Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby's Breast Chance

I can remember being about 19 going to the wedding of a good friend feeling a small tug of envy, "When's it gonna be my turn", fast forward a few years and tad-da, it was my turn and I married Corey. At our wedding our dear friends Steve and Amanda came through the receiving line, Amanda about 6 months pregnant with Avelyn and again a little twing of envy, "I want a baby",and thanks to the stomach flu our birth control didn't work so well and surprise we were pregnant with Bethany a month later. It's early December and I am sitting with most of my Dad's family in East Side Marios meeting my cousin's little guy Cole for the first time and I was flat out jealous, "When do I get a baby instead of my own internal kickboxing champion." A few weeks later she arrived. Jump ahead to now and I look at the dairy cows as we drive home and feel yet another pull on the ol' envy wagon..."Why can't I have that kinda milk?"

Not that I want to have black and white spots, sport my boobs on the outside of my clothes and chew cud, but rather I want to have enough to satisfy my daughter. To keep her healthy and growing and full, to feel adequate as her mother. It's just not happening.

As was the case when I had Bethany I am lacking in the dairy section. Unlike last time I was prepared for the fact that I may not have enough milk and that supplements and alternative solutions may be necessary. All through the pregnancy with Audrey I wasn't too worried, I'd start the medication again, I'd do what it took, it would be fine. And in the back of my mind I kept hearing the breastfeeding public health specialist telling me that since I was able to produce some milk the first time I should get more the second. She was right, sorta. I did get more this time, just not enough. I lasted 3 days of trying to exclusively breastfeed Audrey when I pulled out the formula and bottles. The constant rooting and screaming was more than I could take. Add to that she had rapidly dropped weight and I wasn't willing to cause either of us any more suffering. We've since settled into a good routine, I nurse and then supplement with formula. I take copious amounts of Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Domperidone, chug a bunch of water and then sit patiently for what usually is a good hour feeding my daughter. She gets some, I know that because when I don't nurse and only use a bottle she consumes quite a bit more, but she still needs the bottle.

Why am I complaining? Shouldn't I be thrilled there is more than last time? I am happy. And though I'm pleased, I am, however, also very sad. We live in a world where breast is best and although formula is great we are still criticized for using it (a nurse did point out that at 20 years old you'll never be able to tell a breastfed from a formula fed child, good point), but don't pull out your boob in public - it's offensive ya know *pft*, that's a whole different can of worms. What it comes down to is that as a woman and a Mother I feel inept. It`s a kick to my mojo that I don`t have the mammories to produce, and really there is nothing I can do about it.

So why talk about it? Because I'm at a crossroads. We are a month in and I'm already tired. I breastfed Bethy as best I could until she was 6 months old. It again was a lengthy process but I had the time and I wanted to do it. I want to do the same for our Audrey but the truth is, the time is a little tighter. Not that I can't make the time, but in making the time Bethany suffers. She deserves my undivided attention too and well, sometimes that's hard to do between super long feeds and household chores, errands, falls between the cracks. And that aside, I'm tired. Physically I'm exhausted like any mother of a newborn and a toddler, emotionally, because I truly wish I could give her more and mentally because well, I have a toddler and newborn, you try to think clearly at 3am. Corey says it's up to me if I want to quit, the doctor says do what I can and I, well I can't decide. I want to give her the best, I love her just as much as Bethany but when is enough, enough? When is throwing in the towel not defeat and rather self preservation?

I guess it all comes down to the grass always being greener....and this time it really is on the other side of the fence.


Kami said...

Ashley, I know a little bit about how you feel. When Jack was 3 weeks old I was this close to switching to formula...cracked nipples, thrush and the pain, oh the agony.

I wish we didn't feel the guilt due to the pressure of society to breastfeed. We shouldn't.

I never had a drop of breastmilk and I think I have turned out okay. I am healthy and have had two perfect babies. What more could I ask for?

You do what is best for both your girls and that will be the perfect choice for you. And the guilt? Tell it to hit the road!


Anonymous said...

I know, advice from the "MOTHER-IN-LAW", but, you know, I will just tell what I did and you can do what you wish...I think I know how you feel as I did have enough milk, but I felt, as you do, that I wasn't spending enough time with Corey (who had 6 months of breast milk)so I did only nurse Scott for, I think, 1 month, then it was to formula. You know they did turn out great. Our children are unique, each one, and we can't do for one what we do for the other, as they are not the same as each other. Prayer works for answers, and of coarse God does know what is best for us all. I hope this has helped you a little,or alot...Ilove you all and know that you will make the best decision for all. God bless you... Love you lots, Mom Kimmie

Amanda Brown said...

Oh, Ashley, I feel your pain. You know breastfeeding was a gong show with Avelyn so I pumped over 6 months for her. But with Jolie I only pumped for 6 weeks. It was just too much! Breast is best, but a sane mother is even superior to the Almighty Boob. There is so much more to being a mom than merely breastfeeding (cuddling, playing, reading, walking, laughing)and I happen to love the freedom that comes with the bottle. Call me selfish (some actually have) but I know we made the best choice for our family. Whatever you decide will be right and your girls will thrive. :)

Anonymous said...

UGHH! It's like reliving my last three kids all over again. I feel for you. I just didn't have it in me with Georgia (the 4th) to get past about 2 months.

It was hard to deal with all of the comments, especially my mother, BUT I knew I couldn't keep it up and stay sane. All I was doing was breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding ... repeat ... repeat ... repeat ...

Do what you need to.

mommyknows said...

sorry ... that last post was from me ... kim @ mommyknows :)

cakeburnette said...

it works out have more time with your first; you have more money by the time you have only one at home. LOL... I am just kidding

Anonymous said...

Hugs dear girl. First of are a great Mom. Your children will never weigh how much they had of your breast milk, but will grow with the love and cuddles you extend to them. Whether you decide to quit or not...remember each moment you have with your babies is only get THAT moment once. Your cuddles are what make that moment unique. Each time you hold them whether with your breast or with the bottle the cuddle is what goes straight to their hearts and to their confidence and to their ability to learn how to love. From studies that you hear babies can die from lack of contact love but no baby's life will be shortened by one minute because of the breast vs bottle controversy. I am proud of you. What you did with Bethany with the S&S was something to be put in the books of amazing things. Your time and efforts went above and beyond the call of duty. Remember at that time you didn't have that much milk and that you have much more this time. Bethany is there now and requires more time and attention than anything you had around you when she was the babe. If you are struggling if you should continue...think of this... you have given Audrey probably as much of your own milk as Bethany had in six months of feeding her. I bet if you could check ounce for ounce you would see that the amount of milk in one month for Audrey was as much as 6 months was for Beth. I did some reading so I could give you some "intelligent" words instead of words of your Mom. Here is what one pro breastfeeding site said

"Whether you choose to breastfeed your baby or opt for commercially prepared infant formula, the important thing is that you do what makes you comfortable. "

So see... that is where the importance is..wherever your heart leads.

Love you dear.

Hugs and prayers
Mom / Grammy

Anonymous said...

Wow your Mom is the greatest! That was truly I think all that you needed to hear! I too struggled with letting my milk go as you know I got it back while we were visiting you and that whole weekend I just kept thinking I should keep going. I was tired tho. Mastitis, my hormone change due to an unexpected visit from aunt flow and a couple other things I just had enough of trying to fight for it. Sure enough we got home and I desided I would give it one last chance and I started pumping and feeding and guess what aunt flow came back and dryed it up all the way! So guess what Chloe got 3 months and I still get comments about not breastfeeding her still. People don't know anything so don't let the pressure get to you. You have done more then most would do with the little that you have. Stay sane and let go she will be healthy and happy and so will you.

Mindy Richmond said...

That is such a hard thing you're dealing with, I know. Especially when you get so much pressure from others. You just have to do what you can do and that's all that you can do. You are a great mother regardless of where your baby is getting her nourishment.

I did hear a tip that drinking dark beer, such as Guinness, can help stimulate milk production. A friend of mine had one bottle every night (at the advice of her nurse) and she said it helped a lot. As long as you drink it at least an hour before you nurse again it's okay because the alcohol dissipates in about an hour.