Tuesday, March 27, 2012


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. :)


Vickie said...

You've gotta do what is best for you and baby, my friend, and sometimes that is nursing and sometimes it is not! My first two were fine, but the third was really frustrated with how slowly the milk came and how little of it there was (she was a big eater!), so we started supplementing with bottles and switched all together by nine months. The fourth was all bottles by six months... her choice. With three other kids and more responsibilities, I just wasn't producing enough to satisfy her. With the bottles, she got all she needed and was happier that way. All four of them are healthy, happy kids despite the differences in how they were fed.

The foster babies are completely formula fed, and I don't love them any less.
My advice? Toss the guilt. Breastfeed when you can, but don't sweat it when you can't or when it isn't enough. I would even (I know, I know) stop pumping. A less stressed mama is good for baby :).

Julia Mar said...

Don't you dare feel guilty for a second. I never made enough milk. None of the women in my family do. Henry was formula fed from 2 months to a year. I was so relieved when the doc told me to start supplementing. What made me mad was all of the things people would say to me when I was struggling to nurse. I knew I wasn't feeding H enough, but they'd just say my body would figure it out. I'm all about taking advantage of modern advancements. Also, nursing and then supplementing after each feeding can be exhausting but its comforting to know they're eating enough. I stopped nursing all together at 6 months. Not sure I'll last that long with this next one. Ok sorry for the novel. Moral of the story: don't feel guilty and embrace the formula. Some of us just dont make enough milk.

The Christensen's: said...

Oh Adri I'm so sorry you have been so stressed about nursing! You are doing everything right. I think that the best thing for baby is a happy mommy, so don't ever feel guilty that you are not doing enough! You are already being super mom by working AND being a breastfeeding mommy!! Do you have a double pump? a rental grade pump?They are seriously worth it. When I was doing my internship, I would pump one side WHILE nursing baby on the other. I would seriously get double, sometimes triple the amount that way. We would nurse/pump together first thing in the morning (even if that meant waking her up), and then again when I got home. the weekends were great for re-stocking the freezer. And if The hubby ran out? bring on the formula! Breastfeeding doesn't have to be exclusive (obviously). And it is completely normal to produce waaaaayyy less milk in the evening then you do in the morning. You can do it! And if you don't want to / can't anymore then be so so happy that you did it as long as you could and be even happier that you are choosing to do what is best for YOUR situation.

Amanda Impett said...

I can't comment too much as I am not a mother and have never been through what you have but I will tell you this NO one will know your baby and your body better than you. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty. I was a bottle fed baby only because my mom was not able to produce enough and I turned out just fine. There are other ways to bond with your baby. I've heard of some women who can't nurse not everyone can so whatever you decide to do make it what's best for you and Sophia not what anyone else tells you you have to do. You are a good mom and have a strong maternal instinct follow that you will learn what is best for the both of you. I love ya!!!

Chris and Christina Taylor said...

First of all, Adri, I COMPLETELY understand! I went through this last year while teaching part time and trying to still nurse Mariel. There were many days where she had one or two formula bottles to supplement, cause no matter what I did my milk supply was very similar to yours... I hated having to pump at school, and just like you, sometimes no matter how long I tried to pump, I still would only get 1-2 ounces. So we did supplement with at least 1-2 full formula bottles a day -and she was fine. I also wanted to tell you that I did a HUGE research paper at BYU in my socialization class on the benefits of breastfed vs. bottlefed babies and infant attachment. I was trying to prove that breastfed babies have a stronger infant attachment to their mothers than bottlefed ones, and you know what? I couldn't prove it! All research and studies show that an infant will be just as attached to their mother or caregiver whether or not they are breastfed or bottle fed, so in other words, don't feel guilty!!! You are doing great, and if you need to give her formula, that is just fine -she will still love you! I hope this helps :)

Brianna said...

I'm not sure I'll have anything different to add than the other wonderful advice already given, but here's my two cents. I'm so sorry you've been stressing about this! I know too well how hard and frustrating it gets when nursing isn't working out, and I understand the guilt. (Unfortunately it doesn't always stay just with nursing, but sometimes as a whole on being a good mom.) All I can say is, you are the best mom you know how to be, and don't compare yourself to others. Each person is different, the circumstances are different, and no one knows you, your baby, and your family better than you. I say, it's not worth the stress and sleepless nights this is giving you. And when all else fails and you don't know which choice to make, there's always prayer. There have been too many times when I felt like I let the problems of being a mom get in my way, and I spent more time focusing on that than just enjoying the little things that I did have. Don't let anyone else make you feel guilty - you're choices are between you and Russ, and if you are happy with the decisions you make, that is enough. Sophia (and the rest of your future kids) will be wonderful and amazing people, because you and Russ are amazing, kind, wonderful people! Hope things work out for you guys!

Chris and Mary said...

What everyone said is true: you should feel no guilt! You are the mom and you are the one in charge; if you need to supplement, do it and be happy that Sophia can be extra healthy! I will say that your worry shows that you truly care about your daughter's well being, so don't change that part ;) Good luck and remember that you're awesome, Heavenly Father knows your heart, and that Sophia (and Russ) love you!

Jason and Lissa said...

You already know my two cents on this. I can tell you I went through all these same feelings with Kiera, but I was a lot more relaxed about it all this time around with Savannah. It's hard when you're a new mom and want to do everything you're "supposed" to be doing. Just remember: you ARE Sophia's hero because you're her mommy who adores her, not because you nurse her. I love you, little sis!

Brit and Steve said...

Hey Adri! I went through a lot of guilt when I quit nursing both of my kids. I think we all do. I had the same problem pumping at work and not having enough. I quit nursing her when it got to the point where you are now, when pumping wasn't even getting enough for one feeding. About a month after I quit nursing Carter because of an allergy, a lactation/nutrition lady at WIC told me I needing to pump every 2 hours to try to regain my supply and start nursing again. I tried for one day, and it was horrible and miserable and I got nothing. I had to tell her that it just wasn't going to work for me. I am a huge supporter of breast feeding, but there is a time to weigh the pros and cons and see what really helps your relationship with Sophia. Whenever I felt guilty about Carter, like I didn't try hard enough, or long enough, I would look at my happy baby and realize, he doesn't love me any less, and he is happy and healthy. Nothing else matters. I hope that helps and know that we've pretty much all been there.