Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Latest and Not So Greatest

The LFM at his first bath, about 2.5 weeks old
After his first bath, tasting the towel to make sure it was still fresh

This has been a hard week with much grieving...grieving over milk, grieving over Mimi's death, and yesterday was the 9 year anniversary of my brother's suicide. 9 years? Really? Where did they go? And why has my family done more shrinking than growing in that time?

Last week I had my 6 week checkup (even though it was technically 7 weeks) with our amazing midwife, whom I love and respect so dearly I cannot even write about her in any way that does her justice. And more significant than the fact that I got the okay to start having sex again (not that exhaustion creates all that much desire mind you) was the discussion about milk that ensued. This amazing woman, whose opinion I trust more than just about anyone else's, told me that I'm never going to be able to solely breastfeed. She said that if the milk production was going to turn around, it would have already. She said that we tried absolutely everything and we tried valiantly and for longer than most, but that now it was time to move forward. She said it all far more gently and poetically though. The lactation consultant agreed, and said she was thinking the same things.

And I broke. Just a little bit. I broke.

So what does moving forward mean exactly?

On the one hand, it means gradual liberation form my jailer, the evil pump. This is the positive side of the coin. It means that in a few weeks I'll only be pumping once or twice a day, simply to give Jonah the teensiest bit more breastmilk. It means not freaking out about missing a pumping and feeling eternally guilty when I do. It means no more obsessing every single second of the day and night about my milk supply and how to increase it, because I have to let go of the control there and accept that it just may not increase, even with all the pumping in the world.

On the other hand it means letting go of that dream that I've been clinging so tightly to. It means there's a mean voice in my head that needs to be banished calling me inadequate and a failure. It means this is just one more painful thing that I have no control over and just have to swallow and accept, even despite my constant hard work and vigilance. It means a lot of pain and tears on top of a preexisting mountain of grief from Mimi's death. It means great jealousy of other Mama's who can nurse no problem and great bitterness towards those who can but chose not to. It means bitterness towards the universe. It means the straw that may not be breaking this camel's back, but its certainly injuring it.

And now the plan. The plan is first and foremost that I have a therapy appointment Monday morning with a therapist of my wonderful midwife's reccomendation, because the LFM does not need a depressed and constantly crying Mama on top of everything else. Feeding wise, the plan is that every feeding I nurse him on each breast so he can get as much as they can offer (which was about an ounce and a half total between both breasts at 2:45pm Friday at the lactation consultant's) and then he gets his supplement of pumped breastmilk and/or formula on the breast with a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS).

So we're still breastfeeding, just not entirely, and that's what I'm clinging to for dear life. My new mantra that I repeat about every other second of the day is I AM A BREASTFEEDING MAMA. The midwife says that I need to be able to stand on the hill near our apartment which overlooks the city and scream that I am a breastfeeding Mama, and that this is just how my particular body breastfeeds and I need to find a way to embrace that. I need to find a way to get to a place of peace and acceptance and I need to be able to appreciate my breasts for what they can produce. And I'm trying I really am.

Yesterday, at a friend's baby shower, someone turned to me and asked the dreaded question of whether or not I was breastfeeding. To my credit I answered yes, but then launched into the whole explanation about the low supply and having to supplement and at one point she said something along the lines of "So you're not entirely brastfeeding" and internets, it killed me to hear that, it really did. When I explained abot all the work we were doing she then said something about how I've worked hard for every drop I can give, so she did finally get it, but it still stings a little, you know?

And now I must go nurse my baby, because he's hungry and I AM A BREASTFEEDING MAMA.


~Becky said...

Yes, you are a breastfeeding mama...a brave, strong and loving one! Jonah is a lucky boy.

When that question came up yesterday at the shower I know we all (your friends who know all you have done and admire you endlessly for it) wanted to jump in and answer for you. I could feel the tension. But you handled the question beautifully. And I think when you were done, everyone in that room had a mountain of respect for you. You are a breastfeeding mama. You really are.

And can I just say, Jonah is so sweet...and I think he likes me best. ;)

Lauren said...

One thing I've come to be amazed by - through ALL my numerous friends who are young mothers - is how common breastfeeding issues are. I had no idea! My good friend C went through different, yet similar issues herself - and similar emotions and guilt of feeling that she wasn't the best mother she could be. Which is so wrong! But I learned about breastfeeding issues first from her, and have since heard of this from other good friends as well. C told me that the idea that breastfeeding comes easily is actually a myth - in more times than not there is some complication. My heart goes out to you....

jessica said...

Glad at least that you are getting supportive help through this. Mom couldn't breastfeed me, and back in the 70's Dr.'s gave her zip support to deal with the emotional side of that.

On a brighter note -- I love love love to see all the pics!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you were put on the spot at my shower! You have worked so hard and you give so much, a better mama, I can't think of at the moment. We all love you and and Becky is right, you stood your ground beautifully.

Kaya is in love with you little boy by the way, and has decided she wants him as a baby brother!


Jon said...

It's been a while since I've been around. I love the pictures and stories of Jonah.

It's funny to lok back just a couple years and remember where you were, and now where you've come. You are one rockin mama

SweetBrier Scraps said...

Oh, breastfeeding! It is tough. I have to tell you that for both of my children, I could only do it for about 7 months and then, it just dried up. I turned to formula when necessary and amazingly, both of my little devils have turned out fine. More than fine - smart, sweet, and full of personality. I know your little man is going to be everything he is supposed to be and MORE! You know why? Because he has YOU!!