As I've said before, breastfeeding was by far the most important thing for me to do for my baby and the one part of being a mother that I looked forward to most. As my 4 regular readers know, it has been anything but an easy journey. Hell, it hasn't even been a bumpy road. It's been an all out mud-crawling-military-obstacle-course-fit-for-a-movie (think Officer and a Gentlemen). After trying everything under the sun to get a full milk supply to come in, I finally came to peace with the fact that I would be a part-time breastfeeder. We had a schedule that worked for us and I really was happy with it, if I couldn't breastfeed exclusively. I had enough to feed Levi any middle of the night feedings, and 2 early morning feedings (around 6 and 8am). These are the least convenient times of day for me to deal with bottles, so really I couldn't complain. He had a supplemental bottle for his 11:30, 3:00 and 6:00 feedings after I breastfed him. And I pumped once after he went to bed, before I retired. This schedule worked for us for a good 2.5 months or so.
I started noticing last week a slight decrease in what I was pumping during the day at work. I had been pumping around 2 oz each session, meaning I was making between 2 and 3 oz per feeding. Levi started pulling off and throwing his head back and whining and fussing during recent feedings, I now know it's because I'm not producing as much milk as I used to. On Tuesday my monthly visitor returned. This is bad news. It means that since going back to work, the breast pump is not doing a good enough job getting milk out to keep my prolactin hormone levels high enough to keep my period away. The more the prolactin levels fall, the less milk I make and the more likely that my visitor will stay. In just two short days my production has plummeted. I don't even think I have enough to get him full in the morning without a bottle now. I barely have anything to give him and he is getting frustrated with the process.
I'm not greedy. Sure I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but I gave up on that months ago. I just wanted to keep going as we were as long as he and I still wanted to, at least a year. This is all happening so fast. It's so sudden, so early, I'm just not ready for it. My heart is absolutely breaking. I'm hurting in a deeper place than I ever knew my soul to go. I can't feed my baby. My body was made to do this and it continues to fail me at every turn. I try to remind myself that I am grateful. I'm grateful for the medical advancements of the last century. 100 years ago, I wouldn't have a son now. He would have died months ago of starvation. I know that. But it still doesn't take away the pain I feel in this very deep place. I just want to feed my baby. I JUST WANT TO FEED MY BABY!! I want to feed my baby and I can't and I feel like I'm being punished for something I didn't do. This feels so unfair.
Well-meaning friends and medical professionals tell me it will be better next time, my next breastfeeding experience will be a breeze, it will be better with the next baby. That's great, but I'm not trying to feed the next baby. I'm not holding and consoling the next baby. I'm not looking into the frustrated hungry face of the next baby who just wants to nurse and get milk. Nope, I just want to feed THIS baby. We'll worry about the next one when s/he gets here.
I realize I'm a control freak, but why did it have to be this. Why was THIS the avenue to teach me some stupid lesson about letting go, blah blah blah. There's nothing I can do to MAKE my body make milk. And that's just the end of it. Just like that. It's gone and I can't do anything to get it back.