Confession Number One: Today is the first day since Molly was born that I neither fed her from my breast nor pumped. It’s also her two-month birthday. I hadn’t intended not to pump today, but the day just got away from me. She was a little pushier and needier today than she was the last few days so we didn’t get to take our daily walk. Then, when AO came home and suggested we all head out for a stroll, I couldn’t resist. And that was the time I’ve been pumping. So, when we got back from our walk, I totally forgot about pumping and instead got (a) excited that AO was home to help out and (b) excited to take a million pics of Mollymonster staring at the world around her (new development: Monster will be uber-awake and taking it all in sans desperate cries. It’s awesome). Anyway, it wasn’t until close to bedtime that I realized I missed my daily pumping (if you’re interested, I tried nursing again yesterday — at a time I thought Mollybear may be slightly hungry but wasn’t famished — and she just wailed upon seeing the boob) and, by then, I had had a couple of drinks so pumping for Molls wouldn’t be possible. I could just pump to pump (and then dump) but what the hell am I doing? I feel rather pathetic. For close to two weeks now, Mollipop has gotten no more than two to three ounces of breast milk a day. Is that significant health-wise? Who knows? I suspect most of us will say, “Yes! Of course!” but is it really? I have no idea. I think I am doing it more for my peace of mind.

And this leads me to Confession Number Two. I miss breastfeeding. I do. I feel rather odd about this, and I sort of feel like I am lying, but I don’t think I am. When Molly first shot out into this world, and I was breastfeeding for the first days in the hospital, it was awful. It was painful, stressful and upsetting. And then there would be the occasional nurse who would tell me it wasn’t supposed to hurt. If it hurt, I was doing it wrong. Nevermind that it always hurt and said nurse would watch me and tell me things looked good. It was confusing and stress-inducing. Finally, though, a nurse came to us in the middle of the night and told me, “Every time you start to breast feed you’ll feel like, “Egads! [Gasp!!]” or something like that and I said, “Thank you! Yes, it’s totally like that.” Interestingly, in-tune nurse looked exactly like Emma Stone. When women tell you, “Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt,” they are either (a) lying; (b) forgetting; (c) sensationless in their boobs; or (d) asses. The sharp, breathtaking pain that a new breastfeeder feels – on the heels of labor and delivery – is so uncool. The thing is, though, that it not only gets better, it gets to be about nil. It really doesn’t hurt at all. The thing that then begins to suck, though, is the leaking and the engorgement. I woke up every day in a sheet covered in milk. And I had to express from time to time (I learned how to do this from Aaron’s Google search) to get Lady Monster to eat and so that I was able to live and breathe. But, when Molls and I were in sync, it was pretty awesome. She fed readily at the boob trough and I could barely feel a thing. I had at least one hand free to work the remote or the phone and I felt like an amazing woman (well, kinda – I felt like I was at least feeding my baby). I felt like I had something she needed and I could always provide it. It was pretty cool. But then she kept losing weight. And my body couldn’t stop it. And we supplemented. And she did so well; she gained weight. And then she did so well switching from bottle to boob and boob to bottle that I stopped worrying so much and just felt happy she was doing so well, Aaron could feed her without me and I could still give her significant amounts of breast milk.

But then, one day, she stopped nursing. In fact, she screamed at me when I suggested she try it. And then the next day she screamed again. And then the next day, again. And yesterday, again.

I keep finding myself blaming the delivery doctor for not discovering there was still placenta inside me. If this had been discovered earlier, I tell myself, perhaps Molls would have gained sufficient weight (a woman’s milk production depends on her body knowing she is no longer pregnant. Retained placenta makes the body think there’s still a fetus inside and, hence, won’t go full milk-y), which would have allowed us to continue breastfeeding without supplementing. Had we been able to do that, maybe Molly would not have rejected the breast recently. I keep concentrating on this ‘what if’ scenario, which isn’t doing anyone any good. I miss breast feeding because it is so easy. I can say this because I have not yet had to return to work. I’m fully aware that is one big gift and caveat to deeming breast feeding ‘easy.’ What I mean with easy is that, compared to formula-feeding, it’s really pretty simple. You don’t have to worry about preparing formula, getting it out of the fridge (Mollybear sweetly does not insist her formula be heated; she loves it cold. Terry has suggested this is why she may have rejected the breast — it wasn’t chilled enough for her), making sure it didn’t sit out too long while she was being fed, washing the nipples, washing the bottles, and getting yourself to actually purchase the formula at the store (i.e. psyching yourself up to deal with fellow patrons’ possibly judgmental eyes and the fear that someone may call social services to tail you). And I miss out on feeling like there’s something special my body is doing for my baby and all of the un-replicable things breast milk supposedly provides baby. But here’s the reality: Baby Girl is two months old and smiling and holding her head up and focusing on faces and objects and I’m not sure worrying so much about breast milk versus formula is doing anyone any good. Sure, I feel guilty and disappointed in myself. But do those feelings do my daughter any good? I think I need to let go of how I hoped these months would go and instead say, she’s amazing and healthy and wonderful and that’s all that matters.

And if I need a little more of a boost, I’ll say that despite mastitis and a D & C and a baby who uttered bloodcurdling cries at the suggestion of breastfeeding, Monster still got breast milk for two months.


9 Responses to “Confessions”

  1. 1 Sara H May 3, 2012 at 8:59 am

    You did awesome. πŸ™‚ Formula is soooo much better than it used to be. As long as Molly knows she can count on you and Aaron to help her when she’s hungry, she’s got all she needs!

  2. 2 kateandgracie May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks, sweets. I really appreciate hearing that. Molly had her two-month check up today and when I made my confession to the pediatrician, she assured me all is well and told me not to feel guilty. Easier said than done. But, Molls is up to 10 pounds, 4 ounces so that makes me feel good. What did not make me feel good? Hearing her heart-breaking screams after getting her vaccinations. And yes, I’m pro-vaccination. And I’m not going to do a post about it πŸ™‚

  3. 3 kateandgracie May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Oh also, Sara – do you ever watch Pregnant in Heels? Well, yesterday I saw a commercial for the new season & Rosie appears to have a gay couple as clients who have a toddler named Coco. They’re awaiting the birth of their new child, though. The new kid’s name? Kiki. Made me think of Jess. Coco & Kiki. I think she’d have gotten a kick out of that.

  4. 4 Sara H May 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Is your engorgement gone? I started to feel a lot better (less guilty, more upbeat about babygirl’s feeding) about stopping breastfeeding when I didn’t have to sleep on a towel and my hormones leveled off. Yeah, the vaccination part is so painful for everyone involved! That is one of the only things that doesn’t get any easier.

    Never seen Pregnant in Heels – thought it was a book??? But Kiki and Coco – too funny. Thought of Jess this morning when Born To Run came on the radio. Miss that girl!

  5. 5 kateandgracie May 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Yeah, I associate her pretty strongly with Springsteen, too. Springsteen, the Kennedys and Ricky Martin. I miss her too. I feel like she’d have some pretty good stuff to say about this childrearing business.

    And yeah, the engorgement is now totally gone. It’s weird to go from leaking uncontrollably and feeling like there were weights in my boobs to being just my normal booby self. I kinda wonder if now — at almost 3 days from the last time I pumped — if I could milk myself. Probably. But, as my mom said, RIP boobs.

  6. 6 Sara H May 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Enjoy sleeping on your stomach again! πŸ™‚

    Jess would have made childrearing look easy. And hilarious.

  7. 7 kateandgracie May 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

    That’s so funny — I keep waking up on my side and have to remind myself that it’s ok to sleep on my stomach again. I don’t seem to be able to convince myself it’s true.

  8. 8 megan May 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Kate, this is so interesting. I’m sure you’re right about the residual placenta causing the low milk supply, although it’s weird about the leaking and engorgement. Also, you are totally right about it hurting, though I think maybe for some women it really doesn’t. It hurt like hell for me for at least a month but then it was fine. Anyway, it’s too bad you won’t be able to continue, but it obviously isn’t your fault, and you and she at least got to experience it for a little while!

  9. 9 kateandgracie May 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Megs, I agree: I think it’s completely weird that my milk seemed to come in fine and be all over the place and yet, still, Monster wasn’t gaining weight. Maybe it wasn’t the residual placenta — we’ll never know, I suppose — but it seems to me that it could have prevented me from providing as much as Molly needed. The fact that she was under her hospital-discharge weight even several days later (after a couple of ped appointments) was weird. Maybe it wasn’t the placenta.

    And yeah, you’re right — maybe it doesn’t hurt some women, but good god did it hurt. I really think that it’s normal for it to hurt at first, though, and I wish folks would admit this because otherwise it’s just one more thing we feel we’re doing wrong.

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May 2012

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