By the time Ethan was 2 months old, he wanted to eat 6-8 ounces per feeding.
Ethan's appetite was increasing dramatically. He wanted LARGE amounts of food, spread over longer periods of time. It was rare that I could get him to take smaller amounts of milk more times a day, and I was also working on getting him on a schedule for eating for various reasons. Again, I didn't know when I was going to return to work, I didn't know what our childcare situation was going to be, and I was trying to constantly figure out how much I needed to be making in a day to satiate him throughout the day. We ended up switching completely over to bottle feeding to monitor his intake to help us with preparing for the unknown. Another big mistake. Now I wasn't nursing on demand at all.
I started noticing a struggle with my supply. I was pumping several times a day for nearly 45 minutes a day. With such long, numerous sessions, I was sure that things would pick back up. I started noticing that I was barely making enough to get Ethan through his bottles in a single day, and was often breaking into my freezer stash to satiate him. I hadn't found a job yet, and I was already breaking into a well established stash that was supposed to be there when I went back to work. I began to stress a little.
I started taking more Fenugreek. I found another herb online that was supposed to help. I found an herbal tea that was supposed to help. I started reading online about other various ways to increase milk supply. Slowly but surely, I started noticing a difference. Thank goodness for a few blog friends to let me know I wasn't alone in the supply struggle, but we were all in the same boat. These things were working, but they weren't quite working well enough.
The herbs and the teas kept us afloat for several more weeks. In fact, I started finding myself ahead of feedings again. Instead of worrying about if I was going to have enough milk for his upcoming feeding, I was working on the feeding after that. I finally got myself back up to being a day ahead in feedings, and felt confident that meant I would be starting my freezer stash again. Ethan began sleeping through the night, so I stopped pumping through the night as well. Another mistake.
Things began to taper off again. I picked my middle of the night pumping back up, even though Ethan wasn't waking for it. I continued with my herbs and teas, and again, this helped for a few days. Then, things began to taper off for a reason that I'm unsure of. At this point, my routine wasn't changing anymore, but things began to decrease instead of increase. I began to search for other ways to increase milk supply.
It was a constant battle and struggle, and by the end of October, when Ethan was almost 4 months old, I had to supplement with formula. I didn't have a choice. My freezer stash was officially non-existent, and I didn't have enough for him to take. It started with his bedtime bottle. He took breast milk all day, but at bedtime he took 6 ounces of breast milk and only 2 ounces of formula. He took it well, and didn't even act like he noticed there was a difference in his food.
I didn't change my routine and continued to pump as much as possible for as long as possible. Things continued to decline, and the bedtime bottle turned into an all formula bottle. It was like a snowball effect, and even though I was attempting to continue pumping as much as I had been, things kept getting worse. By mid-November, I was producing less than 8 ounces per day, meaning that there wasn't a single bottle that Ethan was taking that didn't also have to include formula. It was at this point that I realized I was spending more time working on producing food for my child and not getting enough of a result to validate the time. After about a week of struggling with this fact, I put the pump away. My baby officially became a formula baby.
I wasn't happy about it, and definitely realized all of the mistakes I made along the way to wind up with this result. What I didn't know was how difficult it would still be two months later.
I'm going to wrap this series up next week, because tomorrow is Ethan's 7 month birthday, and I need to get his letter up!