Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why a Nipple Shield Made Me Cry

My guys are formula fed. Some day I may tell the story of how that came about. Today, however is the day for a closet cleaning story.

Realizing that the nursery closet is completely full and much of it's contents are no longer used, I decided to remove the obsolete stuff. I wasn't going all crazy and organizing or anything, just getting rid of stuff.

The top shelf was almost full of breast pumps and accessories. I was a slave to these devices for three long months, and just looking at them again brought a wave of conflicting emotions to the surface. I sorted through it all, preparing to sell it. I found several pump parts, a tub of hand sanitized, a pen, sheets of the bar coded labels I used to identify my milk at the hospital, and a nipple shield.

It was the nipple shield that reduced me to a moist blubbering mess on the nursery floor.

H was able to start trying to bottle feed before K was. It was a difficult process for him, learning to eat instead of being fed through a tube. He would try to fall asleep during the process and didn't seem to understand what he was supposed to do. Even though the hospital encouraged breastfeeding, it often did not seem practical because of how difficult just bottle feeding was. Still, I tried the breast once a day for a couple of weeks.

The lactation specialist was the person who gave me the shield. I'd had no luck getting H to latch. With the help of this clear rubbery shield, however, H was finally able to drink from the tap. He did not get much and soon it was time to tube him again, but for a few moments we were so close to one another.

After a few days, I was able to try with K. He did not need the shield.

I only nursed my guys a couple of times. The problem with nursing preemies is that it is hard to tell exactly how much they are getting. Also, as I mentioned, just learning to eat is difficult for them. In addition to this, my guys had bad reflux. Their milk had to have a thickener added to it.

Figuring I would have time to nurse directly later on, I kept my slavery to the pump alive.

A couple of months later, guys still in the hospital, I abandoned my pumps. My guys would now be formula fed. It was a painful decision that saddened me deeply, but it was a decision I never regretted.  I have mo doubt that switching to formula at that time was the best thing for us.

My regret is that I had not been able to make more attempts to feed directly.   The handful of times I was able to put one of my guys to breast were so special and magical. I wish I had more of those memories.

Here's how they eat now, picture taken at early Thanksgiving, after eating themselves into little comas:


  1. Our girls were not born nearly as prematurely as your boys, but I just wanted you to know I understand what you wrote. I know I did everything I could to encourage the girls to nurse...attempted to b/f, then formula fed them, then pumped...for three months. When they were three months old I decided it was best for all of us to move to formula feeding. It was - and still is - a painful decision, but I think it was the best one for us. Nonetheless, I still have a lot of emotions about it...and I still have some milk bags in the girls' closet that I can't quite throw away just yet. :)

  2. Thanks Mandy. Feels good to know I'm not alone. Even though I know it was the right decision, I still sometimes feel I have to justify my decision Tp strangers and I am sad about it not working out

  3. Don't feel like you have to justify yourself to ANYONE!! My girls are only 5.5 weeks old, and I already find myself feeling guilty about every little thing (feeding formula at night and pumping instead of breastfeeding, not being able to console two crying babies at a time, holding one baby more than the other in a day, etc, etc, etc.) My point is, you did what was and is best for you and your family! Unless someone else has literally walked a mile in your shoes, they have no room to speak or to judge you. What a commitment you made by pumping for 3 months! Props to you hun!! You did such a great job!!
    My difficulty right now is that my girls are right on the verge of outgrowing their newborn clothes, and I'm SO not ready to put that stuff away yet! It makes me sad, even though each milestone they hit makes me so happy=).