That said, if you're a guy, please feel free to skip this one if you want ;)
I wrote before about how I was meeting with a Lactation Consultant a few days after Lorelai was born. In the beginning, nursing sucked SO bad. Cracking, bleeding, tenderness. It was excruiating. I pumped or gave her formula just so I didn't have to nurse her. I dreaded feeding her. But I had my baby buddies to talk to and we all seemed to be in the same boat. It sucked for all of us.
What was different for me is that I kept telling my Lactation Consultant "I don't think my milk has come in yet". One of my baby buddies told me hers came in while she was in the hospital. That suddenly she bumped her boob and it was hard as a rock. I kept waiting for that moment. 2 weeks after Lorelai was born, I just had to accept that that moment was not happening for me. My milk was in. I just couldn't feel it. At all. I never engorged. I don't feel a let down. I don't know when breast is empty or full. I just have to guess. But everything you read talks about let down and women who leak at inopportune times and you HAVE to make sure you empty one breast before offering the next. I felt like everything I read or knew about breastfeeding didn't apply to me.
About 2 weeks after her birth I had a follow up appointment with my midwife. I explained to her the pain that I was feeling trying to feed and how she had a bad latch I couldn't seem to correct. She checked her mouth and said she had a really strong lip tie. She told me about her son who had one (that went undiagnosed) and how she nursed through it but when she became pregnant at 10 months, he wasn't able to bring her supply back up to continue nursing. Then when he was older he had to go through 2 years of speech therapy. I knew that even if it didn't solve our nursing problems I wanted to get it fixed. It may save us some speech therapy down the road.
So I suffered through nursing until we could get in to see the doctor for her lip tie. It never ever stopped hurting. In fact, when we went to Vermont before Christmas they started hurting again so bad I thought I had an infection. They also started bleeding again. Other than that, I just got used to the pain and accepted that that was how it was going to be.
I always had this nagging feeling about my supply though. I always felt like I was making just enough while everyone else gets this great abundant supply in the beginning (I'm sure women who suffer from mastisis wouldn't use "great" to describe it- goes to show you there's always 2 ways to look at things). I was so nervous about going back to work. I always felt like my breastfeeding days were numbered. Like any day was going to be the last day I could keep up. I built up a small freezer stash of extra milk. Sometimes it would take me 3 days to pump enough for one bottle. Sometimes I could put back two bottles a day. It was never consistent. When I started work, I had 28 bottles worth in the freezer. It sounds like a lot but considering she would need 5-6 of those per day if I wasn't nursing, it's not that much. If I could pump enough for 2 bottles each day, I could nurse her on my lunch breaks and I wouldn't need my freezer stash. But if I only pumped enough for one bottle, we'd have to use a freezer bag. I only had enough to do that for about a month. So every day I had this pressure on me to pump enough for the next day. For the first week, I did it. Then the weekend came and I actually had an extra bottle or two. Slowly, after a few weeks, I was actually 5 days ahead and got to start freezing again. I was ecstatic. I could breathe. I wasn't under so much pressure to get 10 oz/day.
Then my grandpa died.
While I halfheartedly pumped in Ohio, it wasn't like when I pump at work. When I pump at work, it's during times when Lorelai would be nursing. So when I'm with her, and I'm nursing, I don't really have the opportunity to pump. Not much anyway. I did manage to freeze two bags when I was there. Those got us started my next day back to work. But a week of being off scheduled really wreaked havoc on my supply.
Oh and did I mention she decieded to have a growth spurt in the middle of all this?
So last week was my first week really back on schedule. Pumping was no going well. During my morning pumping session I was only getting 3-4 oz, where I used to get 5-6. I had to pump twice a night to make up the difference so she had milk for the next day. My supply wasn't bouncing back. And then, the daycare needed to use two of the freezer bags because she was so hungry two afternoons she needed an extra bottle. And then Friday. Friday I only pumped 1 1/2 oz that morning. I went home Friday with 3 1/2 oz. It looks me until 3 AM Monday morning to pump enough for her to take to daycare yesterday.
Yesterday morning I pumped less than 2 oz. I sent her to daycare with only one bottle today. It was a very humbling moment for me. I was talking to one of my friends about this yesterday. It hurts my ego more than anything. My elitest mentality. I knew so much about breastfeeding before I actually tried to do it. I was so cocky. I read all the literature. Everything you read makes it sound so simple. Everyone can breast feed. It just takes work. Drink this. Take that. Do this. Then all your problems will be solved. Even the LC subscribes to this idealistic, you'll pump as much as she eats, scenario that just hasn't been the case for me. My breastfeeding story doesn't sound like everything I've read. And honestly, I don't know what it's like to be bad at something I really want to do.
Want to know what I've tried. Well here's the list I sent the LC:
-Nurse on demand
-Skin to skin
-Different nursing positions
-Manual pump (Medela)
-Dual electric pump (pump in style)
-Not wearing an underwire bra
-Not wearing a bra
-Drinking 100+oz of liquid every day with 64+oz of it being water
-Mother's Milk tea
-Lactation Cookies with oatmeal, brewers yeast and flaxseed meal
-Eating oatmeal for breakfast
-Pumping while looking at pictures of Lorelai
-Pumping while watching videos of Lorelai
-Massage breast while pumping and nursing
So last night I scheduled another appointment with the Lactation Consultant. Honestly, I don't think she can tell me anything I don't already know. But maybe she has some new herb for me to try or something. Or maybe I'll respond better to a hospital grade pump. I'm going to give it one more try. But now, more than ever, I feel like my days are numbered. You know, because I numbered them. On a calendar. 34 more work days until Lorelai is 6 months old. 25 more bags of milk.
And I'm really trying hard not to struggle with the idea of her having formula, because I fully support other moms who decide to formula feed and I realize now that there's a lot that goes into deciding to give your baby formula (at least for some women). And some women don't have much of a choice at all. But I can't get over that "breast is best" mantra playing in my head. And it stirs up all those feelings of inadequacies from my childhood and if breast is best than, by god, Lorelai needs breast. Because she is going to have the best of everything because I didn't and I had to work really hard to prove myself and to make people accept me.
And it's absolutely baseless- I know that in my head. I just can't convince my heart that she will be ok, just like every other baby in the world who was fed formula. There are lots of smart, healthy babies who had formula. And I'm not even talking full formula. I still plan to breastfeed as much as I can. And it's not like she hasn't had formula before. I supplemented in the beginning. In those hard days. And I was nothing but thankful for every doctor and formula company who sent me those samples that I snubbed my nose at before she was born. But it was a convenience. I didn't HAVE to. Now I feel like I'm being forced into it. I just hang out here in limbo between being relieved by the burdon of trying to make this work and being really disappointed in myself because I can't make this happen. It has everything to do with me and hardly any to do with Lorelai.
On the way to work I kept thinking about how I could only give her one bottle today. And "Need You Now" by Plumb came on the radio and I realized I hadn't surrendered this to God. I've been trying SO HARD to make this work by myself. I just need to let it go.
So I'm sharing my story. In case someone else is struggling like I struggled. I'm giving myself, and you, permission to let it go. As a mommy, it's my job to make sure that baby's tummy is full. Whether its fast food chicken nuggets or organic grilled veggies. Sometimes you just can't cook dinner. Nourishment. That's the end game. Not my ego.
"Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise
How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now."