Some of my cyber-friends in an egroup were discussing breastfeeding. I am a recent convert (when Stan and I were taking childbirth classes with Chiqui Hahn) to BFing. I realized that it was the best start I could give Paul. It was not easy, though. Below is a letter I wrote to those who have helped me with Paul, a letter which I wrote three months or so after he was born, on the day that I had nearly weaned him from formula.
A Second Chance
Dearest Mami and Dadi, Stan, Di-e, Chiqui, Inez, Panjee, Elaine, Trevlynn, Cris, Nanay Ellen, Yaya Em and all those supported me during the times when I thought I could not do it anymore,
I don’t know whose fault it is…putting the idea of exclusive breastfeeding into my head. It was either Chiqui’s (during our Bradley Childbirth Class) or my brother-in-law, Sandy, who said that it would be best for me to breastfeed exclusively for at the very least, four months, as their family has a history of eczema.
After giving birth the natural way with practically tolerable pain, I thought that breastfeeding would just be second nature. Ha, obviously, I was wrong. Apparently, it was a learned art—more like a long lost art as most people just immediately gave a bottle.
For the first week, I refused to give a bottle. I didn’t take out the sterilizer my mother-in-law bought for the baby. Nor did I have the extra bottles and artificial nipples from my mom cleaned. So siree, I was aiming for all natural. I wanted to give my son the best milk—mommy’s milk.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the first week. I not only had a dehydrated newborn, we also had to go back to the hospital! Trauma city…I cried every single day we were there. An I.V. was hooked on the now-so-skinny Paul and he was under bili-lights. His eyes were covered and he looked so pitiful. I couldn’t help thinking what a terrible mother I was.
And because his fluid intake needed to be monitored, Paul was given formula in a bottle. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know about nipple confusion yet, and how it would affect our breastfeeding relationship.
We came home after three days in the hospital. And because I was too afraid that Paul might not have enough to drink from me, the main food he had was formula. I was the supplement, imagine how depressed I was.
I was hoping to get back into the rhythm of things but when I was constantly asked “is he getting enough?”, I would immediately tense up. That did not help any with my wanting to breastfeed. Thank God though, for my father-in-law, who encouraged me to nurse when I can.
Since I didn’t know how to position the baby, I still had a difficult time. I asked for the help of one of the breastfeeding counselors of Arugaan, Nanay Ellen. She did help me relax by massaging me, however, all that went to waste when I kept hearing “is he getting enough?”. At that point, I began to wonder whether I did have enough. Maybe I didn’t…
When he was on formula, Paul was having highs of 20 ounces of formula per day and lows of around 16 – 17 when I breastfeed. There are days I would express so we would include that in the count as well.
Things started to look brighter when we saw the pedia. He said that I could actually exclusively breastfeed and if it wasn’t enough, the baby would cry anyway and that was the when I should be supplementing with formula.
There were difficult days, of course—there was a point when I wanted to give everything up already. This included the crying and the sore nipples.
After that, I attended a La Leche League meeting at a house of a member. My ever-supportive mom attended the meeting with me. I also took Paul and Yaya Em. There, an LLL Leader helped me position Paul well. (When the readings said “tummy-to-tummy”, I didn’t realize it was THISCLOSE!) During the LLL meeting, I met people who were first time moms and those who had a lot of kids. In the discussion group, we talked about weaning, solids, and later on, had a question and answer portion.
Most of the questions of the new moms were on latching on (my question), pumping, relactation ( I think there was a mom there whose kid is already three months and she’d like to go back to breastfeeding), and the like…
That was the start…I was heartened by the meeting and I knew that I could do it. Thus began the task of decreasing even more the formula that Paul was drinking. I have been able to pump and save some milk in the freezer which we now use during the time I need to rest. I do breastfeed directly most of the day but there are just some times that I’m tired.
Today, the 24th of May 2001, Paul took only 2.5 oz of formula! We are well on our way, thanks to all of you….
To Mami – for always being there, especially during the times I was in the hospital the second time around, buying me a breastfeeding pillow, feeding me with all the soup to help me lactate (we were trying EVERYTHING!), sneaking halaan soup even if the Chinese one-month “incubation” period wasn’t over, joining me at the LLL meeting, and even baking some goodies, for being so supportive of my wanting to give the best to your apo.
To Dadi – for always being there and for always being supportive and for giving Mami the money to spend on me.
To Stan – my devoted husband, who was always there to buy what I needed immediately: fenugreek capsules from GNC (supposedly a galactagogue), a breastpump one Sunday afternoon, and who just always shook his head when I kept telling him I wanted to exclusively breastfeed…I knew I could do it! Thanks for being quietly supportive about it.
To Di-e – who called me when I was in the hospital with Paul to cheer me up.
To Chiqui – who taught Stan and I the Bradley Method, and who told me that I had milk…
To Inez – who I woke at 2:30AM when I needed a voice to tell me that I could actually do it—thanks so much. And yes, I will visit the day care when you get back—PROMISE!
To Panjee – who not only lent me her “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”, but also sent me lactagogue tea and a brag book. Thanks for encouraging me all the time…thanks for the emails too!
To Elaine – who passed by the house the day after we talked to visit and help me position Paul. Thanks for being available through text all the time. I’d like to give Paul the best I can as long as I can, just like you did with Kobe.
To Trevlynn – who finally helped me understand how close “tummy-to-tummy” should be.
To Cris – who is always a phone call or a text message away when I needed answers to my BF questions and all others
To Nanay Ellen – who helped me relax and patiently waited while Paul wanted to nurse in between the massage session
To Yaya Em – who understands my request to bring Paul to me for breastfeeding instead of giving him the bottle immediately
To my sisters Gigi and Candy – wala lang, baka you might make tampo if I don’t put your names here…heehee!
To my brother Steve (even if he cannot relate to this whole thing at all) – who stayed with me when we were checked-in the second time around in the hospital. His quiet presence was enough.
And most of all, to our Lord and St. Jude…who have listened to my prayers incessantly.
I just wanted to say thanks for all the words of encouragement. I don’t know how Paul and I could have come this far without all of you.
Jen and Paul