Monday, April 19, 2010

Humble pie.

I got a big serving of it today.

I never questioned whether I was going to breastfeed or not. To me, it's the not only the "best" way, but the "right" way. Thank goodness I had a relatively easy time establishing breastfeeding with Lucy. Of course there was the initial soreness, and we had to work on her latch for the first couple of weeks, but it happened. Things got easier. Lucy thrived. I loved looking at every little dimple and roll on her, thinking, "Hey- i put that there!"

I still love, love, love nursing- even in public. I enjoy my little part of "normalizing" breastfeeding- trying to encourage the mamas who are embarrassed or nervous to do so. Admittedly (and I am embarrassed about this), I feel a little sorry for a baby when I see mama pull out a bottle, even though there's no way to tell whether it's breastmilk or formula.

When I went back to work, I was blessed that my supply didn't diminish, even with twice-daily pumping sessions. Lucy was still breastfed exclusively. In fact, I even pumped enough to donate over 400 oz. of spare breastmilk. That was a couple of weeks ago- before I found out I was pregnant again.

And now here I am. My supply is slowly declining. It's sad, really- pumping less and less. Compressing and squeezing and praying and hoping for just a few more ounces. I have about 50 oz left in the freezer- probably just enough to keep topping off bottles for another couple of weeks.

So, today, I did it. I bought a can of formula. Because I don't know how long this will last, and I don't want to leave for work without a back-up. I'd rather end up having to mix formula and breastmilk during the transition, rather than going straight from one to the other.

Why not try to obtain donated breastmilk? Because I think other babies need it more. The last time I checked, there were about 10 requests for every 1 donation on MilkShare. Preemie babies, babies with illnesses, babies who aren't yet on solids and don't have the benefit of even a small amount of breastmilk. I feel for their mamas. I know how I feel now is probably nothing compared to the disappointment of not being able to breastfeed in the first place.

We'll continue to try, and I'll continue drinking my mama's milk tea 3 times a day, even though I know that it's the rising estrogen levels impacting my prolactin production, and there's really nothing that can be done. I'll keep nursing Lucy as long as she wants, and as long as I am physically able.

And I'll try not to feel pity for the mama I see in the formula aisle, because I don't know her situation. She certainly doesn't know mine- at least not for a few more months.


Kacie said...

GREAT post! You're right -- we can't know what another mother is going through.

Maybe the mama holding a bottle is holding her adopted baby? Or maybe she tried her darndest and it just didn't work.

It's so hard to say.

I have to admit too, I feel weird when I see a tiny baby being fed a bottle. It's like an instant reaction -- my mind isn't really processing it. When I see an artificial nipple, it just makes me feel so strange and I can't for sure explain why.

I hope your mama's milk tea helps and you're able to keep on nursing for as long as the pair of you like, and if you aren't, then I'm glad you made it as long as you did.

Ed and Elizabeth said...

Don't beat yourself up! You did a great job! Be thankful that you were able to pump and it didn't effect your supply. Lucy is THRIVING!! :) She is sooo cute! I know the feeling of slowly declining in what you are producing and it hurts, but I promise that you will take it harder than Lucy. She will be fine. Just know that your body is getting ready for the new baby and that is a lot of work. Take it easy and take care of yourself.

PS - What kind of formula are you using??

Jules said...

I've learned that motherhood has provided me the opportunity to eat every word I've ever uttered.

You did a good thing donating your milk. Yes, the timing is crazy. And sucks. But you've made excellent choices.

I totally understand though. I proudly nurse Cedar in public with what little milk I make and then usually go hide somewhere to give her a bottle of donated milk.

Hugs to you, mama as you grow a new life while feeding another. What a big job!

Ida Mae said...

You are doing an outstanding job Momma! Keep it up.

julesbr said...

Thanks for this post. I've struggled very hard to produce enough milk for my my now four-month-old daughter, and I've had to supplement with formula since she was four weeks old.

It absolutely killed me to give her formula when I so strongly believe that breastmilk is the way to go. Before I gave birth I looked harshly on women who fed formula. But no amount of pumping or downing galactagogues by the bottle-full has ever brought me to a full supply.

This experience has taught me that there's no way I can know why other mothers make the decision not to breastfeed. I continue to give my daughter all the breastmilk I can produce and supplement to fill in the gap. It breaks my heart to think that others might judge me when they don't know how hard I've worked to be able to make the milk that I do.

So thanks for reminder to be careful about judging other mothers for their decisions.