To all my male readers: You are excused from reading this post. Unless you really want to, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Andrew lost weight at his last doctor’s appointment. His weight has been teetering at the edge for the last two and causing me a bit of worry. My kids are short. I understand that, but to go from gaining 3 or 4 pounds a visit to gaining a half a pound and then losing a pound usually signifies something else is happening.
Talking with the doctor, we narrowed it down to one thing: a reduction in my milk production. I had a feeling this was happening. Andrew has been waking up a couple times at night absolutely famished. Considering he usually sleeps through the night, this was a bit odd. I understood this could be due to a growth spurt, but he wasn’t getting any bigger.
My doctor suggested I start supplementing. I was devastated.
I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. In the first few months, it hurts horribly. I crack and bleed and nothing soothes my throbbing breasts. I cry and push my feet into the ground until the baby is latched, then I clench my teeth the entire feeding. I develop serious tension headaches because the stress.
Why do I continue? Because I give myself a goal after each baby is born: if I still hate it by month 3, I will stop. Somehow this goal gives me the stamina to continue. That and my pride.
Once the pain subsides (around month 3), I begin to enjoy it a little more. Around month 5, it starts hurting again. For 2 weeks out of the month, it is painful and I, once again, cry during feedings. I persist because by that point, my babies will not take a bottle.
I enjoy the bonding moments my babies and I share during those 10-20 minutes, but I don’t love breastfeeding.
However, when I realized my milk production was decreasing, I was disappointed. I have sacrificed so much to continue breastfeeding and it seems so…unfair to have this happen. And I fought. I tried to feed Andrew more, tried drinking and eating a little bit more, but it still wasn’t enough for my poor little guy.
It was then that I realized that breastfeeding was something I thought I could control. It seems natural that I would produce something that keeps my baby happy and healthy. The practice was, in many ways, defining me in my motherhood. I felt cheated.
Until I realized my goals were warped. Raising a healthy baby should be my first priority and if I must combine nursing with supplementation to achieve this? Then so be it.
It makes me wonder what other priorities I need to readjust.