"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." Psalm 71:14-15

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The End is Near

No I'm not talking about the East Coast Earthquake, hurricane Irene or any other of the natural disasters that have folks beating down the doors of their local church for fear of the Apocalypse. I'm talking about my breastfeeding journey. My heart is absolutely breaking into pieces as I write this.

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.


Beth said...

Praying for you!

The Laney Family said...

jill...i KNOW how hard this is...i lived it too, my friend...but, just a little tidbit to tell you that it might not be completely over...my milk plummetted as well during my "visits" from our monthly friend...and after she was gone...milk supply would go back up! keep trying if that is what you are wanting...it really might come back up...i had my "friend" visit for 4 months before I just recently weaned! much love friend!!!

*Jill* said...

I was really hoping that it might be temporary. I figure I'll know by the end of the weekend if it's temporary or permanent. I'm going to stick it out for a while and see.

Mommy Attorney said...

I'm so sorry. I have gone through that pain as well, and no one except for someone who has been through it and desperately wanted to breastfeed can understand your pain.

I agree with the previous commenter - it may be temporary. My cycle came back very quickly with both girls, and the dip in supply was noticeable, but did return.

Are you taking More Milk Plus? It was the only thing that seemed to truly make an increase in supply for me.

I've blogged a lot about breastfeeding, because we do too much blaming of ourselves. Breastfeeding is a culturally-learned skill, and there's no one who teaches us in this culture. The very structure of delivery, minuscule maternity leave, and hundreds of other societal pressures on women work against breastfeeding. Every minute breastfeeding, and every drop of milk benefits Levi, so focus on what you've accomplished. You worked harder than many moms ever would.