All That Matters…

I’ve been noticing more and more how some moms have been under attack for the way they raise their children and the choices they make. I know it’s nothing new but there wasn’t any reason for me to pay attention to it until I had my daughter. I strongly feel that there isn’t any wrong way on how you raise your kids. Whether you’re a babywearing mama, a mom who works outside the home, a mom who delivered naturally or those that had a c-section, whether you breastfeed or formula feed. The list could go on.

We’re all in this together and I would love for there to be more understanding and acceptance for the decisions that each of us make. We love our children and want what’s best for them. What’s best for one family might not be so for another and that’s okay. It seems that there are times when people rush to judgement without knowing the facts.

I had every intention of breastfeeding but like everything else that goes along with mommyhood, it didn’t go as planned. My daughter was in the NICU for the first 3 weeks of her life. It was agonizing and even now I can’t help but cry when I think about it. I’ll never forget when I had to leave the hospital without her, looking back to see her empty car seat. Longing to have her home with me.

She had low blood sugar and I was constantly asked if I had a glucose test by doctors every day, sometimes several times a day, for 21 days. When I was pregnant I took the 1 hour glucose test and it came back “slightly elevated”. Then I took a 3 hour glucose test and the doctor called and said everything was fine.

Maybe it was intuition but I was still worried and asked if I should take the test again in a week or two just in case. The doctor said there was no need but I still felt it should be done. So then I said I want to do the test again anyway. The doctor told me to relax and that everything was fine.

Having my daughter in the NICU for low blood sugar had me wracked with so much guilt. Then having to be asked all the time, by the same doctors, about the glucose test made me crazy. Don’t doctors ever write any of this stuff down?! We were told that she would only be in for a few days. A week later she was supposed to come home on a Saturday. We called the NICU before we went to bed and they said she was doing fine.

I was too excited to sleep. I was up half the night getting her things ready and packing her bag since we were going to stay overnight at the hospital with her. That’s what they encourage when your child has been in the NICU. She had to have her blood sugar checked every 4 hours and was on medication so they wanted to be sure we were able to handle these things.

We got a call Saturday morning saying that her blood sugar dropped late Friday night and she wouldn’t be able to come home. I was beyond devastated. We went through this cycle every two or three days for 3 weeks. The only way I can describe this roller coaster ride was that it was an absolute mindfuck. Add to that my postpartum hormones and I was a crying mess the whole time.

I tried to breastfeed her while she was in the NICU but even with a lactation consultant and the nurses there to help, she never latched on. I was pumping and would bring my milk to the NICU every day when we went to see her. She was given formula occasionally but when I was home I pumped as much as I could.

One of the problems I found was that although I could also pump in the NICU, there was no drinking allowed so I couldn’t drink any water during all the hours we spent there. When I did try to pump there, I felt so dehydrated and that would make me feel sick. That’s why I could only pump at home.

Finally, after 3 long weeks, we were able to bring her home. I kept trying to breastfeed but it just didn’t work out like I was hoping. On top of that, both my husband and I were terrified that her blood sugar would drop. We still had to supplement with formula since I didn’t always have enough breast milk coming in.

My daughter was on medication until she was six weeks old and then her blood sugar stabilized but the worry was always there. In fact it still is even though she’s fine now. I feel like the stress of everything caused my milk supply to go down.

My supply kept on dropping and I was taking all kinds of supplements to help it go back up. I also started doing marathon pumping sessions when my husband was home from work, hoping that would bring in more milk. I was pumping for nearly 4 months and then I got sick along with a horrible cough and was put on codeine for several weeks.

We really didn’t have any other option but to formula feed. During that time I  pumped and dumped because I was still hoping to give my little girl breast milk after I stopped taking codeine. When I got off of the medication, I kept pumping but didn’t get much milk. I felt defeated and had wanted so desperately to breastfeed my child. Looking back, I wish I was easier on myself. Having to formula feed is not the end of the world.

I know I did my best but to some all they might think is that I gave up too easily when it came to breastfeeding. They can only see that I formula fed my daughter. They don’t know what was behind that choice which, as far as I’m concerned, wasn’t really my choice anyway.

All that matters now is that I have a healthy, beautiful, thriving, extremely active 18 month old daughter who I love more than anything in this world.


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19 Responses to All That Matters…

  1. Issa October 11, 2010 at 08:08 #

    I’m so sorry that you went through all of this. Or that even now after 18 months you regret some of it. It’s the end result that matters. You have a beautiful healthy little girl. That is what matters. People are so hard on each other. They seem to forget the big picture.

    My first was a month early. She never latched right. My milk never came in. Since she was tiny and I had to feed her, so she would lose any weight. After a week, I gave up. I decided that instead, I’d be grateful that the formula was there. She and my other two children were exclusively formula fed. They are 2, 6 and nearly 9 years old and healthy (this week is an exception. ha) and amazing.

    • Elle October 11, 2010 at 13:56 #

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  2. lisa October 11, 2010 at 18:42 #

    Oh I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that…not only you but the lil’ hummingbird! I would’ve been a wreck…being pregnant with twins the 1st time, the NICU was my greatest fear. I can’t even imagine….

    I can imagine the difficulty of breastfeeding….I had issues, too. One of the twins wouldn’t latch on and the other had issues too. I was a complete wreck for the first 2 weeks! 🙁 The second I made the decision to quit, I felt like i got my sanity back. I was wracked with guilt but felt soooo relieved.

    Glad to hear she’s been great ever since! 🙂 (and you as well! )

    • Elle October 11, 2010 at 19:46 #

      After some time, I did feel like a huge weight had been lifted since I was making myself crazy trying to pump. I also felt more present as a mom since I didn’t have to be hooked up like a dairy cow all the time. 😉

  3. Cassie October 11, 2010 at 19:08 #

    Elle, it made me so sad to read what you had to go through. I had no idea that your daughter had such a tough start. And as far as not trying hard enough to breastfeed? It sounds to me like you gave it an incredible effort. You did the best you could. What else is there?
    When I was really struggling with guilt around my split, someone told me this:
    Guilt would be if you left your baby in a dirty diaper for hours.
    Guilt would be if you let your baby go hungry.
    You have ABSOLUTELY no reason to feel guilty.
    Sad, maybe.
    Regretful, maybe.
    But never guilt.
    You’ve done the absolute best with the hand that you have been given.
    Your a good mother, you love your baby.
    Never, ever think that you should feel guilty for something thats out of your hands.

    That just sort of resinated with me. That as long as you do everything you can to give your little one the best life you can, there is never a reason to feel guilt.
    And I think your doing a great job.

    P.S Just so you know, the grass isnt always greener. I have experienced soo much judgement for breastfeeding Cruz. Almost everyone I know thinks he should be weaned by now and people aren’t afraid to tell me so.

    • Elle October 25, 2010 at 03:19 #

      Those are great words to live by. Thank you for sharing that.
      I’m sorry you have to deal with the other side of it. Cruz is still so young and if you don’t have any problem with breastfeeding, that’s all that should matter. I don’t understand why people can’t just give support to us mamas.

      I came across a few blogs last week about formula and people were saying there’s no reason a woman can’t breastfeed. Some moms were commenting and telling them they couldn’t and were being attacked b/c of it.

      That really got me thinking how people are so quick to judge without knowing all of the facts. There was a woman who worked in my doctor’s office and she scolded me last year b/c she saw me give my daughter a bottle even though she knew what I was going through. It was unreal.

  4. themrs October 12, 2010 at 07:25 #

    i just realized that what i was going to say was almost exactly what cassie said! even if you had never tried to breastfeed, even if you felt formula was better to start with, you are a good mom. a good mom is one who loves her child unconditionally, who thinks they are the cutest/smartest/most wonderful child to ever be created 🙂 a good mom breastfeeds, bottle feeds, works, stays home, homeschools, send to public school and a thousand other variables. i’ve written many times about the “mommy mafia” and how hard women are on each other. i hate it. people are idiots, plain and simple. don’t let them get you down 🙂

    • Elle October 12, 2010 at 12:52 #

      Thank you for that. I don’t like mothers being bullied for their choices so I wanted to show that these choices aren’t as simple as some might think. I read one blog and some of it was so crazy the way she and her followers put down moms who do formula feed. That was just among many other things they attack other moms for. Can’t we all just get along. 😉

  5. MaNiC MoMMy October 12, 2010 at 21:58 #

    I love that you call her a hummingbird on crack on your profile! Thanks for the friend add!

  6. Jess October 13, 2010 at 18:50 #

    I couldn’t agree more. Everyone seems to have an opinion on EVERYTHING when it comes to parenting. But when it comes down to it, as long as you are doing your best to care for your child, that’s all that matters. Really. In all honesty, when that sweet baby is a teenager he/she will probably care less about whether or not he was breastfed, naturally birthed, coslept, etc. (I do support those things, and many others, but I’m not a crazy my-way-is-the-only-way fanatic!)
    Just so you know- I’ve heard and read so many stories about NICU moms who had planned on breastfeeding but weren’t able to. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for that possibility, but it’s hard. You tried your hardest! And you did what was best for your daughter- which was to simply FEED her, even if it wasn’t the way you planned or wanted.

    • Elle October 13, 2010 at 20:01 #

      Thank you so much, Jess. My thoughts are with you, Elliot, and your family.

  7. themrs October 13, 2010 at 20:10 #

    not to mention ladies…how often do you meet someone and think “i wonder if they were breastfed as a child?” 🙂

  8. Varda (SquashedMom) October 14, 2010 at 01:19 #

    I would just like to chime in here, too with my support for you. The “mom wars” are ridiculous and a waste of our time and energy that should be spent fighting the real injustices of the world, not picking each other apart for the choices we’ve made. Did you put orange soda in your baby’s bottle? No? Then you did fine. End the guilt. I had twins, one of whom had trouble with nursing. He struggled for about 5 months (and I can’t tell you how much $$ we threw at lactation consultants) and then I gave in to his love of the bottle. I breastfed, pumped for hours each day (to the point where I felt like mooing) and supplemented w/ formula for a year. It all worked out, the boys were fed and healthy.

    It’s like in everything, some people are secure enough in their choices to understand that they are choices and to live and let live. Other people feel that unless they force everyone else to live as they do and agree that they are right, they are somehow wrong. Be it parenting, religion, sexual preference, you name it, there is tolerance and there is rigidity. Me, I like tolerance, it’s much more fun.

    • Elle October 14, 2010 at 01:29 #

      Tolerance is a beautiful thing. I wish there was more of it. Thank you for your support!

  9. Kris June 26, 2011 at 23:02 #

    I relate so much to this. My son was born 7 weeks early via emergency C-section. He was immediately taken to the NICU which was in a different hospital, so I didn’t even get to see him till I was released 3 days later. I had a breakdown on the second day in the hospital crying and screaming about wanting my baby, and the nurse almost had to sedate me I was so hysterical.

    I had no idea what I was doing. Pumping was so confusing. I was able to pump about 2 tablespoons for Toby, but after that my milk dried up because I wasn’t pumping often enough (had NO idea what I was doing) and without my son to trigger those hormones, it just wasn’t working. I felt guilty forEVER for not breastfeeding him.

    Toby was released from the NICU after 3 weeks. (I think the reason they kept him so long is because he was very small – 4 lbs 3 oz, and although his breathing was great they had to make sure he could regulate his own temperature and was big enough to… well, survive outside an incubator.) He is now a healthy, active, insane 3 year old. It’s reassuring to read about another mama’s experience with the NICU and that stress and feelings and everything.

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