Monday, February 4, 2013

The One About Milk

Limited Male Readership: this post is about breast feeding. I don't mind if you stick around, but totes understand if you'd like to mozey on over to your second favorite blog now.

I wasn't able to breast feed Charlie for as long as I wanted. I had supply issues from the beginning and never seemed to make enough to satisfy him. I supplemented, which hurt my supply, got some bad advice, used some bad bottles and by the time I went back to work it went quickly downhill. I was breast feeding a little at the 5 month mark and then just stopped. I was sad when it was over.

With Eleanor, I am determined to go longer. I did more research when I was pregnant and felt prepared when she got here. I got a free pump through my health insurance (thanks Obama!) and I did everything right in establishing my supply. So you can imagine how disheartening it was to hear at her 2nd weight check that she hadn't gained anything in a week. And then only half an ounce a few days later.

From my session with the lactation consultant (our pediatrician has 3 on staff) it seemed like Eleanor was getting plenty when she ate. They weighed her before and after a nurse. She was eating frequently and having plenty of diapers. So there was no explanation. The LC suggested perhaps she just got taller that week and didn't add any weight. Maybe I'm just tired, but that didn't seem right to me.

It was frustrating, but I wasn't going to stop. I started a pumping schedule after feedings, ate oatmeal like it was my job, drank special tea that does not really taste good and nursed nursed nursed. I think we're in a good place now, supply-wise, though I get freaked out easily that something will cause it to drop. A slow nursing day for example.

I continue to do the tea, the oatmeal, the occasional pumping. It's nice to have a bottle or two for night time, as she is a sloooooow eater. Some of these nursing sessions take forever and at 3am, I really just want to get her back to sleep. But I have not really needed to supplement and that feels like a huge achievement for me.

As a side note: since leaving the tangible rewards of the working world, I find that I don't really pat myself on the back for much. Parenting seems to range from acceptable days to beating yourself up, but rarely do I say to myself Hey Kara, awesome job with the kids today! For some reason, though, being able to successfully breast feed this time feels like an achievement, especially given the frustrations of last time. I'm proud of myself. That almost never happens! Though I did get a kick out of the whole Apartment Therapy thing.

Anyways, back to the program:

We hit 6 weeks later this week and seem to be going strong. I'm nursing on demand and since she's not yet 10 pounds, there is frequent demand. I don't mind during the day, though it makes it hard to go anywhere.

Even if I nurse right before leaving the house, she may be hungry again by the time we get there or a little while later. While sitting down and feeding her in public is not a big deal a lot of places, you're kind of in a world of hurt in the middle of Target with a full shopping cart. I do love my super cute Bebe au Lait nursing cover I got on Amazon, though, and any excuse to use it. I always tried to make do with a blanket last time. That was dumb.

The one who really pays the price for not being able to leave is Charlie. I feel like I can't make many plans for him or do any classes in the afternoons until there is a better feeding schedule established. We meet friends out occasionally at places I can feed Eleanor. Even that wasn't doable until she stopped screaming all the time from the reflux.

At night it is obviously hard because she is waking me up frequently. She sleeps with me so we can get as much sleep as possible, but still - nobody wants a cluster feeder at 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am! And we have had nights like that. I don't know if it is because she can smell my milk when she is right next to me, but I never can get her to go into the deep sleep that Brad can get her to do.

I do have to brag on Brad a minute here. He has been working from home the past couple of months and even though he has stressful deadlines, demanding clients and conference calls and all that stuff, he helps me out so much every night with her feeding. I pump a bottle or two during the day and he takes her until 1:30 or 2am, sometimes later and then passes her off and goes to get some shut eye in the guest room.

A couple of nights when I've gotten frustrated that she wouldn't go back to sleep, he has come to get her again between feedings. As a result of all of this help, I believe he has determined the Starbucks concoction with the most caffeine in it and gets one every day after taking Charlie to preschool in the morning. It has the phrase "red eye" in it.

Seriously, though, he has been a life saver. I don't know what I would do if he wasn't here. I hope we have a few more weeks before he has to start traveling regularly. Because the schedule is so willy nilly and tiring, I get really scared when I think of him being gone.

So that's kind of where we are in our breastfeeding journey. Maybe after a few more weeks I won't be so nervous about all of it turning on a dime. I'll feel - dare I say it - established? We'll see.

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