When Nursing just Doesn’t Work

When I first found out I was pregnant with Colin I was really excited to nurse another baby. Molly and I had such a wonderful and once we got over the initial bumps a very easy breastfeeding relationship. When Molly weaned she was almost 18 months old and it was again an easy process. I never questioned whether it was the right decision or not everything just fell into place. So when I thought about nursing the new baby, this was what I had in mind. I was so confident that we wouldn’t have any trouble that when my sister offered to give me pump parts and bottles they were no longer using I turned her down. I just didn’t see the need I was going to breastfeed this baby just like I did for Molly. The funny thing is I actually thought that I had control over this and that the reason Molly and I were successful was because of me not because of her personality and temperament, so I figured if I just did things the same I would have the same result. Well as you can imagine this was not the case.

Colin came into the world very different, due to placenta previa he was born at 36 weeks via a c-section. I was worried that because he was going to be early and c-section that he would have trouble latching and nursing, so I hired a private lactation consultant to come to the hospital to help us. I truly thought if I was prepared and willing to work through any issues that we would make it work. And we did, kind of, when he was first born he struggled to latch properly and because he was early and had to spend time in the intermediate care nursery he really couldn’t “practice” nursing for very long. It expelled so much energy for him and he was losing lots of weight so I hand expressed and pumped my milk for him. We fed it to him with a syringe so he wouldn’t get a lazy latch with a bottle. But all of my work worked, by the time we were getting discharged he was latching well, having productive feeding sessions and I was confident we were home free. I did not anticipate any troubles we had over come the challenges and were on our way. Well once again you can imagine this was not the case.

Colin’s first month was pretty easy he ate and he slept that was it. He rarely cried and when he did he would quickly calm down when nursing, but we started to see things that would turn into much bigger issues. Colin would often comfort nurse or what the Lactation consultant called “non nutritive sucking” She explained that this was fine and normal and there was no reason to stop him. So that’s what we did, but as he got older his comfort nursing got longer and longer and he got more demanding with it. Also starting around two months old he started crying and fussing and there was no relief. He wanted mom and he wanted me all the time, all day and night. Eliminating dairy, starting a probiotic, and starting multiple reflux medicines significantly helped but when he was upset, hungry, lonely, etc he wanted me and he wanted to nurse. From the time he was about 2 months until around 6 I just kind of dealt with it. I figured he was still little, he was born early and I still hoped that he would settle into a more manageable schedule, but once again this was not the case.

We traveled during the holidays when Colin was around 6 months old. These trips were so challenging. He was sleeping really terribly and nursing around the clock. During the night he would just want to comfort nurse to sleep and then any time he woke up he would want to comfort nurse to sleep again, all night long. I was waking up every hour and a head to two hours with a six month old. This was not okay! I was really starting to hate nursing. Even in the beginning I never loved nursing Colin like I did Molly. His comfort nursing always bugged me, it felt very different than when he was eating and it was not a feeling I enjoyed. But around 67 months things really fell apart for me. I mentally could not handle it. I was so touched out from the constant nursing that when Molly wanted snuggles I would loathe it and be super annoyed. The cat sitting on my lap irritated me, and I would be seriously angry when Colin would wake up to comfort nurse. I hated that feeling. I hated being mad at my kid for needing me, and for not really enjoying. And I wanted to enjoy snuggling Molly or holding my husbands hand I knew something had to change but coming to the answer was so hard.

I talked with Mike first and said that I was thinking about being done nursing. He knew how miserable I was and was completly supportive. We decided to talk with the pediatrician to figure out how exactly to do this. We decided that first I would start pumping and give him bottles of pumped milk. Because of his reflux and not being able to handle dairy I didn’t want to give him formula right away. I remember the first time he actually took swallows from the bottle and this relief just washed over me. I was so incredibly sad to quit nursing but I knew in my heart it was the right decision. And even though every time I talked to someone about what was going on I cried, I stuck with it. We eventually found a formula that he can tolerate because pumping was just too time consuming and after the stomach bug attacked our family I totally lost my supply. Colin is happy and healthy taking his bottles of formula and just as important I’m happy and healthy because of it too, but it doesn’t take away the guilt that I feel because I chose to end our nursing relationship. I think sometimes that I should have just put up with it and push my feelings aside because breastmilk is “best” Thankfully we have a wonderful pediatrician who is so supportive of what’s best for each family. Knowing that I could get advice about formula from her and formula samples (to figure out one that wouldn’t trigger Colin’s reflux) was a life saver.

I still wish that Colin would have been and easy nurser so we could have had that relationship too,but that’s just not him and I wouldn’t want to change who his is because at 10 months old he is turning into the sweetest, most cuddly, awesome and ridiculously cute little boy. I’m sure one day I can talk about this and that little bit of guilt won’t be there any more, each day it’s less and less when I see how rested and happy we all are.