Friday, February 20, 2015

Feeding Lincoln

I've read a lot of blog posts and heard a lot of people talk about when they stopped nursing their baby.

Some said it was unexpected-- that one day their little 1 year old just didn't want to nurse anymore, and that was that. They had to deal with the emotions of the unexpected ending of something they loved.

Some had to do it even though their baby didn't want to stop, which brought on an entirely different set of emotions.

Well, it was a bit different for us.

It never worked in the first place.

At the kitchen table in our pajamas this morning, feeding Lincoln a bottle after he had his first bowl of baby oatmeal. 

When I was about 6 weeks pregnant, I remember being blindsided by how debilitating my intense nausea was. The only reason I didn't end up in the hospital from dehydration was that my body decided instead of actually vomiting, 95% of the day would just be spent dry heaving. I guess all the time dry heaving gave my body time to absorb any liquid I managed to get in me before I could throw it up.

Between that and the migraines, days were years long.

It didn't end when people said it would. I actually remember very little about those long months... not because Lincoln's so cute it's washed it all away, but because I wasn't usually awake. Sleeping made it a bit more manageable.

When it lessened, on came the sciatica. To this day, nothing has been nearly as bad as the nausea was, but the sciatica still wasn't fun. It made functioning pretty tricky sometimes.


So, since apparently I was not good at being pregnant, I made up my mind that I would be a rockstar at labor and delivery, and then I would become pro at breastfeeding this little baby.

We took a really awesome Bradley class, and I read everything I could about breastfeeding, went to La Leche League meetings, and was totally going to ace this next part.


The delivery did not go as planned. It's really a story for another day, but long story short, things unnecessarily took a turn for the "we need to get this baby out asap" route. While I was a good enough pusher (yay for the bradley class!) to avoid an emergency c-section, the doctor used forceps which left me with more than a 4th degree tear...


They say that in the beginning, the baby doesn't really need much food at all. They say that the colostrum you make in milliliter amounts will suffice.

What they don't say, is that when your body in in such shock and has to devote everything to healing itself, the colostrum might not cooperate.


We had no idea because all the lactation ladies at the hospital just assumed that if we tried hard enough things would be great.

But Lincoln was inconsolable.

I borrowed their industrial pump. I pumped and pumped and pumped.

I had nothing. Sometimes it didn't even wet the bottle at all.

"But if he sucks enough, it'll work!" they said. "Supply and demand!" they said.


Every time he got hungry it was a 2 hour screaming session. He was good at latching, but he wouldn't do it. We didn't know there wasn't any food.

One kind nurse asked us if we wanted to give him a tiny bit of formula so he would stop screaming and sleep. We did.


Fast forward to our week at home following his birth.

We tried to make it work. We tried so hard. People just told us that it would work, and we had no idea that it wasn't.

When Lincoln was 4 days old he wasn't peeing much, and his pee had crystals. We took him to the doctor. He wasn't doing well and his heart rate was slow.

We turned to formula and fed him every 2 hours. The next day I had to take him to get an EKG.

He was just so dehydrated... poor guy.

Starting then, our goal became, "use formula until we can get my milk to come in."


I tried everything you can imagine to have enough milk-- I pumped and/or nursed for 18 hours of the day. I took herbal supplements. I drank more water than you can believe. I tried every nursing position there is. I tried using a supplemental nursing system at every feeding.

And yet, even months later, I could pump for hours and never get more than one ounce. Total.

But I still kept trying. It consumed my days and nights.


I had to mourn my unrealized expectations of how things would be.

I was going to be good at this, dangit.

I was going to give my baby the antibodies and everything that he needed to get through this crazy flu/measles/whatever season.

I knew what was best for my baby and I was going to make it work.

Until I couldn't.


One of our dear friends makes more than enough milk for her baby who was born a few weeks after Lincoln, and she has been amazingly generous and gives us some milk each day to help Lincoln have the benefits of breast milk.

We've been grateful and humbled by their generosity.


We transitioned to just offering him the breast before every bottle.

It worked okay for a while. But as he got hungrier and hungrier, his patience decreased. (And let's be honest, he's not the most patient baby anyway. :D)

We stopped even using the left side- it didn't make anything at all anyway.

He would nurse for like 10 minute before he'd take a bottle.

And then it changed to 5.

And then it changed so he nursed long enough to calm himself down until he realized he wasn't getting any food and he pulled off and screamed.

And then he stopped nursing at all.


I hadn't planned on stopping. I was going to keep offering it at least until spring time came and sicknesses weren't as bad.

But then one day I realized that he hadn't nursed for a few days.

And then a few weeks later I realized that we were done. We'd been done for a while.


And I've never felt more relieved for something I wanted so bad, to be over.


You have no idea how excited I am to be able to feed Lincoln real food now. I'm excited to let him taste all the delicious and healthy things he can eat that must taste so much better than formula :)

Making "real" food? Now that's something I'm good at. :)


  1. This sounds so much like my feeding experience with my first. It is so hard to let go and not feel inadequate. I think everyone finds something about mothering different than expected and experiences some mommy guilt. I'm pleased you made the decision to move on and let it go. In the long run, breast feeding is a small part of a baby's life and your mothering. You are an awesome mom already. Enjoy it. You made the right decision.

  2. Oh Lindsay! Being a mom is so wonderful and so hard, this just makes my heart ache. I am amazed how many times we set our hearts on something or maybe not even that but how many times we put all our effort into something and it doesn't work. Then add emotions on top of it and oh my word it is so hard to work through. I am so impressed by your determination and even more impressed by your ability to realize that feeding your baby formula does NOT mean you didn't give it your all and even though it wasn't what you expected it is what worked! You are such a wonderful mom! I just love you!