Breast is best! Breast is best! It's all I could think, it ran through my mind over and over every day. I was feeding this baby for hours on end yet he was still as skinny as a runt and irritable as hell. Why can't I do this? Why is my milk so crap??? Are the girls skim milk instead of fullcream?! Whatever I did it wasn't good enough, I fed hour after hour, I pumped, I took fenugreek tabs, I drank Guinness and lemonade, I tried it all. I refused to try formula. In my logical nurse mind I knew he needed extra calories, I knew it. But in my new mum mind I only wanted him to have my milk. I wanted to be good enough, JUST ME. I wanted to give him what he needed, I didn't want any other health professional telling me what my baby needed. I was his mum, I should have been able to provide for him...but once again it wasn't enough.
I sat in the psychologists room and blurted out all of my concerns about not being able to feed Oli. I was trying to feed him as I sat there as anxious as hell. Try calmly breastfeeding an irritable baby around someone who already thinks your anxious, all while getting the baby in position, settled, attached - WITH a nipple shield may I add. It didn't make for the most efficient OR effective feed. The lovely psych suggested I count back from 10 and take some deep breaths, well it worked and my milk flowed. Anxiety hinders breastfeeding, it's so obvious to me now but at the time...another fail! I just wanted to shout I'M A NURSE AND NOW A MIDWIFE! I'M NOT CRAZY I PROMISE YOU! I clearly remember one afternoon my sister left work early to visit me. My mum had probably called her saying 'Your sister is UNSTABLE! GET TO HER HOUSE NOW!' I cried and cried as I tried to tell her what was wrong. Finally between sobs I told her how much I hated the dietitian because she said Oli needed formula to put on any weight. I remember her looking at me so puzzled. I guess it's not until you in that position you can relate to the feelings of failure surrounding breastfeeding.
About 4 months after I gave birth to Oli I started putting on weight. Funnily enough that coincided with Ol starting solids and him also putting on the pounds! All hail the CF diet. High fat, high calorie, and high salt. I couldn't get enough - haha! I was smothering veggies with coconut oil, chips, yoghurt with cream, EVERYTHING with cream, chocolate custard, salt, salt, salt. It worked, oh how it worked. He went from being this teeny runt to a 'normal' looking baby before long. I kept breastfeeding but he was still such a fussy feeder, on and off constantly. He much preferred food, he would cry and scream between every spoonful because he was just starving! I just imagine him saying FINALLY the woman is feeding me a steak!!!!!
Breastfeeding my baby was SUCH a huge deal for me. All through my midwifery training I learnt the amazing benefits. Breastfeeding is so deeply linked to our emotions and to be told I needed to give additional formula was just such a kick in the guts after a really shitty start to motherhood. I tried so hard in the hospital to feed Oli and was told 'Oh hes not 36 weeks yet maybe try again in a week or so' or 'just feed him expressed milk and when you get home find a lactation consultant to establish your breastfeeding or you will never get discharged' One of my breaking moments was when I came in 20 mins late for a feed, the nurse had put up the NG feed and when I said I would try to feed Oli she said no because he was too tired. I was cuddling him and he was sucking and rooting for the boob. This KILLED ME. I wanted to feed my baby but someone (with LESS experience than me as a nurse GAAAH) and who wasn't my baby's MOTHER was saying I couldn't feed him. Stable me would say 'I'll just try and do it' Unstable me dropped Oli in the cot and left. I cried in the parents room pumping wishing the world would swallow me whole. It was the WORST. It was rock bottom.
Breast is best, sure. But in some circumstances it's not, In our situation high calories was best. A fed baby is best, a thriving baby is best. A well rested, happy mother is best. I had none of those things because I was so wrapped up in the idea of breastfeeding and the fact I had failed.
These days I'm a lot more stable - I insist! Haha Oli has a pretty average diet but with additional salt on his serving. I guess he does eat quite a bit but I don't really have anyone else to compare him to? He is a healthy weight for his age so I no longer add all of the cream and crazy calories to every single meal. I often find him walking around licking the salt grinder like a lolly! (People with CF need lots of salt) It has been quite a eye opener feeding Rube solids without butter and salt. I'm happy to say I don't think I'll be putting on all those kgs again..haha! 'Normal' baby food is far too bland!