It comes with great sadness that I have decided on ending my journey with breastfeeding. If you haven’t read my two updates so far on breastfeeding, you can check them out here and here. The short story, is I haven’t had the easiest journey breastfeeding, but I wanted to do it so bad that I pushed myself to get as far as I could. I ended up not being able to actually breastfeed, so I lived next to a pump. Then we thought little Charley either was colic or had a milk protein allergy, because she screamed most days for six hours straight. But, after some experimenting we figured it out.
If you pump, you may know how lonely it is. Even when you are sitting right next to your family. I started pumping exclusively at four weeks, with maybe a couple attempts at breastfeeding a day. If I had known my journey would of been pumping, I definitely wish I would of invested in a cordless pump. Being confined to a corner of my house for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, numerous times a day, was terrible. If I was home alone and Charley started to cry, that was a huge process of stopping my pump, taking it off, soothing her, then starting back up. If she had one of her days of discontent, it was sometimes impossible for me to even pump, messing up my stash in the fridge or causing a dip in supply. Since I wasn’t breastfeeding, I was relying solely in myself for keeping my supply up. Which was hard work. I pumped every two hours (if I could), I woke up most nights at least twice a night (even when my baby slept the whole night through), I bought car adapters so I could pump in the car. Like I said, I lived next to a pump. It was rewarding in the sense I was providing food for my child, but I felt cheated, because I wasn’t getting the bond I craved for my whole entire pregnancy. Even after saying all this, this was not the reason I am ending my journey. I was prepared to continue this as long as my body would allow me to go.
Since we came home from the hospital, Charley has had issues. The first week we had issues with latching that caused her to lose weight and endless nights of both of us crying. Once we got that under control, we found out she couldn’t transfer milk because of my breast reduction, hence why we started pumping. Then after that she became inconsolable. Based on her stools, I gave up dairy, thinking she had an allergy. I never felt like I got any help from the pediatrician on this aspect, and she suspected colic. I still don’t really know what happened the last 4 weeks. But, we figure the fix–formula.
In the last week, my supply crashed. She was eating 3-4 oz. every hour and a half and I was only pumping (excluding my first morning pump that produced 6-9 oz.) 2-3 oz. every 2-3 hours. Something was not right. Everything I read was saying an ounce of milk should last an hour. so 3-4 oz. should equal 3-4 hours. I couldn’t keep up, so I decided to start supplementing formula to build back my supply. Since at this time I suspected a milk protein allergy, along with possibly soy, I figured it would be the safe bet to buy the expensive allergen free Similac formula. I must add, that we were supplementing at about 4 weeks, because she had lost so much weight, but after gaining weight and a jump in supply the pediatrician let me stop, because I felt like it caused constipation (we were using Enfamil Gentle Ease at the time).
The first few feedings using the allergen free formula were okay. It was Halloween, so we packed her three bottles, since we would be away from home for most of the evening visiting family. She took the bottles, but almost was acting like she wasn’t hungry. The next day I was continuing giving her breastmilk, but trying to give her the formula and she was refusing it. At first, I thought she wasn’t hungry. But then, after mixing some of my breastmilk in it, I realized she hated the taste. She wasted about 4 oz. of my very low supply of breastmilk and over 6 oz. of formula. I was running dangerously low in my supply, but I continued to just give her breastmilk, and she continued to cry. Finally, after talking with my husband, we still had some Enfamil newborn samples, so we decided to try that. We still had never been confirmed for a milk protein allergy, so we decided if she continued to cry on it then it really is a milk protein allergy, if she was content and happy there was something wrong with my milk.
After the first feeding she was giddy and smiling the whole dang time until she fell asleep. Charley started smiling early on, but was so discontent I never got to see it. Seeing her smile, in what felt like weeks, made my heart so happy. She then had a blow out, which was a relief as well, because we hadn’t had a good poop in awhile. We continued the formula for the rest of the evening and continued having a happy and content baby. The next day we continued on, had our first seedy poop since probably about her second week. The only time she was discontent was after the ONE breastmilk feeding she had.
So what I have self-diagnosed is; that my milk has zero fat content to it. I always knew it in the back of my mind, but I felt like my supply has been on a rollercoaster. Some weeks my supply would have a good line of fat on the top of my refrigerated milk, but of lately my milk was almost clear in color with a very thin line of fat. This would explain the multiple feedings, along with the discontent. She was never getting full, causing her to cry and causing the frequent feedings. It was hard for me to figure out, because she was gaining weight, she was having symptoms that matched a milk protein allergy, and although stools were never consistent, she always had wet diapers.
I’m going to call my lactation consultant Monday, to confirm. But, I already know that my journey is coming to an end. I will continue pumping, pumping less frequently, until my supply naturally runs out. I have a huge stash built up again, because that last few days we barely gave her any breastmilk, that I will keep on hand for emergencies or for when I think she needs it. Even though it was a very hard decision, one I worked very hard on for weeks, I do believe in the end this is the best decision for her.