This one is truly a blog rant from mommy-land, so people who are unnerved by discussion of breast-feeding beware!
When I became pregnant, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to breast-feed. After all, it's the most natural thing that has kept our species alive for centuries right? I'd heard about the struggles that come with nursing - problems with milk supply, pain, engorgement, and a plethora of other issues. I was still determined and knew I could get myself into the mindset to overcome anything that would put a bump in the road to success. Owen is now 8 months and we have had our fair share of bumps to get over, from an over-active letdown (resulting in him having gas pains) to a tongue-tie that wasn't corrected until he was 5 months old. Don't even get me started on the leaking. Regardless, I can happily say that, so far, he has only had my milk, no formula, and for that I am both grateful and proud.
Pumping sucks - literally and figuratively. I'm fortunate enough to have an office where I can close my door and listen to the dulcet tones of the pump "speaking" to me in a funky, hypnotic voice that others have liked to Darth Vader. My old pump (we'll get to that in a minute) sounded like it was saying "black heart" over and over. Appealing when you're trying to squeeze out the life source for your child right? Although, I sometimes feel like it's pulling the air out of my soul, so maybe it's appropriate. In attempts to keep supply up, I have shoved a variety of different herbs and supplements down my throat (none of which made a significant difference I should add), I've made lactation cookies (which Husband quite enjoyed because they taste delicious, but he didn't start lactating so not sure if it was much help), drank gallons of water (which sent me back and forth to the bathroom reminiscent of my third trimester of pregnancy), and various other tricks. The worst case scenario was when my pump output suddenly dropped to half and, having exhausted all possibilities as to what was wrong with me, I came to a disturbing realization that my pump was losing suction. (Maybe Dyson should get into the pump business, being experts about never losing suction and all.) To their credit, the pump manufacturer (Medela) sent me a replacement overnight and I had a crazy weekend of being attached to the pump and baby simultaneously to try and send my body the simple message - MAKE MORE MILK!
I didn't know that boobs were as emotional as they are. While they may respond happily to relaxed baby thoughts, they also respond negatively to stress, tiredness, anxiety... Husband, and my girlfriends (who are huge nursing advocates) have talked me off a ledge repeatedly over the last few months. My goal is to get to one year of pumping, which puts me at T minus 15 weeks. Owen can nurse all he wants after that, but the days of anxiety over a bad pump output, repeatedly counting the bags of frozen milk in the freezer in the hopes they can cover my daily pump deficit, washing bottles and pump parts with scalding hot water every night, will all be over.
I know that breast-feeding isn't a possibility for all. I do feel fortunate that I have been able to supply my little guy this long, despite it being one of the toughest personal challenges that I have had to face. What I'm trying to do now is just let go of the anxiety that I'm not producing enough, or won't make it to a year. Let go of any guilt in case I do fall short of my goal. The end is in sight and when I'm finally able to pack up the pump and put it in the closet, I'm going to do something whacky like drink whiskey at lunch...mid-week.