Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It was the Milk!

As you all now know from my last post, I am a planner. Motherhood has really made this aspect of my life a lot more challenging. As you learned in my birth story, things don't always go according to plan. In addition to planning to have a natural childbirth, a huge part of my plan was to breast feed my baby. Again, I was influenced by the women in my life (my mother and grandmother) to make this decision. I was breast fed and I knew all the benefits of breast milk for your baby. Not to mention, people pretty much look down on moms nowadays who don't breast feed. It's almost like feeding your baby food from McDonald's. Also, breast milk is free. Why wouldn't you choose to nurse your baby? Due to my track record, you can probably tell where this is going. Yeah...me breast feeding, it didn't work out so well.

When EJ was first born and we were in the recovery room after the c-section, he was given to me to begin nursing. They placed him on my belly and he crawled up to my chest and immediately began rooting. He latched on without any hesitation or problem. It didn't even hurt. I was ecstatic...#winning..LOL. My excitement came to a screeching halt when the nurses took EJ for the routine newborn procedures. I noticed that they were feeding him formula out of a bottle. I mean, he was fresh out of my womb and they're giving him formula!! From the other side of the room I notice this and ask what was going on. I was planning on breast feeding exclusively. It was then brought to my attention that EJ was born with very low blood sugar. It was necessary to feed him formula to get it back up. I would have to supplement my breast milk with formula everyday until his blood sugar stabilized. As you can imagine, for a mother who was planning to breast feed exclusively, this was a huge blow and yet another deviation from my "plan."

I continued to breast feed him while my husband would feed him the formula in the bottle. EJ did well with nursing for the first 2 days. Then on day 3, while still in the hospital, EJ was taken to get circumcised and when he came back, he began to struggle with the latch. He just would not latch on. He would attempt and then just start screaming. You don't know how frustrating this was for me. He was latching fine before. What was going on?! After meeting with lactation consultants, it was determined that I was not producing enough milk and my supply was not enough to sustain EJ on its own. After a visit to our pediatrician, she suggested that I pump as often as we feed EJ his formula (every 2 1/2 to 3 hours) in order to increase my supply. I took her advice and did just that. Unfortunately, I still was having significant issues with my supply, even after taking herbal supplements, drinking beer, etc. You name it, I tried it. I began to feel extremely guilty and saddened that I had missed out on the critical initial bonding that nursing provides. Aside from that, in order to avoid confusion, my husband was exclusively feeding EJ out of the bottle. I couldn't feed my baby at all. I didn't want to give up. At this point EJ was almost 3 weeks old.

Since we were going through lots of formula and the samples of the brand name formula we had gotten from the pediatrician were about to run out, we decided to purchase a generic version of the formula. We had heard from friends and through research that it was the same stuff, just cheaper. We began feeding EJ the generic formula. After a few days we noticed that EJ seemed to be in a lot of pain when moving his bowels. We also noticed that he had developed a redness on his bottom that was getting brighter and brighter red with each day. He would scream in agony with every diaper change. We knew that something wasn't right and it was time to take a visit back to the pediatrician. We were told that he may just have very severe gas and that is why he was in pain when moving his bowels and the redness was due to his stool being acidic and it was literally burning his skin. That was a good reason to change back to the brand-named formula. So we took the doctor's advice and changed back to the brand-named ($10.00 more expensive) formula. After a couple days back on the formula, we saw no improvement. Actually, the exact opposite happened. It got worse. The redness was not going away, the screaming continued and, a new development, there was blood in his stool. I couldn't take it. I couldn't take seeing my baby in agony and I didn't know what was wrong.

So we find ourselves back at the doctor. Thank goodness for emergency Saturday appointments. We actually were able to see our regular doctor. (She was on-call that day. Did I mention that I love her? The only thing is she is pregnant with her second baby and will eventually be gone on maternity leave. Not happy about that, but anyway...) She asked us to bring a soiled diaper with us. (This was a new experience, but apparently it's not uncommon in the world of parenting.) They tested his stool to confirm the blood. It turns out EJ has an allergy to cow's milk protein. This was causing his intestine to be enflamed which explained the bleeding. This also caused the acidic stool. What was the solution? New formula! This time it is $20.00 more...YES! Can you sense my sarcasm? But, all joking aside, I am happy that the doctor was able to provide us with a solution. I would pay any amount of money to make sure my baby is healthy. The type of formula is called Alimentum (and no it's not soy-based...he would be allergic to that too.) So what about my breast milk? I'm glad you asked. If I wanted to continue to "try" to nurse EJ I would have to have a completely dairy and gluten-free diet. This was what I needed to hear to make the decision to let go of my nursing dreams. With the little bit of milk that I was producing, it just wasn't worth it. Not to mention, foods that contain dairy and gluten are just the types of food you need in your diet to help with milk production.

So now my baby is strictly formula-fed. I'm shaking my head. If I haven't learned anything else from motherhood, I've learned that I need to stop making plans or actually, better yet, make plans just be flexible. As my yoga teacher always says, "Blessed are the flexible. For, they will never be bent out of shape."


  1. Renee, this is incredible. I have never had a baby so this was so informative. I would never have known that tis type of thing could occur. No matter where you are you continue to teach us new things every day. Thank you so much

  2. Hang in there, mama! We had the exact same issue with Cameron and she was on Alimentum for a full year. We then had her allergy (skin) tested at a year and found out she was allergic to basically all fruit, some spices, and everything outdoors. At two we went back (skin and blood test as well as a "milk challenge") and all of her allergens are now tolerable but she still won't eat fruit and can have up to 10oz of dairy a day. Luckily she is one of those kids that is outgrowing it. On a positive note my son is solely brestfed and shows no sign of any allergies. #2 will go as planned. :)