Monday, April 16, 2012
feeding a baby: the cuteness and the struggles
Audrey isn't quite 5 months old yet, but we've already been doing a number of experiments with "real" food. Our pediatrician said it was no big deal to begin introducing some foods, since she is already showing the signs of being ready. She can sit up pretty well with minimal support and she's REALLY interested in everything we eat. She's even getting a tooth, which seems crazy to me. We've been giving her little tastes of fruit and vegetable purees. She is a big fan of zucchini and pears, hates applesauce, and may or may not be into peaches (adding cinnamon seemed to pique her interest).
Putting her in her high chair and trying to spoon feed her has now become my favorite hobby... It's just so much fun to see how she's going to react to food! And so messy too, but that's okay. If she's about to have a bath, we really let her go wild.
We're not trying to rush into solid foods, but I won't pretend that I'm not looking forward to the day when she doesn't subsist wholly on bottles! ...even though it is pretty sweet to snuggle up to her while she's drinking her bottle. I don't want to delve too deeply into the topic here, but I'm sure most people have noticed (or not?) that Audrey is a bottle baby. Any mom who goes the formula route probably feels a certain amount of guilt when all the experts go on and on about how breast is best. I fully intended to breast feed Audrey before she was born, and I did for the first 3 weeks. I feel like she got a good start. And I'm sure I could have continued, but it was taking a big toll on me, physically and mentally.
I just wasn't prepared for what a huge commitment it would be, to be the baby's sole source of nutrition. Newborns eat about 12 times a day, and at first it took about 45 minutes each time I breastfed her. I was going crazy. There was a huge sleep deprivation issue... I couldn't handle being the one who had to wake up every time Audrey needed to eat in the night. I couldn't take care of myself and hadn't prepared a safety net of supportive people. I wasn't eating enough or drinking enough water, and started having these AWFUL headaches -- I even tried taking the Percocet they gave me at the hospital, but the headaches persisted. I couldn't sleep when I had the headaches, I couldn't sleep when the baby was awake, I couldn't sleep when the baby was asleep (what if she woke up and needed me?!), I couldn't sleep at all. I had nightmares about starving babies... I may have hallucinated a little. I started resenting Audrey every time I had to feed her (which was often). She has a small jaw and I think that made latching difficult -- nursing was always incredibly messy and we always both smelled like sour milk. Life was looking dark. I couldn't imagine our future, and I wasn't excited at all about my new life and role as a mother and milk machine... I wanted my body back.
I'm sure it would have gotten easier if I'd stuck with it. But like I said, I was starting to resent my child. And that is something that NO new mother should feel. I knew something needed to change, as soon as possible. We weren't going to survive. So... I started trying new things. I was so very frustrated with the nursing process that I just stopped one day. I decided I would NEVER breastfeed again. At first I was going to just pump my milk and bottle feed Audrey (so Robert could at least help with that). After a whole day of constantly trying to keep up with the demanding baby, having to clean both the breast pump and the bottles... I knew it just wasn't going to work for me, at least not in that state of mind. Looking back, I wish I had supplemented with formula and at least kept pumping a little so I could keep up SOME supply of breastmilk to give Audrey... but I was so out of it mentally that I just wanted to make a concrete choice and stick with it. So we switched her completely to formula.
There was an IMMEDIATE improvement in my life. The baby no longer depended on my body. I could sleep again. And things were just all around easier. Of course... we found out a couple of weeks later that she was intolerant of cow's milk formula. So there was a bit of a fiasco while we struggled to find something that would nourish our baby and not make her sick. That took a whole month, probably. It felt like 5 years. (Every day with a newborn felt like a century to me, sort of.) But she is a full on soy baby now! A soy baby who likes to try new foods. We've come so far in just a few months. And everyone is so much HAPPIER now!!! Life is awesome.
Oh my. I said I wasn't going to delve into the issue, but I think that got pretty personal. I have a lot of admiration for ladies who breastfeed and keep it up for a year or more! But I think formula is a perfectly fine choice to make for your child. Sometimes, it's just necessary.