Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mother's milk

I am 4 months and 12 days into breastfeeding Amelia Jayne and loving every minute. I'm so proud and feel so accomplished in this area of my life, one of the few where I do right now. At this point with Xander I was having to supplement one or two bottles of formula per day. I never could quite keep up with his demand, but I now know it was because I did not pump enough or store enough milk while I was on maternity leave. AJ is actually bigger than he was at this same age, so I know she requires more milk, and yet I'm producing enough.

I was so upset when I came to the conclusion that I was not producing enough milk for little Xander and that he would require formula. This was the one thing I alone was supposed to be able to do as his mommy, and I couldn't do it. I stressed over it. I cried about it. David tried so hard to be supportive and loving, but in reality he was completely baffled by my reaction. And then, I just kind of got over it - God gave me peace. I nursed him when I could and I gave him formula when I was away from him. He thrived and I was fine. By the time he was 7 months old I was down to nursing him only in the morning and at night before bed. All other feedings in between were formula. Later that month I got sick and needed to take an antibiotic. The doctor told me not to nurse while I was taking it, so that ended up being the end of my breastfeeding days with Xander. (fyi - the lactation consultant I had when in the hospital with AJ said that most antibiotics are safe to take while breastfeeding - be sure to talk to your lactation consultant before you just stop or pump and dump. I'll do that this time around if needed.)

I cried. I was depressed. I thought it was too early, and too abrupt. I wasn't able to make the decision, it was forced on me. And I had no time to let the whole situation sink in before it was just done. Oh how sad I was during those next couple of weeks. Xander, on the other hand, was fine. He didn't seem to miss it. He wasn't getting much actual milk from me at that point anyway, and he was fine to just snuggle, not needing the breast to pacify him. For that I am very thankful. It would have made part of me die inside if I had taken away something that he longed for, too.

My experience this time around has been so different. Amelia Jayne was so good at the beginning - she latched on immediately when I offered to nurse her the first time (minutes after my c-section, while in the recovery room). She was a lazy eater for the first couple of weeks, meaning she would fall asleep at the breast every time I tried to feed her and I would have to keep her awake (rubbing, massaging, undressing her, putting my cold hands on her, etc) to get her to eat. My milk came in much quicker this time around, after just 3 days when it took 5 days with Xander. However, AJ lost enough weight in her first few days of life that the pediatrician wanted me to supplement her with pumped breastmilk. I pumped while still at the hospital and then, once I was home, I pumped after she ate...every.single.time. That was fairly exhausting, but she gained weight and my milk supply shot up. She started sleeping 6 hours at night after just a few weeks, so I would wake up ready to burst. I would feed her, but she wouldn't drain enough, so I would pump. That's how I was able to build my stockpile of milk in the freezer.

I exclusively nurse Amelia Jayne on my days off and I typically pump once per day when I'm home. On the days I work, I typically pump as much, if not more, milk than she intakes at home. My freezer is full of milk, for which I'm very thankful. I'm sure I will need to dig into those reserves at some point, but right now it's just a safety net and we're at least "breaking even" each day.

To wrap up this crazy post that has gotten ridiculously long, I love breastfeeding! I love nourishing my children and I love having that amazing bond with my kids that no one else can have. God made me to provide food for my children. I don't condemn anyone who chooses not to breastfeed (afterall we live in a world and culture where you do have a choice) and I certainly empathize with those moms who can't breastfeed. I won't do it forever (I would like to make it to one year, though), but while it's still an option I'm thankful for it. And oh so thankful for the closeness between my baby and me.

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