Friday, June 14, 2013

Know When to Fold 'Em

I'm not typically one to indulge in mommy guilt. Sure, I may joke about how "I'm the worst mom ever," because my kid shoved some dog hair in her mouth or something similarly benign. But in reality, I actually think I'm a pretty good mom who's been able to keep this whole parenting thing in perspective so far.
"I don't know anything about any 'dog hair.'"
…And then there's breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding. Have we already discussed this once or a hundred times? So here we are again, but this time, it's different. This time, I fear that we have reached the end of the road, just six weeks shy of my goal of being able to pump enough for Em for a year. I haven't thrown in the towel yet, but I am running out of tips, tricks, supplements, options… I am not pumping enough to keep up with Em anymore.

Scratch that--it's actually worse than that--I am barely pumping anything anymore.

As I mentioned in my last post about this mess, it all started in May, when prior to a stressful family event, I had plugged ducts, but with a little acupuncture and a mild temper tantrum on my part (it was cathartic), things got back to normal pretty quickly, despite a small drop in my supply. I did the math--because I'm insane--and even accounting for what i thought was the "worst case scenario" (now known as the "best case scenario"), we would make it to a year without needing to supplement.

But then, after I thought our problems had been solved, there was more pain. I started needing to pump for upwards of 30 minutes. My ducts became plugged again. And then, for whatever reason, I just stopped being able to pump. The milk was there. It just won't come out. I've massaged; I've hot compressed; I've had my pump's motor checked; I've taken supplements; I've deep breathed; I've switched out my pump parts. I keep thinking that this is going to turn around, and yet, it's just not. With my freezer supply and what I'm pumping now (apprx. 4 oz a day), I'm two weeks from being completely out of business.

As much as I have bitched and moaned, feeding Em exclusively breastmilk for a year is something I was committed to doing. And when I failed all other tests of new mommy hood--I haven't lost the baby weight; I stopped making Em's baby food; I can't commit to an exercise routine; I struggle to get a healthy dinner on the table even a few times a week--I held on to this as the thing that I could do. I could do this for my baby. I could set this one goal and reach it. Around nine months, I started to get cocky, let my guard down, began to assume that we were out of the woods. The end was in sight, and with no major hurdles ahead, we would have no trouble making it to August 1.

I was wrong.

I struggle so much with this because I know in my head that this is no big deal, that I've done a great job for my baby, and it is time to move on with our lives. And yet, the whole thing kills me. I cry when I think about it. For the first time as a mom, I feel like a failure. I am comparing myself to other mothers who reached their breastfeeding goals despite the hurdles. I have questioned where I went wrong. Maybe if I had bitched less. Maybe if I hadn't followed the peditrician's advice and tried dropping from pumping three times a day to twice. If I was just home with her more this wouldn't even be an issue.


And so on, like that, for at least a little while longer. 


GoddessLibrarian said...

How often are you feeding her? FWIW, my baby has dropped down to 3 nursings a day now. I used to always get up early and pump my right side and then feed him my left. I don't always do that now, but when I do I get about 3 ounces--after 12 hours-- when I used to get a lot more. I'm home with him and nurse him and we're dwindling too, so don't beat yourself up. (I also had recurrent clogged ducts and actually took lecithin pills for a little while). As soon as babies get a taste of those solids it's hard to keep them interested in breastfeeding which makes it hard to keep it up with pumping. A lot of moms don't make it past the first 6 weeks, you've done a great job! Pumping is NOT easy. Congratulate yourself!

Lou said...

@GoddessLibrarian I left out of my blog the argument I had with daycare about bringing more milk for her. They don't seem to understand that she should have less milk not more. 4oz a day is from pumping 3x a day, for upwards of 30mins each time, and only getting milk from one side :(. I'm taking lecithin everyday as well as a homeopathic called phytolacca that the lactation consultant recommended. I should be trying to pump right now, but it's become such a losing proposition that I'm struggling to even bring myself to do it. Thanks for the support. We will probably make it to 11 months and a 1 week before we have to start supplementing, and the next thing I have to figure out is weather I should supplement with formula or just start weaning her to whole milk.

GoddessLibrarian said...

Oh man. Sorry. :-( I wouldn't do formula. She's nice & healthy right? Whole milk at 11 months won't hurt her. Formula is so expensive & to switch her to that, deal with all the gas from something new & then switch her to whole milk a month later? Go straight to whole milk.

heidikins said...

I'm not a Mom, I've never breastfed, and I have no idea how to respond to this post, I just wanted you to know that I read it and I am wishing all sorts of good things for you and an easy transition--whenever it is--to the next thing.


Lou said...

@heidikins thanks hun. We'll figure it out. It's truly not the end of the world, I'm just acting like it is ;).

Aileen said...

I wish I had advice or experience to offer, but I'm sending all the good vibes your way. Again, hats off to you, because all of this is pretty heroic, in my humble opinion.