My plan was to have a natural birth and to breastfeed Elsie. As you know from my last blog post, a natural birth wasn’t the case. 

While I was pregnant, and even before I knew I was pregnant, people would ask me if I planned on breastfeeding. I always said, “that’s the plan,” and went about my day. I never thought twice about it. 

When I was at the hospital, the nurse showed me how to hold Elsie and my breast so that I could feed her. I remember being a little bit nervous and exhausted from previous events; adding one more task seemed impossible. Turns out, the nurse thought I was doing a really good job, in fact, she said I was natural at it…until later that night. 

I remember that evening, like it was yesterday. Elsie started to get hungry. I went about the normal steps with breastfeeding, but it seemed like nothing was working. She just kept on crying and getting more and more angry. I called for the nurse to help. The nurse came in and made it clear that the reason my daughter was being fussy, was because she was used to the formula that was given to her while I was in the ICU. She also brought with her a small plastic, orange syringe. I recall giving her a strange look as she explained what the plan was with the small tool. The syringe was to help with my nursing by filling it up with formula and then placing drops of the liquid on my nipple. Seemed easy enough. Elsie seemed to like that plan and started to suckle. The nurse directed me to use the syringe for a couple days, just until my milk came in. This new routine was working well, until we left the hospital and I had to feed her on my own. 

The hospital gave me a couple of syringes to take home. My plan was to just keep doing what I was doing. Fill the small tool with formula, put small droplets on my nipple while Elsie nursed. Easy. Once again, I was wrong. I was really wrong. I felt like I was wrestling with a hungry bear. Her hands would wave all over the place, while her face turned cherry red as she tried to find the source of her food. When she did latch on, she would suck and suck, but would come off still feeling hungry, so I would make her a bottle. It felt like feeding was turning into a dreadful task, and that is not what I wanted.

A week went by, and my husband, Elsie, and I went to the hospital to visit the lactation nurse. I mentioned to her how I was struggling with nursing Elsie. She told me to try breastfeeding first, then give her a bottle, and finally use the breast pump. This new routine sounded like it was a lot, but I was going to try anything to breastfeed my daughter.

A couple days went by trying out this new way of feeding. Our feeding started to turn into almost an hour, and before I knew it, it was time to feed her again. I could tell Elsie was becoming worn out and irritated with this new routine and so was I. I started to realize that nursing my daughter, something I had taken for granted, was not going to happen. That new realization would bring back memories of her birth story and how I wasn’t able to give birth naturally. Now, yet another “mom experience” taken away from me. I felt like what happened during my C-section was the reason I was not producing milk. To this day I am still not sure if that is the case. My doctor said it’s a possibility, but even she doesn’t know for sure.

I am extremely lucky to have such a wonderful husband. Shane has supported me through everything during our six years of being together, and the almost three years of being married. He reminded me that even though I couldn’t breastfeed, he still thought I was a great mom. I obviously knew this, but it was just good to hear that my number one supporter thought I was being a good mom and trying everything I could.

I ended up switching to just feeding Elsie with Similac, their Pro-Advance version, that is supposed to be their formula closest to breast milk.

Since my whole exploration of trying to get my milk to come in, I did try the breast pump a couple more times, just to see. I ended up getting less than one once. Of course, it was a little bit upsetting, but I am taking each day as it comes, as this new way of feeding becomes Elsie’s and my new normal.

Fast forward to today, and I am extremely happy with formula feeding and I can tell Elsie is too. I wish I knew what I know now, when people would ask me even before I was pregnant if I planned on breastfeeding. If I could answer that question now, I would say that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on moms to be an “Instagram mom”, meaning everything has gone and is going perfectly. From the birth, feeding, raising a kid, and everything in between. Instead we should support our new moms and current moms; because, trust me, they are doing their best and working hard to make that “candid” picture look good.