Waylon and I stopped just shy of two years old so I could try to get pregnant again. I took it hard. As annoyingly le leche as it sounds, breastfeeding a baby is a beautiful thing and it was difficult to let go of that bond.
When Eva was born, I assumed it would be the same. I expected it to hurt for the first few weeks (yup) and then transition into a convenient and lovely breastfeeding relationship (nope).
The pain stopped, but the ease of nursing never started. Sleepy, newborn Evie turned into squirmy, impatient Evie who was fussy and irritated at every feeding, constantly trying to escape my arms.
Everyone said, “It’s just a phase!”
I said, “It’s just a phase!”
It wasn’t a phase.
Soon I started to resent breastfeeding big time which led to one bedtime bottle a day to give us both a break. At first it was all pumped breast milk but then we transitioned to formula. I needed to give my body a chance to breathe. I dreaded every feed, every drone of the breast pump. I wanted to quit. I needed that bottle of formula to save breastfeeding.
For a few months our routine of one bottle of formula worked. Evie is small but she is also healthy and strong. And even though breastfeeding was still difficult, the bottle made it manageable for both of us.
Then last week Eva got sick. Every afternoon she would cry inconsolably. I tried nursing her, tried giving her Tylenol, tried walking her around the kitchen singing Backstreet Boys. Nothing worked. She arched her back and screamed, giant tears rolling down her face.
It was sad. Sad until I walked by the clean bottles on the counter and she lurched out my arms to reach one.
My girl wasn’t sick. She was hungry.
I knew my supply was low, but I didn’t know it was that low. A few minutes later she guzzled six ounces like a starving orphan and I, of course, felt like the worst.
So now I have two problems:
1) An infant who hates breastfeeding.
2) An impossibly low milk supply.
I realize these two problems are most likely intertwined. I do not realize what to do.
Next week Eva turns six months old. My goal was to breastfeed this squirmy baby to a year, but I’m realizing that might not be possible. It is only getting harder.
I know it’s okay! and she is fine! and you’re still a great mom!, but I still feel the guilt settling over me like a thick blanket. I can’t provide what she needs. I can’t recreate the breastfeeding bond I had with her brother. I can’t feed my baby.
As I look back over the past few months, I realize Eva has been hungry for a long time. I never feel my milk coming in or any “let down.” I am never overly full or able to pump more than an ounce or two. She never pulls away because she is finally full, only because she is frustrated and tired of trying.
I am not ready to give up on breastfeeding. I am ready to stop forcing my sweet girl to do something that isn’t working. If that means eventually switching to bottles, pumping for the next six months, and supplementing with formula–that’s okay. I will let it go.
I will feed my baby.
As always, another parenting lesson in the ebb and flow of holding on and letting go.
I welcome your suggestions. This week I have committed to consuming six giant Fenugreek capsules a day (they taste like Indian food covered in maple syrup) and vigorously pumping between feedings (Jesus take the wheel). My hope is that I’ll start producing enough to go back to one bottle of formula a day. I’ve also started to introduce a few solids. Again, stories and ideas welcome.