Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Our Feeding Journey

The last time I wrote about my breastfeeding journey with Alexander I was in a pretty down place. 

My confidence, once restored after a wobbly start was again crushed after a health visitor clinic. If you remember Alexander had had an excessivley sickly two weeks and often distressed after his feeds. As a result he hadn't gained much weight and dropped below one of the percentile lines on the graph.  Instead of taking my list of concerns with an interest my health visitor appeared dismissive and just suggested that if he was being so sick I should be feeding him more to keep his weight up. Nevermind that my normally content baby was so often distressed. Thankfully my GP was far more interested and diagnosed a touch of reflux easily remedied with a few weeks of baby gaviscon; Alexander has been much better all round since. 

But the damage was done in that clinic. I went away feeling I wasn't doing enough for my son. Cue the start of a major breastfeeding wobble. 

There was a number of things going on. I'd already been feeling smothered by the whole breastfeeding thing. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do it any more, I wasn't sure I was enjoying it enough; Alexander fed for up to and sometimes over an hour at a time, now I was worried that despite how long he fed that he wasn't getting enough. Guilt upon guilt. He had been having an expressed bottle every evening, but I was starting to struggle time and supply wise to get enough during the day. We were considering formula for that one feed, but the huge pressure surrounding breastfeeding had bit me on the bum and I was in turmoil. 

So I wrote a blog on all my frustrations. 

It didn't help my turmoil. Comments on my blog on added to my guilt. 

I was told formula fed babies were at greater risk of cot-death, amongst other things.  The days went by and I tormented myself more and more. How could I introduce formula now? My baby might die and it would be my fault.  Of all the statistics to spout to a bereaved mother is it not a little insensitive to highlight this one? I fear his death every. single. day. I check he is breathing multiple times a day, the first thing I look at if I wake before him is the flashing green light on his breathing monitor to confirm he is still alive, a few times in a week I even convince myself he is dead and my rational self cannot fight the irrational... in my mini-meltdowns Jon is often sent to check on our son because I'm too scared to go in case he is actually dead. 

The fear of my second child dying really really didn't need adding too.  

So way to go anonymous commenter; an already emotionally vulnerable bereaved mother pushed ever closer to the edge. 

We carried on as we were. Epic feeds, trying to express, feeling like I wasn't getting a break. I had a week or so where I started to dread every single feed; a few feeds I even found myself on the verge of panicking and clawing at pillows, counting to 10 and breathing deeply to get me through them.  Things surrounding feeding were not great. 

Just over a month ago I don't think I believed we would get to 3 months old with me still feeding him. I thought a falling weight gain would push us towards formula as well as my failing emotional state about it all. But here we are, a month later, still feeding and in a much better place about it. 

Jon and I made decisions which was right for our family. So there has been a change but I am happy and enjoying feeding him now, it feels special again. I've taken that pressure off myself and taken away the elements of feeding Alexander I wasn't comfortable with. 

Alexander is having around 6 feeds a day, one of these is a formula dreamfeed now. 

Jon gives him this as he was when it was expressed breast milk. The change to formula was seamless, he was completely un-bothered that it wasn't my milk in the bottle and there has been absolutely no fuss about it.  The relief and pressure taken off our day by not having to express now has been just what we needed. The initial guilt the first night he was given formula was enormous, but Jon took control and I've made my peace with it now. Regardless of what the militants might suggest I am not damaging my son with this decision. He is being fed; damaging would be starving him. My emotional health is important too; regardless of what some might say. 

Another biggy; I no longer make myself feed in public. I feed him in the car where possible or designated baby feeding rooms or otherwise he has an expressed bottle. We manage a plan around his feeds and I'm happy with this; happier that the worry of having to get a boob out in a restaurant or park bench.  There is no more working myself up and this solution really suits us.  I'm still expressing most days if I can, and this expressed milk comes out and about with us. 

His feeds are far quicker now; the hour has dropped to anything from 15 to 30 minutes on average. This has made a big difference too. 

A month ago I didn't believe I'd still be feeding him now; but we found the solutions for us to carry on. 

Now I can definitely see me feeding him up to and maybe beyond 6 months old - it doesn't feel such a huge challenge anymore. Six months old is so close now, we're already over half way there. I hope if I come up against another wobble that I have the confidence not to torment myself for so long again and just implement a change to make us all happy.  

That is happy including me. 


Olwyn said...

Fab that you've found a solution that works for you and your family Caz :) and the feeds get quicker and quicker as time goes on too so you'll get a little bit more of your day back as X gets older!

My New Normal said...

I don't allow anonymous comments for precisely the reason you listed above. In my opinion there is way too much judgement when it comes to breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. I say do what works best for your family and stop worrying about what a commenter who isn't even brave enough to leave their name thinks.

Lucy said...

Oh hon, you are doing such an amazing job...you and you alone know your baby and what is right for him! You musn't feel guilty about formula feeding - I had to top Will up with one formula feed a day from 3 weeks old as he is such a hungry baby. It was hard at the time but it was also the right decision to make - he was hungry and needed more than I could give him...plus it gave me a break which I also needed! Never forget how wonderful you are and Xander is clearly doing so well! You're a born mother Caz and a true inspiration! Lots of love and hugs from Camp Moore xxxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Caz. Am not a bereaved mum, but had a very rocky journey with bfing in the context of having PND. I supplemented with formula as you are doing, but gave my last feed the day before my son's second birthday. NEVER thought I would say that, NEVER planned it, not "me" at all... especially ironic considering I didn't enjoy it at all before 6 months... but it got so much better, and I have so many happy memories... when they get older they get so EXCITED to have a feed from you, it's really lovely. It was worth all that early hassle, you have done so well.. don't stress about it but I hope you get to have some really special memories of feeding yet x

Susan said...

I think that's probably a bit unfair. Lots of people leave anonymous comments, and personally, as long as they aren't abusive, I think that is fine. The evidence around breastfeeding is pretty clear, and hardly a secret, and at the time, you thanked the anonymous commentor, and asked for more info (which s/he provided). And it sort of begs the question, how would you like people to temper what they say to you about risks when your child is no less at risk because his brother died.

That aside, it sounds like you have come up with a good set of compromises that work for you. I'm sorry you feel unable to feed in public - by all means if that is what works for you, that is good - but what a shame we live in a world where a mummy can't feed her baby without feeling self-conscious. :(

Caz said...

You are probably right Susan, I have been a little unfair on this occasion. But aren't we all sometimes when we are feeling a bit vulnerable? I was grateful for the info, then my neurotic 'all my children are going to die' irrationality took over. It was a crap week and I know it stemmed from being told of all the horrible things that could happen to my baby if I give him formula. You must know how it is, we can't hold it together all of the time! But saying that I should of course be informed to make informed decisions.

This parenting lark post loss is full of turmoil isn't it. I know his risks are no greater than anyone else's but we were that '1 in whatever' before, its seems entirely possible we'd be that '1' again.

I'm currently heading towards mini-meltdown because he is going to have to go into his own room before 6 months; the risk of cot-death again feels magnified but I know I'm being ridiculous and irrational.

Hopefully I'll get better at managing my fear of risks and death as he gets older.

It is my own issues about feeding in public, no-one has said or done anything, I just never got to a place of feeling comfortable. I do in part wish I had the confidence, but feeding is working well for us now as it is and I don't want to start doing anything that might upset the apple cart again!

Hope you and the lovely M are doing well :) I pop by your blog every now and again and she is just beautiful xx

Susan said...

Hi Caz
Just reading this now. Parenting after loss is really tough - much harder for me than being C's mother. I think we have probably slightly different horrible stuff to face - I am the weird second time mum who doesn't fit with the new mums, whilst all my old friends have 5 year olds. You're trying to figure out parenthood when you're already acquainted with the worst case scenario. It is truly shit.

Glad the feeding is working better - let you into a secret - I pretty much gave up feeding C in public after 18 months for exactly the same reasons. If you think people are looking when you feed a newborn, imagine what they're like with a toddler! :-) It is wrong though - we are only feeding our children and shouldn't feel bad!

You take care - it's gotta get easier. That's what I'm thinking x

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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