It all started a while back. Those of you who are kind (or bored?) enough to follow my blog know that one of my biggest worries for this pregnancy was how it would affect my nursing relationship with Lucy. Because I pump while I'm at work, it was really clear to me that my supply was diminishing.
For a while, I could deal with it. I went from pumping 6-8oz a session to 3-4oz pretty quickly. No biggie, though- that still replaced the amount Lucy drank while I was at work. That level stuck around for quite a while, and I optimistically hoped that it would stay that way.
Then last week it all went downhill. I hit week 15 in my pregnancy, and it's like a light switch flipped off. I could only pump 1 oz on the right side, maybe cover the bottom of the bottle on the left. When I nursed Lucy before and after work, I could feel a let down, and hear her swallow, and she was satisfied with what she was getting. However, at her nine-month appointment (also last week), we learned that she had only gained a little over a pound since her 6-month appointment. I was expecting that- I had been carefully monitoring her weight since I became pregnant, because I'd heard horror stories about mamas unknowingly starving their babies. The doctor wasn't concerned- after all, she eats three meals of solids a day, and has become very active as of late. Still, I was worried.
On Wednesday I had Brett break out that old can of Similac I bought a couple of months back. I'd really hoped I wouldn't need it, but when it comes to your daughter's health, you do what you have to do. I only had a few bottles' worth of pumped milk in the freezer after days of supplementing fresh with frozen, and I wanted to start Lucy off with a 50/50 mix of breastmilk and formula. Brett started giving Lucy two of these bottles twice a day, with me still nursing morning and night (and still during the night).
And still, I hoped that we would only be limited to those "work" bottles, and that I'd be able to nurse exclusively while I was at home. Saturday went fine- I felt like she was eating enough, although she seemed fussy at the breast. Then today during her morning nursing session I could tell she was fighting me- she kept biting and pulling and fussing. I could just tell that she wasn't getting very much. So, I shed a few tears while I mixed her up a bottle (I probably would have had Brett do it, but he left really early for a SCUBA trip.)
I was sort of surprised that she took it from me- I had always read that many breastfed babies won't take a bottle from their mamas. I am also surprised that she seems to be drinking the formula bottles okay- I had also read that many breastfed babies refuse it because of the taste. But I am grateful that Lucy seems to be flexible in this regard.
You know what? It's not the end of the world. Yes, I felt awful measuring out formula and feeding Lucy from a bottle. It just felt strange- I mean, I know she's been taking bottles all along, but never from me. I've really only seen her take a bottle a handful of times, usually when I arrived home from work early. We are very big supporters of nursing in public, and I've never felt the need to carry a bottle of pumped milk around. Still, it was nice to have a "Big Girl" looking up at me, rather than an infant. That helps- it reminds me that she benefited from 9 1/2 months of only mama's milk.
On a side note, I have done a lot of research about formula vs. just starting milk (goat's milk, in particular). However, I contacted the ONLY doctor I could find that supports milk before one year, Dr. Jack Newman, and was informed via email that he only supports it as a supplement- like if you pump at work, but come up a few ounces too short. That's because even though goat's milk is better than cow's milk, it still can cause anemia due to very mild internal bleeding (it irritates the intestinal track). Yes, babies can still suffer anemia from formula, but it is less likely. And if you're wondering why I'm justifying this decision, it's because I've taken a lot of flack (believe it or not) from several online friends for choosing formula over goat's milk.
And yes, I'm still planning on nursing her to sleep, and keeping with our morning session as long as she permits. Brett gives her an evening bottle, and she still likes to nurse to sleep afterwards. I think I'm as comforted by it as she is.
ETA: I also meant to add that I am still pumping once a day at work. I managed to get 2oz today, so yay so the little things.