Friday, May 10, 2013

What Ella Needed...

Kaitlyn is hosting a link up on breast feeding versus formula & asked me if I'd share my perspective on it.This also might answer a few questions about why I'm hesitant to have another baby...

I spent my pregnancy reading every possible source of information available. I subscribed to The Bump and Baby Center. I read blogs. I subscribed to FitPregnancy. As I read all of these materials, I was bombarded with the message that "Breast is Best." Thus, I went into labor fully intending on breast feeding. And I did... until Ella started losing weight.

Ella @ 1 day old
Ella was born at 5 lbs. 8 oz. She was also 4 weeks early. My blood pressure sky rocketed & I had to be put on a magnesium drip for 48 hours before they finally induced me. That drip meant that I couldn't eat for the entire time that I was on the drip, as well as for 24 hours after. Because of that, it took longer for my milk to come in. Ella was nursing, but she was only getting colustrum. I didn't think it was a big deal though, I knew that many babies lost weight before they started to gain.

It became a problem on the day that we were to be discharged though. Ella had lost more than 10% of her birth weight and appeared to be continuing to lose. They decided that they would send me home and keep her in the hospital until she was back up to her birth weight. This was traumatic. I had been in the hospital for 5 days at this point, and all I wanted to do was take my baby girl home. We were all packed and an hour away from discharge when this happened. It was a blessing in disguise though...

Eric supplementing Ella in the Special Care Nursery
During our three days in the special care nursery, I started to supplement Ella with formula. She started gaining weight immediately and her Billy Ruben levels came down as well. It became apparent that Ella was an impatient eater and that she was ravenous. At this point, my supply couldn't keep up and eventually she started to get frustrated with me (aka - she started screaming whenever I tried to feed her).

After a week at home, she stopped latching. I tried everything the lactation consultant suggested, but she wasn't having it. She wanted her milk and she wanted it ASAP. This is where I swallowed my pride and did what was best for Ella. She needed to eat, I wasn't cutting it, so I gave her a bottle. It was like magic. She devoured those first few bottles, and I couldn't help but feel guilty that my little girl had been so hungry all this time.

Things started to click for us at this point. She was a different baby. She started sleeping on a regular schedule. She started eating on a regular schedule. She was satisfying our pediatrician with her weight gain. I finally felt like she was in a routine.

one of my favorite photos of Ella... it shows just how tiny, but goreous, she was

I am by no means saying that formula is a magic potion. It wasn't my first choice, and when I have another child, I will try to breast feed again. After all, I've read all the studies & know all the benefits. I simply wanted to put it out there, that breast isn't best for everyone. And if your baby needs more than you can give them, it's ok to seek out other options without feeling guilty.

Guilt was probably the hardest part of this whole scenario for me. Whenever I saw a new nurse at the doctor, I felt that I needed to explain why Ella was a formula baby. If a coworker asked how things were going, I felt the need to explain why I didn't need to go and pump. At every corner, I struggled to justify my choices to strangers. 

I don't feel that way anymore...  Ella is a healthy and happy nine month old. Her development is right on pace and let's be honest, she's the cutest thing around. I don't feel like my choice to feed her formula has held her back at all. In fact, it has allowed people to help me with feedings and made my going back to work a lot easier on both of us.

Ella at her 9 month check up
It has been expensive though, and I'm looking forward to the transition to whole milk. At nine months old, we spend about $30 a week on formula and that's buying in bulk at SAMS Club. (If I were to buy name brand, we'd spend closer to $55 a week.) Luckily, we were in a position where we could afford it and we've also been blessed with family that will randomly buy some for us once in awhile.

So there you have it... our experience with formula. It wasn't expected, but we're making the most of it. Thanks to Kaitlyn for encouraging me to share this perspective!


  1. That is a good point about formula! Our second daughter had jaundice pretty bad and they almost made me switch to formula but thankfully she pulled out of it! You've got a cutie! :)

  2. You go girl! Minus the early delivery and extended hospital stay (no fun, btw!), my situation was very similar with all three of my babies. They were just big eaters and I could not keep up! I nursed each of them as long as I could, but eventually they always chose the bottle and started yelling at the breast. :)

    Your daughter is adorable! I look forward to poking around more!

  3. Good for you lady! I love that you wanted to and tried but in the end did what was best for you both.. She's adorable! Xoxo

  4. I had a very similar experience. My son was 6 weeks early and even though I produced enough milk it didn't have enough calories. I completely sympathize with your struggle leaving Ella in the Special Care Nursery. For me that was one of the toughest experiences of my life. I'm so glad she looks like she's a beautiful, happy and healthy baby girl now. Best of luck to you with everything.

    Brittany @ Everyday Thoughts