the dreaded “s” words.

supply. stress. sleep. supplementing.

remember in my last post when i said my supply is a little low? i was downplaying that a little bit. for a couple of weeks now i have been pumping and getting barely enough for each feed. the milk i stockpiled in our freezer in those first days is gone. sometimes i get 2 ounces a side. sometimes, like the other night, i pump for 20 minutes and get less than an ounce total. i know it is not my fault. i am doing everything right. i am doing everything i can. i eat a healthy (if excruciatingly bland) organic diet. i drink glass after glass of water. i drink 3 cups of mother’s milk tea per day. i take my prenatal vitamins everyday without fail. i eat so much oatmeal i think i might be a quaker now.

this lack of supply leads to stress, which perpetuates a vicious cycle. the more i stress over my supply the worse it gets. sleep deprivation makes all of this more difficult. that pump session when i got less than an ounce? that was at 2 in the morning. i was not a pretty sight after that. let’s just say there was a lot of frustrated crying and spilled milk involved. travis (my knight in shining armor, as usual) calmed me down enough to sleep. he sat up with sylvie the rest of the night so i could rest. i felt much better that next morning.

after a lot of talking, crying (on my part), and a kind message from a good friend we have decided to supplement with formula every other feeding for the next week. 5 formula feedings a day for 7 days means i can pump and get 35 bags of milk in the freezer. it means i can stop stressing about my supply and (hopefully) produce a little bit more. it means the difference between another late night nervous breakdown and calm, nurturing feedings.

i am a mother. it is my job to feed my daughter however that needs to happen. it took me a few days to come to terms with formula. everything i had read lead me to look at it as liquid evil. it isn’t. we bought organic, dairy-free, dha and ara fortified powder. and you know what? she likes it. at first she looked at me with a expression that screamed WTF MOM?, but her first meal of it later and she is sleeping soundly in her father’s arms. i have two 3 ounce bags of milk in the freezer and i haven’t cried from the weight of it at all today. i’m doing what i have to and i don’t feel bad about it anymore. my hope is that, once the colic has passed, we can nurse exclusively again. i hope that this foray into formula is a very temporary roadblock on our journey together. the bottom line is that my daughter is a happy, healthy and well-loved almost 6-week-old, and i am a much happier mom.

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8 responses to “the dreaded “s” words.

  1. I haven’t had the same problem as you, but I can relate to the fact that breastfeeding is hard. I’ve had problems with oversupply and a fast let-down and it took me 3 months to finally even out my supply. There were times when I thought about giving up, but I am too stubborn. All I can say is hang in there.

  2. there are a million things that i thought i would never do while i was pregnant that i have totally done as a new mom–i’m weaning earlier than i expected, my baby spends half the night sleeping in her swing instead of a crib, we use the vacuum as white noise (and have broken THREE vacuums since babymoohoo was born), and on and on… when i start to feel a bit crazed about how differently decisions are made once the baby is actually out here in the real world, i remind mysel of something my father-in-law said in that first week: “whatever you are doing that works is the right thing to do. not what you may have read, planned, or heard from other people.”

    good for you doing what is best for you, your daughter, your family, and your life. making these measured, calculated choices about what will keep you sane and your baby happy & healthy is difficult, but it sounds like you are doing a great job!

  3. You got it, sis. The bottom line is that we feed our babies the healthiest diet possible. I also had issues with pumping with Sophie. She seemed to get enough when she breastfed, but I never got a lot when I pumped. Not sure why that is, but it sure can be frustrating and it does perpetuate that vicious cycle. Formula is not evil, and supplementation was necessary w Sophie from the start because it took 7 days for my milk to come in and Sophie was a 9 lb baby. It worked for us and we successfully balanced breast milk and formula and had a very healthy and (eventually!) happy baby. And that is what it is all about. You’re doing a fantastic job, Sara, and I probably do not tell you that nearly enough. I love ya, sis!

  4. Oh my gosh, I just noticed your new header so darn cute!!!!

    A few surprises have been thrown at you lately (colic, supply) but your coming through everything so well. Your also helping me to let go a bit and just allow things to happen as they will-thanks for that

  5. It was heartbreaking when I was told I really should think about supplementing because my daughter needed to gain more weight… I felt completely useless.

    Luckily the transition went amazingly, Lucy started gaining weight and we were both much happier. I am still breast feeding and she is 7 months old!

    Don’t stress too much about supplementing, she is still getting breast milk and you are doing great!

  6. I know it must be heartbreaking…but you shouldn’t feel bad, noe should anyone make you feel quilty for using formula. The bottom line is, your little girl is getting enough to eat!

    You’re doing awesome and I comend you for being so open and honest !

  7. I had the same problem with my son was a newborn. I pumped around the clock and never got more than an ounce or two per side. This went on for three months when I finally decided I was worrying more about pumping than anything else and I would be a better mom if I wasn’t spending 6 hrs a day hooked up to a pump. At first I did feel guilty- but my son who is now 3 is the healthiest, happiest guy i know.

  8. My daughter never latched on or got the hang of breastfeeding (it didn’t help that she was in the NICU for 3 weeks) so I pumped for almost 4 months. My milk supply was good for awhile but then like you it went down when she was about 6 weeks old. I remember since that was when my mom first visited our little one. I was freaking out and she would tell me there’s nothing wrong with using formula.

    I did everything to get my supply back up (always drank water, mother’s milk tea, took other supplements, etc) and even spent a couple of days a week doing marathon pumping sessions when my hubby was home to get my supply up. It was so exhausting and I felt like a bad mom for not having enough milk. I also felt like a dairy cow, a maple one at that from the fenugreek. πŸ˜‰ Looking back to last year I wish I would have been easier on myself b/c I had MAJOR guilt about this. I wanted the best for my daughter -breastmilk- but if I could do it all over, I wouldn’t have stressed so much.

    I’m not saying to stop what you’re doing and what you feel is right. Just know that it will work out even if your daughter has to use formula. Your doing the very best that you can! And Darlene took the words right out of my mouth in that I feel like I would’ve been a better mom and more present with my baby instead of always being hooked up to a breast pump. In the past 17 months I’ve learned that most of what I was planning to do as a parent has gone out the window. Kids=a constant change of plans. πŸ™‚

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