I had to stop breastfeeding.
Not that I ever really was breastfeeding. More like pumping with a hospital-grade torture machine.
Nora has been eating mostly formula since Day One, since I never produced enough milk for her to drink, and she didn't have the strength to "go to breast" as the pro's say.
You may not know it, but breastfeeding for any infant, let alone premature ones, is a LOT of work. Much more than the bottle. And for Mommy, it's no picnic either.
Not that I expected it to be.
But for preemies, it's more work than it's worth for them (when you consider the calories they get from it vs. what they spend in calories to get it out).
I tried. For nearly 3 weeks now I've been pumping every three hours -- in the middle of the night -- before or after feedings. I was exhausted, hurting badly, and at my wits end.
I saw a lactation counselor three times. I did everything they told me. I got advice from lots of well-meaning people who did great at breastfeeding their own children, and who I hoped would have advice that would help me.
But despite all the attempts to ease my pain and up my production, my milk never came in.
I talked to my doctor when I went in on Wednesday, and she gave me Raglan, a anti-reflux medication that has the added bonus of producing prolactin, which ups milk production.
But for me it was too late.
I didn't realize how "at the end of my rope" I was with breastfeeding (or pumping really) until I came home from the doctor, took one Raglan pill, and knew I wasn't taking the rest. The side effects list alone made me not want to take it, and it does get to the baby...Irritability. Diarrhea. Anxiety attacks. For both me and the baby. Thanks but no thanks, but I'm already overly tired and stressed. I don't need to add "running to the bathroom" and having a freak out session not already related to my post-partum dip in hormones.
I resisted saying anything on my support group board because I knew some people would not support my decision, and it has been tough enough without having to sit under someone else's judgement, specifically when I felt very emotionally fried.
At one point a gal had invited me to be part of a breastfeeding board...and this is on their front page:
We do not support supplementing with human milk substitutes or giving up for any reason (unless absolutely medically necessary), and we do not accept the following excuses:
"I want my body back."
"It's too much work"
"I want more sleep" etc...
Breastfeeding is not a "choice", and will not be presented as such in this community. It is your child's birthright, and your responsibility as a Mother. We are all here because we know that babies were born to be breastfed, and we will all do our damnedest to ensure that every one of us is successful.
You are a strong woman, and you CAN do it. You just need to believe in yourself, and we're here to help.
We fully support and encourage all mothers to eliminate their reliance on supplementing with inferior human milk substitutes and return to 100% breast milk. If your goal is to get your baby back on the breast, we welcome you with open arms, you can succeed! "
They don't mention what they'll do if you fail to meet your goal. And as you can imagine, I didn't join this board...it just felt like I had to join the cult of breastfeeding or else I was going to have some La Leche League women over here to beat the milk out of me!
Then today she acted surprised when I didn't appreciate her basically saying I wasn't trying hard enough and that I had "given up on yourself". And she called it "tough love".
Nope -- that my friends is what I call a guilt trip -- and it was sickening.
Suffice to say, it's a horribly difficult decision if it is a decision at all. I feel my body after a complicated pregnancy, emergency c-section and 12 days in the NICU -- had spoken for me already by not producing milk.
But to feel unsupported in that decision as I was today, well that was hard too.
I'll get over it though. In the end, I am the Mommy, and it is my choice when to end suffering, even if it is my own. It is my choice to give my child a healthy alternative and stay happy and sane myself.
And judging by the e-mails I'm getting, I'm not the first to feel this way.
Please keep in mind that this post -- like all posts -- can be commented on, but I have to approve them before they will show. Any comment less than civil will be rejected. -- Ed.