I apologize. It's 2:30am. I couldn't sleep because I had all of this on my mind.
I have a MAJOR love-hate relationship with nursing. Here are my two biggest problems with it:
1) You never know exactly how much you are producing and how much your baby is getting, and I simply don't buy that everyone's body just magically knows how much to produce and produces the right amount.
2) The guilt associated with it (both self-inflicted and brought on by every nurse at the hospital, lactation consultant and well-meaning stranger)
Obviously, I want to be able to nurse and "give my baby the best". I do feel like it's a good bonding thing, especially when she was a newborn and we'd just fall asleep and cuddle. But if you are a mother of young kids, chances are I've talked to you about nursing because it was been a massive source of ANXIETY for me since DAY ONE. Here are some reasons for it, and the reason I don't think anyone told my body it was supposed to know exactly what to do:
- we almost couldn't bring Sophia home from the hospital with us because her blood sugar was so low from not eating enough
- at 2 weeks, she hadn't gained back her birth weight
- at about 2.5 months she'd cry after I fed her (that's when we started giving her what I had pumped and put in the freezer during maternity leave)
- at 3 months there was a week where she wouldn't sleep at all (we finally gave in and started supplementing after every feeding with a couple ounces of formula)
The two times I talked to a lactation consultant, this was the advice I got and my response to it:
(at 6 weeks old) "Never try to put her on a schedule. Just feed her on demand." First of all, I work 5 hours a day. I needed her to be on a schedule so I'd know when to pump, when to have Russ feed her, and things like that. Secondly, if there's one thing in my life that I love, it's order. There isn't much of that when you first bring a baby into your life, so having a set schedule of knowing she was going to eat again in 2 hours so I would in fact have time to do things like go to the grocery store meant A LOT to me.
(at 5 months old) "Just pump an additional 4 times per day!" At first I thought I could do this one, but I'm already pumping once or twice at work (which is a nightmare, by the way...more on that later) and feeding her when I'm at home, and pump again before bedtime. The only way for me to add in 4 more pumping sessions is to wake up during the night again, and I honestly don't see waking myself up multiple times a night to pump, especially not now when I am getting full nights of sleep again.
Now I feel guilty. I feel like if I'm not willing to do something like pump 4 more times a day that I am a bad mother. That I'm giving up. But all of this is so frustrating for me. Tonight I pumped before bed and after 10 minutes, had LESS than 0.5oz. Hence, it's 1:45am and I finally came out here to write this all down because I had been tossing and turning, going back and forth between being mad/frustrated and feeling guilty.
Let me tell you a little something about how it is for me to pump at work. Maybe it's this hard for everyone, but I doubt it. As a kindergarten teacher with a small baby, I get to school right at my contract time and leave right at my contract time. 15 minutes before the kids come and 15 minutes after they leave. During the day I get exactly 10 minutes when they're at recess for my break/prep/clean up the room. They only go to Specialty classes once a week. Some mornings if I get there early, I'll pump before and after school. Normally, I pump during recess. For the first 2 months or so, that meant dragging a chair to the small bathroom stall attached to my classroom and having at least 3 students a day try to peek in under the door or through the cracks to see what I was doing. I tried my best to explain what I was doing without actually telling them anything, but it didn't matter - they still wondered why Mrs. Lee was always in the bathroom and often thought it would be great if they hid and "surprised" me when I got out. Finally I just started locking my classroom door while they were gone. So now I can pump in peace, but most days, they're banging on the door - signally to me that my time is up. (Seriously? If the door is closed and locked every day - why do they still have to take turns trying to open it?)
All of that was worth it to me when I was coming home with 4 or more ounces. For the past 2 months (basically since Sophia started sleeping longer at night), I only get 1-2 ounces when I pump. Now that Sophia eats at least 5oz per feeding, 2 ounces really doesn't get me that far - at least not when it comes at the price of students banging on the door, bring a pump back and forth to work every day, and missing out on the only prep time I get in a day. I don't know why I can't just let it go and switch to formula all the way. I mean, even when I do feed Sophia now, it's becoming an ordeal. She gets so distracted and impatient and allllwayyyys pinches my neck or face or grabs my glasses, hair, mouth (yes. swiping and pawing while eating. She's always done that, except when she was very little she was only able to scratch my arms). I've tried holding her hand, having Russ hold her arm, darkening the room, and lots of other things, but then she unlatches about every 3 seconds to look up at me or look around the room to find Russ. It's actually really cute, but also frustrating because then I really don't know if she's actually eating anything or not.
Russ has been really supportive and trying to make me feel better, because somehow I feel like I'm letting him and me and Sophia down when I'm not able to produce very much. I sincerely hope this is easier with other kids because I won't be working. I have no idea how working moms do it. It's so hard. I'm still getting everything done that I need to for school, but my heart isn't in it 110% like it was last year, and that also makes me feel guilty.
I wonder how I'll ever fall asleep tonight. Now I'll go back to bed and lay there being mad at myself for being awake. :) At least I won't be thinking these things, hopefully. Writing it all down really did help. Sorry for the novel. I'll post some cute and happy stories later to off-set the dreariness of this post.
In fact, here's a quick thing - every time I go in to wake up Sophia from a nap, I sing her "You Are My Sunshine" while I go turn on her lamp. As soon as she hears it she gets excited and smiles and kicks her legs so hard her crib shakes. Then when I go take her blankets off, she's still kicking away and smiling and making her cute baby sounds. It makes me feel like I'm her hero every single time. :)