Wednesday 10 June 2015

Our Feeding Journey

It is fair to say that Finn's first three months have been rocky.  After being born with a virus, he has undergone all sorts of tests and procedures, and we have found a second home in the hospital. We seem to finally be coming out the other side of the newborn blur though, and I have discovered that we are going to have to do things Finn's way rather than mine.

I knew way before Finn was born that I wanted to breastfeed.  I had fed both of his brothers, for 9 months and 16 months and it was what felt natural to me.  I had enjoyed it, both my children were born already seeming to know how and it was certainly easy, especially once you got past those first few weeks.  Finn latched on well after birth, and we had 48 hours of breastfeeding on demand.

After his admission to special care, the testing started, and to rule out a rare disease called galactosaemia, we were told Finn must stop breastfeeding, and instead have a soya based formula until we had the all clear.  I was so determined that we should do everything we could to establish breastfeeding, that the nurses and I decided he would be cup fed, to avoid the nipple confusion of a bottle, and I was set up with an electric pump and a space in the freezer.  The results took far longer to come back than we expected and it wasn't until 8 days later that I was finally allowed to breastfeed again.  Finn was 10 days old, the freezer was so full after 8 days of expressing every 3 hours and I didn't realise how hard it would be to teach a baby to breastfeed again.

We struggled, and he was topped up via his nasogastric tube when he didn't seem to be taking enough, but after 12 hours a lovely nurse told me he could come into my room, and we would stop topping him up for 24 hours to give him a chance to really 'get it'.  He seemed to get back into feeding, and I prioritised getting milk into him over anything else.  I ended up very sore, but after 3 days and lots of work his latch started to right itself and he was putting on weight.

We left the hospital when he was 3 weeks old, and he seemed to be feeding very well.  Our first weigh in with the health visitor showed that he had lost weight though, and so we were started on weekly weigh ins.  We tried everything to encourage him to grow, he was checked for tongue and lip tie, I saw lactation consultants, ate super foods, topped up with expressed milk and tried to feed him every 2 hours.  At 7 weeks he was still only just maintaining his birth weight and not growing, so we were sent to the hospital.

The doctor believed that for one reason or another, the quality of my milk was the cause, as there was no doubt that I had enough, and he was started on formula alongside the breastfeeding.  He grew a huge amount in that first week, but by the end of it, he was refusing to breastfeed and the stress of the whole situation meant that my milk was drying up.  After trying everything I could to maintain our feeding, I knew I had to just embrace the bottles, but it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I didn't realise how much I wanted to, needed to breastfeed.  So much was out of my control with this virus, my baby had been through so much and I needed it to be me that was doing something nobody else could.  I cried for days, weeks over the decision, constantly wondering whether there was something else I could have done, did I give up too easily?  I knew deep down that whilst breast is undoubtably best, sometimes it just isn't, and my child seemed to be thriving on this formula milk, getting stronger and healthier by the day, losing the grey colouring he had acquired and putting on weight.

Fast forward another couple of weeks, and his weight plateaued again.  He was so unhappy, constantly seeming in pain, not letting me ever put him down and after a week where he grew so fast, stopping again.   We ended up back in hospital as he turned 11 weeks, and were sent home with a tin of hypoallergenic dairy free, soya free formula, in the hope that the issue was with a dairy intolerance.

We were told that it takes about 2 weeks for it to really kick in, but it took about 6 days before I knew we had finally got an answer.  Finn is like a new baby on this milk, he smiles more, he is more content, I can put him down, he will lie on his back and he is not in pain.  For the past 4 weeks he has been growing at a great rate and I hope it continues this way now.

Alongside all this, he was diagnosed with reflux and so takes medication for that, to stop him projectile vomiting all his milk back up.  He is still very sicky, possibly as a result of the toxic medication he had for his first weeks of life and having an ng tube that may have hindered his developing esophagus, but it isn't preventing him from growing now. 

I knew I was going to breastfeed Finn, I thought it would be beyond a year, and I never dreamed it would all be over before he was 2 months old.  I am still absolutely gutted that things had to come to an end before I felt ready, and bottle feeding is so much more difficult, so much harder work.  I had to do what was best for my son though, and it turns out that for him, that isn't my milk.  I think we have finally found the answer, and I just hope that he carries on growing now.

Finn is loved beyond belief, he is fed on demand and he is happy and healthy.  I still get upset about how things have worked out, but I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture - my baby is thriving, finally and our bond is as strong as ever.


  1. Oh Becky.... breastfeeding is such an emotional and unique thing. And I think once you've had that relationship and understand it, it's only natural to want to do the same for subsequent children.
    And you have!!!!
    It may have ended sooner than you wanted, but he got the good stuff when it really mattered (those first days). At the end of the day, Finn's early life has hardly been the average has it, and I completely understand why at a time when you felt so powerless, you felt so strongly that you wanted to be breastfeeding him. And I understand why you feel so sad that it was all over when you weren't ready. But as you say a happy healthy Finn is the most important thing, and it sounds like he is flourishing now and getting what is best for him.
    Big hugs lovely. x

  2. Oh Bex, you have been through so much, you and Finn. You have done so much for him and I'm glad now you have an answer to the growth issues. I'm so sorry your bfing journey ended so soon but sometimes it just isn't the best option - and I am so pro bfing and I know there are times where alternatives are better. It wasn't that you didn't do enough, try enough or anything else - it wasn't you x

  3. It sounds as though the two of you have been through so much in such a short amount of time, and I can only imagine the emotions you are experiencing. Having had to eventually opt for bottle for each of mine for various reasons I know it can be a decision which is difficult to rationalise, especially when it's not what you have wanted, but I guess it demonstrates the unique people we become as parents in putting our little ones needs ahead of our own ideals. I am so glad to read that Finn is thriving and you and he are content together. x

  4. You did your best and that it is what matters, Finn is growing now and that's the important thing so please don't be hard on yourself! Lots of love x

  5. Such a difficult time you've been through. I'm sorry you can't breastfeed the way you wanted to, I do know what you mean about wanting to be the one, and it must be even more difficult when your baby is struggling. I hope that now you've got to the bottom of his dietary problems life gets easier.

  6. I sat here feeding my 18 week old girl, in tears reading this.
    What a wonderful mummy you are, you are so gentle to his needs.
    Be proud because at every stage I have just read through, you have been the best a parent can be, you have listened to his needs. And he is thriving!
    I totally understand why this all must be so upsetting for you, try and focus on all you two have achieved between you though, so many hurdles, and you have carried him over every one of them.
    So as emotional as this has been, me and baby Annabelle are sending you high fives, in salute to you being a top mummy! Be proud of yourself and Fin! XXXX

  7. Oh! My heart goes out to you xxx

  8. Oh Becky you've been through so mum together already: I had to stop breastfeeding luka at 4 months and for similar reasons. Like you I was completely gutted but it really didn't affect my relationship with him. You do what you need to for your baby at the end of the day and you made the right decision. Can't wait to have a cuddle with Finn next week x x x x

  9. This post has really touched me. I expressed for P1 but with her prematurity she just couldn't master it and she stopped. I wasn't worried back then as I was so young and felt so self conscious anyway. But I breastfed P2 for 6 months. No issues at all until I had a migraine that got me admitted to hospital and that's when she decided she no longer wanted to feed. I was adamant to reach a year with P3, but we had weight issues too and by 9 weeks I think I gave up. Feeling like a failure. But she's thriving now and it turns out she had s tongue tie and that was most likely the cause in our problems.

  10. I am so happy to read that Finn is now thriving and you have an answer. Nothing worse than your baby not gaining weight and you do all in your power to help establish a healthy weight and breastfeeding. The decision to breast feed is such a personal one. I was desperate to feed my LG but complications meant I had to give up after a week. She lost a dangerous amount of weight and just wasnt working. Once on formula it took a while to regain birth weight but once she did she really thrived and was a different baby. I struggled with feeling guilty and angry that my choice was taken away for a long time, if I am honest probably still now when I think back to that time. But in the end if they are healthy and happy that the main thing and really hope that Finn continues on this path. Good luck, but you did a great job and your great mummy putting his needs first. Kelly xx

  11. Though it may have been only for a short while, it’s great that you were able to breastfeed him, and that he responded well to it. It might not have ended the way you wanted it to, but what’s important is that he’s now on his way to being a healthy baby boy. Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience on the matter. I hope you’re all doing well these days.

    Angela Gibbs @ MedCare Pediatric


I love comments, so please let me know what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...