Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My name is Sarah, and I'm a pumpaholic.

I've become obsessed with pumping and milk production. I don't even care as much about the benefits of breast milk for babies as I do about stocking my fridge and freezer with milk. I have about 50 oz. of expressed milk stored away for a rainy day. Meira is exclusively breast fed (or bottle fed breast milk) during the day and gets 2-3 bottles of formula at night (helps her sleep longer and easier to prepare than heating up cold breast milk at 2am).

Talk about a pumping success story --

A few weeks ago I was pumping about a quarter of what Meira needed per feed. Occasionally I'd pump half a bottle's worth of milk and pat myself proudly on the back. Now, a few days after finishing my last fenugreek capsule and what feels like hundreds of pumping sessions later, I am easily pumping out a full bottle each time I sit down to pump. In the morning, I can pump out almost 2 full bottles in one go.

What's more, sometimes I actually look forward to pumping. I love feeling full of milk and then 10 minutes later feeling light and empty. I love sitting there and relaxing, drinking my water (if I remember to bring it to the couch beforehand) and reading or watching TV.

Here's the problem --

As smoothly as things are going, full-time pumping is not a long term option. At least not for me. While I don't mind the pumping at all, sometimes I feel like I need to pump at the expense of going out or at the expense of doing things around the house that need to get done (like taking care of my children).

Yes, you're right (because I'm sure you're thinking this) -- I could just nurse Meira when the pumping is inconvenient; but despite my full milk supply, I still cannot seem to get the knack of nursing. I still try and nurse once or twice a day for a bit, but it is never comfortable or enjoyable. I can't seem to ever get enough milk in her, even if I sit there for an hour with my boob in her mouth.

And here's another thing -- Meira is not the happiest of babies. In fact, we just put her on a formula-only diet for 24 hours to see if maybe there's something in my breast milk that she doesn't like that's making her cranky all the time.

But it is true, she cries after a bottle of breast milk and cries after a bottle of formula, and I always think she's hungry. So I'm sure when I nurse her she's getting plenty and I'm just being neurotic by thinking she's not getting enough.

I know practice makes perfect when it comes to nursing, and I still plan on diong a 2-day nurse-a-thon to try and get us both adjusted. Maybe I will love it, but then again, I doubt it.

Obviously (because you know I can't keep these things to myself) I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breastfeeding Update

It is becoming more and more clear to me that breastfeeding is just not for me -- or at least not this time round...or last time either. I have spent the last two weeks working extremely hard to increase my milk supply by round the clock pumping (every 2-3 hours, 4 hours at night) and taking fenugreek supplements (9 per day). During this time I have done very little actual nursing simply because I was not willing to spend the time nursing, giving bottles (which I had to do after every nursing session), and then pumping, but I did make sure to nurse a few times a day, simply to keep the memory alive for Meira so she wouldn't forget how to do it (and she hasn't).

And after weeks of hard work -- MAGIC -- my supply is up! I produce enough milk to provide full bottles of breast milk for Meira all day and into part of the night! Mission accomplished!

Today I decided to go on a nurse-a-thon and try and give Meira my breast milk through more traditional means -- the breast instead of the bottle. Once again, she fell asleep every couple of minutes or stayed on the breast for hours, oftentimes getting frustrated and bouncing on and off the boob. For about 4 exhausting, nap-free hours I let her nurse on demand, but she never seemed to adequately drain my breasts -- yes, after hours of almost non-stop feeding, I was still dripping milk and she was still not satisfied. When I had had enough, I gave Meira a bottle of pumped milk, and she drank the whole thing.

According to my lactation consultant who watched Meira latch on and feed, she (and I) are doing everything right.

Yet it certainly doesn't feel that way.

Breastfeeding has become something that I dread. When Meira starts to stir after sleeping for a while, my first feelings are of dread -- oh no, time to put her back on the boob.

Not quite the feelings you want to have towards your precious 1-month-old.

So, to sum up, breastfeeding is not for ne, or for us.

That being said, I am still committed, at least for a little while longer (until I begin to dread that too), to provide breast milk for my baby. I have worked so hard to increase my milk supply that it would be a shame to let it dry up now. And the oddest part of this whole thing, is that I totally don't mind pumping. In fact, I sort of enjoy it. It's a quiet, meditative time during which I get to close the door, read or watch TV, and just relax.

Plus, the benefit of pumping (in addition to providing free milk for my baby) is that I still have the option of breastfeeding a) if I change my mind (again) and b) as quick comfort to Meira. It is certainly a nice tool to use when she's screaming and nothing else calms her down.

(P.S. Have I mentioned that my angel baby has turned into a bit of an afternoon/evening colicky baby? We still love her.)

Whenever I hear of people exclusively pumping, I think they are absolutely insane. Please feel free to feel the same way about least while this lasts. 

Okay...back to the pump I go!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Nursing, continued.

I hit my 2 week nursing goal, am about to hit my 1 month goal, and now am shooting to hit the 6 week mark. Most things I've read and most people I've spoken to say that the first 6 weeks are the hardest, but that after that, a solid milk supply should be established and things should get more comfortable and easier.

I know from my own experience with Hila that I never reached the point of comfort and ease. I did the nursing/pumping/supplementing thing for 4 miserable months then, and I swore that I wouldn't put myself, my child, and the people around me through that mess again.

And I am...nursing and pumping and still having to supplement with formula. The only difference this time is that I'm not going crazy. In fact, besides for a few emotionally draining hiccups, I've been handling these hurdles pretty well.

My milk supply is still not where it should be, but I am working hard to get there by nursing, pumping, and taking a heck of a lot of fenugreek capsules (9 per day). Pumping is a lot less aggravating when you actually get something to show for it. It takes me 2 pumping sessions of about 5-7 minutes each to get a full bottle.

Fortunately, I am working with a very patient little girl. She is, however, also a very sleepy little girl, and that is probably the main reason why things went down in the first place. I simply cannot keep her awake at the breast long enough to get a full meal. And I refuse to have her at the breast all day.

While things are fine right now, they are still far from ideal. I will give it a few more weeks (maybe) to see if things improve and if I can increase my milk and my nursing time and reduce the pumping time and the bottles.Just thinking about all the bottles and pumping stuff in the sink is motivation enough right now.

Meanwhile, whoever said that nursing is the cheaper alternative? Between seeing the lactation consultant, investing in fenugreek, and buying nursing pads, nursing bras/tanks/shirts, and other nursing gear, it is becoming quite expensive! (Thank you Bethami for the pump and pillow!)


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