TMM and baby: The other side of giving birth they didn't tell you about, and how I handled my feelings of guilt for giving my son formula

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


So, it's been way too long since I last blogged and as some of you may already know, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Henri Luis. I carried him to term, at 38 weeks. My water bag broke at 1:30AM on April 1, 2015 (yes, it seemed like an April Fool's joke at the time). My due date was April 15m but just like his mommy, he was already excited to socialize!

I am writing this post because 1, I want to document this experience and this side of motherhood no one warned me about, and 2 to share to first time mothers out there the gory details of motherhood that no one has told you before.

As you read a long, you will notice that I have used the word "pain" several times in one sentence. Yes, giving birth truly is such a painful experience whether it be normal or a cesarean delivery. Makes you appreciate every moment with your baby and your hubby too. The bond is something I have never experienced before.

I remember when I first announced on Facebook that I was pregnant, everyone was delighted knowing I tried hard to have a baby for 4 years. A good friend of mine texted me and congratulated me and said "good fucking luck!" I wasn't offended or anything, I laughed out loud actually and just didn't understand the meaning behind her message. All I knew was that parenthood is hard so maybe that's what she meant.

A week after we brought Henri home, and came the sleepless nights and painful breastfeeding latching, I messaged my friend and said "Remember when you told me 'good fucking luck?' I now fucking get it."

Read more about my birthing experience and the first few weeks of motherhood after the break!

When I got to the hospital, they induced labor -they hooked me up to an IV that contains Oxytocin to stimulate contractions so that it can help speed my cervix to open up to 10cm. Since my water bag broke, the doctors had 24 hours to get me to 10cm and deliver the baby.

After about 3 hours and reaching 7-8 on the pain scale, I asked for an epidural. And because they had to increase the flow of the Oxytocin to speed things along, my pain reached from 2 to 7 in just about 3 hours. Unfortunately, after hours of painful labor pains later, I only reached 3cm until the doctors noticed that the baby couldn't take the contractions. His heart rate would go down from 150+ to about 60-80 beats per minute, and though he quickly recovered from the contractions, he was still high up in my stomach, still far away from getting into position to be pushed out of my vajayjay, and having no more water in my tummy, the contractions were putting pressure on his head and his heart.

That's when the doctors called for an emergency C-Section. At this point, everything was a blur. They shaved me, and wheeled me to the delivery room where I was shaking and shivering uncontrollably. I was told that it was because of the epidural, but I know it was more of me being scared of what was to happen.

From the time they lifted me to the operating table, everything moved so fast. The put a blanket up in front of me to block my view from the chest down, but I can still feel what was going on. After disinfecting me with what I assume is betadine, and having a catheter uncomfortably shoved up my urethra, I was ready.

I was injected with more epidural to numb me from the waist down. It took several minutes but after a while, I couldn't feel any pain. I don't know what they gave me but they gave me something to relax and to feel groggy. I remember feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of wanting to sleep but I tried to stay awake to hear my baby's first cry.

Having heard Henri cry plus a photo op afterwards, I fell asleep.
When I woke up, I was in recovery. I remember feeling drowsy still (like I took 2 extra strength Nyquils), and I was told that I had to spend extra hours in the recovery room since I lost a lot of blood. I didn't realize how severe the problem was until I got to the room and was able to talk to my doctor.

Fast forward to 7 hours post delivery, I felt refreshed from a very deep sleep. My parents then came to visit me with my sister and her best friend. It was just pure happiness to see them all come to visit me after a somewhat traumatic and tiring day.
Only minutes after getting settled into my room, the nurse from the nursery came and brought in Henri for his first "feeding". I put that in quotation marks because one should not expect to have milk on the very first day. It was more on training your child to latch on to your boobies.

Makati Med's nurses are also educated in lactation and breastfeeding so they will guide you on how to make your baby latch properly. I tell you, feeling absolutely bloated all over and aching and all over (in spit of the morphine I was on), they really pushed me to make Henri latch on to me. It was quite difficult because of the position I was in. I couldn't sit up not could I have the bed adjusted to an upright position because of the pain of my C-section wound, so I had to try my best to make Henri latch on to my boobs lying down.
Months leading up to my delivery, I had people left and right tell me that whatever happens, I had to try my best to breastfeed. Having watched my sister breastfeed her 3 kids, I didn't think it was THAT hard. I was informed that it would be hard work, but I didn't realize how much harder it was until we brought Henri home.

My mommy friends shared their breastfeeding stories, about how some of them had their nipples bleed from too much latching, some had their nipples dried out and cracked. They gave me tips on how to survive these mishaps.

It took several tries to finally have Henri latch on to my nipples and it was the most wonderful feeling ever. It was then I realized "Oh gosh, I'm a mom." The lactation consultant told me to latch him 15 minutes on each breast to stimulate the flow of my milk and that's what I did.
DAY 1 POST DELIVERY: I spent the whole day watching TV and really just spending time with Henri trying to make him get used to latching on to me. The nursery would bring him to me every 2 hours on the dot for feeding and it was really convenient too. I didn't appreciate this until we roomed him in too but I will tell you about that later on.

After the morphine has worn off, I started to feel contractions on my uterus which no one told me about was like hell. It was like going through labor pains again and it was one of the longest nights of my life. No one told me about the aches and pains that come after child birth. It was even worse than labor pains!

The contractions you feel after giving birth is the uterus contracting back to its original size. It will take weeks for the uterus to go back to its normal size, but the contractions will also prevent your body from bleeding too much! But I tell you, it was so painful that I had to ask for pain killers. My anaesthesiologist had to give me something via epidural catheter because I am allergic to Ibuprofen and Mefenamic Acid.
In spite of me being in pain, there was no excuse not to let Henri latch on to my boobies. The nursery will bring the baby to you every 2 hours for feeding, no exceptions. I had to endure the pain.

Surprisingly, I was able to pass gas several times and I was ready to eat solid food! Actually, eat whatever I wanted because my gestational diabetes and hypertension finally went away. Yay!
DAY 2 POST DELIVERY: I was switched to oral medication for pain because the epidural catheter was removed already. So I had to really endure the pain. I was having neck pains already from lying down too much. I was still bleeding and enduring pains from my contracting uterus, specially while breastfeeding because apparently, breastfeeding stimulates the uterus to contract.

I haven't gotten my appetite back because I was still in pain. It's a bit more manageable actually, and my catheter has been removed so they are encouraging me to start dangling my feet. Dangling is an integral part after a major operation specially after lying down for long periods of time.

Still feeling extra bloated, I was able to dangle my feet for about an hour and I was able to finally go to the bathroom with assistance. The first time I stood up, it was excruciating! I thought my stitches were going to open up but my OB assured me it won't so I kept that in mind. I dangled my feet in short intervals all day so that I can get used to the pain.

Day 2 was also the day I had my first blood transfusion because of the blood loss I suffered from my surgery. I tell you, having several IV needles on your hands while breastfeeding was the hardest thing I had to do but I surprised myself that I was able to do it!
DAY 3 POST DELIVERY: On the third day, I was able to go to the bathroom without assistance. I did suffer from my legs being "manas" because of the Oxytocin. It was one of the side effects. Gosh it was uncomfortable! I never thought that having "manas" legs were painful, I though they would just look bloated! Another thing that no one warned me about.

By this day, I was passing out blood clots from my vajayjay the size of small grapefruits. Gross, I know, but apparently very normal. I passed maybe about 4 huge balls of blood clots that was so unbelievably uncomfortable, slightly painful, and at the same time, relieving. As long as you don't pass big clots of blood exceeding a day, then this is normal I was told.

After being visited by all my doctors giving me home-care instructions, we were given the go signal to room-in our baby Henri if we wanted to. Raul and I were over confident that we could do it so we said "SURE! WHY NOT?!" Talk about being overly confident. We were in for a big surprise that evening.

What other mothers don't tell you is that taking care of an infant is no walk in the park. For the past 3 days where the nurse brings Henri for feeding and takes him away after feeding was a luxury! Having Henri with us that last night at the hospital was an unforgettable experience. It was the first time we experienced everything that comes with taking care of an infant. Made me appreciate the MMC nursery! LOL

Henri was awake every 30 minutes wanting to latch on to my boobies to feed. By this time, my milk has finally arrived so Henri was finally getting his colostrum from me. Here's a shot of Henri during our last night at the hospital.
DAY 4 POST DELIVERY: By the time we were to be discharged to go home on the fourth day, I am able to walk around longer without having anyone assist me. I am able to go to the bathroom on my own and by this time, my oral pain medication have kicked in. Having only Paracetamol to keep my pain at bay, I was really starting to adapt to the pain.

In spite of baby Henri keeping us up all night, proud daddy and my hubby Raul can't get enough of our little boy. Here he is holding baby Henri just waiting for our discharge papers.
Truth be told, we had no idea what we were doing. We had no idea how to care for a new born and we didn't have a yaya to help us either. We decided to try to do this on our own before I gave birth but now I can tell you, for first time mothers out there, YOU DEFINITELY NEED ONE.

Upon arriving at home, I was still stiff because I still had pain in my wound and was wearing a very tight binder. Without it, I felt like my insides were going to fall off. Caring for a new born while recovering from a Cesarean wound definitely deserves an award.

We were lucky the day we brought Henri home, all he did was sleep during the day and latch on to me for only 10 minutes each breast and would fall back to sleep almost immediately. During the night though, that was a different story. He wouldn't sleep, and wants to be permanently attached to my boobies all night. He was awake every 30 minutes and Raul and I took turns trying to put him back to sleep.
DAY 5 POST DELIVERY: On the fifth day, I can move faster and more comfortably in spite of having pain still specially when I sneeze and cough.

Actually, I think what made me recover faster was the fact that we didn't have a yaya. We had to do everything ourselves and I had no choice but to suck up the pain. So mommies-to-be out there, if you will undergo CS delivery, I suggest you fight the urge to just stay in bed. Try to move about as soon as you can! Unless of course your doctor advises against it!

I am still a slow-moving new mommy but I am able to carry and soothe Henri whenever he needs me. Something I never knew I could do too! I am still latching Henri every 2 hours and my boobies have gotten used to the latching. They don't hurt as much anymore. If you need help in soothing your very raw and sore nipples, four words: MUSTELA NURSING COMFORT BALM. This really helped me a lot after each feeding!
DAY 7 POST DELIVERY: After a week from delivery, Henri's schedule has changed drastically. He now constantly wants to latch on to me and seems to be hungry on short intervals. By this time, my nipples became raw again because of the constant nursing.

Henri's paediatrician told me to only latch him 15 minutes on each breast every 2 hours to avoid nipple bleeding which can cause problems if Henri ingests the blood. So best to keep the latching for only 15 minutes each. Which seemed to not help at all too because he was constantly hungry!

Good thing we were able to ask for breastmilk from my bestfriend who has a 6-month old son and is breastfeeding exclusively. We cup feed Henri about 20-30cc more after each latching and he seems satisfied too. But that didn't last because by Day 10, he wanted so much more.

Henri's feeding wasn't the only issue for me, but as he approaches Day 10 where growth spurts usually occur, their sleeping patterns change too! He now sleeps in 30-minute intervals and won't go back to sleep unless he latches on to my boobies. Now there's something Mustela's Nursing Comfort Balm won't cure specially if your nipples don't get a rest!
DAY 14 POST DELIVERY: By Day 14, I finally took the plunge and decided on mix-feeding with formula and breastmilk, and finally am able to do bottle feeding. It was THE BEST decision I ever made. My OB recommended HIPP Organic Milk for 0-6 months.

Day 14 marks 2 weeks of baby Henri. He is happy and healthy with just breastmilk actually but it was my sanity that has jumped out the window. I because depressed and panicky every time the sun goes down and I would have palpitations. It wasn't baby blues anymore, I knew it was anxiety.

With the breastfeeding nazis constantly nagging me about purely breastfeeding, I was fed the notion that I would be a bad mother if I don't breastfeed exclusively. But after consulting with my OB who cares so much more about my well-being, told me that deciding to mix feed my baby formula won't make me less of a mother. It took me 3 days to decide, but finally did it.

My advice to new moms and moms-to-be is DON'T let "The Granola People" and "The Breastfeeding Nazis" get you down or cloud your inability to decide what is best for YOU and for your baby.

The Granola People are aging hippies and anti-establishment hipsters who will make you feel like a bad mom if you didn't go out into the forest and have an unassisted, medication free, vaginal 'natural' birth, or if you opted to have a cesarean birth even though it wasn't your call. 

I very badly wanted and wished for a normal birth experience but had to have an emergency c-section because Henri's heart rate would drop dramatically every time I would have contractions. He couldn't take the contractions. At first, I was devastated with feelings of failure until I realized that my son and I are alive and are bonding just fine. 

Now, the "Breast Feeding Nazis": are people who mean well but who just don't understand that breastfeeding is not an option for everyone. I am currently supplementing my son's diet with breastmilk from my best friend during the day and would latch him on to me when I know my boobs are filled with milk, and I feed him formula when I have to go out of the house and at night when I want to keep him full and I need the rest. Putting Henri on bottle feeding and on formula has made a huge difference. 

First of all, I get the rest that I need to care for my baby. I am not anymore constantly crying over everything and my stupid constant panicky feeling is almost non-existent. Having suffered from anxiety before, I knew that the lack of sleep will lead me to go to a downward spiral and would not have the strength and the sound mind to take care of my baby. I do believe the the mother's sanity is important specially if you are caring for a newborn child. I have decided to not let anyone get the best of me for deciding to only breastfeed exclusively for 2 weeks. But thank God that Henri is very healthy and and gaining weight beautifully. Being born at only 4lbs and 15oz, I can see that he has now gained weight and is sleeping peacefully in between feedings. 

So if you are a new mom like me and you have decided to bottle feed and put your baby on formula, you should congratulate yourself for at least trying your best. Remember, no matter what those breastfeeding nazis tell you, you can very much bond over a bottle. Just keep eye contact and talk to your baby. Hold your baby close to your breast when you do it.

Do what's best for you and your little one, that's all that matters.

Henri at 2 weeks and 4 days
And here I thought that childbirth was the hardest thing a new mother will have to go through, but I can now tell you that caring for a newborn takes the cake. Now that Henri is slowly getting to know a better sleeping schedule, I am happier and I can breathe easier. If you were to let me choose between going through a CS delivery once again and having to go through the first few days after bringing home baby to take care of, I tell you, it will be a toss up. Hahaha!

Yes, motherhood has its rewards, but I really do like to tell moms out there who are so worried about breastfeeding to just relax and play it by ear. At this day and age, there are a lot of great formulas out there to aid you in feeding your baby. And the most important part? It won't make you any less of a mom!

I do know also that to each his own. I know there will be a lot of violent reactions from breastfeeding advocates out there but this decision of mine didn't come lightly, I do hope that you can respect me for it too, as much as I respect you for deciding to breastfeed all the way. I actually salute you, but breastfeeding is not for everyone.

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  1. Congratulations, Sabs! I'm so happy for you :) Welcome to the world, Henri!

    1. Hi Tara! Thank you so much for the well wishes! :) He can't wait to meet na his titas! Will bring him soon to an event when he's a bit older na!! :) Hehehe...

  2. Congratulations!!! My mom has 4 kinds including me and I've heard the stories (Pain beyond comprehension) and as I read this I can't help but applaud her, she did drive the car after being discharged because my dad lost a lot of blood and was too clammy to drive (he was in the delivery room with her and almost passed-out from shock). What products do you use/recommend to soothe nipples (other than the Mustela one)? My friend's going to have a baby and I figured she would need this.

    1. SO TRUE! You know what? I have new found respect to moms everywhere after going through labor and giving birth... Kakaiba! LOL It truly is painful but such an unforgettable experience. I don't know why us women are called weaker sex when we endure and go through so much pain such as motherhood and labor! Cheers to women everywhere!!

      To be honest, Mustela is the only one I got to try because it worked very well for me. It's safe for your baby to ingest too! You don't have to rinse our the nipples before breastfeeding :) If you friend's milk comes in right away, she can use her milk itself as protection to the nipple! Just tell her to squeeze her nipples to express a little milk and just spread it all over her nipple. Breastmilk is so potent that it will sooth raw and sore nipples! Best thing is, it's free to! ♥

  3. congrats ms sabs!!! =) welcome to mommyhood hugs hugs hugs!

  4. I honestly read everything on this post. Though I need to research some of the scientific terms you mentioned at the start (not familiar kasi), I'm not familiar to everything but from what you experienced, your story could really help first time moms.

    I didn't know that there's some moms who got their nipples bleeding because of overfeeding.

    I just realized how hard it was for my mom even she used to gave a normal delivery to all of us. How you have to take care of your baby and yourself as well. And I know one day, I can be able to use some motherhood or post delivery tips because I stumbled to this blog post :)

    Thank you for sharing this, I can't imagine how hard it was for you to endure the pain after the C Section. I hope you get better soon!
    (Henri should check this when he's a grown up.)

    1. You're very welcome and thank you for taking the time to read my post too! Yes, my goal is to really help first time moms because honestly I was in for the biggest surprise of my life when the baby was born... Everything was so new and unfamiliar that I was overwhelmed, wishing that someone really sat me down and told me what to expect :)

  5. Literally what I felt when I gave birth to Kyle! I've been told this too many times pero now ko lang na understand, REALLY< ENJOY EVERY MOMENT WITH HIM! ang bilis nilang lumaki!!!!! I can't wait to see you and Baby Henri!!!

    1. Actually I can't believe Henri is turning 1 month old na next week! It's so fast nga! I hold him every chance I get because I know mami-miss ko when he gets older! ♥

  6. Congratuations Ms.Sabs! Henri sure is a very cute baby :) ♥

  7. Thanks for telling it like it is Sabs! I will be meeting my little boy in two months and I really am expecting the worst. I guess some moms make it look easy hehehe. You are a wonderful mom because you do your best, no one has a right to judge because we all go through different experiences. CONGRATULATIONS and welcome to the world, baby Henri! :)

    1. Yes, expect the worst so that it will be a breeze when your baby boy comes! When they said something about "sleepless nights", they weren't kidding! I haven't slept since I gave birth. LOL Yes, the hardships we will endure truly has its rewards, but it's not as all sunshine and rainbows how some moms put it on Instagram or Facebook. You will literally forget everything about yourself and everything will be about your new bundle of joy. I can't even remember the last time I brushed my hair! Hahaha! Congratulations in advance and know that if you need support, I will be here ♥

  8. I also read everything! I was hoping to get pregnant this year, and if I'm lucky, I would have the idea when I pop the baby out. You are really one tough mama for enduring all those! Your baby is so adorable and I wish all good things for you and your family! :)

    1. Wow! I will be praying that you do get pregnant this year! It's truly an experience every woman should go through... It will really make you crazy and to be honest I don't know why most women go through this more than once, but I know I will go through it all again if it means having another healthy sibling for Henri :) No down playing here, it is the hardest thing anyone will go through... Come to think of it, the labor and the birth is a breeze compared to what comes after. LOL! God bless you too! ♥

    2. Will pray for you too Juvy <3 Hihi

  9. Congratulations Sabs! I haven't been in your blog for a while so I didn't know that you've given birth already. This is a nice read, and I do agree, though I am not a mother yet, that breastfeeding is not for everyone. So I completely admire your decision.

    1. Thank you so much for your support! I am very happy with my decision but of course, because of all the unsolicited advice, there will always be a nagging feeling of guilt. I just pray to God that I remain strong and stand by my decision that it is the best for me and my son ♥

  10. Congrats on giving birth to a healthy baby boy Sabs! And for documenting this experience. I felt like I'm reading what I went through almost 5 years ago (but failed to blog about). From the frustration of not doing normal delivery, to the pain of CS recovery, to bleeding (non-existent as I have inverted ones) nipples, to the anxiety. I was crying almost everyday during the first few weeks! We are lucky to bring someone to love and nurture in this world and after taking note of comments and advices, trusting our own instincts is the only way to go. After all, no one knew how it is to be a mom until they dealt with their own kid. Enjoy parenthood with the hubby! <3

    1. Hi Tin! I love it when you said, "After all, no one knew how it is to be a mom until they dealt with their own kid." It makes me feel so much better that there are other moms out there who knows what it feels like to make a difficult choice between breastfeeding (and having to suffer ones sanity), or to give formula. It truly is a decision only moms can make for their own child. I am so happy with my choice, but there are still so much Breastfeeding Nazis out there who still nag me all the time. It just feeds me guilt which is the last thing I need right now. Thank you so much for the wonderful message! God bless! ♥


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