time to give in

Note: give in, not give up.

The pixie is now three and a half months old. For three and a half months now we have battled together. Perhaps an apt name for this saga in our lives would be The Breastfeeding Wars: Starring Mama and The Pixie.

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You probably remember a while back me talking about our breastfeeding dramas. Well, I haven’t talked about them of late, mainly due to plain exhaustion, but things have not improved. You can read more about the background to our story here and here. I have been given all manner of advice over the last few months and have slowly been filtering through it all in my mind.

The first time I realised in my heart that something was not right was when she was just a few days old. I remember thinking, she doesn’t seem to stay on for very long, I don’t think she is getting enough milk.

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

With that in mind I asked to breastfeed in front of our [hopeless] maternal child health nurse when she was one week old. The nurse looked at me and said, “Well yes, I can hear her swallowing.” Ok then, I guess all is well…

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

 Since then I have had email counselling with a lactation consultant, I’ve sat with a lady from the ABA for three hours, I have seen the doctor, I have complained to my health nurse, I have googled and read all manner of mummy forums. I have read endless books and called the health nurse hotline. I have cried. I have thought many times about giving up.
The main suggestions from the crew above have been:
:: She has colic.
:: She has reflux.
:: She is fussy.
:: They are all different (love that one).
All the while my instincts have been telling me one thing, one niggling, nagging, titter-tattering thing: she is hungry, she is hungry, she is hungry.
When you are in a situation, it is so hard to see what is right in front of you. It’s also, in this culture, difficult to allow yourself to trust your instincts, particularly as a parent.
Over the past three weeks, with some advice from my mum and sis, I have been expressing after every feed and topping up our lady with a bottle. She guzzles it. My heart flitters and flutters seeing her drink. When she finishes, she wants more. She cries. She doesn’t sleep much. She is hungryI am exhausted.
Today I took Miss Pixie for a weigh in. It wasn’t great. I am not one to take much notice of The Rules, but this time it just confirmed what I have been thinking, feeling, knowing: she is hungry.
This afternoon I saw a lactation consultant. She is convinced the pixie isn’t getting enough because she isn’t latching on properly. Why oh why this hasn’t already been picked up, I do not know. Why oh why I didn’t know this, as a second time mama, I do not know. I am trying not to blame myself.
Because she doesn’t feed for long, my supply has been drastically affected. The constant expressing helped in the beginning, but the pressure to produce the milk and feed her more and more is taking its toll. I am very stressed and under the pump, literally.
So you are asking, what now?
Now, I’ve decided, it’s time to give in. Note, like I said earlier: give in, not give up.
I am going to start supplementing one or two of her feeds with formula. I had to pause to type those words.
With the pressure off the hope is that I will be more relaxed and able to produce milk, and the pixie won’t be so hungry so will be happier and the whole situation will be easier for us all to work with. In the meantime the consultant, Sue, lovely Sue, has shown me how to try to re-teach her to latch on and get more of the breast in her mouth.
I really hope it works.
I have to also add in here a public apology to my Prince Charming. When my lovely fellow mentioned the word formula to me a few days ago, I responded with the vigour and outrage that one would expect had he said let’s feed our baby toxic waste. I’m sorry darling. It was not your suggestion that upset me, just my own high-achiever expectations that I, as mother, should be able to do that which is most basic: feed my hungry baby myself. Thank you for being patient with me and giving me the time and space to realise admit that you were right.  
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19 thoughts on “time to give in

    • Thank you so much Lila. I felt very alone earlier this afternoon and it’s so nice to know that other’s have also walked this path and it has been the right choice. I would love to hear more about your story. xxx

  1. ‘give in’ is the best term for it. What an amazing mother you are to follow your baby’s cues and take this next step in your journey together. You are giving in to her needs, responding to her. She is a beautiful little pixie and hopefully now there can be some peace in your ticking mind knowing that she is full. Today is the start of you next chapter together and I’m sure it will be filled with plenty of beautiful breastfeeds, lots of smiles and a whole lotta love. Love you xxx

  2. As a mother of three, two sons and a daughter that was born with multiple disabilities…one of them, the inability to latch on and breastfeed…I had to accept this within myself and just love my baby.

    She was my princess. The little girl that I had prayed for and awaited with so much joy. When I realized how hard it was for her to even swallow and how hard it was for me to push her… I gave in to her reality and loved her some more. I began supplementing very quickly. It saved her life.

    As I continue to grow as a mother, I have learned to listen closely to my children. I have learned to look beyond the obvious and follow the intuition placed there by Our Creator.

    You are a wonderful, thoughtful, loving mother. Never measure yourself with others. Their journey is not yours. Enjoy your children as they are.

    You are truly blessed! mb

    • Thank you Maria! Lovely words as always. I read “I had to accept this within myself and just love my baby.” and started nodding my head madly, yes, you are absolutely right. It sounds like you too have done a marvellous job mothering your children. I think listening to our babies and kids and trying to drown out the external noise is the most important thing – trusting that as a mother there are some things that you just know! xxx

  3. Oh I totally understand your struggles. I had to supplement with formula. It is not the end, as I had feared (we still bf at nearly 18mo). You are doing an amazing job! Truly. Just mentioning in case it’s your kind of thing. Have you considered milk sharing? It didn’t work for us, but check out facebook groups in your area if interested… Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies are two I know of. Also there is a milk bank on the Gold Coast … not sure where you are. Yep, an issue close to my heart. I’ll stop now.

    • Hi Sam, thanks so much, your comment gave me some hope! I really want to keep breastfeeding and do not want supplementing to be the end. I cried tonight giving her a bottle of formula… anyone would think I’m a basket case! Needless to say she guzzled it. I have never heard of milk sharing! Not sure if I would be up for it but will definitely read more as you have me intrigued! Glad to know I’m not alone, thank you xxx

  4. Oh – my heart aches for you Lucy.

    I had a similar experience with Little Eco – she didn’t feed well for her first 6 mths or so and I supplemented for some of that time. I was heartbroken and felt like I couldn’t give her what she needed. She ended up improving at around 6 months (she either grew out of the problem or the craneo osteopathy treatments she was having worked) and never looked back. I then had a hard time trying to wean her before her 4th birthday 😉

    Please don’t feel like supplementary feeding has to mean the end of your breastfeeding. Tricia xxx

    p.s. I like you public apology. We went through moments like that too 😉

    • Thanks for this lovely comment Tricia! It brings me a lot of hope to hear that you also supplemented and went on to have such a fantastic breastfeeding experience and relationship with Little Eco. So far it’s going well and for the first time ever the little one is sleeping for extended periods in the day time which can only mean she has a full little tum tum. I am very relieved!

  5. Lucy, your tricksy pixie is so lucky to have you as a mum! Love Char
    PS I think of you every time I see cabbage in my fridge!
    PPS Mum says your babies are beautiful.

    • Thanks Charlotte! So sweet of you to comment and say that. Haha to the cabbage! We have half a one in our fridge as I type this! No idea what to do with them… still!!! xxx

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