Six More Weeks

In six weeks Monito will be six months old.

And I will have reached my exclusive breastfeeding goal.

I was worried that I might reach that goal and still not feel good about stopping. I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case. I’m feeling really done with this effort. I’m done with the pain and discomfort. I’m done with scheduling my life around when I next need to pump. I’m done with losing 45 minutes of sleep, or having to pump in the car every morning. I’m done with not fitting into even my biggest clothes. I’m done trying to maintain my milk supply. I’m done not taking my ADD medication. Six more weeks is doable, and when it’s done, I’ll be so ready to stop.

Six months–27 weeks–of exclusively breastfeeding my child. It will be an accomplishment, one I’m proud of. I know I’ll feel good about it when I make it that far.

My guess is it will take me a few weeks to wean myself off the pump. My doctor recommended I not stop cold turkey; she worries I’ll get mastitis again. I don’t know if I could handle the discomfort. I’ll start by pumping a little less each day. Eventually I’ll cut on of my pumping sessions completely. I think I can wean myself off the pump without too much engorgement in 2-3 weeks.

I’m researching formulas, and alternatives to formula. I’m looking into making my own raw milk formula. Living in San Francisco, I’m sure I could get everything I need (ie good quality raw milk). I have to look more closely into what it all entails, the positives and negatives of using unpasteurized milk. I’m sure we’ll be using some powdered formula–I’m looking forward to the ease of mixing a bottle when I’m out and about. I’m so done carting around a cooler and a thermos of scalding water.

I still have moments when I wish our nursing relationship had worked out. They are fewer and farther between, but they still happen. When they hit, I try to accept the regret and disappointment for what it is, and then move on. I also make sure to focus on the positives of bottle feeding.

It was at this point in Osita’s infancy that she started dropping drastically in the percentiles. The lactation consultants thought that the over-active letdown had made her lazy–she could basically just open her mouth and milk sprayed into it–but as my supply settled around four months, and she started having to work for it, she just didn’t eat as much. She went from 95th percentile to 15th percentile really quickly. It was a stressful time, and our increased nursing schedule ended up messing with her sleep. By the time she was six months old I was a mess.

Monito, on the other hand, is finally growing out of all his suck issues. He’s holding steady in the percentiles and sticking to his growth curve. He’s sleeping 10-12 hours a night, despite almost constant coughs and stuff noses. He gets plenty of milk during the day. It’s all so simple and it works so well. I always know exactly how much I’m making. When my supply starts to dip I just take some Fenugreek for a few days, or add an extra session of pumping, until it goes back up. There is no guess work and I feel so much more confident than I did when I was nursing my daughter. I also have to admit that I enjoy the act of bottle feeding. I appreciate that his eating doesn’t cause me any discomfort–I don’t associate his need for food with my need to suffer, like I have before. I also love gazing into his eyes while he eats, and watching as the edges of his mouth curl up into a smile he just can’t suppress, despite the fact that it disrupts his meal. He’s so much happier than he ever was when we were nursing, and that makes me happy too.

Writing all that, I can’t figure out why I’m still wistful for a nursing relationship. I guess I just want what I see so many other woman have. Sure, nursing was never a positive experience for me, but so many women do it so, so well. It’s a defining facet of their attachment to their children. And there is a part of me that will always feel abnormal and defective that I couldn’t make it work right. I’ve definitely internalized the “breastfeeding is natural, all women can do it,” sentiment offered by LCs and LLLs, and there is a part of me that will always feel like the way I feed my baby is less than, or artificial, in some way. I mean, if it requires an array of made-made contraptions to work–it can’t be called “natural.” Where I come from, “natural” is always superior. Always.

I try to turn it around, and be thankful all those man-made contraptions exist and are readily available to me, so that I have the choice to offer breast milk DESPITE all our issues. And I am thankful. So very, very thankful. But that doesn’t take away the feelings of regret and disappointment. I suppose it’s just more of that cognitive dissonance again.

So six more weeks, to the day, until I’m officially done with breastfeeding. On April 22 I will start weaning myself off the pump. And when my breasts stop making milk, I’ll throw away my pump (No one will want it, right? You can’t share personal pumps?) and pass my pump parts on to a friend, and walk away from my complicated feelings about breastfeeding, forever.

And I’ll be so, so proud that I met my goal.

The Cons of Pumping

I meant for this post to be about the negatives AND positives of pumping, but after the cons got super long, I decided to split them up. Don’t worry, I’m sure the pros post will be just as long as this one is–I’m actually quite pleased with my current set up and have no desire to stop pumping whatsoever. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t negatives to weigh against the positives. This post looks at what I don’t like about exclusive pumping. Tomorrow I’ll discuss why I keep doing it, despite all these things.

Is it weird that I can’t figure out if I’m technically “breastfeeding” right now? I don’t feel like that word applies to me, and yet when you pump, so many of the same restrictions apply. Of course, some restrictions DO NOT apply, and many of the same benefits are present so I’m just not sure if the word describes our experience.

In fact, I feel so far removed from the “breastfeeding” experience and so entrenched in “bottle feeding” as it were, that I was considering submitting a piece to the Fearless Formula Feeder before I remembered that I don’t actually feed my daughter formula, so my experience doesn’t really apply. I don’t have much commentary on this at the moment but I hope to touch on it more later–it seems significant to me that although I provide my son with breast milk I don’t consider us to be “breastfeeding.”

I’m currently three weeks into exclusively pumping and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. So far my 4xday-15mins/session schedule feels very manageable and the amount of milk I’m getting (35-40 ounces) definitely makes to worth my while.

After three weeks of pumping (and I know my schedule is so different from most who exclusively pump–in that I pump far few times, and for far fewer minutes each session–as to make this post almost inapplicable to others) these are the aspects that I love–and don’t love–about being hooked up to a machine like a bovine mistress.


– The act. Did I mention I have to be hooked up to a machine like a bovine mistress? There is something about sitting and having milk mechanically extracted from one’s breasts that makes one feel like less than a lady.

– The pump parts. Washing them. Storing them. Putting them together. Taking them apart. Keeping track of them. Making sure I have them when we go out. Just pump parts. Period.

– The dishes. Pumping definitely creates more dishes, though the bottles are what make up the bulk of them so I don’t feel like the pumping-related dishes are really that bad. Still, it sucks to do dishes–and the pump parts are particularly annoying to wash as they have so many weird little nooks and crannies–so I’m putting this in the post.

– The sound. Oh the sound! How I loathe it. Luckily my Game of Thrones book on tape drowns it out pretty well.

– The time commitment. It is inconvenient that the act of feeding my son and extracting the substance I feed to him are separate. The extra time chaffs me most at 5am (which is when I’m writing this post) because it also means I get less sleep. (Oh sleep, precious sleep, how I miss thee.)

– Accommodating my children. I suppose this falls under the umbrella of “time” but it feels like a different issue because it’s not so much about the actual minutes as it is about what can feel like the impossibility of figuring out when and how to pump when Monito is awake (it’s hard to tend to a baby when you can’t hold him well, or even walk over to where he is) or even Osita is around. Osita HATES when I pump, she seems to resent it far more than I do, and she has little mini meltdowns when I have to hook myself up to my machine. Anything that causes stress between me and my toddler right now is a definite negative.

– Scheduling activities around pumping. I am EXTREMELY lucky in that, with my 4-times-a-day schedule, I enjoy a good six hours in between pumping sessions. Such extended periods of time means that it’s relatively easy to plan outings around when I have to pump next. Still, there are instances when I feel anxious to get home so that I can relieve my heavy breasts of their burden. It also sucks to have to lug my pump to events; I had to bring my pump to both my parents’ and my in-laws yesterday and I was terrified I was going to forget parts and end up not being able to pump while I was there. It can be frustrating to feel beholden to my pump and what it does for me.

– Physical discomfort. Pumping means I suffer the general discomforts of a breastfeeding mother. While I have no nipple pain from feedings (THANK GAWD!), I do spend most of the day with heavy, full breasts. The best hours are the one or two RIGHT after pumping; that is when I feel noticeably lighter both physically (because I am a good 9-10 ounces lighter) and mentally (because I know I don’t have to pump again for a while). I also have to deal with random let downs, though those have decreased exponentially since I started pumping (I think emptying my breasts completely has thwarted my overactive letdown issues). Finally, I am still trying to determine if I still have thrush or if the milk itching/burning sensations are due to pumping or just remnants of the two months I was putting all manner of cramp on my breasts to combat the thrush.

– Policing my intake. Of course it sucks to have to regulate when I drink alcohol and I can’t enjoy a Diet Coke right now like I do when I’m not breastfeeding (though I do enjoy many, many Diet Cokes), but the thing that sucks the most about pumping is not being able to take my ADD meds. It’s been well over two years since I stopped taking them to start TTC #2 and I miss them terribly. Right now pumping is the only thing standing between me and feeling like myself again and I suspect it is needing to go back on them that will eventually provide the tipping point to stop pumping. I do look forward to reclaiming my body in its entirety when I stop pumping; after 14 months of TTC, nine months of pregnancy and however many months of pumping, I will be so relieved to know that whatever I ingest affects me and only me. I look forward to that day.

So that is what I dislike about pumping. Tomorrow I shall write about all the reasons that I’m thankful I can do this, because there are many and they are significant. I feel privileged to be able to feed my son this way and I wish I had considered this set up when I was agonizing over whether or not to stop breastfeeding; it has provided the best of both worlds for both me and my baby boy.

If you’ve ever pumped, what did you hate most about the experience?

Feeling like a failure

Wow, it has been QUIET in the blogosphere lately. My reader is thin and no one is commenting. I’m trying to go out there and do unto others, as they say, but mostly the vibe seems to be… quiet. I’m sure it’s just people gearing up for the holidays. Around here it’s more about gearing up for be home alone with both kids for two weeks. Mi.Vida only gets Christmas Day and New Years Day off so I’ll be home alone with the kids for 8 days. I know this is what SAHM do all the time, but, well, there is a reason I’m not a SAHM. 😉 It’s definitely going to be crazy and I suspect we’ll be spending the night at Nana and Papa’s (my parents’) house at least once, if not more.

But that is not what I sat down to write about. Today I sat down to talk about breastfeeding… again.

I know, I know. ENOUGH already. But there it is, itching a certain spot in my brain, making me want to write about it.

You see, today Teo had his two month well baby visit. I didn’t realize there would be SO MANY vaccinations and I didn’t have a bottle ready–I had left them in the car to bring to his grandparents’ house. Of course after all the shots he was pretty upset. I thought popping him on the boob for a few minutes might calm him, so I whipped one out, the right one, the one we generally had better luck latching on.

And of course, it was a total disaster. A shit show of epic proportions.

He sputtered and gagged and smacked and pulled off and got milk all over his face. He was more upset AFTER the attempted breastfeeding that he was before.

And so was I.

The whole ordeal settled such a deep feeling of failure in me, I could barely smile at the nurse on the way out, and she had been so kind when taking Monito’s measurements, I really wanted to return her kindness. It has only been 2.5 weeks since we abandoned exclusive breastfeeding for exclusive pumping and I had already forgotten how BAD it made me feel. I wonder if I ever really realized how awful it made me feel while I was actually doing it. I think back then I was so close to it, so intwined in the guilt and self-expectation and personal desire to make it work that I didn’t realize the desponded feeling of failure it inspired in me.

I think I had an idea of it, when I watched Monito first take a bottle and I saw with my own eyes that the issues he has with eating are much more about him than me and my ability to latch him on properly. He has all the same issues eating from a bottle as he does from a breast, which means it’s not about getting him to latch on well at all. I think at that point I felt a huge weight lift and now I recognize that as the leadened weight of failure, of not being able to do that which everyone says I should be able to do, that which everyone says EVERY WOMAN should be able to do, if we just stick with it and work hard enough.

Except I did stick with it and I did work hard, we just had so many factors working against us, like both oversupply and overactive letdown, treatment-resistant thrush, mastitis (turned to sepsis) and a bad latch/suck. I tried so hard, I consulted so many professionals, I made it my mission to persevere and find a way. But there was no way, not for us. Not without constant pain and frustration and misery.

Watching my son struggle to find comfort in breastfeeding–and failing miserably–I felt guilty, but not for stopping breastfeeding. I actually felt guilty for continuing as long as I did. In the thick of it, when I wanted to make it work SO BADLY, I didn’t let myself see how miserable it was making not just me, but both of us. He was just as unhappy as I was, maybe even more so, but I was forcing him to keep trying to prove to myself that we could make it work, that if we just tried hard, and long enough, we would eventually be successful.

And who knows, maybe we would have. Maybe at month three, or four, or five, it would have clicked for us. Maybe the oversupply would have evened out and the thrush would have finally resolved and he would have learned to latch and suck well enough. Maybe, eventually, it would have gotten better, but at what cost? Would that really have been the best thing for him, or for me? For either of us?

I really truly believe the answer is NO. Continuing to breastfeed was NOT the right answer for us. For some people, refusing to quit is not appropriate, not for mother OR child. And I think that story needs to be told, because there are so many stories about perseverance leading to success. Sometimes perseverance just leads to more misery and while the decision about when to quit, or to keep trying, is a very personal one–a decision that women should be supported in making no matter what they decide–women should hear as many stories about how others have resolved their issues with breastfeeding as they can, so they might be informed when making their own choice.

I obviously still have a lot of processing to do about all of this. I never fathomed that breastfeeding could be such an important issue to me, I always thought I just didn’t really care that much about it, either way. It turns out I only felt that way because I was able to do what I wanted last time, at least I was able to do what I thought I wanted. I was able to feel successful. In the absence of that feeling of success, I had to redefine my relationship with breastfeeding, to tear down my assumptions and rebuilt my beliefs from the foundation up.

And I’m doing that, slowly but surely. It’s taking a while, longer than I expected. Just last night I read a post about a difficult breastfeeding experience that eventually ended up being exactly what the author had always wanted and I found it pressed a finger deep into a psychic wound that is not yet healed. I found myself telling my story, defending myself, even though I knew the author had been reading along and knew what I had been through (and had supported me all the way). Despite knowing I was understood there, I still felt the need to post my story, because I wanted to be sure that if someone else found that post and the sentiment that “if you just keep going it will get better” wasn’t what they needed to hear, I wanted to write a different account, one that didn’t end the way its author wanted but that still ended somewhere positive. I wanted to validate what I had been through by telling people that there is another way, because I so rarely heard those stories before my own struggle and I wish I could have known more about the other paths people take.

It turns out there are more roads than just “breastfeeding” and “formula feeding” and many women have forged their own paths somewhere between those well trafficked highways. We need to tell these stories, in all their messy complexity, more often. And we need to support women in whatever path they want to take, and ultimately in whatever path they end up taking.

Upsetting Day

Today sucked. It really did. And it wasn’t the pissing raining that made me wish it were over.

For the first time today I was disappointed in my staff. We have always been a very tight knit group of teachers; I’ve never met another teacher who raved about her staff like I do about mine. I really truly consider them friends. Unfortunately we have a new VP who was assigned to us by the district when a bunch of people made moves at the New Year. Of five higher-ups he was the ONLY one who moved laterally, despite the fact that he’s been in our district over eight years while our previous VP had only been in the district a fraction of that. Needless to say, he is not that great at what he does (or is supposed to do) and it’s really getting to the staff. And today they basically attacked him. In an email chain. That he was on. And it was disappointing and embarrassing. I didn’t participate but it brought me way, way down. Today, for the first time, I chose not to eat in my staff room with my colleagues. I just didn’t want to listen to the incessant bitching. And for the first time I think I might be really ready to leave my school in a few years, because without the camaraderie between teachers, I don’t know if its worth the distance I travel.

Today was also the last time Isa and I breast fed. This afternoon marked the fourth time my milk has not let down in the past two days. Isa gets frustrated when her efforts go unrewarded and I’ve been making her bottles satiate her hunger after our failed attempts. It seems that my body is done with milk production and I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I had hoped to continue with our twice daily ritual but it wasn’t meant to be. Today I tried to be extra attentive to her while she ate, attempting to make this last time special somehow, but she kept getting distracted by this thing and that, uninterested in my milkless breasts. The reality is I never loved breastfeeding and I didn’t feel that sad participating in our last feeding. But this does mark some kind of shift in our relationship. And even if it’s a cerebral sentimentality, I’m sad to give up breast feeding my daughter.

There was a third thing today that was really I struggled with immensely, but I can’t write about it because it belongs not to me (thought it feels like it does) but someone I care about deeply. And while I could write myriad posts about it, I don’t feel it’s my place to do so. So with much regret I will abstain, saying only that it calls into question many long standing beliefs that I hold and threatens a certain validation that I deem essential.

I look forward to sleep tonight. And then tomorrow something, anything, unrelated to the the disappointments of today.

Positive Spin

Lately I’ve been feeling a little down about things. Mostly down about being at work and our financial situation. Sunday night I was so depressed about work the next day. The luster has worn off and I’m kind of hating being there right now. Part of it is that my schedule is so brutal, I have to have five completely different things ready to teach at the beginning of the day and I’m always behind. I feel like I’m constantly scrounging to put some lame lesson plan together and each class is more and more haphazardly presented than the last. It’s starting to wear on me.

And more and more I think about Isa and I miss her. I want to be with her and I’m not. I’m far away, dealing with other people’s children while someone else is dealing with mine. The whole situation feels like it makes less and less sense.

Except it does make sense, it makes financial sense. I realized last night that with my raise this year I make more than Mi.Vida, quite a bit more. It’s actually not that much, but when you make as little as we make, it’s substantial. It would not make financial sense for me to take off a year or two like I had hoped, at least not while my partner is at his current job. More and more I’m realizing that I will probably not be able to be a stay at home, not even for one year. That makes me very sad.

I oscillate between feeling excited to start trying again in a year to wondering what the point would be. Do I want to have another baby so soon just to miss out on much of his or her life? Would waiting even make a difference? I don’t know. I wish money weren’t such an issue.

Anyway, I have all these feelings and it’s hard not to let them get me down. But I’m trying, more and more, to change the way I look at these situations. I’m obviously feeling “half empty” about things when I could easily see them as “half full”. Here are the happy spins I’m trying to put on things:

I do not get to be a part of Isa’s day to day activities.

Isa’s aunt who loves her and is incredibly qualified is watching her every day (and updating a blog twice daily with pictures of my beautiful girl).

I have to be at work and miss out on spending time with Isa.

I get to see my friends at work and interact with adults on a regular basis.

I don’t get to be a stay at home mom.

I have tenure, seniority and am at the highest pay step at a school that I like. Plus I get four weeks off during the school year and eight weeks off during the summer.

I had a pumping fiasco and was not able to take my first class of the day on time.

I have a very understanding colleague who took my class for ten minutes and offered to take them the rest of the period.

I hate pumping and feel like it is taking over my life.

I was able to breast feed my daughter exclusively for six months, giving her a very good start and saving myself a lot of money (man is formula expensive!)

I have five different preps and never feel like I’m prepared for school.

My last two classes of the day are very small and if need be we can work on their homework as they all need a lot of support.

I don’t understand how to make friendships thrive as a working mom.

I have some old friends who will always be there for me and some of the new mom friends I made are still interesting in getting together every once in a while.

I feel like my relationship with my partner suffers more now that I’m at work.

My partner has stepped up and is doing so much more around the house and with Isa, both relieving my burden and showing me how much he cares.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that all of these “problems” exist because I am lucky enough to have the most amazing daughter imaginable. I worried, at my very core, that I would never be a mother and now I am and it fills me with such joy and contentment. So whenever I’m really feeling down, I just remember that I wouldn’t give up these grievances for anything, because they are what comes with being a working mom, and the “mom” part of “working mom” is a role I cherish more than life itself.

Working Momma Mondays: Pumping on the job

I don’t expect to be pumping much at work in the new year, but I figured I should write a little about what I’m doing now, in case anyone who reads is (will be) pumping at work and is interesting in knowing what that looks like for me, a middle school teacher with a very rigid schedule.

This is how my day looks with pumping at work.

First, I feed my daughter at 5:45am, right when I get up in the morning. I used to have to wake her up but after two days she caught on and now she’s in there, eyes wide, waiting for me with flapping arms.

I bring my pump to and from work with me every day. The only pump parts I have to remember are extra connectors, which I already have at work. I like to bring extras because they take a while to dry and I like to use a different set for lunch. It’s not a big deal if I leave them at home but if I leave them at work I can’t pump at night.

My first pumping session takes place at the end of my prep period. I start getting ready at 8:50am – plugging my pump into the outlet and hooking up the tubes. I also put together all the connectors, values, membranes and bottles so they are ready to go. When everything is in place, I pull up my shirt, pull down my nursing bra flaps and put on a strapless pumping bra, which holds the breast shields in place so I can pump hands free. When everything is put together I flip the switch and wait.

A best case scenario is I let down within a couple of minutes and am done pumping in ten (with some manual massage in the last three minutes). In the mornings I have about 6-8 ounces to show for my efforts. At lunch I rarely have more than five.

After I’m done pumping I unhook the tubes from the connectors but leave the pump on so the tubes can dry. Then I immediately take the pumps off and redo my bra, returning my shirt to it’s regularly scheduled position. I mess around with the amount of milk in each bottle until I have two easily recordable amounts for storage before pouring milk into pre-labeled bags. Finally, I bring all the pump parts to the back of the room to clean them.

I have a sink in my room but no hot water. I’ve been heating water in an electric kettle and then dumping that into a bowl with detergent. I only soak my parts in warm soapy water after the first pumping, rinse them in cool water and set them out to dry. After lunch (which starts at 12:10) I again rinse instead of wash, as I don’t have time to wash them during my measly 30 minute break.

After school (2:30pm) I heat water again and wash all the parts in a soapy bowl in my sink. Then I rinse them in cold water and put them in a sanitizing microwave steamer bag. I steam the connectors, valves and membranes every day. I steam the breast shields and bottles every other day (I can’t fit everything in the bag, so alternate on the big pieces, which are easiest to clean). I lay everything out on a drying rack and cover it with a towel before going home. I have to remember to return the two connectors to the pump bag or I will not be able to pump before bed (though I have ordered another pair so I can leave two pair at work and one at home).

I just make it back home in time to feed Isa her afternoon meal around 4pm. I’ve been topping her off with about 2-3 ounces after that. I do the same right before bed and if she’s too tired to take a bottle I dream feed her around 10pm, after I do my final pump and before I retire for the night.

And that is my pumping schedule. It’s incredibly time consuming and now that I don’t have enough milk to feed Isa when I’m actually home with her, it feels like pumping is only delaying the inevitable. Still, I’m hoping to continue breastfeeding through the winter break (while supplementing with frozen milk or formula), so I’m pumping for this week and next.

If you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Letting go

I know I’ve written a lot about “letting go” on Mindful Mondays. I almost named my blog that when I did the revamp a few months ago. But this post is about a different kind of letting go. This post is about letting go of expectations, letting go of assumptions, letting of that which I think I want but is actually making me miserable.

What I’m talking about it letting go of breastfeeding. I’ve been very anxious about pumping at work and figured that the annoyance of doing that would lead to the eventual demise of breastfeeding. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that low supply would probably bring an end to it much sooner. Me, the girl who used to have milk squirting from my breast 24 hours a day, no longer makes enough for her baby girl. I have to admit, I’m surprised.

But I’m not sure if I’m disappointed. In fact, I’m kind of relieved. There is a part of me that is consoled by this situation. I feel disencumbered that I don’t have to make the choice, the choice is being made for me. I guess if I really wanted to continue breastfeeding I could take steps to try to bring up my supply, but that involves constant feeding, around the clock, and I can only do that on the weekends. Plus, I’m terrified it will lead to the around-the-clock feeding schedule we dealt with for so long. I’m taking Fenugreek three times a day and drinking Fenugreek tea at least once a day. I’m trying to drink a lot of water throughout the day, but I’m failing miserably at that. Despite these efforts, my supply seems to get worse and worse. Two nights ago I only produced 1.5 ounces despite being hooked up to the pump for over 40 minutes. I think tonight I probably made about the same because Isa took 5 ounces right after she breastfed. She rarely eats more than seven ounces so that means I made about 2 ounces, maybe less. That is obviously not nearly enough to feed her. It is one thing to have to top her off with two ounces from a bottle, it’s quite another story to only make 2 ounces and have to top her off with five! I think my breastfeeding days are actually coming to a close.

I have to say, there is a part of me that is disappointed in myself, in my body. If you had told me before, when I could hand pump 7 ounces in ten minutes that someday I wouldn’t be able to pump more than 1.5 ounces in 40 minutes I would have laughed in your face. But now that is my reality. And there is not much I’m able (willing?) to do about it.

I guess now I start thinking about next steps. My plan was to keep pumping until the winter break, then breastfeed exclusively for my two week vacation. But I’m going to St. Louis to see my extended family and I don’t want to bring my pump or a supply of frozen milk. That means while I’m away I’ll have to be giving Isa formula. I suppose I should be giving it to her before hand too, so we can make sure she will take it and doesn’t have an adverse reaction. The part of me that loves milestones wants to get her to her six month birthday (early next week) exclusively on breast milk and I have enough frozen milk to make it there. I guess after that I will just start supplementing with formula, and my guess is, that once I start doing that my supply will not stick around. So we could be talking about no more breastfeeding in a couple of months. That is shocking to me. But not heartbreaking. I don’t know how long I expected to breastfeed but I guess it was closer to one year than six months.

But I’ve heard that, while breast feeding to one year is ideal, the majority of benefits happen in the first six months. Isa is not going to a child care center with lots of little kids and their myriad germs so she should be okay without the immunities my breast milk would give her. So I guess I don’t have to feel so bad about my failure in the supply department.

I’m obviously still working through all of this. I wish breast feeding were not such a complicated, guilt ridden exercise. I wish society didn’t place such intense expectation on new mothers surrounding this difficult practice. I wish it were all easier, simpler, less anxiety inducing. I know I am in charge of my feeling surrounding all of this and I want to take responsibility for how I feel. As I work through all of it I will keep you posted. Thanks for being patient with me on this journey.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Isa was in a great mood when I got home and we laughed and smiled for hours before bedtime.