Monday, March 1, 2010

From beer hat to brokenhearted break-up


My baby has broken up with me and I just plain wasn't ready for it. I have never experienced what it feels like to be dumped by someone I love (seeing as I married my high school sweetheart) but I am guessing that I may be feeling a little of what that heartache is like.

I am not great with nursing, most people who know me know that I've done my best in that arena and for some of my kids it has worked but for most it hasn't. However, somewhere during this last pregnancy I decided that I was really going to give it my all with Lexie and hope for a really positive experience for us both. So, I nursed her in the hospital and thought it wasn't so bad because I had forgotten that the real torture wouldn't begin for a few days until I was released from the hospital and home with not a le leche lady for miles around. I quickly remembered the fun of trying to teach a baby to nurse while she is swallowing way more blood than milk and while I am digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands and crying, meanwhile hoping for a great experience. Still I opted to press forward.

Perhaps I should have taken a clue from my friend Jackie who came over the day after I had come home from the hospital. She was 8 months pregnant with her fifth at the time and when she arrived I noticed her eyeing the stains on the front upper thigh of my sweat pants so I apologized for my sloppiness and explained that it was merely blood from me trying to nurse. Her face twitched ever so slightly into a look of horror and then back to a delightful smile, yet I knew she was right when she said, "seeing that much blood while trying to nurse is all I would need to make me head straight for the formula." I had formula-fed three of my babies and am all for a woman making whatever feeding choice is best for her and her baby so I am not anti-formula but for some reason I had had this desire to nurse Lexie for months before she was even born so I knew that I wasn't going to give up after merely days of trying.

Well, weeks passed and the nursing continued to be painful but Lexie seemed to do a pretty good job so I was happy with the way things were working out and by two months she was a champ and most of the pain for me had subsided. I had even spent a considerable amount of money renting a nice pump from the hospital so that I could be sure I had a good milk supply and so Lexie could get used to drinking from bottles. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had way less milk than I used to feed my other babies but everything I read assured me that supply and demand would work in my favor, so I pressed on.

Quickly I began to realize that Lexie was really only happy if she was eating or sleeping, so she spent A LOT of time nursing. When we were in Utah for my Grandpa's funeral I think that Lexie spent the entire trip attached to my body because if we went anywhere and she wasn't eating she was crying. Similarly, when we went home for Christmas she spent all of her time nursing. It seemed like I was her own personal beer hat and that she wanted me to hold her at all times---day and night---so that any time she may want a little swig or a snack I was ready and waiting. She never seemed totally satisfied and I was starting to go crazy because I had four other children who really didn't want my time monopolized by this new little parasite.

Still, I did love the special bond that Lexie and I shared and I loved being able to disappear for a few minutes and have some quiet time with my baby. Though that also meant I was a sitting duck and had no way to escape the constant barrage of needs of the other four if there was no other adult to attend to their needs. One afternoon while I was pumping for Lexie, Tate came in and took one look at me then paused briefly before running out of my bedroom, he returned moments later with a sippy cup and told me he wanted me to pump him some apple juice next. Anyway, my point is that I had developed a love of nursing but was also frustrated that Lexie never seemed satisfied.

To make a long story short, my pediatrician recommended that I try and start giving Lexie more formula, so I did. I was hesitant to follow her orders but deep down I knew that Lex just wasn't gaining weight fast enough so I gave her a few bottles each day, then graduated to nursing for as long as Lexie would tolerate then immediately afterwards giving her a bottle. I noticed the time Lexie would nurse growing shorter and shorter and I felt very helpless. Finally, after my trip to Chicago last week with Justin (during which I left Lexie and did not take a pump) I sadly and silently knew that was the end. Truth be told I felt totally rejected and definitely brokenhearted. My baby who had once needed me and only me, not any degenerate with a bottle (no offense family members who have fed Lexie), had begun to be very frustrated with me because I was apparently starving her. Darn that deceitful mother nature and her lies of supply and demand.

So, today at the pediatrician for Lexie's 6 month appointment the doctor and I agreed that I was the weak link and the cause for Lexie's stunted growth. We learned that in the past two months Lexie has graduated from the tenth percentile to the seventieth percentile and that all she needed was 60 ounces of formula a day and a lot more calories. Needless to say, Lexie did not look like the chubby man at the top of this entry while I was her beer hat but is now starting to develop a striking resemblance...maybe he has formula in those plastic cups!!




14 comments:

Anna See said...

Brooke, you described this so beautifully. You sure did give it your all. I must say, I nursed exclusively for a year. Looking back, I wonder if my kids would actually be on the weight chart rather than in the 0 percentile if I had given them formula. I wish I had tried it. I think my milk must have been skim. Love to you!

Jessie and Taylor Miller said...

Oh she is so beautiful! i miss her already. i will ignore the degenerate comment :)

Allie said...

Lexie is such a cutie! She really has gotten so much bigger. Why did you cut off half the image of the beer hat man? Just kidding.

megan&steve said...

Brooke, you did your best and Lexie will appreciate that. We all know what an awesome Mother & wife you are to your little village of children.
I would love to live closer to you, unfortunatley the ARMY decides where we live and not me.
Thanks for blogging again!

Anonymous said...

I totally feel you!! Without fail, no matter what I tried, my milk just goes at about 2-3 months. There are just women (like us) who can't produce enough of it! I've cursed mother nature too, and all those blasted la leche nurses who told me over and over again, "you will have/would have/could have enough milk if you just feed every 2 hours." Talk about a guilt trip. Nope, doesn't work, you got it or you don't. And for some reason you DO feel dejected everytime, even though you know it's coming and that eventually you'll have to severe ties with your baby and just do the bottle. Woe is nursing!

Lexie is a QT-PIE though, and I'm sure she loves her cuddles and mommy time even if you aren't nursing anymore! And thanks for telling Jessie to call me about watching our kids. She's going to come up for one night and I'm so grateful!

The Abelings said...

Brooke, funny, my last post also happened to be about nursing and how sad I am it has ended with Brandon. Thank you for sharing. You are a terrific mom and I am sure Lexie got so much out of the bond!

Heather and Dave said...

Yay for the new post! Sorry you feel like you've gotten left in the dust - but a happy baby makes for a happy family I'm sure. You're amazing and I really look up to you and how well behaved and how cute all 5 of your little ducklings are. Keep the cute photos coming. Lexie is really growing up and is such a doll :)

abbie said...

those are the first legit shots i've seen of your #5.. such a cutie! i second heather's comment and have told jessie more than once that i do NOT know how you do it. i am struggling to adust to 2. although someone told me the other day that there hardest transition was from 1 to 2 kids.. the rest weren't so bad. so maybe there is hope for a 3rd child in my future. DISTANT future, regardless! :)

Bethany said...

I had every intention of nursing Colton for a year, but then it turned out that I had about 5 drops of milk and Colton was way too small, so there you have it. Formula wins. And pardon the pun, but breastfeeding sucks anyway. At least you know you gave it your all.

Jessie said...

Brooke you are a trooper! That is probably the worst pain ever! I had a friend tell me just give it 6 wks before you give up...I think it really did hurt and bleed for 6 whole weeks! I am sure with a full tummy she will be a happy little camper! remind me to tell you my crazy story of my friend who was watching Sienna that nursed her without my permission...and then Sienna would nurse from me! Apparently I have skim milk (too much diet coke I guess) and she had cream! I cried for days...good job nursing as long as you did! It will totally benefit her! Sorry so long....oh and btw my mom was one of those la-lech-a-league ladies!

Jessie said...

Sienna wouldn't nurse from me....typo!

Lonna said...

So sorry to hear about the break-up. You know I also tried really hard with Harrison but I have decided that if you feel like you never have a shirt on during the day, maybe they are not getting what they need. Basically I am not cut out to nurse, and I am alright with that...now.

I am having a hard time believing that she is getting so grown up. I guess that is because the last time I saw her she was still just a couple of months old. What a sweet little set of photos of her and Justin.

Just so you know we really need to get together sometime soon. I think that it has been way too long since we have talked in person. When you find a moment apart from being wonder woman lets set something up.

kathy said...

I am sorry to hear about the end of your nursing. I can't seem not to be upset with the pediatrician and the staff with pushing formula right away other then finding options in increasing your milk supply (like beer and tea with milk). Of course your baby will be bigger when formula fed and will most likely fit in better with other children since most children are on formula. It is so sad that there is no support structure for people that want to continue. I personaly am a mom of twins and have nursed them exclusively till over 2 years of age. My kids only once had formula and threw it up right away. Yes my daughter is steadily in the 15% but in 95% height and my son is 50% and 95% height also. Great job with nursing as long as you could and giving her a great head start.

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Melodrama Mama said...

Beer Hat! Wa-ha-ha-ha-ha! This was touching and hilarious at the same time. It gives all new meaning to when I was trying to nurse and had to use this formula laden devise which required me to tape tubes to my.....nevermind!