I think the munchkin and I have come to the end of our breastfeeding journey. Just when I thought her most recent acid reflux medication was helping, it started to flare up again last week and by the weekend she was barely eating and either crying or sleeping most of the time.
By Sunday I had to do something drastic. I woke her up and tried to nurse her. She didn't want to eat. Throughout the morning, I was able to get her to drink about 2 oz before I had to leave at 11:30 to get my hair done. When she gets this bad, the only time she will eat is right after she wakes up, when she is the most relaxed and her bowels and everything are all relaxed as well. But even trying to feed her immediately after her naps wasn't working either. After I left the house to head to my appointment, my husband called me even before I got there. He said she had been screaming and crying ever since I left. I wanted to cancel my appointment and come right back home, I even offered too, but then decided against it. I told him to pack her up and take her to his moms where they could hang out with his mom and sister (who had ALOT of experience with an acid reflux baby). With everything going on, I hadn't been able to get my hair done since right after the munchkin was born. My 4.5 mos hooker roots were causing me to not even want to leave the house. I had to get them fixed!
My hair dresser, who also happens to be my friend, and who also had a baby with very similar issues, told me how switching him to formula was their saving grace. And that he had actually had a protein issue and needed special formula with already digested proteins. They too, thought it was reflux and kept trying meds that would work for a while, only to fall back into the same issues in a couple of weeks.
I haven't been blogging much with everything going on, but if I had you would know how hard this has all been on our little family. I have tried taking probiotics (which actually seemed to help for about a week), we have had her on 3 different medications now) all of which seemed to fix it for 2-3 weeks), I have tried cutting out anything spicy or anything tomato based (the things that made my reflux unbearable while I was pregnant) and nothing seemed to help her or fix the problem. I had been considering taking out dairy from my diet and this was going to be my next step.
But I wanted something sooner, and more for her sake then mine. It killed me to see her rejecting food and once she would get hungry enough, and after eating only a little bit, she would stiffen up in pain after only a small amount. Her legs would straighten out and her face would turn all red, the big tears would roll down her face and she would look at me with a plea in her eyes that would beg me to make the pain go away. I just couldn't bare it any longer.
So on my way home, I stopped at the store and picked up a small can of formula. I felt heavy as I walked up to the isle, but if this could possibly make her feel better sooner, then it was worth a shot. I chose the Enfamil Lipil Gentlease, which claimed to "Help reduce your baby's digestive troubles with the formula that's closer to breast milk than any soy-based formula." It has "Easy-to-digest proteins that have been partially broken down". Ofcourse it was also one of the most expensive ones, but again if it would help... then it was worth every penny.
After Joe got home with the munchkin, we mixed up a bottle of it. I stuck it in her mouth and she was immediately turned off by it. She wanted nothing to do with it. So I tried mixing it 1/2 and 1/2 with breastmilk... still nothing. I tried 1/4 formula, 3/4 breastmilk. She still wanted nothing to do with it. All the while she screamed and cried. I got her to take a nap, and tried feeding her right when she woke up. She would take a little in her mouth and spit it right back out. So I opened up the lid and took a whif. No wonder! I immediately gagged. I could only imagine what it must taste like! If they claimed to make it similar to breastmilk, why did it smell like old spoiled milk?
Finally around 7:00 and just after another nap, I tried another bottle of straight formula. Apparantly she was hungry enough, because she started to drink it. Then after she realized that it wasn't hurting her belly, she chugged down the entire 4 oz and would have probably eaten more. I decided to leave it at that for now. She had only eaten breastmilk up until this point, and I didn't want to shock her system too much. After she was done though, she seemed happy and.... well really comfortable. She played for a while and even sat contently in her Bumbo chair and played with some toys while Joe and I hung a picture and I did a few things around the house. I kept waiting for her to freak out, but she didn't. She fell asleep in her little travel swing and woke up around 10pm to down another 4 oz of formula. I couldn't believe it! I took her up to bed and laid her in her crib to sleep. She fell asleep pretty quickly (only had to go in a couple of times to re-insert her binky), and we didn't hear a peep from her till about 12:30 when she drank another 3 oz. Around 2:30 am she woke up and I went in to check on her. I didn't think she could really be hungry again so I moved her to her swing (we haven't fully gotten her into the crib yet) and she fell back asleep. She slept soundly till around 6:30. I made her another bottle, but she wasn't hungry so I just changed her diaper and gave her her binky back. She fell right back asleep. Then around 8am this morning I woke her. She was still sleeping soundly but I had to get her up and ready so the hubs could take her to the sitter. She was still in such a good mood this morning, I could barely believe it. She wasn't ready to eat anything yet, but she seemed totally content and happy.
I know it's been less then 24 hours, but so far.... things seem so much better already. She has been waking to nurse every 2-3 hours during the night for months because it's so much easier for her to eat without as much discomfort during the night vs. the day. By the time the morning came my boobs were so full, I pumped 13 oz. I could have pumped even more, but I stopped there. I am going to continue pumping as if she was still breastfeeding for now until I figure out for sure if this is really what we are going to do.... but so far it looks like we may be switching her to formula for now.
I had every intention of breastfeeding her for atleast the first year, but I guess even the best of intentions don't work out if it really isn't what is best for the baby. But it has been one issue after another since the beginning. I tried hard and I really gave it alot of effort... I believe most people would have given up long ago. We made it almost 5 mos, and I keep telling myself that is still a very good start. I have to admit, if this ends up working out better for her, I am not going to mind all the freedom I am going to suddenly have from not breastfeeding. But I will miss the closeness I feel when she is nursing. I know you can feel a bond from bottle feeding too, but it isn't the same. I wish I had known the other morning it might be the last time she was going to nurse, but then again I may have cried the whole time and it would have ended up just being really sad instead.
So her sitter has informed me that she has been in a pretty good mood so far today. She hasn't been eating alot, but just snacking here and there. I am crossing my fingers that things continue to go well. Above everything else, I don't want to see my baby in pain anymore!