Back a few months ago, Theodore had his very first bottle.
Eva fed him most of it.
I had a few days of frozen milk...
and dreams of a night away in a few months.

EB feeding TB web.jpg

Then Theodore's weight problems hit.
Looking back, I see what went wrong.

Theodore was never an effective feeder. 
Although he had a great latch from the delivery room...
he would take so SO long to eat.

Newborn nursing sessions are usually long, but he never sped up.
Each feeding was lasting about 45 minutes.
I should have looked into that.

I wanted to get a stash built up from the very beginning.
I pumped twice a day and packed those ounce away.
My goal was to have a few days stashed.

After I had a supply built up in the freezer, I stopped pumping.
I have a love/hate relationship with the pump after going back to work when Eva was tiny.
I should have kept pumping.

Theodore was a sleeper.
I would have to wake him up most of the time to eat.
Once he was eating he would still try to sleep.

I wanted to let him eat on-demand, 
forcing the issue only after hours had gone by.
I should have fed him on a schedule.

This was my second go-round.
I wasn't a first-timer, I had done this before.
I felt like a pro.

I had a lot more confidence and worried less.
And, I had busy toddler that kept my mind off all the little things that were there.
I should have worried more and patted myself on the back less.

So here I am with a lot of things I should have done and it all added up...

to Theodore not taking in as much as he should.
to our little man being too little.
to my supply dropping to almost nothing.
to pumping and feeding around the clock to build it back.
to unfreezing all those ounces of milk and giving them by bottle.
to me counting ever ounce - of milk and of gained weight.

Yesterday, Theodore's dinner feed was followed by a bottle as usual...
but it was half formula.

This is not where I hoped to go.
Not what I planned.
I felt like a huge failure.

Not that I think feeding your baby formula is anything close to failing.
Formula or breast milk - both are good for baby.
Both grow babies into healthy crazy toddlers.

I felt like a huge failure before that moment.


What it came down to was that I didn't do what I had planned...
I breastfed Eva without much trouble, and yet I was battling this time.
Up all hours of the night and stressing all day.

Most importantly, I wasn't growing Theodore the way he should be grown.
The most important job I had - to keep him growing and healthy...
and I wasn't getting the job done.

I was failing him.

Feeding him that bottle, something that I thought would be so hard...
was actually a relief.

When a trail dribbled down his chin...
I didn't think about those precious drops going to waste and stress about there not being enough.
I smiled and watched it soak his shirt.

He will still be mostly nursed and I am going to keep working on my supply.
But I don't have to worry anymore.

I can skip a pumping session and play outside instead.
I can sleep a little more at night and be a better mommy and wife.
I can spill a bottle of milk and not cry.
I can stop being so hard on myself and enjoy this little squishy baby time.
I can let this image go of the "perfect" way go
and do what is perfect for us, for him.
I can grow this little man into a crazy toddler.

It feels like I can breath deep again.
It is all going to be just fine.


Carissa said...

My friend, although we don't know each other in person, I know without a doubt that you are a wonderful, loving and caring mama. It WILL be fine because both Theodore and Eva are in the best of hands, yours and His. So many hugs to you!

Sandra Kohlmann said...

You are so awesome! You're not a failure and you never failed Theodore! You have turned a hard decision (supplementing with forumla) into a positive experience (more time to play with the kiddos). As a vegan, the last thing on earth that I wanted was for my daughters to be on formula, but they were in the NICU and even though I produced enough milk by pumping, we had to add formula powder, to increase the calories they were getting. I hated it for a long time, then I realized it was best for my little girls and here they are, a pair of happy, healthy vegan toddlers and that milk-based formula hasn't changed anything, other than ensuring they grew.

Emily S said...

The ultimate goal is to grow a baby. I had such an awful time the first time around, the boy never learned to latch and I was determined to pump as much as I could...I pumped for 13 months. Second time around, T wasn't early, he latched, it worked...for awhile, then I had to go back to work, and had a toddler...I am a machine and supplement as needed. I do what I can to grow my baby and at the end of the day, I have a beer. And it. is. great.

Heidi said...

You are just fantastic, sweet Nessa. Nothing EVER goes the way we think it will as far as our babes are concerned and you course corrected as soon as you were able. I had the worst time breast feeding all three of the girls and did not have a supportive community around me. So I made tough decisions that turned out to not be tough at all in retrospect. And the 3 A's are thriving, beautiful maniacs. Life is life, right? It's all good.

Sara said...

We all put way too much pressure on ourselves. I also have a toddler and an infant. We have to let some things go but that's easier said than done. My little guy has had weight gain issues and I have had supply issues, something that was never a problem the first time around. You are doing a fantastic job, try to remember that!!

Kate@StillRoomToGrow said...

I could have written this post word for word 6 1/2 years ago, when my sweet baby boy was not growing and my milk wasn't cutting it for him. I was so saddened, but also felt relief, when I gave him that bottle. I ended up only feeding him from a about a month, before going back to the breast full time. My son was in the 1% for height and weight and doctors said he was failure to thrive. We went spent much of his first few years, undergoing tests to find out what the cause was, we never found one. He is still tiny to this day, we celebrated when he hit the 3% for height! I hope you are not going thru the same thing. If you need anything email me at stillroomtgrow@hotmail.com. I have definitely been in your shoes I had a toddler, while all this was going on too...STRESSFULL!!

Kelly said...

You are truly amazing friend. Thank you for sharing and being so honest about your struggles. I know you are doing the best for your babies and even though the decisions are hard, you will look back in a few years and be so grateful for this relief.

Julia said...

Beautiful post--I'm so glad you shared. No regrets. You are doing an awesome job, mama!

Janette said...

I don't have kids, but just the way you described this experience sounds incredibly difficult! I'm so sorry you're going through this, but I'm with everyone else.. I'm glad you shared your struggles.. I'm sure many mommas can relate!


rachel said...

When my oldest was a baby, I pumped so that she would never ever have to drink that horrible horrible formula. But you know what? I HATED pumping, and formula IS NOT BAD. So with my second, and third, I breastfed, but when they needed a bottle (or when I needed them to have a bottle), they got formula. And everyone was happier. You are doing a fine job, my friend, don't stress.