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. 


BeanIrene said...

Also remember, she is almost ready to switch to cow's milk, or goat's milk. So honestly, she won't have formula long. You can start introducing cow's milk at the age of 11 months. So really, formula for 1 month, isn't that big of a sacrifice mama! And more than likely, when your milk comes back in, she can either start nursing again with the baby, or you can express into cups for her so she is still getting the nutrition.

MotherOfPearl said...

A friend just put this into a great perspective for me in saying "I'm certain your struggle is frustrating, but you are giving her [Lydia] the gift of a sibling so close in age--that's a gift that will never be outdone. So, think a few more months (in the scheme of life) of nursing is nothing compared with a lifetime companion!!"

Wow! So true! Thank you, Lacey! :)