorb all the milk it was producing, milk that had so much of the best stuff in it for my daughter. Milk that was made especially for her. 
A part of me felt like a failure and a bad, selfish mother. 

But I slowly worked through all those emotions and the first day with bottles was the first day I started to feel truly calm, happy, and content with Hero. 
Those feelings continued to grow and become stronger. 

On day 5 of bottle feeding, I stopped taking the Zoloft. 

And now, a week later and a month after Hero's birth, everything feels like I always wanted it to feel. 
I can actually feel the love I always knew I had for her. 
I love her more and more every day. 
The crying has stopped and pure joy has replaced the numbness. 

And now, most importantly, Hero has a happy, emotionally healthy mom. 

I know I made the right choice. 
The right choice for me, for Hero, and for our family. 

29 comments:

Japolina said...

Welcome to Motherhood. The guilt, the gut wrenching decisions. Trust me, that part does not go away but just remember that sleep deprivation along with hormones is a bad combo. It gets easier. It gets better and better. It gets more rewarding. It is all really new and foreign right now.

I really thought that once I gave birth, I would just know what to do. Obviously that is a myth.

I could not breast feed and both my boys used bottles and formula. They are now super smart, healthy, tall, wonderful teenagers. If you feel better, the baby will do better so don't forget that. Don't let the la leche league make you feel bad.


(I also feel that my husband was very involved and close to the babies because he would give them bottles in the middle of the night. Maybe he would not have been as close to them when they were infants had I been breastfeeding.)

Lauren Gardner said...

Oh my goodness Sam. Its like we are twins or something. I love reading your blog because we are totally going through the same stuff at the same time. I actually had a similar experience and have a blog post all cued up to be posted tomorrow. I feel ya girl! I feel ya!

Alexis Kaye said...

You poor girl! :( That sounds so tough! Only you can decide what's best for you and it looks like you have. No matter what, you're the mom. You're the boss. Don't let anyone critisize you.

I'm only pregnant and I already have a taste of that awful mommy guilt. I feel guilty I have to take medicine to keep anything down. I feel guilty I can't take my prenatals. And I feel guilty I can't even stomach anything healthy. I stick to pizza and crackers. But I just remind myself that for whatever reason, I'm the mom and there IS a reason I am. That makes me feel a little better.

Whitney said...

Oh my, I'm glad things are getting better! I have a friend who had a horrible time with breastfeeding. She knew something was wrong but kept at it because of all the pressure she felt to breastfeed. When her doctor suggested she switch to formula, her and her sweet baby's lives changed for the better. So that's awesome that you did what you knew was right, even if it was a crazy hard decision. May God bless you and your adorable family!

Amy said...

I love this post. I love the honesty, it's truly beautiful. You are an amazing, and beautiful momma.

ℐαzmчn ❤ said...

I'm sorry to hear breastfeeding didn't go to well, but bottle feeding isn't all that bad! Postpartum depression is no fun at all. I had it BADDDD, but it does get better! You are by no means a bad mom or a selfish mom. Your little girl will love you regardless of if you used formula or breastfed. I'm glad things are better for you now and don't ever let anyone tell you you're not being a good mom for not breastfeeding!! ♥

Love, Jazmyn

Steph @ Total Swillyness said...

Coming from a nurse and child development major...you did absolutely the right thing for you and your sweet little cryings :)
you will be able to nourish her holistically so much better! I am sure it will continue to be a little bit of a rough decision. but remember that you felt strongly about it and have felt peace afterwards...a sign I think hahaha

Elisabeth Gee said...

Beautiful post. You can do it, girl! :)

Kari said...

The best decisions are the ones YOU (and your husband, of course!) make for your baby. It's so hard to remember that with the non-stop advice from books, websites, doctors, and well-meaning friends and family. I know a lot of mothers are (wrongly!) criticized for formula feeding--I actually have the opposite problem; I'm breast feeding my 13-month-old and many people think I'm weird. I wish people would follow President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's advice and just "stop it!" Follow your heart, pray always, and know that we all see that you are a wonderful mother!

Stephanie said...

I could say don't feel guilty, but you will. It is a Mom thing. Guilt is inevitable. But when those feelings happen read this post over and over. You did the right thing. Thank you for being so brave to tell us about it.

I had sort of a similar experience. I planned and trained for a medication-free birth. I ended up needing a c-section. My baby is three months old and I have to fight off the feeling that I did something wrong.

I need to remind myself that we are both doing our best. Thanks for your post, for reminding me, and congratulations on your lovely little girl.

Gaby said...

It's so great that you wrote this post - I feel sure that this will help other mothers going through the same thing. Sometimes you just have to let go, and then everything will fall into place. x

April said...

hugs, hugs, HUGS! My little one is a week old today and breastfeeding IS super hard. I know that feeling of frustration that you're talking about, when she gets hungry. Bless you for your honesty!

So so so so glad you are feeling better now. I think you are a wise mama <3

(and my little girl also gets soothed by dad when nothing else works. melts my heart.)

Ali Mills said...

Girl I went through the same thing. Only my problem was that I didn't produce enough milk and I was physically unable to even really hokd her but my baby is happy and my husband can be a hero too ;) I'm glad you're feeling better!!

Karen Macklin said...

I went through a similar situation with breast feeding. I have flat nipples, so I was given a nipple sheild to use. Using that thing was a pain in the butt and it HURT. After about three weeks, my nipples were cracked and bleeding because my baby couldn't get a good latch and the skin was getting rubbed off. My baby also wasn't gaining enough weight because I wasn't producing enough milk.

My doctor suggested that I supplement fomula, but I really wanted to breast feed. I met with lactation consultants and everybody said just to continue to try to breastfeed, but supplement with formula.

I made a diffent choice. I went down to our local "baby store" and rented a hospital grade brest pump. After I started pumping and feeding Tanner my milk with a bottle, he gained 7 oz. in 3 days. Pumping doesn't hurt, and my nipples have healed. It was the best decision for me and Tanner and I was frustrated that nobody suggested renting a pump. I only knew that I could do it because of a friend.

The point is, we as moms need to do what is best for us and our babies. You made the right choice for you and I am so happy to hear that things are better. Hero is lucky to have a mom who is so in touch with her emotions and so willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy. :)

French Lily said...

I just want to throw a word of support in for you. Mommy guilt really sucks, and you feel it no matter what choices you make. When it sneaks up on you, as it probably will, just remember your baby is alive, healthy, and happy. And that is all that matters.

Aly said...

it's so nice to read my past emotions coming from someone else.

the first 10 days of nursing were miserable and i, too, resented my sweet boy. i started using a shield and used it until 2.5 months when my son refused it, and now at 4 months we're okay. nursing is still difficult in different ways, but you are not alone! those feelings plagued me for 10 days and had it lasted much longer, we would have switched to formula too.

i hope everything continues to go well and get better. these babies we make are incredible.

emma said...

sam, you are amazing to share this. you 100% did the right thing for you and your baby. hero is a doll and is so lucky to have you as her mom.

Jenna said...

Sam, I commend you for making the right choice. I had a similar situation with my first, except it took me a LONG time to feel like I didn't have to apologize for bottle-feeding my baby. It seems like you aren't letting the guilt or the naysayers get to you, and I applaud you for that!

You can read my formula decision story and thoughts on bottle-feeding here. http://momtheintern.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-defense-of-formula.html

Natalie | Mrs. Janney | said...

I think switching to the bottle was an excellent choice! Ultimately, you have to do what you believe is best for Hero as a whole for her life. And part of that is making decisions that allow her to be as loved as possible. And you definitely did that. Awesome job!! You are such a great momma. :)

Clandestine Road said...

I'm so glad you chose to share your journey. Postpartum depression is so taboo and so is choosing to stop nursing before six months. Neither should be. We moms need to support the crap out of each other, as all moms know how unbelievably difficult it is to be a mom. Nursing is great, formula feeding is great, and happy mothers are the greatest. Keep on keepin' on, Sam!

Candice said...

You are amazing!
What a wonderful mother you are - look at the fantastic decisions you are already making for sweet Hero!!
My siblings and I were all bottle-fed as my mum was too unwell to breastfeed, so I guess I'm a huge advocate for it! We all ended up being over achievers our whole lives, and it meant we had that bonding time with our Dad too!
I think it is fantastic that you gave breast feeding a go, but even cooler that you had the strength to make such a tough but right decision for your family.

Dahlia Nursery Bedding and Decor said...

I have only a few words for you: IT WILL ONLY GET BETTER!
The bigger they get, the more fun it is! Just take it one day at a time! ;)

Lauren said...

I truly believe that as long as Hero is getting the food she needs, it is exactly what she needs, whether it is breast milk or formula. A happy mama is a good mama, and if breast feeding was affecting your ability to show her that love you've always had for her, it wasn't the right thing for you. :)

Thank you for being honest about the situation. That is one thing I always admire about you. You don't shy away from unpopular topics.

Lauren @ Cardigans and Cameras

Eliza :: Case Study said...

I'm so proud of you for making that choice!

Also, you're incredibly brave to share your story. :)

People truly underestimate what post-partum depression can do to a girl, and I think it's so wonderful that you had such an amazing support system to help you through that time.

xo!
eliza

Allison said...

I don't know anything about being a mom because I don't want children - but I do know about mental health...I appreciate your candidness on the topic. Thank you for bringing it up in a non-threatening, non-judgmental place. & if you find you need the Zoloft again, it's not a bad thing.

Donna said...

I loved this post! I felt the same way after my first daughter. I had PP for a year. I didn't know what I was. I'm glad you got the help you needed. So many of us moms feel guilty if we don't breast feed! Don't! Do what's best for you. He best advise you can get as a first time mom is "do what you can" I wish someone told me that in the beginning. As LDS women sometimes we feel we have to do it all. At least did.
I think your little family is adorable! Ian was our Bishop in NY, and is our neighbor! I promise I'm not a stalker! :) Just an admirer of your super coolness ;)

Health, art, and the girl gamer said...

I know how you feel Sam!I had pp as well, but it wasn't caused by my breastfeeding ( although who knows) and I still nurse Kaya. I have heard there are some great organic forumlas from Whole Foods and such, and I myself was formula fed. It is very very hard to make decisions for our kids. I know if I had to have chosen between my sanity or breastfeeding I would have made the choice you did. I was going to ask you: did you end up encapsulating your placenta like you mentioned?

Janssen said...

I think the biggest tragedy is when moms let the "I should"s get in the way of what is right for them or their baby. Like you said, the most important thing is that your baby has a happy, emotionally stable mother. And if that means bottles or nursing or co-sleeping or cribs from day 1 or whatever, I think it's fantastic to be solid about YOUR decision.

Jessica said...

Sam,
I've been meaning to thank you for this post for a while.
Since I am unable to breastfeed our little Jack, I often worried about bonding with him. But after this post, and after my experiences with him the past three weeks, I've learned that is very much not the case.
There are millions of ways to bond with your baby, even if it isn't your own flesh.
Thank you, thank you. :)

Jess