Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bye Bye Milkie Boobs

My milk is drying up. It's breaking my heart.

As much as I hate wearing the same two nursing tops (every day) and being gnawed on like I'm a chew toy, I'm not ready to wean E. I had just come to terms with extended breastfeeding and tandem nursing and now I can't pump and my daughter won't latch on for more than a few seconds.

She has been progressively drinking less and less over the past two months. First it was four feedings and then three and then two. And then sometimes only one. I got alarmed a few weeks ago and started emergency procedures. I'm drinking, like, 100 ounces a day. I'm back to eating oatmeal, "dry-pumping", offering the breast more, compressions, sacrificing small animals.... nothing..... not a drop....

I keep clinging to the mantra that it's simply Supply and Demand. Suck more, make more; but it's not working ya'll. I can't even squeeze a single drop out. My baby is starving and I can't provide for her.

Now, I know she will be a year old in a few weeks and she eats three square meals a day, with snacks, so she won't die of malnutrition. I know she's doesn't "need" my milk to "survive" now. I just wanted to keep giving her this "perfect nutrition" as long as possible.

I feel so helpless because part of the reason for my dry spell is my pregnancy. I've been Google-ing and reading up on KellyMom and LaLeche and something like 70% of women see a sharp decrease in supply aroud mid-pregnancy. Many of them lose their milk entirely. I guess I drew the short straw this time.

The good news is that I am FINALLY using up my freezer stash. Those cute little milk bags have been sitting in my deep freezer for almost a year. I have never needed them before. I had always wanted to give E the freshest milk possible so I tried to give her fresh pumped and straight-from-the-tap as much as possible. Plus, I envisioned every ounce as a "bonus" to my weight loss journey; "free" calories I burned, double even, since I pumped and also nursed. I figured I would toss them as they reached a year old (the max suggested time in a deep freeze).

(I almost donated them a few months ago, but I couldn't let them go. I was too attached to the them. They belonged to E.)

I tried to start E on whole milk and it didn't work out so well. She hated it and it made her poop gross-er. I tried rice milk and almond milk, and she loved them, but they aren't as nutritiously complete as cow's milk so that doesn't help the mommy-stress-level either.

I finally caved in and thawed out a freezer bag dated Aug 13 (a mere 13 days after E was born) and cautiously opened the zipper. I expected a blast of foul milk smell but the milk was fine. It smells strongly of iron, from my supplements at the time, but it was drinkable. As I poured it out into a sippy cup, I thought about all the drama and the pain that went into making each of these little boobie-packs. Every ounce, especially these first ones, was a miracle. I struggled to get more than a few ounces at a time. My nipples bled and my C-section scar burned and the baby screamed and when I pumped, it hurt like the dickens. Yet here I was, almost a YEAR LATER, goshdamn grateful that I put forth all that effort and saved each and every pack.

She didn't really take this milk so well in her sippy cup so I resorted back to her bottles. She hasn't had one in months and I was so proud that she had kicked the habit and moved on to the cup. It hurt a little to reintroduce them but what could I do? She was starving and I'm not a monster. You know, to her anyway. I guess I will deal with taking them away, again, later.

So that's where we are. I'm supplementing table foods with 8-12 ounces of year-old-milk per day and she seems happier, fuller and content. It still pains me to think that our nursing bond is quickly coming to an end before I am ready. That I won't be nursing into the second year. I'm still offering the boob throughout the day but she only gets maybe one good nursing in the morning.

Once again, I'm reminded that this whole child-rearing business is 20% good intentions/ planning/ personal philosophy and 70% "whatever the baby wants". You can say what you plan to do and what you want to do until you are blue in the face, but when the baby comes, the baby dictates a lot of what happens. With utter disregard for your "philosophy" and your parenting style and your baby-book-reading knowledge, even. And you just gotta roll with it.

((also, the other 10%, from the child-rearing equation, is PFM))



Rhiannon Houser said...

Beautifully put, Momma. My heart goes out to you & all mommas as we reach our kiddos milestones with bittersweet emotions.

nessa said...

i know how you feel, and i'm understand what it is like to go from wanting them to nurse for ever and them to be so perfect because they need you so much.. to your boobs not what i want anymore mommy.. it was a shock for me when Merrick just up and decided no more milk from mommy.. i cried, and tried forcing it.. but nothing.. he was done.. and i was left with huge boobies hurting like crazy and baby that wanted the dreaded formula,, ewwwww... but in the end we turned to organic reduced fat milk from horizons and we both where happy.. hope my little story helps.. love you.. and hope to get a invite for the big 1st birthday party!!!!

Lauren said...

Oh I so agree with the 70% whatever the baby wants. That was a shocking lesson to learn. I think I'm nearing the end of my relationship with breastfeeding, though Eloise still has other ideas...

That must be hard though to have to give up before you want to. I'm sure she'll get into cow's milk eventually.

Karina said...

oh man. i'm so sorry to hear about your dry spell. i had a similar thing occur to me but i think it was just my nerves because it soon returned but seeing as to you're pregnant ... just know that your daughter will love you unconditionally regardless if you breastfeed her or not. i am still breastfeeding [my daughter will be one on friday] & unfortunately for me i do not have any frozen milk. ah!

i completely agree about child-rearing being "70% 'whatever the baby wants'"!!! its so true.

hope your adjusting occurs smoothly.