Bonding with baby

I recently happened to come across a statement on social media where basically, someone had said that breastfeeding gives you more of a bond with your baby than formula feeding does. This is something which has irritated me before so I thought that now was about the right time to blog about it. I shouldn’t need to state, but this is not at all a dig at breastfeeding as I actually managed a few weeks myself, it’s purely the statement and the derivation of it.

With little man J, we didn’t take to breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t bond whilst feeding. I still remember it like yesterday, the way he used to stare into my eyes, and he used to hold hands whilst he was having his milk. Exactly the same as breastfeeding, yes? The only difference is, that he wasn’t physically ‘connected’ to me whilst feeding, with not being on my boob. (And Daddy gets to bond too).

I do understand that there is a special connection whilst breastfeeding as I had it with N. It does make you feel amazed, that you are feeding this little person with great Mummy milk, but apart from that, I didn’t feel much different than I did with J. In fact, it took me a little longer to bond with N as a lot of the time I used to dread feeding because of the struggles we had. I know this isn’t relevant to everyone though.

The bonding with N whilst feeding was different, but I wouldn’t say any more of a bond than with feeding J. N mostly used to grab my boob whilst feeding, sometimes we would hold hands, I don’t think he ever really stared into my eyes as he was mostly concentrating on boob.

From my experience, I believe that however you feed your baby, you will bond. (I also understand in certain circumstances that you may not). Whether that be by breast, expressed breast milk, donor milk, or formula. Because purely, you are feeding your baby and making them happy & healthy.

The bond surely comes from within, not the source.

J bonding with Daddy, I couldn’t find a photo with me.
N bonding with Mummy.

Family Friday

Little man N at 1 month old

So it’s time for the first of little man N’s monthly updates (a little lot later than planned…)! I can honestly say that time is going much quicker this time – probably because I’m constantly on the go!

We managed to get him registered the week after he was born – so he is officially NWJG! I’d forgotten how lovely it was to make them all official.

N was breastfed for the first four weeks – he also had some formula during this time meaning he became a proper little chunk. He only lost 4 oz in his first 5 days.  At his 10 day check he had gained that back plus another 6 oz. I was very proud of this considering our feeding problems as in this time he only had breast milk. He weighed 10 lbs at one month old – his birth weight was 7lb 6oz.

He is a hungry little man just like his brother was. He has been doing the ‘norm’ for a baby of this age though feeding every 2 hours, sometimes less. 

Also just like his brother, he is not a huge fan of sleeping in his own bed. He did sleep in his Moses basket on his first night and then as we were in hospital on nights 2 & 3 he slept in the cot there, but since then he has co-slept pretty much every night since. He’s just a baby that loves snuggles. 

We had our first go at baby-wearing at 2 weeks old and he very much liked it. I started much earlier this time than I did with J as by the time I got around to it with him, he hated it and would just scream when I wrapped him. 

He seems to be doing things sooner than his brother did as we had his first coo out of him at 3 weeks old! Lots of windy smiles too, but oh so cute. Roll on the first proper smile!

Our breastfeeding journey

Though it may seem trivial to some, this for me is a really hard post to write due to my previous breastfeeding guilt with J. 

Breastfeeding is something I really wanted to achieve this time. I had armed myself with information which lovely people had provided, telephone numbers and ready for the support of the local breastfeeding support peers. I (foolishly) convinced myself that I would ‘get it’ this time. That we would get it.

If you have read the posts from the early days after N was born, then you’ll know that it just didn’t happen like that (parts 12 & 3). Even in hospital, as much as I wanted to come home, I persevered. Perseverance worked, as he finally latched and we went home. 

Once we were home I continued to express as I had been doing in hospital. The B.A.B.E.S. came out to check on us and gave me a nipple shield as even though he was latching, it wasn’t good. This was so much better and we continued using it. But even then he was very fussy, so we were mainly giving EBM from a bottle as it was very upsetting for both of us.

For me, I found expressing so time consuming and tiring. Add that to the fact that when I wasn’t attending to N, J required my attention and I couldn’t not give it to him as he is a very clingy child and would get upset easily. And if I didn’t give him attention, by the time I’d finished, N would require me again. This really started getting me down and many tears were shed.

Which led to us starting to give formula top-ups. I think this was my downfall, and where I feel I sabotaged us being successful. Once that had started, it kind of became a downward spiral from there and the formula increased, so N wanted my milk less & less. Which also meant I was producing less & less milk as I wasn’t expressing as much either.

After thinking long & hard, and this time making an informed decision rather than feeling like being partially forced into it, I have decided to switch completely to formula. This time I know it is not poison, and J thrived on it. He is a happy (most of the time anyway!) healthy child. I will not feel guilty. I will try not to feel like a failure again.

But I will feel sad. 

Sad that our breastfeeding experience wasn’t as I imagined it would be this time. But happy that I managed to have a bit of one. I look at it that N has had 4 weeks of my milk, so I have given him the best start in life. I feel like I have given it my best shot this time, whereas with J I had pretty much given up before I’d even started. 

But I feel like I have let down the many people who tried to support me. I really have appreciated all the support, and I thank those people as I don’t think I would have gotten this far if I didn’t have that.

So that’s it, our precious breastfeeding journey is over. 

But I will treasure this photo forever. Something I thought I never would share even if I did succeed at any point. But I am proud.

No guilt, but now it’s the breastfeeding envy I have to deal with (and that’s a whole other post).

Once again, nobody said it would be easy (but then nobody said it would be so hard either).

Home birth, but hospital stay – part 3

You can read part 2 here

Monday 3rd March
I was hoping that we would be allowed to go home today, but as little man #2 still wasn’t feeding directly from me, that was a no go. At this point I once again considered just totally switching to formula so we could go home. But then I remembered how bad it made me feel last time so I got my determined head on and tried to be positive. We could do this. 

Hubby came back to hospital, bringing little man #1 with him. As LM#1 has a short attention span, I suggested that they only stay a couple of hours then go and get some lunch, then come back for another couple before going home for the night. LM#1 was that tired anyway he ventured around the room for an hour (luckily we were in a private side room!), then just fell asleep on Daddy for a while. This gave me a chance to attempt feeding LM#2 again and to have some lunch. When the two men left to get their lunch, I armed hubby with a list of items to bring to see me through the night.

I must have been tired from all of the emotions going through me as when hubby and LM#2 came back, I was fast asleep. Again, they stayed for a couple of hours before going home. This time, I was in tears before they left – so wanted us to go with them. The NICU nurse (the 2nd one now) asked what was wrong – she suspected I didn’t want to attempt to breastfeed anymore. Right now, I really didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted to go home but I also just wanted to feed my baby! It broke my heart when they left because LM#1 was just constantly saying Mummy, so we were missing each other just as much. They went, I had my tea, had a few more tears, then I got on the pump again (as I had been doing after every feed, ready for the next one). It couldn’t have gotten any worse, but then the HCA attempted to ‘help’ me transfer my expressed breast milk into syringes to store in the fridge, and in the process tipped half of one of the bottles all over the floor! I was on the verge of tears, again.

After I’d finished pumping I climbed back into bed and decided to read for a while rather than sleep. My Mum rang me to ask how things were going – I just burst into tears. I had to calm myself down before I told her how I was feeling. I just didn’t want to be here anymore, on my own. She said that she would gladly come for a while to keep me company but by the time she got there guest visiting would be over so suggested father-in-law watch LM#1 and hubby come up, which he did. I just burst into tears when he walked in because I was so upset at the lack of progress, and just with being there.

We had a different NICU nurse looking after us tonight. We were still continuing with the cup feeding, and trying on the breast before a feed. The nurse had gone to get my EBM from the fridge and whilst she was there, I, now reluctantly, tried LM#2 on the boob again. He fussed a bit as usual. And then he latched on (albeit painfully). He fed for 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. We had done it. The first time I had ever breastfed ‘properly’. Though I wasn’t getting my hopes up as I already felt like a big fat failure again, and felt it was too good to be true. He still had my EBM which the nurse had prepared though. 

Once again hubby had to leave. The same old routine, me crying. Hoping we would be going home with him tomorrow. I decided to go to sleep this time as I was shattered, and the nurse would be back in a few hours for another feed. LM#2 breastfed again, but the nurse could tell I was still upset as it still felt like such a struggle, and she could just read that I wanted to be at home. She was so lovely, and we had a little chat. She said it was no bother to her whether I carried on with the breastfeeding, or decided to give him formula. I really did want to carry on though. I could have cried because she was so understanding. After this, she decided that she was happy enough that we could now be discharged from transitional care back to the midwives, then it was up to them if we could go home. I didn’t see her again after that, I was left to feed him on my own.

Tuesday 4th March
I was still nervous that the midwife care would want to keep us in – I don’t know why as everything was fine now! I was woken by LM#2 around 6 am wanting a feed, and I couldn’t get back to sleep after this. I had told hubby not to bother coming until I knew what was happening and had let him know. The midwife came in around 9 am and told me that the B.A.B.E.S would be coming to see how we were doing now, and if they were happy then she would come back to check me & LM over and then we could go home. I was so relieved, so happy! I called hubby to tell him the news and he came with LM#2 straight away. We then had to wait for the midwife to officially sign us off.

I wasn’t expecting that I would have to do this, this time; but once again, I finally had that special moment of being able to take my baby home from the hospital. 

Breastfeeding guilt

Breastfeeding guilt. Something which a lot of women suffer from. I’m one of them right now. 

I managed 24 hours of breastfeeding with little man. And in my head, that wasn’t even ‘proper’ breastfeeding. I had to express for him, because I couldn’t get him to latch on. We tried & tried & tried; with breastfeeding support workers and the midwives, but I just couldn’t do it. I blame myself because I think I could have tried harder. I feel I really did try though. 

I felt so guilty at the switch to formula, because it is drummed into you how much better breastfeeding is for your baby, and how you SHOULD do it. Yes, I know this, but it isn’t possible for everyone. And telling them afterwards that they should have tried harder, or that you are upset that they didn’t, just makes them feel a whole lot worse. And it can last for a long time. A friend of mine still has guilt 6 months later because she had a lot of this from people when she stopped and switched to formula at 6 weeks. Though she should be proud of herself, as she persevered for that long. 

I know formula isn’t the best for my baby (though, it isn’t all that bad, it is as the name suggests, formulated especially for babies), but we were both stressed with the breastfeeding at the time. We were both in tears, him because he was so hungry, and me because I couldn’t satisfy his hunger, and hearing him crying because of that was extremely distressing and upsetting. Now I’m guessing people that were sad I didn’t try harder would rather me let my baby go hungry? Well, I sure as heck wasn’t going to do that. The first bottle he had, he guzzled down, so it was obviously the case. 

Now I’m still feeling that guilt, but, my baby isn’t going hungry, he is in fact thriving. He has gained nearly 3 lbs since he was born just over 5 weeks ago. He’s a proper little milk monster!