So, it turns out that I had the same problem nursing Dakota as I did Harper. For some reason, I just don’t have the milk supply necessary to adequately feed these babies. I have no idea why and there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to fix it.
The first week of Dakota’s life felt relatively normal, but once the second week rolled around, it felt like all she did was cry. It wasn’t just a cry either, it was more like screaming…and lots of it. None of us really knew what the problem was, and we were ready to chalk it up to her being a fussy baby, but somewhere deep down I felt like something was wrong.
When Harper was first born, I was having all kinds of issues nursing him. He wasn’t latching well, and I was all kinds of cracked and bloody from his attempts, but I was so determined to nurse him that I ignored the pain and just tried to deal with it. I ended up getting mastitis, and losing my milk supply shortly after. I was pretty devastated because I felt that nursing was important and that not being able to do so said something about my mothering. It was a “natural” thing that all mother’s are able to do, and I wasn’t able to do it. I tried pumping and taking supplements, but much to my dismay, it just wasn’t happening. I was a little depressed about it and each bottle I fed him was like a slap in the face. I did realize though that Harper’s growth was more important than my ego, and he’s grown up to be a happy little (nearly) 2 year old that I love to pieces. Formula and all.
With Dakota things were different. The first time I nursed her I can remember thinking to myself how easy it was. She just seemed to know what she was doing and latched on like she was born to do so. I thought that maybe this go round I’d be able to nurse without difficulty and that we’d be able to do without formula. It seemed to be going well until all the screaming started. I knew that she was getting milk because I could feel it as well as see it. And, she was pitching a fit, not being sleepy and quiet the way Harper had. She was also wetting her diapers regularly, so it never really dawned on me that she wasn’t getting enough to eat.
I had to take Zoe and Landon in to the doctor so that they could get their annual physicals, and when I went I brought Dakota just so I could weigh her. I was so nervous, yet, I was really trying to be optimistic because just the day before my mom had said that Dakota looked like she was gaining weight…but, when I weighed her and she’d only gained 2 oz. in the past two weeks, I nearly cried. At that stage she should have been gaining an ounce a day, not an ounce a week. (She was 7.11 at birth, 7.06 at her one week apt. and 7.08 two weeks after that.) The doctor was really nice about it and told me that I needed to start supplementing her with formula, and that he wouldn’t recommend it if he didn’t feel like it was absolutely necessary.
As soon as we walked out of his office, we went straight to the grocery store. I ran in and bought some ready made milk and the second we got home I offered her a bottle. It took a second for her to realize the bottle had food in it, but the minute she tasted the milk, she closed her little fists around the bottle and ate like she was starving. Poor, poor baby. After that bottle I put her up on my shoulder to burp and she was motionless and calm for the first time in what felt like forever. She fell asleep almost immediately and didn’t wake for nearly 3 hours.
I felt a lot of the same feelings I had when I realized that nursing Harper wasn’t going to work out. I felt like I was letting her down and it really bothered me that I wasn’t able to do something as basic and natural as feed my own baby. Luckily, I was just too darn busy to brood about it.
The part that bothers me most now is thinking about how hungry my poor little girl had been. She had been screaming and screaming for almost two whole weeks, trying to tell me she was hungry, and I was just getting upset thinking she was just an irritable baby. I’m so glad I took her to that appointment (not that I would have left her with anyone when I was the only source of food she had!) and figured out the problem that day. She’s a completely different baby, and generally pretty happy…as happy as I’d expect any newborn to be, anyways.
Today I am still nursing her, but only on one side as the other has completely quit producing milk. I have to nurse her on the one side and then also give her a bottle to get her completely full, and it seems to be working out ok for us for now. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to nurse her for at least a couple more months, but I know that it might not work out that way. I’m trying to be ok with that, but honestly, it still makes me sad. But, just as I did with Harper, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she grows up to be a happy healthy toddler.