My two week post on Emily was a little vague, because I wasn’t ready to talk about the main thing that took place during her second week. It’s taking me some time to find the words. This is kind of a spill my guts and hope you understand post. Plus what I wish I could get judgey strangers to understand.
Kylie had food allergies. Dairy for sure, and we assumed soy as well. I was never able to come up with a diet that worked for her. It took us 6 weeks to figure out what was wrong. We kept being told her symptoms were normal, and as new parents we didn’t know any better. The longer version of her story is here. The decision to do hypoallergenic formula was easier with her. We were so stressed, she was so miserable, and I was ready to be done breastfeeding. I was having a rough time with it and was struggling to find help. That story is here.
At a week old, Emily started having episodes of gas pain. I tried to be optimistic – gas is normal, I had eaten an apple a few hours before, maybe she’s just a fussier baby. By 11 days old she could not be awake and happy. And she was waking up early from all of her naps in pain. And she started pooping little bits all day. Her symptoms came on a little faster than Kylie’s, just without the vomiting.
I melted down. Making big decisions is a weak point for me. Do I cut out dairy? cut out soy? wait and see? try formula? call the doctor? I just held her and comfort fed her. This is when it’s wonderful to not be alone. Josh made the executive decision to take the two year old out in a thunderstorm to get the $27 can of hypoallergenic formula.
She did great with the bottle. Guzzled it, actually. The first day I kept cutting her off and giving her the binky because I was afraid it was all going to come back out if she drank any more.
That night she could not sleep except for on my stomach. Even at Kylie’s worst she would still sleep at night. Josh had to get up and hold Emily each time I pumped because she was screaming so bad, even though I had just fed her.
We’ve never co slept with Kylie and are completely paranoid about it, especially because I’m such a sound sleeper. So I slept on the couch since I was less likely to move around there, and covered the floor with pillows in case she rolled off.
When we woke up in the morning, she looked the most peaceful she had in days.
That morning she had some happy awake time, and she hadn’t even been on formula for 24 hours yet.
After a day and a half on formula, we went to the doctor (I was still pumping). She was sympathetic and practical and we were so relieved that she believed us. Everyone says something different about the symptoms and possibilities of protein allergies/intolerances/lactose intolerance, and it makes me wonder if anyone really knows. What we do know is that something in my milk was very distressing to her.
So then it was decision time. A really really hard decision. In 10 years it won’t matter, but right now it seems so huge. It was much harder for me this time. With Kylie I was so desperate with breastfeeding and felt like I had nowhere to turn. Now we’re in a new town and I have so much help. The pediatrician said if I wanted to continue they would help me work out a plan – pumping and doing formula while eliminating things from my diet and then testing my milk on her. I have had some problems with cracks and pain, but I have access to great lactation consultants and I’m sure we could get it figured out.
When I was pregnant, I thought I would be willing to work on my diet and get something figured out. But I wasn’t thinking.
I wasn’t thinking about the time and emotional energy pumping and experimenting would take. Even the pediatrician brought that up and said it’s not for everyone. I have a two year old and a husband who would be getting less of me. And I wasn’t thinking about what it’s like to hold your screaming, stiff baby and KNOW you could make her pain be gone tomorrow with a can of formula. I guess I just don’t believe in the powers of breastfeeding enough to strain our whole family for it. It just seems better to take the immediate, certain solution and move on. It would be different if we knew for sure what was bothering her. But the doc said they don’t test for allergies this young.
So we decided to stop. And this time I was more sad than relieved. Not that I liked breastfeeding, but I was so determined to get it right this time and get to the point where I could actually enjoy it. I am sad that I don’t get that opportunity. And it’s kind of a bummer that nursing will always be this super emotional, stressful thing for me.
Stopping at two weeks is harder than stopping at six weeks, but physically I’m doing really well and I think I’m close to being done. I guess it’s a blessing that I don’t produce a ton. But the hormones are definitely doing a number on me. I had been doing so well avoiding the post partum crazy, but I crashed the past few days. I haven’t pumped in over a day and I’m feeling better – and I’m able to write this post!
Emily is still having some gas pain episodes each day. I start feeling a little paranoid that the Alimentum isn’t good enough and she needs the fancier one. But more likely it’s just taking some time or she’s just a gassier baby. We bought some gas drops tonight, so hopefully they help. And it will be nice when my incision is feeling good enough to use the carrier! She does not have Kylie’s reflux symptoms, which is definitely a blessing.
So that’s our story. I am thankful that such a thing as hypoallergenic formula exists. And I’m thankful for my supportive family and friends. The only criticism I ever heard after our decision with Kylie came from strangers. Thank you all for that.