Archive for April 24th, 2012

The end is near

Once doctors instructed us to start supplementing Molly’s feedings with formula, I started nursing her a bit less, allowing Aaron to feed her at times without me. I did not take the recommended route of nursing her, feeding her formula and pumping all at one feeding because, frankly, I was not up to that task, which sounds superhuman to me. Instead, I nursed her and then gave her formula when she was done, but sometimes she just got straight up formula. The consequence was less stress on me and I think all three of us enjoyed the feeding experience more. Another consequence, though, was that the boobs became engorged until they adjusted to the new schedule.

Then I got mastitis. After a lengthy visit to Urgent Care — during which I could feel the engorgement — I came home with antibiotics and a little trepidation about resuming nursing. Knowing that I had a “major fissure” on my left breast did not make me want to get back on that proverbial horse. I pumped for a day or two before I started nursing Baby Girl. The boobs again adjusted to their newly reduced role.

Then I had the D&C and the boobs were out of commission for a whole day. I had to express milk in the recovery room because things had gotten so uncomfortable. When I got home, I was less than interested in taking Molly to breast because, after all of the hemorrhaging, the idea of my uterus contracting – an effect of nursing – was so unappealing. And scary.

The weekend after surgery, I pretty much opened the boob shop for the first feedings of the morning — around 5 am — and closed them down around 2 pm. This worked pretty well, I thought. Molly was getting breast milk, but I wasn’t tied to her in the afternoons and evenings, which allowed me to do other things and Aaron to participate in feedings. My body seemed to adjust, too. If I didn’t start to nurse Sweet Potato by 5 am, I could start to feel the engorgement coming on. But then a funny thing happened (read: frustrating and annoying) on Saturday morning: Molly screamed at me when I tried to nurse her. I switched breasts and she did it again. Screamed and screamed and screamed. Argh. So, in order to stop the 5 am screaming, I gave her a bottle. When I tried to nurse her a few hours later, the same thing happened. Argh argh. This happened again the following morning. Yesterday, she took to nursing again, but she went back to screaming again this morning when I tried to give her a boob.

I think it’s clear I’m not dealing with nipple confusion here. Quite the contrary, I’d say. She knows how to nurse, but she is telling me she’d rather not. The bottle is easier and, thus, satisfies her hunger more quickly, I imagine. But what about all of the wonderful things she’s missing by not getting nature’s most perfect food? Well, I’ve been pumping. Tonight, though, I pumped for over an hour and couldn’t even get an ounce out. I seem to be drying up. For some women, this is their worst fear. For me, I feel a little sad about it – more sad than I expected to feel, but I don’t feel it’s a great tragedy or anything. In the scheme of things, I feel it’d be silly to get all worked up about it — Molly is growing and healthy and that’s what’s really important. I guess it makes me feel like a failure, but I think I pretty much dealt with that emotion when we started supplementing. Maybe my sadness is more about me: now there is nothing else that I am uniquely able to give her. Maybe I’m just sad as this is a small sign she’s growing up. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I feel a little conflicted about this change.

Here’s the thing: I’m going to keep trying for a few more days, but I thought I should warn you all that I suspect the end is near. I wanted to tell you now, to give you time to come to terms with the impending loss. I know it will be hard on you, and I’m sorry, but I truly believe we can make it through this together.

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