Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Maybe I'll Have the Milk After All

Genevieve's not a huge nursing fan anymore, unless it's first thing in the morning and she's starving, or bedtime and she's sleepy and craving comfort. She's a go-getter baby: any other time of day and she's all like, Are there not interesting things going on in the world right now? Things I should be a part of? WHY would I lie here in your lap and waste time nursing, missing out on all those things?!

On Sunday she really didn't nurse at all between wake-up and bedtime, and on Monday I called our pediatrician's office to ask if I could start her on a little cow's milk early. (She's 10 months old.) The answer was a big fat NO. They told me to start giving her formula in a sippy (since she already uses a cup, not a bottle) at meals or snacks (when I used to nurse her). I was not thrilled with this answer. I was totally expecting a, "Sure, go ahead, a little cow's milk before 12 months won't hurt her," so I was less than enthusiastic when the doctor told me to buy some formula. Neither of my babies have had a drop of formula before this, and while I know intellectually that it is fine and perfectly safe, after nourishing two babies solely on the 100% natural perfect food that is breast milk, I have to admit I'm a tiny bit leery--for some reason--about such an artificial food source. (I mean--could there be anything more artificially manufactured?) But what choice do I have? She's got to have more milk than she's drinking most days right now.

Yesterday I brought home some formula powder that a friend had leftover from her youngest, and mixed up a sippy for Genevieve to have at lunch. Julia and I watched as she brought it to her lips, drank, and then gagged, shuddered, spit it out, and looked at me as if I were crazy. You would have thought I was feeding her poison. The look on her face was one of total disgust. Since then, I've tried it three more times, and this morning she even drank maybe half an ounce to one ounce.

Perhaps not coincidentally though, today she has also nursed better than she has in weeks. After the morning formula try, she even nursed at an odd time while I sat near a friend during a playdate at our house, amidst conversation, a strange baby, and the cacophony of two three-year-olds playing near our feet.

Maybe that formula attempt scared her straight.


Elise said...

Boy. It's a good thing I know you personally, or I would really be feeling bad about myself after reading this post. I know that's the LAST thing you intended, but wow. You really hate formula, and that's what comprised about 40-50% of Ellie's diet for the first 6 months of her life. I'm sure if I were in your situation formula might seem a little foreign to me, too, but come on! It's going to be both more nutritious and a heck of a lot easier for Genevieve to digest than cow's milk, which, though a "natural" food is certainly NOT natural for humans to drink, contrary to what the Dairy Farmers would have us think. I mean, I assume that's why the doctor's office recommended the formula instead of milk in the first place, no? I'm sorry she didn't like the taste - with Ellie we did have to try a few different brands and she definitely had preferences, so maybe that would work with Vivi, too. And ... I hate to say it, but: there is always the dreaded pump. I just hate to see so much anxiety around formula, when I know from personal experience that it can be a lifesaver. I hope it gets easier soon.

Shan said...

Oops. So sorry, dear friend. Really, I meant exactly what I wrote--that I am a TINY BIT leery of formula. I really don't hate it. It's just foreign to me, that's all. I have ZERO experience with it. It even smells odd to me. I'm not freaked out about it--not at all. I just thought it was a bit strange to do the formula thing so late in the game--very unfamiliar. And this whole situation is not a serious one; I'm not the least bit anxious about it. It's more one of annoyance, because I know she can nurse and it's a pain (and expensive) to have to start buying formula and get her used to a new strange taste (only to get her used to another new strange taste when I switch her to cow's milk in less than 2 months). And truly, I'm not even THAT annoyed about it, because I just have a hard time believing (the doctor) that it's that much of a big deal that she's not nursing that much. She's my second child, and I don't worry about things as much this time around. So, mainly I'm just continuing to try to nurse her as usual, trying to give her some formula if needed, and assuming she'll either get over her mini-nursing strike soon, drink some formula soon, or....she'll turn 1 and get cow's milk.

Originally I intended this to be a humorous post accompanied by a hilarious pic I took of Genevieve's face when she tasted the sippy of formula. Then I couldn't get the pic uploaded and forgot about it later on. As I was writing the post, I was not feeling bad about the whole scenario or repulsed by formula (or by people who feed their kids formula). But I was trying to mention what I knew was an irrational hesitancy about this new (to us) foodstuff. A SLIGHT hesitancy.

I'm really, really sorry it made you feel bad. You are right that I never intended such a thing. I do write exactly what I'm feeling at the moment, and sometimes those unedited inner feelings get me in trouble. But I swear to you that I was not even thinking about (read: judging) what anyone else is choosing to do about feeding their babies. I couldn't care less, and I was fed formula myself. I was only thinking about how I felt about my own situation with Vivi when I opened up that can and mixed it up.

donna said...

When I read the post, I had the same reaction as Elise: I felt you were against formula. But, not using formula for my daughter, it didn't bother me much.

And because my daughter is the same age as Genna (please indulge me and let me call her Genna), I understand what you were feeling about not wanting to do formula only to do milk in weeks (not months), so I focused on that aspect.

My daughter often doesn't nurse well (because she's distracted by my son) but we've got enough breastmilk in the freezer so should she decide to wean before we're allowed to do cow milk (our ped said it's okay after 11 mo), we wouldn't have to do formula.

Anyway, I like that you and your friends dialouge about it to clear up misunderstandings.

I hope you can figure out how to upload the pic. Sounds like a good one!

Shan said...

Yeah, Elise and I are cool. :) We talked a bit more over e-mail about how some of the reasons I am not thrilled to introduce formula are simply that nursing strikes are a total hassle and it's a pain to introduce a new strange food to a baby no matter what it is---not that I am "anti-formula" in some broad, sweepingly judgmental way.

I do find it interesting, however, that the issue of breast milk vs. formula is SUCH a hot-button topic that all I had to do was say I am a TINY BIT (!) hesitant about using formula right now--after three years of having no experience at all with it--and some people's reactions are to immediately feel insulted, offended, and/or assume I am "against" formula or judgmental about anyone who uses it. Wow! Don't you all think that is at the very least just interesting? (Truly--I'm not condemning anyone's reactions here; I really just mean, isn't it truly interesting?) Seriously, wouldn't most moms feel a bit hesitant about ANY completely unfamiliar foodstuff they suddenly had to introduce to their infants, one they really knew nothing about, ingredients-wise, or about how their babies would react digestively or taste-wise to it? Isn't that sort of part of a mom's (parent's) job? If you were strictly vegetarian and had fed your kids for three years avoiding all animal products and then were suddenly advised to give them meat, would you not express a bit of uncertainty? And if I had expressed the same sentiments about that situation rather than about formula, would anyone have still felt offended or judged?

Oh, and Donna: you can call her Genna anytime. :) I'm still trying to get that nickname to stick.

Question said...

Well, there's always a good Belgian ale. But then I don't have a cow in this pasture... or a horse in this race...or...

Genna's Nonna said...

Not to worry, Donna. This little one is my "Genna Rose" too and always will be!! As to the formula hassle...all I can say is "Good grief, ladies! It doesn't matter as long as Baby is healthy and happy! And as long as she has no allergies, etc., she will be fine whether with breast milk, formula or cow's milk! Even at 10 months!!

Shan said...

It's always good to have a non-parent ("Question") reading this blog. Thanks, Question! :)

Jordan said...

I always love it when Nonna chimes in! ;-) The voice of reason from another generation!

I gave both my boys formula early on to supplement breast milk because there was no way I could satisfy their ravenous appetites on the days I was at work, with the little bit I had time to pump there. It worked fine for everyone, and although it took one of them a few days to get used to the taste of the formula, he ended up switching back and forth easily.

I also know that while of course you're going to follow your trusted doc's advice, we were told we could give Lyle cow's milk for the same reasons at 11 months and he did fine. I know we already talked about this and that he was a few weeks older than Vivi is. I just think that 1-year mark is so bizarre -- any timeline like that that is supposed to be right for all babies seems questionable to me.

But in answer to your REAL question, yes, I definitely got the sense that you were very anti-formula from your post. It wasn't just the line about being "a tiny bit leery", but the last line "scared her straight" that made me feel you were expressing some major negative judgment. It did sound like plain old "uncertainty" until that part. I'm not saying that because I was overly offended - I am totally comfortable with how we nourished the boys - but because it sounds like you really want to understand why it would upset someone.

So, yes, anything is going to become a hot button topic when a mom feels that her choice has been judged, be it using formula, going back to work, sleep training, or whatever.

Shan said...

Hey Jordan, thanks for your comment. This is a good example of how online communication can be misconstrued in a major way. That last line was meant to be a TOTAL, total joke. I mean, it really, truly was. I did not mean that even remotely seriously. Silly me, I thought I was being funny, ending the post on a glib note. I can see now it didn't come off that way!

Shan said...

By the way, if anyone is interested: none of this even matters, because Genevieve absolutely refuses to drink formula. The rest of last week she nursed fine again anyway, but today she wasn't interested in her a.m. snack-nursing so I tried formula again, and there is no way that baby is having it. Ever.