Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Breastfeeding

Oh breastfeeding... How I both love and loathe you at the same time.

It's been an interesting relationship these last 10+ months.  It started off a little rough.  Andrew was such a sleepy eater and sometimes rousing him to eat took longer than it actually took him to nurse.  I'll admit to resorting to setting him on the floor in front of me and letting him fuss for a few seconds, just to make sure he would be awake enough to latch.  Then he would nurse for 5 minutes or so and pass out.  I knew he hadn't eaten enough, so it would be back to trying to wake him up. Being that it took him almost three weeks to get back to birth weight didn't help, either.  So yeah, breastfeeding, my relationship with you didn't start off all that swimmingly.

But then we got into a rhythm.  Andrew got a little less sleepy and a lot more interested in eating.  He would dive right in and actually give me excited little shouts when I laid him across my lap, eagerly anticipating access to the boob.  He would go to town eating, all the while giving the boob little pats with his top hand as if to say "Good job with that milk production.".  Things were great - my supply was up, he had plenty to eat and I was even able to start working on a freezer stash.  This part of our relationship was fantastic.  But alas, this turned out only to be the honeymoon phase.

When Andrew turned 3 months old I had to start going back to the office for work.  There was no more working from home with my baby nursing contentedly while I typed away on my laptop.  Instead I had to leave him behind (sniffle sniffle) and start up my (very) extended relationship with my pump.  I still relished the time I had before leaving for work, nursing my little munchkin.  His still eagerly yelled for the boob when I'd pick him up out of the crib.  Sitting quietly with him in the morning never failed to make me smile.  And I would rush home from work to nurse him to get more time with him.  I had the fear that he would lose interest in nursing since he wasn't with me all day, but it turned out he had absolutely no problem going back and forth from bottle to boob. Things were going along fine with you, breastfeeding, but then we were about to hit a little snag.

I started to worry that I couldn't pump enough while at work.  You see, Andrew is a hungry little guy.  Very hungry.  When I went back to the office he was eating 5.5 oz bottles - four of them. And it quickly went up to 6 oz bottles.  That was 24 oz I needed to pump.  To alleviate some of the pressure on me I took out a frozen bag to use for one day. He wouldn't eat it.  He would get a little taste of it, make a face and then scream and cry.  When I heard/saw this I wanted to cry.  All of those bags of frozen milk in the freezer - my stash that I was so proud of building up while I was on maternity leave - was all for naught.  We tried some of the other bags to the same result.  Cue the big tears from me.

Luckily my production was still up. I was able to pump 6 or 7 oz before work from righty before I nursed him with lefty and then I would normally get close to 16 oz during my two pumping sessions at work.  Plus whatever I got at night after I nursed him and put him to bed.  It was stressful, but we were able to do it.  I fully enjoyed nursing him when I could and dealt with my pumping sessions at work. I didn't love pumping, but it was for the greater good, so I soldiered on. 

Then October hit.  And with it came the flu.  Right before Andrew turned 7 months my body was ravaged and my supply tanked. I was devastated. No amount of Mother's Milk tea, fenugreek, goats rue, blessed thistle or water seemed to get it back the supply of our glory days.  And my little guy was hungry. I gave in. We bought formula.  I cried at the thought that I couldn't provide for my munchkin and then cried harder when he refused to drink the formula.  Eventually his hunger was stronger than his will for breastmilk and he drank the bottle.  I was relieved that he would be able to eat, but shattered over the fact that he needed it.

Over the next few weeks my supply rebounded slightly. Then we took another hit and my trusty breast pump crapped out.  Dead. Also about this time my self esteem was taking quite a hit because I'd gotten to the point of being so sick of wearing the same clothes over and over just so there would be easier access to the boobs for pumping.  I'll tell you this, breastfeeding, you certainly tested my resolve.  But we stuck with it.  I got a new pump, I continued to drink mass amounts of tea and water, and I nursed him like nobody's business when I was home with him.

The new year rolled around and we continued on.  A bedtime bottle of formula was introduced, but he was still getting all breastmilk during the day on most days.  I started to relax a little as far as my being upset about him getting some formula.  Sure, it would have been great if we could have had an exclusive relationship for at least a year, breastfeeding, but I learned to cope with our open relationship.  And now here we are - a little over 6 weeks away from our one year goal.  It's been quite the ride.

I do want to thank you for some things, though.  You have given me an amazing experience with my little munchkin.  It's had it's ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  You've also saved us a buttload of money with not having to buy formula every week or so. Of course I've spent I don't know how much money on pumps, storage bags, mother's milk tea and who knows what else, but it's been worth every penny.  Oh, and you've kept that pesky AF away for the past 10+ months, so I'd like to thank you for that.

So yeah, even though it hasn't always been easy and we've had our rough patches I will always cherish the time that I have been able to spend with Andrew nursing him and be thankful every day for my ability to provide for him as much as I have.  But I will say that I won't be the least bit sad to pack that damn pump away for the last time...


  1. I think my heart just stopped a little when I read that he'll be one in about six weeks. Where did the year go?

  2. I know! I looked at the calendar today and freaked out. I'm still in shock about how fast this year has gone by.

  3. I hear you. I cannot wait until May 25th to get rid of the damn pump. It infuriates me because I see how little I pump for the 1 freaking bottle she needs a day. But the money we've saved has been fabulous.

  4. can't believe we're so close to 1! It's been quite a 10 months! Way to go with still pumping away. I am too...and I can't wait to be done! We should be very proud of our efforts for our kiddos. Happy Friday!