"Who's that fat baby?"
Dr. Farr shook my hand as he walked into the exam room Friday afternoon with a big smile on his face. Out in the hall, I had heard him flip through the chart, noting that Liam had gained over two pounds in the past two weeks. He asked what we had done differently and I told him that I had decided to start supplementing with formula.
I confessed that the whole reason I had been exclusively breastfeeding was because I thought it was what was best for Liam, but that after much thought, I realized that since Liam wasn't gaining enough weight, exclusively breastfeeding him was not what was best for him. He needed more milk than I could give him, & I needed to supplement.
Previously, Liam was gaining about 3.5 oz/week. Over the past two weeks, he averaged about 18 oz/week. He went from 11 lbs 11 oz to 13 lbs 14 oz! Dr. Farr said that he's playing catch-up and will probably continue to gain this way for a while, then he will plateau.
It was the right decision.
Life has gotten a bit easier in the past two weeks. Feeding time has gone from 40 minutes to 10 minutes, and while I spend the difference pumping, I can do that when it's convenient for me, not necessarily when Liam needs to eat. A clean bottle and a packet of formula has worked in a pinch when we've been out and Liam has needed to eat (no more worrying that breastmilk will spoil). Anyone can feed him! The amount of milk that I'm pumping is more than enough for what he's eating-- I'm pumping 20-30 oz/day & he's eating about 20 oz of my milk each day. I've even started to rebuild a freezer stash!
There are a few negatives... I still feel guilty that I wasn't able to provide everything that Liam needs, but that's starting to lessen. The sweet buttery smelling poopy diapers no longer exist...although, since we've started solids, those would have been a thing of the past anyway. Keeping pump parts & bottles clean is a pain-- I'm now an exclusive pumper. Formula is expensive (although the doc encouraged us to use store brand formulas-- Target's Up & Up Brand costs $3 less than Similac for twice the amount of formula).
As we talked about our routine, Dr. Farr reminded me that since Liam is getting 8 oz bottles with 4 oz of formula and 4 oz of pumped breastmilk, he's essentially getting the same amount of breastmilk he always has & that the formula is just additional calories. (I love our pediatrician--he always makes me feel like I've made a good decision, no matter what that is... he really validates his parents' choices.) He's still getting all of the same benefits that he got when we were nursing, he's just getting his tummy completely full now. Add in all of the solids that we've started & we have one happy boy!
I'll keep this up as long as I can. Things didn't work out the way that I planned, but we're adapting and doing the best we can. The original goal was to make it to a year-- I can no longer look that far ahead. (I do know that I will pump until Liam is at least 6 months.) I'll just have to see how my supply holds up, especially once my period returns. (I haven't had it in 15 months & I'm thrilled that it has stayed away!) There may come a time (long before a year) where I just don't want to continue spending over 3 hours a day pumping and cleaning pump parts. If we eventually go to formula exclusively, I am convinced that we'll be ok. Liam's had breastmilk when he needed it most & now his needs are different.
As emotional as it was, I'm happy with our choice & Liam seems to be, too: