Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In Search of the New Normal

Many of you have read my blog on the breastfeeding issues I had been facing a couple of months ago when I first found out I was pregnant.  That’s good.  It’s the prequel (if you will) to THIS entry.
I’ll tell you, being forced into partial weaning was not a fun adventure.  BUT we made it.  After I ran out of my own frozen milk and nothing I did or took increased my supply, James and I had a heart-to-heart.  I was extremely against the thought of ever giving any of my children formula, but he just wasn’t comfortable in giving Lydia someone else’s breast milk, though I had been offered by several women (many of whom I don’t even know!).  I like a peaceful household – James and I rarely argue, and when we do, it’s over quickly and we move on – so I deferred to his decision and we bought some organic formula.
At first, even with the stored breast milk, I HATED giving her a bottle.  But we got over that.  I found a way to hold her and hold the bottle that didn’t tie up my hand, and I am able to love on her since it is free. 
It was amazing how easily Lydia adjusted!  I had a much harder time than she did, and I was thoroughly impressed with her adaptability.  It took only a few days, and it was like she went through this incredible transformation.  She was on a consistent routine, taking two complete hour-long naps every day, eating two-three meals a day, and SO happy and content!  I could hardly believe it!
The Lord dealt with my pride in a big way using this unforeseen change in our situation, too.  I was so proud that Lydia had been exclusively breastfed, and I was convinced that she would never have to have any formula.  I admit that I looked down on mothers that gave their children formula.  I still DO definitely feel that the system sets women up for failure when they first have babies and don’t have a clue about nursing, and that’s why so many resort to the bottle.  (After all, breastfeeding doesn’t bring in revenue like formula does!!)  I am angry that on our first well-baby checkup, our pediatrician hands us a bag from Similac filled with formula and emblazoned with the logo “Breast is Best”.  I feel (ESPECIALLY now) that formula has its’ place, but that so many have come to rely on it b/c breastfeeding (at first) is inconvenient and can be uncomfortable.
Anyhow, I have been forced into the other person’s shoes, and though I don’t like it, God has used this to provide me with a different perspective.  I no longer look down on those that give their children formula – what if the choice truly wasn’t theirs?  (Some mothers cannot breastfeed due to breast reduction or augmentation, cancer treatment, milk supply never coming in, and many other reasons.)
Up until a few days ago, I was making enough milk for Lydia to nurse in the mornings and for me to pump an ounce or two at night (she won’t nurse when she’s hungry – she gets too frustrated) to mix with her AM formula.  However, yesterday and today, she turned away from me in the morning when I offered her the breast, and won’t nurse anymore.  I’m a little sad, but to be completely truthful, a little relieved as well.  Nursing and pumping have both become extremely painful for me, due to the pregnancy hormones.  It has been a real sacrifice to continue. 
It looks as though nursing may be done (for now) for Lydia.  It’s strange, but I still consider myself to be a breastfeeding mother!  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to part with that label, even when my kids are grown.  I will try to tandem nurse when the new baby arrives and I have a plentiful supply and it is no longer painful.  I hear having a toddler around to nurse can provide a LOT of relief if you have oversupply!  For now, I am proud of the fact that Lydia never had formula until she was 8 ½ months old, and had breast milk until she was 10 months old.  That is very close to my original goal of at least a year of breastfeeding, and I know I gave her an incredible advantage that a lot of babies don’t get these days.