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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8 Responses to “The end is near”


  1. 1 Terry April 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Well I, for one, appreciate this heads up. I know I told you that I did not have a battery pump so the idea of pumping to keep up with Maggie’s spontaneous needs and life’s curve balls seemed preposterous. I wanted to try nursing, hated the passionate fervor of nursing fans, was surprised at how much I enjoyed that time with Maggie (I agree it must have had something to do with the unique “thing” I could do for her), was surprised at how sad I was to stop when I returned to work….(long sentence isn’t it?). Ok new sentence then. But for all that pretty good experience (oh, except rawness, bleeding and a mild case of mastitis) I pretty much feel like life kept going, Maggie stayed fascinating, and I don’t look back at it as being the defining act of mothering. Were there peeps who took that tone (or at least I heard that tone)? Yup. Same ones who used that tone about everything else. It’s the 9th grade cafeteria table all over again. Here’s what I love seeing in just the precious moments we’ve had visiting since Molly was born: (oh and this relates to your last post too) Molly watched you walk away from me while I was holding her. She watched you like a hawk, until her poor eyesight lost you. It was a spectacular moment to see. I doubt that she was thinking “oh that’s that person with the boobs.” Nope. You’re associated with warmth and nice sounds and smells. And someday she’ll know you’re funny. (just a heads up…that takes awhile unless it’s simply slapstick).

  2. 2 Tammy April 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    awww… tears at Molly watching her mom walk away. how wonderful that must be…

  3. 3 kateandgracie April 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Oh dear. You both just made me cry. Although I’m sure there are many people that could talk about my smell (yes, I’m not the best at this *showering* thing), the idea that Molly can smell me makes me tearful. I am obsessed with her smell. I just love it. My sense of smell isn’t great so I always worry what I find pleasing another will find offensive. But if Molly isn’t turned off by me, that is a win in my book.

    Today she was a total smile-saurus. When she wasn’t being a pillbox. She’s getting more and more fascinating. And really, I can’t wait for more.

  4. 4 Jane Roe April 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I remember when we got Tim and someone suggested that if I just tried hard enough I could get myself to be able to breast feed my adopted son. Really? At seven weeks he’s going to stop the bottle just so I can TRY to breast feed? Ridiculous! Do I wish he’d have had breast milk, of course. But did that make me less of a mother or was he really hurt by having had formula? I really don’t think so. Love is what really matters not the food source. Molly knows what she needs and that’s what you’re giving her just as Tim knew what he needed and that’s what we gave him. And isn’t their smell just the most amazing thing? And guess what, the smell is there whether they are breast fed or not.

  5. 6 Heather Certain April 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    As your mom said: RIP boobs.

    I say celebrate the milestone by having a bloody mary while Aaron feeds her at 5 am.

  6. 7 kateandgracie April 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Brilliant.

  7. 8 kateandgracie April 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    And Jane I often think of you and Tim…I wasn’t fed any breast milk, either, but I often think of folks who really could not/cannot feed their children breast milk and how this modern obsession with breastfeeding must make them feel. In my opinion, there’s just too much pressure in the most ridiculous places.

    And I obsessed with smelling Molly. She’s so dreamy.


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