Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nearing the end

I would really like to continue to do partial breastfeeding, but these plugged ducts (or whatever else is the culprit) have caused a major supply drop for me, and I think I may be done sooner than I want. I am a little surprised at how much grief I feel over this; it's just as bad as what I felt over infertility, even the second failed IVF. I was just so sure breastfeeding would work for me (and my rack is robust right now - what the hell is in there if it isn't milk?). The things I worried about were sore ni.pples and leaking and a bad latch and all that other stuff that everyone gets - I didn't get any of that. I never even considered low supply. It's another one of those things that 5% of people get, and I manage to be in that 5%.

I'm trying to retain some perspective. I have a beautiful, happy, healthy baby. And it's nothing compared to other stuff that's going on with people I know. One of my best friends got a mammogram recently because her mother had had breast cancer at an early age, and they found precancerous cells all over the damned place. She then got a genetic test, which showed she has the BRCA2 gene mutation. So she's having a double mastectomy next week and has to have her ovaries removed by age 40. And another good friend's mother is very close to dying from metastatic brain cancer that began as a non-smoking-related lung cancer. So my life ain't so bad.

Still, I just feel so much more on the verge of tears than I have since my one day of postpartum hormones crashing. I have therefore been compelled to make a list of pros and cons of quitting breastfeeding.

- Baby doesn't get benefits of breastfeeding, such as, oh, brains and health.
- I don't get benefits of breastfeeding, such as effortless weight loss and natural birth control (ha! like I need that!).
- Bottlefeeding requires use of both hands, unlike breastfeeding, which allows for reading, remote-control-handling, eating, and one-handed typing.
- I would lose my bodacious rack.
- Intense guilt, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy/bitterness over others who successfully breastfeed, etc.

- No middle-of-the-night pumping. In fact, no pumping at all.
- More time to interact with the baby since I wouldn't nurse, supplement, and pump each session.
- Anyone can feed the baby - ie, I could leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time.
- I could sleep in a position other than flat on my back. No more plugged ducts.
- I could eat fish that contains mercury.

The pros are compelling but are all very me-focused. And one thing I've grown accustomed to with pregnancy and now nursing is that my diet affects two people. And I kind of like that. I've always been more responsible with other people's property than my own.


Magpie said...

Ok, I have NO idea how I ended up at your blog (a link from a blog of a blog, maybe...), but anyway. I just wanted to tell you that I understand your pain about breastfeeding/pumping formula feeding. My little munchkin was born last June with a horrible suck reflux, probably because of in utero positioning.

I didn't have a really great supply to begin with, and just pumping didn't help. I was absolutely determined to breastfeed though. I went to 3 lactation consultants, a speech therapist, and an occupational therapist and she just wouldn't latch. I pumped and supplemented, and I even finger fed her with a tube. When I started noticing that her colic and reflux worsened as my supply increased and she got more milk from me, I knew there was a problem.

I spent so much time reading labels and watching what I was eating to avoid exposing her to dairy, and doing all of the things that were associated with feeding her that I was barely getting to just enjoy my daughter. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and weighing my options and I ultimately decided to formula feed.

It was a really hard decision and I still feel guilty (as you can probably tell by how long this post is!). Almost a year later and there are times when I feel that I just didn't try hard enough. I got sad when I looked at the nursing bras that I bought just assuming things would be fine. I still look at breastfeeding women with jealousy, sadness and guilt. Depending on the day, it's sometimes outright hostility. I don't know that I will stop feeling guilty about that for a while.

BUT!!!! I was not tied to the pump, anyone could feed her, and most important of all- I could spend time just enjoying her. I felt so much less stress and I really felt like I could bond with her more. She's been happier since starting formula and is doing great developmentally.

Anyway, whatever you decide will be right for your baby. If you decide to formula feed, your baby will be happy and healthy.

It might take some time for you, of course. But such is motherhood.

Good luck!!

Meg said...

S - You know, it does feel like infertility. I have the same anger towards people that are able to successfully breastfeed as I used to feel towards people who were fertile. I can barely handle the new mother's group with all those mums complaining of engorgement!

You will find the right solution for you. I don't entirely know what that is for me. I am just keeping the milk flowing (I'm not sure "flowing" is the right word!)while I buy time in deciding really.

Hugs to you, anyway. It's so hard.

statia said...

We're a formula household, and you know? It's not all bad, and as for the brains thing, well, I would say that the Mini is either on target or ahead of the game as far as development goes. Thanks to all that DHA he's getting.

I know everyone has their heart set on some things when it comes to child rearing. And it's really hard not to get disappointed when your body fails you (again). But formula is good too.

In the end, you do what works for you, and it makes it easier to get along. I never tried breast feeding, because I'm an asshole, but you gave it your best shot. Hopefully you're proven wrong, but if not, I have plenty of tricks up my formula stained sleeves to make life easier.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that breast feeding is not going how you had hoped. I have no advice for you, just know that you are doing everything you can for and he is a lucky kid to have you for a mom. That and he is pretty damned cute!

Motel Manager said...

Thanks for sharing your stories - I really appreciate it!