I commonly catch myself referring to the first few months with both Nolan and then Max + Maeve as the TRENCHES. I actually do adore so many aspects of the small baby phase (i.e. cuddles, cruising around with a sleeping babe in an infant seat, watching the rapid development, etc!) BUT the two things that tend to outshine the amazingness of a fresh baby head for me are 1. SLEEP DEPRIVATION and 2. FEEDING ANXIETY. Honestly, you could almost lump these two into one overarching issue because the lack of sleep only heightens the already natural anxiety moms have about ensuring this new tiny human is thriving in the feeding department. For me, when the overtired fog starts to clear, I feel so much less stressed about production/nursing/formula/pumping/gas/reflux/spit up/latching… OMG the worry list goes on for DAYS… and I am able to gain perspective that the ONLY thing that matters is that I am feeding my children to the best of my ability in a way that is keeping us as happy and healthy (mentally and physically) as possible.
I will save my own baby feeding story for another day because my sorority sister, Kayla, (see above picture of us from 2009) has written hers and it covers all the bases fully! Kayla and I lived in the ADPi house together with 8 other girls during my junior and senior year at Charleston. Fast forward 9 years and we have 7 children between the two of us! WILD. Its been fun keeping up with the chaos of one another’s lives across states through social media and we definitely compare mom notes and war stories 😉 Kayla just started a blog called Hallelujah + Amen which you should definitely pop over to check out. In the meantime, she is guest posting on one of the most talked about new mom topics: Boob, bottle or both?! Without further ado…
Boob, bottle, or both?
I have had 4 kids in 4 years. Yes, you read that right. This means I have 4 children under 4. So, pause right now, take some time, and say a prayer for my sanity and me. Thank you, now let’s proceed.
I am a mom to a 3 year old, Parker, an 18 month old, Gray, and 4 month old boy/girl twins, Charlee & Crew. And while I’m not pro at this mom thing, I would say I’m pretty seasoned in my experience. From singleton pregnancies to multiples, I’ve been around the pregnancy block if ya know what I mean. Having kids does a lot to your body and mental state, and mine is no exception. These little munchkins have left me with extra weight I’m desperately trying to lose, postpartum hair loss which I wish would stop, some stretch marks which will stay with me forever, and a lot of weight on my shoulders as I stay at home with them and I’m responsible for their well being day in and day out. Would I change it for the world? No, not one bit, but as you can imagine, it’s hectic around these parts.
With every pregnancy, I’ve learned a little bit more about motherhood. As a first time mom with Parker, I was an anxious helicopter mom, with Gray, I let back a little but still didn’t ask for help or leave him until he was 8 months old, and now with the twins, I have someone over at least once a week if not more so I can get out of the house BY MYSELF (self care y’all, so important) and I left them to go out of town when they were 3 months old.
So, each pregnancy has been different and each way I have raised them has been different … and this includes how I have fed them. CUE DRAMATIC DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
YES, that’s right. I’m talking about feeding babies. Let’s preface this by saying I absolutely believe FED IS BEST. And what I mean by that is that I could care less how you feed your babies as long as they are being fed. You can nurse them, you can supplement, or you could never let them take one suckle from your boob. Just feed your baby.
I do believe there are extreme benefits to being breastfed of course, I’ve seen it first hand as I nursed Parker until she was a year old and then was able to provide pumped milk for her until she was 15 months old. I was proud that I nurtured my 6lb 14oz baby girl for a whole year and I was all she needed. I watched as my milk changed colors as she got sick and how breastmilk literally became the answer for anything and everything. Baby sick? Breastmilk changes to give them the antibodies they need. Baby acne? Put some breastmilk on it. Weird rash? Breastmilk. Don’t have creamer? Just squirt some breastmilk in your coffee.
Okay, okay. Totally kidding about the last one, but hey, if you’ve done it, I’m only kind of judging you.
While I do believe that breastfeeding helped me bond with Parker, it’s not the only way I bonded with her. I mean, Parker has always been a daddy’s girl. Her bond with her dad is STRONG and his nipples are absolutely useless. Again, while there were crazy benefits of breastfeeding, like never being able to forget your boobs at home, there were also some things that were hard. Trying to keep your milk supply constant, especially while working, and pumping are stressful. Feeding in public was SO stressful to me. And I’m not saying this is everyone’s experience, but it’s mine and there were definitely things that were difficult for me. I suffered from postpartum anxiety after Parker was born and that meant that I was anxious all the time when she was around others or without me. She rarely was watched by other people and I was home, EVERY NIGHT, at 8pm so I could nurse her to sleep, because I didn’t think anyone else could put her to bed like I could. When I look back on that year, did I really miss anything SUPER important to be home every night? No, but it was taxing on my mental state. But, we made it to a year, and thankfully it wasn’t too hard, except for the time I got mastitis and I was very close to cutting my nipples off.
So, fast forward to January of 2018 when Gray was born and there was no doubt in my mind I was going to breastfeed him. I was a total pro, right? Wrong! With Gray, I could never fully correct his latch and when he fed it hurt up until the time I stopped nursing him. In the beginning he was feeding for 30 minutes at a time and seemed to be doing good. He was happy and sleeping well, so I thought everything was going just peachy. I went in for his 4 month check up and he was off the charts in height, but in weight, he was super low. Like so low that he hadn’t gained any weight from his last check up. Now, that was concerning. So, I had to go back in for weight checks and he still was not gaining any weight by 6 months. That’s when the doctor talked about supplementing.
Give my baby formula? What? But I breastfed my first born for a year? I know how to do this, I’ve done this before. I felt like a failure. And when I look back, I know I shouldn’t have, but I did. After a long discussion with my husband, I decided if I was going to give him formula, it would be all or nothing. I didn’t want to sit and nurse Gray for 30 min. and then have to give him a bottle on top of that. It wasn’t fair to Parker who had to just sit there and watch me or TV while I was doing that, and also, my mental state just could not handle it anymore. I was also getting clogged ducts all the time and still at 6 months my nips were raw and blistered. I know TMI, but nursing him was so hard on my body and that is NOT normal. If I was a first time mom, maybe I would think that it was, but this was my second baby and I knew in my gut, something was not right. I was also in the midst of postpartum depression and I just needed help, and in this case, it was help feeding my baby. So, I did it, I gave him a bottle of formula, and ya know what? He took it like a champ and guzzled that sucker down. He started gaining weight, got some cute baby rolls, and was still the happy little guy he always was. Formula did what my body wasn’t doing for him and the world didn’t stop. Imagine that?
And then boom, fast forward again to April 2019 when my sweet little surprise twins were born. Finding out I was pregnant with twins was CRAZY to say the least and I knew I was going to have to surrender all my pride and ask for help. And thank heavens I got over that, because I needed help and still do. Two babies plus two other ones to take care of is a lot. Right off the bat, I decided for the well being of my exploding brain that breastfeeding was just not going to be an option. Now, I know plenty of twin moms who have nursed their babies whether it was for the first month or first year, and man oh man, do I give them MAJOR props. But for me, breastfeeding just wasn’t going to happen. I remember them putting Crew and Charlee on my chest after they were born and they started the “crawl” toward my boobs and I was like NOPE, someone grab me a bottle STAT. I felt like a new mom all over again because this was so new to me. How do I know if they’ve eaten enough or too much? Do I feed them every 2-3 hours like breast fed babies? Is this formula the right one for them? And while all those questions worried me, you know what I realized? You just figure it out. You do. Just like when I had Parker or navigated switching with Gray. You just figure it out. You trust your mama gut and you go with it. The twins are now 4 months old and they are they sweetest babies. They are happy and healthy and don’t care that they never got the boob. And do I think they’ll grow up crying to me about how they were never breastfed and tell me I’m the worst mom ever? No, they’ll probably use it as ammunition against the other two and make fun of them for one time being attached to my boob.
So, my point is, no matter how you feed your baby, do what feels right to you. Whether you breastfeed for 1 day, a week, or a year, or you stick a bottle in their mouth the first sign of sucking, IT WILL BE JUST FINE. The way you feed your baby does not make you a good or bad mom, remember that. All my babies have been fed different ways, all 4 are happy and healthy, and all 4 have unique and wonderful personalities, and that’s not because of what they eat, that’s because of a little DNA and a whole lot of love.