Monday, January 16, 2012

Dear Crying Babies

I've got your number.

Nathan and I know a little about upset babies. By that, I mean we are experts.

When Eliza was born, her stomach issues and colic began immediately. I remember Nathan rushing to Walgreens for Mylicon drops at 3 AM the first night we had her home because she was screaming and obviously in pain. We didn't realize we were at the beginning of nearly 7 months of sleepless days and nights. Poor baby. Poor parents.

We spent weeks trying to help our daughter. I did an elimination diet, I expressed milk before nursing thinking she could have a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, we gave her Zantac, and then tried formula that contained no milk or soy. We even took her to an infant chiropractor, which provided some relief and a partial diagnosis of a hiatal hernia.

After working for months with a lactation consultant and our pediatrician, we finally concluded she had an inability to break down the protein in human breast milk and all forms of milk in formula. Crazy, right? The lactation consultant said she had only seen one other case of this in 15 years and it very rarely occurred in premature babies with immature digestive systems. The solution for Eliza ended up being goat's milk. Two of Nathan's brothers had colic as babies and Cheryl recommended it as an alternative. It was our miracle milk. As soon as she had the goat's milk, she was a normal and happy baby. It may sound weird to some, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

During these dark days (I seriously associate that time with darkness because it was the middle of winter and I often sat in the dark, hoping it would help Eliza sleep), Nathan would jokingly say, "Twins would be easy compared to this!"

What prophetic words. And you know what? He was absolutely right.

Ezra and Elliott have had stomach issues for the last couple of weeks, but the situation has been entirely different. While they do not scream for hours every day, they do whimper and need constant patting and bouncing in order to sleep. I was feeling a bit depressed to have fussy babies again (although appreciative they weren't crying nonstop) and tried to remember when their discomfort began.
If I could find a correlation to something, then I would have my answer. The obviously correlation was to mastitis and thrush. I am still battling thrush, so I just assumed yeast was the culprit. However, the boys no longer have any obvious symptoms, and I remembered Eliza and how her stomach pain caused her to want to nurse ALL DAY LONG. The boys' ravenous appetites started a week before the thrush, and I just attributed everything to that one problem. Wrong.

Cheryl was able to make the correlation. This was the same time that I told myself: Formula won't hurt the babies--especially if they only have one scoop at night. That is less than half of a feeding. Less than HALF! Nathan had given the babies the hospital samples of formula a few nights when he didn't want to wake me up to nurse. And although he had good intentions, I was very upset with him for a couple of reasons: I felt like a failure for not being able to nurse my babies fully, and I thought the formula would mess with their digestive systems.

Well, I got over my "I'm a failure if I give my baby ANY formula" thinking after mastitis landed me in the emergency room. I also realized I needed to sleep and if that meant that the babies needed a scoop of formula, so be it. We assured ourselves it would be okay when we did the math and realized the boys drink nearly 30 ounces a day, so 2 ounces of formula wouldn't affect them too much. Right?

Wrong again. Apparently, our children have very sensitive digestive systems. On Friday, the day after things fell apart and everyone was miserable with sleep deprivation, we decided to withhold the formula. Even though Ezra and Elliott only received it some nights (when I had not pumped enough before sleeping my 3-4 hours),  we thought it could still be the culprit. I received a maximum of 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep and nursed and pumped constantly despite pain.

Nathan and I were exhausted (still are exhausted), but apparently our efforts were not in vain. Four days later, they are completely different babies. Starting yesterday, they began sleeping 2-3 hours at a time and eating dramatically less. Because they are eating less, I don't have to worry as much about not having enough milk pumped at night. Babies with upset stomachs often overeat in an effort to feel better, so obviously, things are improving.

I feel relieved and a tad overwhelmed at the same time. While I am happy that my children are feeling better, I again feel the pressure that I have to breastfeed or else! (Or else my children are miserable and we never sleep and things are no fun at all).  I have been battling some health problems (in addition to the continuing cases of thrush, blood clots, and fatigue, and vertigo this morning), so it would be nice to know Ezra and Elliott would be okay if I missed one night feeding. I'm crossing my fingers that they start sleeping at least 4 hours in the evening, as that would solve most of the problem!

In the meantime, I am happy to see these peaceful faces again.
 p.s. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
p.p.s. Because my blog is my journal, some posts are ridiculously long. Hurray if you made it through this! And sorry!


  1. Ceila,

    my son can only tolerate breastmilk too. and at the beginning the pressure was so much, but now i just take it a day at a time.
    you can do it, you are doing it and after everything you've been through you're doing a great job.

    don't forget that you're amazing, and don't let anything get you down. You're doing a great thing. and one day your boys with thank you.

    hugs!! praying for you and the family always!!


  2. Oh my goodness! If it's not one thing...I'm glad you have the correlation though. I hope you get your full strength and health back soon lovey. You're too awesome to be sick. :)

  3. Hazel can't tolerate formula at all either. Ella was the same way; she couldn't even tolerate cow's milk until just a couple months ago and she just turned 2. Glad you found what the issue was. I'll be praying for that 4 hour stretch for you. Hopefully now that the boys feel better and weigh more, they'll give it to you!

  4. Ce! I love reading your posts... kind of addicted actually. I feel like I'm learning so much about babies and potential troubleshooting tips. Its going to be weird when our little girl arrives in a couple weeks and I start trying to put some of this breastfeeding stuff into practice. Justin is so excited! Thank you for being so candid with your posts and allowing me a little window into your life. We love you! You and Nathan are extremely admirable creatures. x

  5. Chase is a formula baby (tongue-tied when he was born, and not found until 2 weeks and things were in bad bad shape), but it took a while for us to find the right one. Eventually, we figured out it was because we were on well-water, and even with the filter it was tearing his stomach up. When we switched to the pre-mixed bottles it was much more expensive, but worked like magic in curing his gas. The "gentle" formulas didn't work, and then I read that the first ingredient was corn syrup, so they were gone. Similac has been our choice - the Gerber and Enfamil made him really gassy, but every baby is different. I am so proud of you at powering through the nursing process, but play around with the formulas if you feel like you need to give yourself a rest. Like Dr. Ledlie told me - healthy, happy mom = healthy, happy baby(ies).

  6. good luck with everything baby girl. You really are a trooper!

  7. I am de-lurking after reading your blog for a while now. I have 4 year old twins, boy and girl, who also had terrible times with formula. I tried breastfeeding for about 7 weeks, had mastitis and thrush multiple times. I gave up, and then later went through terrible guilt and regret for it. We went through so many types of formula until I found out that Nestle's Good Start Formula had the milk proteins already broken down to make it easy for babies to digest. I believe they used the term "comfort proteins" and the formula is now called Gerber Good Start. It is similar to enfamil's Nutramigen that has the milk protin broken down, too, but Nutramigen is is super expensive and smells awful. Good Start is less expensive and just smells like formula. As soon as I switched my babies to Good Start, the stomach and bowel troubles were gone within 24 hours. And since I had given up breastfeedig and then my babies were so miserable on formula, the guilt was horrendous. The relief I felt after the Good Start formula worked was overwhelming. I am in total awe of your dedication and endurance to continue breastfeeding your sweet little babies. You are doing an amazing job. I thought I would never feel rested again when my twins were babies (and I didn't have a two year old!), but by the time they were 4-5 months old, I was sleeping about 7 hours a stretch at night. It will get better, I promise. My only other piece of advice that saved me was the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I was able to help my twins learn to sleep on their own (and yes, in separate rooms because around 4 months old they will wake each other up all night long) and by 6 months they slept 12 hours straight at night. I was a first time mom with my twins, however, and you are already an experienced mom, so maybe the sleep advice isn't new to you. I didn't agree with everything in the Weissbluth book, but it still saved our emotional health and sanity once we sleep trained our twins. Anyway, I know I am a total stranger (but we have similarities--I am a LDS Mom of twins living in Utah Valley...) but I just wanted to share my thoughts on the formula in case it might help you.

  8. Celia, i know you have a zillion friends with twins, but if you need a friend who is breastfeeding to talk to i have a girl in my ward who is exclusively breastfeeding twins and she has a good routine for it. Good luck! I know you can do it! But don't pressure yourself. Trying pumping after or before a feeding and just adding all the milk together. It would likely be enough to hold the boys through your 3-4 hours of sleep (gag!) you might also be able to get donor milk. You might be able to look into that. That way it isn't formula. Also, you could try the goat's milk again. Just thought. I think you are doing great and those babies are adorable!

  9. Reading your blog stresses me out. My babies had reflux issues and Zantac helped, but mostly they just had to outgrow it. I have no tips. Good luck and hang in there.

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