I wouldn’t say I had a successful breastfeeding experience with Maya. I did a combo of nursing, pumping and formula for her first nine months and stressed myself to the max. My supply sucked, but I kept at it … even when only two of her seven or so feedings a day were coming from me. I guilted myself into doing it because I thought I “should,” but in retrospect, I really didn’t give it my all.
This time, I took a different approach. I said I’d give it my all, but refused to feel guilted into it if things weren’t going well. Nearly seven weeks in, I can say it has actually not been too terrible and I feel like I truly have been giving it my all. I got help when we needed it early on with the lactation consultants and as Ben’s latch got better, the experience became less burdensome. I supplemented with formula when he was losing weight (and am still giving him some each day). I’m eating more (and therefore not losing any more weight at the moment). I’m eating oatmeal and drinking more water (to help boost supply).
I do it because I want Ben to have the antibodies, the nutrition, all the good things breast milk offers. And he’s been doing much better with nursing so I have been nursing a couple times a day.
Yet, selfish as it sounds, sometimes I just don’t feel like being tied down. So I pump. And that takes time. Two hours, to be exact. That’s how long it takes my body (on average) to make a 4-ounce bottle for Ben. Two pumps spread out over the two-hour period. Sweat equity in the form of milk. A labor of love.
Which is why when Maya accidentally knocked over one of my pumped bottles-in-progress the other day, I cried. It only had two ounces at the moment, but I was devastated all the same. I’m sure hormones played a role in my reaction … but I literally cried over spilled milk. She felt awful and I felt awful for crying in front of her.
And lately, Ben has been spitting up a lot after meals … almost puking at times. Seeing my hard-earned milk all over his shirt or my shoulder is painful. Tonight, as I used the sixth fresh burp cloth of the day (and silently cursing the fact that my new top was now covered in milk), I was reminded of my own nasty spitting behavior of yore.
While it’s been nearly five years since I last chewed and spit, the temptation has been there on many an occasion. Fortunately, I’ve not caved and have managed my anxiety in other ways (distracting myself, talking to someone, eating, exercising, writing, to name a few). But seeing Ben spitting up his milk so frequently reminded me of how gross and disgusting my old behaviors were. While in his case it’s a newborn’s stomach developing (and possibly mild reflux — I have to talk to the pediatrician about it), in my case, it was intentional. Deliberate. Sneaky.
Thinking about my past made me sad … but also reminded me of just how far I have come in these nearly five years.
And I realized that while the spilled and spit-up ounces of milk make me crazy in the moment, it’s nothing compared to the misery I put myself through for all those years.
Thank you, Ben … for reminding me just how far I’ve come. There’s no turning back; full-steam ahead.
And speaking of steam … after tonight’s epic spit-ups, I desperately need a shower. And to do another load of laundry.
Babies … 😉