“We finally nurse enough during the day that I don’t also pump… While I want to say it’s a relief to be at this point, I have to admit that I’m still a nervous wreck about it. Is she getting enough to eat? Will I still produce enough if I don’t pump? It’s so stressful.”
56 days after Oaklee’s first Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician appointment, the one where a doctor told me I would never nurse a child, Oaklee and I returned to that office for a follow-up appointment. We were still attempting to make Oaklee an exclusively breastfed baby and had daddy in tow for backup.
The nurse took Oaklee’s measurements. She weighed 10lb, 8oz. That was 2lb, 9oz more than when she’d last seen them. Each time a nurse or doctor made me strip Oaklee down to a clean diaper to be weighed, I’d hold my breath, but this time I was especially anxious. I wanted to come in with a solid argument that we were doing the right thing, but I knew the numbers would tell the truth, and I wasn’t certain what numbers they would be looking for exactly.
When the nurse practitioner entered the room, she immediately began by telling us Oaklee’s growth “wasn’t terrible”. While she was still not on the growth charts, she had picked up a bit of speed, making an encouraging curve. She looked me in the eye as she questioned, “I’m guessing you chose not to do the formula, right?”
With practiced confidence I said, “Correct.”
She responded, “I think that’s going to be ok.”
Then the nurse practitioner baited another hook and went on to explain the special, higher caloric formula does have certain, additional nutrients preemies are often deficient of. We could check Oaklee for deficiencies with a simple blood test if we would consider supplementing with the formula pending low results.
I can see how this would sound crazy to some people, but I kept my foot down. Did I want to know if Oaklee was deficient? Of course. The nurse practitioner cast out a line, and I was thinking about nibbling, but I wasn’t going to budge on the formula and, therefore, not willing to subject Oaklee to another poke.
Even if my daughter was low in certain nutrients, I was not supplementing man-made formula for the milk God made in my body for my daughter.*
Oaklee was growing. She was developmentally right where they wanted her to be. Ideally, her continued growth would allow her to maintain that developmental track. With the progress she’d made so far, and the supply and passion I had to breastfeed, we officially denied an interventional option – finally.
Let Oaklee be Oaklee… the seeds of my newest mantra were being planted.
We left that neuro appointment on a much brighter note than the last one. Still uncertain we were making the right decision, we at least knew the nurse practitioner was ok with our decision.
On the 1st, Oaklee breastfed two feedings of seven – 15 minutes and 14 minutes – two almost full feeds.
We could do this.
In the stats:
Birth weight: 2lb, 12oz
Last known weight: 10lb 8oz (12.1.17)
Adjusted age: 9 weeks, 6 days
Actual age: 22 weeks, 1 day
Days in the hospital: 69
Days home: 87
Appointments since home: 15
*P.S. I have to make the note that I think formula is a very valid option in many, MANY cases. For the baby who won’t latch, for the mom who can’t produce enough milk, for the single mom, for the mom of twins, for the mom of the preemie who’s just not getting the whole breastfeeding thing, for the mom who’s struggling to take care of herself… formula is a blessing. Nothing is better for baby than for mom to be her best version of a mom, and often that means using formula.
I know I am blessed to have even fought the breastfeeding battle – to have been given the time to work through it, to have been given the supply to more than feed my child, to have been supported by my family and friends, to have been given a husband who will wash pump parts, give bottles and sit on the floor of the nursery in support, watching me cry as I try to unsuccessfully breastfeed our child – I have been incredibly blessed.
But the shame around using formula saddens me. You can be an excellent breastfeeder and a terrible mother.