As many of you probably (don’t) know – or don’t care – it is World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7. I’m not sure if I’ve just been noticing the barrage of breastfeeding news more since it is relevant to me or if it’s grown in the past year or so, but controversies pop up all the time. From breastfeeding in public to New York’s crazy LOCK UP THE FORMULA law proposal, people have very strong opinions on the issue.
Here’s my take on breastfeeding: You want to do it? Absolutely go for it. (But if you want to do it until the kid is a teenager I’ll give you the side eye and may be snarky about it, but that’s your choice. I won’t berate you.) Facepunch anyone who judges you.
Here’s my take on formula: You don’t want to breastfeed? Don’t. Feed the kid from the bottle. Facepunch anyone who judges you.
There is no reason that this choice needs to be constantly judged. It’s just that – a CHOICE. There are often legit reasons for the decision that’s made. Is breastfeeding really best? Yep. But formula fed babies get nearly all the same nutrients and vitamins and all that shit as breast milk. There are certain benefits to breastfeeding but not enough to warrant the judgement. Shit happens. Sometimes the boob isn’t the answer.
So, whatever. Bottom line is that people shouldn’t care what other people (women, obviously) do with their milk machines.
Now. Back to me. If you don’t want to think about or know more about my own boobs, I suggest you stop reading now.
My breastfeeding journey is about to come to an end. I wasn’t sure about the process in the beginning, but I knew I wanted to do what was best for this new human. I was going to try.
I’ve made it six weeks so far, and while I hoped to go longer and have more success, my body had other plans.
I don’t know if it was the Pitocin*, the feedings I skipped while in the hospital, the shortened feedings when the pain was excruciating, the stress from the power outage or the ER visit and recovery time for the migraine two weeks after Little A was born. What I do know is that my milk never came in.
The word “engorged” means nothing to me.
I tried. I did. Maybe not 100% but I give myself at least a B. I spoke to consultants. I nursed or pumped every two hours, I took pills, I tried shields. At most, I got an ounce. Total. AT MOST. Little A was not fond of working so hard to get so little and would either fall asleep or give up and there would be no coaxing him back.
It was never an issue of nipple confusion, since he was being supplemented from the start because of the jaundice. He would latch great and do everything right, it was just never enough to satisfy him. As he continued to eat more and I continued to make less, there was no hope of catching up to his appetite.
I can produce three to four ounces on a good day. He eats four ounces in a single feeding.
After I realized nothing was helping to increase the supply, I got off the every two hour schedule. That was honestly more draining than labor. I still produced the same total amount by the end of the day even if I spent less time doing it. It was also a nightmare waking the kid up to feed him. We started letting him lead the way and telling us when he wanted to eat.
If my milk had not come in after four weeks, it was not about to #%/*& magically appear now.
After trying power hours, Fenugreek supplements, special tea and the constant feeling of being a dairy cow, I am throwing in the towel. Nothing helped. Not even a little. I will probably continue to pump and breastfeed for another week or so, but am going to start to taper off. I’m willing to try and make it to his eight week appointment (aka the one where he gets all shot up with vaccinations). But then? Done.
While I’ve seriously enjoyed catching up on Saved by the Bell episodes while pumping, that does not make the process worth it. I can watch Netflix without being attached to a vacuum.
Am I disappointed? Yes. Do I feel guilty? Hell to the no.
And big ups to those who DO succeed at exclusively breastfeeding. No doubt you guys are warriors. The time and effort are crazy insane and you’re all champs for pushing forward. I caught a glimpse into that world and even if I had been able to produce, it is unknown how long I would have persevered.
I had my anguishing breakdowns over not being able to provide for my child. I felt like I was failing what I should naturally be able to do. I cried over the chafing, the pain, the lack of milk. I cried because it felt like my entire day revolved around this and there was no time left for anything else. Feed. Burp. Pump. Feed. Pump. Burp. Feed. Feed. Feed. Pump.
To be totally honest, the way this played out sort of made this experience easier for me. Little A (and me, for that matter) can sleep longer since I don’t have to wake him up to feed him. Big A can assist with the feedings, allowing me to sleep in, get shit done, take a break when I need to, cook dinner, write blogs, whatever.
Is it a cop out? Maybe. But then again, wasn’t my whole pregnancy?
I’m over it. John Q Public better be, too.
*A possible side effect of the drug is a decrease in breast milk supply.