The breastfeeding struggle continues. Maybe I should say the breast pumping struggle continues. Or the breast milk supply struggle continues. Geez…I have no idea what’s going on.
I’ve been at this for almost 5 months now, and it’s not getting easier. I feel like I am failing at something over which I have no control. Which I NEED to have control over…It matters, and I’m doing everything I can, and it makes no difference.
I’ve been pumping breast milk since Cleo was just a few days old. First, I started with a manual pump, and that exhausted me. It was handy in the sense that I could extract enough milk for my partner to take on a feeding here or there (usually in the morning when I wanted to sleep in), but I never was really able to build up the glorious freezer supply that I’ve heard some women talk about. As I got closer to my back to work date at 6 weeks, I was acutely aware of the need to buy a better breast pump.
I did a lot of research, and eventually decided on the Medela Pump in Style, because of its quality and effectiveness. The concept of the project triangle is true: you may want something to work quickly and well, but it will come at a cost. This is true for the Medela Pump in Style. I am always on the hunt for the best prices on items, but I found that for this product, the prices from any legit-seeming vendor remained relatively constant, around 300 bucks when all was said and done.
Fine with me. I was already apprehensive about having to pump multiple times throughout the workday, and wanted the whole ordeal to go over as smoothly as possible. Now I am a pro at setting up the contraption pretty quickly, and it takes me about a half hour to do both sides (it is a double pump, but I prefer to do one side at a time because it is more comfortable, and gives me a free hand). Having a quality machine is essential to my peace of mind, especially when my supply issues are driving me crazy.
The first week back to work was rough. Part of me was glad to be back at work, while another part of me was screaming, “What am I doing here?” Getting in to the groove of pumping every few hours was tough. My body was not used to going so long between feedings, and within 2 days I had a clogged duct and a 102° fever. It came on very suddenly. At first I thought it was the flu, and then realized I had been given a flu shot. As the night wore on I got weaker and weaker as the fever worked me. I knew I had to nurse but could barely lift the Bunn, who was just about 10 lbs at the time. It took a full day of hot compresses and painful nursing but the fever broke sometime the next night. I learned an important lesson then and there: never feel guilty about pumping when you need to. I shouldn’t have been so self conscious about it in the first place, but sometimes it is hard not to worry when you are on a different schedule than everyone else on the job. Thankfully my body has acclimated to the pumping routine now, and I haven’t experienced any more duct problems.
So, on to the big ugly monster of a problem that fills me with guilt and failure and yes, frustration. I can never pump as much as she needs. When I was pumping 2 oz she was drinking 3. For a while I would have to leave the office during the workday to bring her next bottle to her. Now that I can pump 3 to 5 oz., she is drinking 5+. Sometimes by the last feeding of the night, she is screaming at my breast, begging them to nourish her. And nothing has worked. We’re pretty much doing half formula and half breast milk and I feel so guilty. Like I am unable to provide for her. I’ve had plenty of women tell me my milk would come in again around three months but it never did. In fact, it feels like it’s only getting worse.
I feed her in the middle of the night, and in the morning before work. I pump midmorning at work, and go home at lunch to nurse. I pump again in the afternoon, and feed when I get home from work. Then there is a final feeding right before bed. I’ve tried pumping late at night but usually only get an ounce or so, making it unworth staying up for. Sometimes I pump in the mornings after feeding her, just to have a bit extra to supplement. After doing all this, it feels like a slap in the face every time I have to give her formula, which I have had to do often lately. Now I am just trying to let go of the guilt, and accept that I just have to do what is best for her and continue to have formula on hand (and thank god it exists, who knows how I would have gotten through some nights without).
I find myself apologizing to her and holding back tears because I feel like I am just failing over and over. I fear that she and I will be less bonded and she could become sick more easily (but as I write that, I know that these are simply fears, and not necessarily true). It just seems unfair that although I am doing everything that I can, I am still unable to give her the best. Not only do I leave her in the care of others for 36 hours a week, but she is left without breast milk too. I want to be the one that she trusts and counts on, but I feel like I am failing. I am so jealous of other mothers who are able to stay at home with their babies. I am jealous of my friends who have been breastfeeding their babies for over a year. I’ve prayed for my milk to come in, for an ample supply to nourish my child, and yet I am still doing this juggling act. This is where I am today, and this is where I’ve been for over two months.
I’m thankful for being able to breastfeed at all, and for getting this far; for my lunchtimes with her, and for her caretakers. I am grateful for her beautiful little face, and her cheeks, and sweet baby smile. Oh, I am just thankful for everything. Everything about her. But this is my very real frustration. I’m trying to let go, but it’s hard when letting go means being ok with giving your baby second best. It should be impossible.
Anyway, this is the last of my breastfeeding posts for now. I may update if there is any change in the situation. She’ll be starting solids soon, so that will be a fun new variable.
I’ve been breastfeeding Cleo every day since the day she was born. As I said in the previous post, she took to it rather quickly. We had a small snafu in the first few days at home, when I couldn’t wake up the sleepyhead enough to get her to complete a feeding. A simple call to the advice nurse at our pediatricians office turned into a “we’re going to have to take her to urgent care” panic, saved only by another gracious nurse from the Welcome Every Baby program who was willing to make an impromptu house call. She was amazing. She calmed my nerves and assured us everything was going to be alright. We probably wouldn’t have to go to urgent care. But we did need to make sure le bebe was hydrated and nourished. We needed to give her formula.
“Formula!” I thought, recoiling at the notion. But wanting so badly to make sure Cleo would be ok. Up until this point I was sure– adamant that we would be exclusively breastfeeding like any mother who gives a damn about her child would do. I had hardly entertained the idea, and had been just as judgy about formula as a new mom who has no idea what she is really talking about could be. I’ve looked upon formula as poison. Or maybe junk food. Who would possibly feed that disgusting shit to their baby?
But now, my baby was five days old and had skipped a feeding, and my angel nurse was telling me how I could help her, what we needed to do to make sure she was ok. So with some hesitation and a half heavy heart we gave her 2 oz. of ready-made formula. And all was well. She perked right up, and Angel stayed with us a while to talk about how everything was going, and to make sure she tolerated the formula (She did. Very well). Angel gave the doctor a call, and he said no trip to the urgent care was needed. My blood pressure relaxed, and I breathed a bit. Angel left us with a few more bottles for baby, just in case, and a breast pump for me, to begin to build my supply.
I cannot find the words to describe the exhaustion taken on when agreeing to feed every two hours, for 15-30 minutes (which usually ended up being 45 for my little bunn) and then manually breast pumping for 10-15 minutes on each side after that. Using a manual breast pump is like a workout for a new mama. It is insane. And it didn’t really work for me. I think I put up with about 2 weeks of that madness and then said no thank you. My supply remained the same, and I was about to rip out my eyeballs from fatigue.
After the home nurse visit, Cleo’s feedings were great. I had no major problems waking her up and she was generally easy to feed from then on. She’s never had any sort of nipple confusion between breast, bottle, or pacifier. We ended up throwing away the rest of the formula Angel gave us as it expired.
After all was said and done, I felt good about giving Cleo the formula, because it was what was best for her at the time. I felt like I was breaking some Mommy Code, and there was that lingering guilt that I’m sure many moms have if things don’t work out and they aren’t able to breastfeed. But in truth, I was really just so grateful and relieved that she was ok, that none of my broken rigidity mattered. Life isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t have to be. What DOES have to be is what’s best for CleoBunn. Having Angel call at just the right time, and her willingness to come help us, and having Cleo be well in such a short time led me and SHOWED me that I made the right choice.
All was well.
If only I could be a stay at home mom. Maybe then, the next chapter of this story would be less frustrating. But that is another tale for another time.
My breastfeeding tale began like that of most other moms. I had heard all about the benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby and couldn’t wait to try it out. I was so excited; I had read tons of material on the subject, my most favorite of all being So That’s What They’re For by Janet Tamaro. I was excited to give my baby this gift and to see what it was all about… what it would feel like, and could it really be that difficult?
When Cleo was born, we got right down to it. She was nursing within the first hour. I will never forget that feeling of pride and, “Look, we’re doing it!” as I stared at this little person I had just met. The colostrum awed and amused me because it was so bright, and I knew it was full of amazing nutrients for my little one. I just knew she was so smart, to be working in step with me already. The smartest baby in the world!
That was pretty much the end of the easiness for quite some time. What they don’t tell you is that when you are feeding a brand new baby for a half hour (or more) every two hours nonstop for days upon days, your nipples get very sore. I don’t care if you have 100 pillows supporting you in all the right places and a perfectly placed hand cupped breast to guide the baby in… Nipples are sensitive and nursing takes some getting used to! Cleo never had a bad latch and I still had to deal with sore, cracked nipples. Even now, four months later after a long day of pumping and nursing, my nips are tired and ready for a break. A break does not come when you’ve got a brand new bebe (but eventually, thankfully, it does come).
The days in the hospital are tough because of all the visitors. I’m not even talking about family members, I mean the nurses, the doctors, the social workers, the lactation specialist. I guess at first I was excited to have her come in and help me, but by the time she showed up, I heard practically nothing she told me. I thought with frustration, “I will never be able to set up this amount of pillows around me on my own at home.” And I never did. Eventually Cleo and I found our own posture that was comfortable for the both of us, and we have never really looked back. Sometimes I’ll grab a pillow and sort of lean on to it for a bit of relief, but mostly she just finds a way to snuggle in to me. It’s a perfect fit.
I guess my point is, it’s never quite what you expect. You can read all the information and instruction you want, but only YOU and your babe can truly find what works for the two of you. Next time I shall tell you the story of The Great Mommy Panic and the home nurse who saved our sanity.
If you are a new or expecting mama, with questions about breastfeeding, I encourage you to check out kellymom.com. It’s a great online resource for all things breastfeeding. The ultimate.
Have a lovely weekend. Goodnight!
This week I rewatched The Secret for a little New Years inspiration and encouragement toward all my goals. It’s always nice to have a little refresher on all that we are of using the Law of Attraction. If anything, it excites me to hold Big, Adventurous Thoughts in my mind, rather than just day-to-day blather.
Last night my Love and I went to a concert to see Lagwagon and NOFX, two of my favorite bands from high school and beyond. It was wild. The venue must’ve sold out or been very close to it. All the bands played very well and it was my first night out since well before the baby was born!
We crept up right near the front and I found a pretty sweet spot against the rail right next to the speakers on the right hand side (Thank God for ear plugs!!!). As NOFX came out and the crowd started to swell, you could feel all this energy and craziness that was filled with Love for these musicians.
I felt very moved and was affected by this energy, and felt very proud of this band and all that they have accomplished. My thoughts immediately drew to the Law of Attraction.
Now, I don’t know the members of this band personally, so I can’t really say that I know anything about their intentions for their lives and what they have dreamt of or overcome to be where they are now, but I do know this: they must have held gigantic, steady, very strong dreams in their mind throughout their careers in order to come from being a small Berkeley punk band to amassing a following, to playing sold out shows all over the world. I could feel just a bit of this at the show, and it was inspiring. Who knows, maybe they really only ever pictured partying and playing and fucking around, but I doubt it. I
know all that has been included on the adventure, but at some point these goofy punkers dreamt big dreams, and set out to make them come true. I believe they have succeeded and exceeded in that.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I’m really glad I got to go. This morning was a little brutal but I took a little nap this afternoon and it’s 10:30pm now, and I’m still alive, so I think I’ll make it. Cheers!
Well, the New Year is here. It always takes me a while to get used to the new year. It feels like this is a big one, yet everything so far has been very anticlimatic.
Take New Years Eve, for example. Our New Years Eve? Catching a few episodes of our new favorite show, How I Met Your Mother. New Years Day was spent doing laundry. And today, my bonus New Years day-off, will probably be spent cleaning the house. At least I get to hang out with Cleo. ♥ She has been an angel in that she let me sleep in til 9 or 10 two days in a row. Heaven.
Now is the time for New Years resolutions, and I’m sure everyone’s got one. For the second year I don’t have any major vices to pretend I want to quit for a week, and I’m not committing to any major diet changes or anything, but I do have a few goals for 2012.
1.) More writing. I feel like every time I get pumped up to write and blog, I end up wussing out for one reason or another, as is evident by the long stretches of time between posts so far. My goal is to post a blog at least once a week this year, so that would be at least 52 posts. I also want to spend time on some book projects I have in mind that have also been milling around in my mind for a while.
2.) Less Facebook. Ok, so I know I said I don’t have any major vices to quit this year, but I guess I spoke a bit too soon. FB is totally ruining my Life! I know that if I spent more time on my personal business and writing than reading erroneous acquaintances meaningless status updates that I would have a lot more kick ass content much sooner. It’s funny, Facebook is not a substance, but it sure can be damaging to ones motivation and productivity. I haven’t decided if I am going to be able to just cut back, or if I am going to have to axe it altogether. I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.
3.) Early morning rising. Now this one I have been trying to accomplish for years, but now I know it is in my grasp. I’ve always wanted to wake up around 5 or 6 in the morning, and always end up failing miserably because I so Love glorious sleep so much! Now that I am waking up at 4:30 or 5 anyway to feed my baby girl, all I have to do is remain awake and take that quiet time for myself. I know this is going to be way easier said than done, but I am confident I can do it…as long as I resist the warm comfortable delicious bed calling out to me. Thank God for coffee!
4.) I want to make just a few simple changes to my diet, namely adding greens in the form of smoothies, and eating breakfast more days than not. I can do it!
5.) Most importantly, I want to generate more money and double my income once again. So far I plan to work on some side projects and look for more ways to creat passive income. Wish me luck!
I reflected on my 2011 year, and built these goals for 2012 using the 2012 Creating your Goddess Year Workbook & Calendar, dreamed up by Goddess Leonie. If you want to take a looky, just go here: http://tinyurl.com/7sks7g6
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year! ♥