- my son is not the greatest latcher and so has been compressing my nipples in a way that caused a lot of pain during and after feeding. Most likely because he is small, but he also is a bit tongue tied, but I'm not really up for doing the frenulum snipping procedure.
- Per the pediatrician, I had to supplement with formula early on because he was so small (he was 5 lbs 6 oz when we took him home) and my milk wasn't in yet, and so bottles were introduced early.
- I got some lousy advice (from a pediatrician, no less) to not start pumping right away, so my supply was never up to the demand since formula was already in the mix, and I am still trying to catch up
- I got other lousy advice to switch boobs after 10 minutes, and therefore ended up with a baby still hungry after each feeding session and having to either go back to boob 1 (which in light of the pain, I really loathed) or get topped off with a bottle, usually of breastmilk, but sometimes formula, thereby causing more supply issues.
- My son is a very aggressive eater, and gets really really worked up before he eats and so is all gaping mouth and flailing arms and legs when I try to latch him on. We call it the hungry shark routine -- he roots around so violently it's like a shark in chummed waters who will grab onto anything. So in the wee hours of the night, and sometimes in the middle of the day, it is not super fun to get him to latch on, and usually involves one of us crying.
I guess I thought that breastfeeding would be just this dreamy, wonderful way for us to bond and that it would come easily to both of us. Because, you know, the whole getting pregnant and childbirth parts had gone just exactly according to plan, so why not this? (Here, I jest. I appear to be completely unable to actually learn from my experiences or, for that matter, from the experiences of others -- there are plenty of women who have detailed their breastfeeding woes on their blogs, and I have read them. But I was certain that I would be different.)
But breastfeeding is not dreamy, and feeding my son has become, for me, fraught with stress and self-doubt. Because what kind of mom hates breastfeeding? The rational part of my brain knows that, for the time being at least, he is still getting as much breastmilk as I can produce, which is right now 100% of his intake, just from a bottle. And that feeding him and keeping him growing and healthy, no matter how, is more important than some preconceived notion of ideal motherhood. And that we still snuggle and are close and spend the same time together.
Yet the emotional part of my brain is telling me that I have failed. I feel like, once again, my body has let me down. And I feel that, if I really really was meant to be a mom, that this would work and that I would love it. And that I am shortchanging me and Benjamin from an important experience and that his development and nutrition are suffering. Frankly, I *know* that's crap, but I have trouble not letting those doubts about what I am doing seep in.
Case in point: despite the fact that I am either breastfeeding or pumping 8-10 times a day (and this includes waking up at night to pump while the baby is sleeping, which is really sucky), I don't appear to be able to keep up with his demand. He's been unusually hungry in the past couple of days, and neither sticking him on my boobs nor feeding him his bottle appears to be satisfying him. So I am coming to a point where I am running out of food for him, and will likely need to resort to formula if he is to remain satisfied. Honestly, there is nothing quite so heartbreaking as nursing your child for over an hour (letting him nurse until he drops off each side -- twice!) and then having him be visibly hungry 30 minutes later. Because that's what happened yesterday afternoon, and when offered a bottle of breastmilk, he downed 4 oz.
So here I am -- facing the fact that I have run out of my refrigerator stash of breastmilk, knowing I don't pump enough at each sitting for a full feed, and recognizing that, no matter how long I keep him at my breasts, he's likely not going to get enough, and will start getting frustrated before he gets full. It sucks, and it makes me feel broken and pathetic, but I'm going to have to supplement with formula tonight if I don't have some sort of miracle pumping output.
Combine that with the fact that he still causes a decent amount of pain and that I had a clogged duct on the left side that would not resolve with nursing, pumping and hot compresses (it has, but it took about 20 hours), it's no wonder I think that this breastfeeding thing sucks.
So that's the stressful part of being a mom. Everything else is actually going really well -- he's a good sleeper, is easily consoled when he cries (well, except for 2 nights, but those were outliers), and he's alert and playful for much of the day. But feeding him makes me super anxious, and I'm either going to have to figure out how to make more breastmilk (and yeah, I'm drinking the tea, taking the fenugreek, which makes me smell like Indian food, and eating oatmeal) or I'm going to have to just be ok with supplementing with formula when the need arises.
Here's my request of you -- tell me it's ok that I am getting him as much breastmilk as I can produce, that delivery mechanism doesn't really matter, and that formula won't kill him or make him hate me when he is 18 and doesn't get into his first choice of college (yeah, I TOLD you I was irrational.)