I thought I was prepared for everything. I read every book I could find. I stayed up late nights reading forums, I got all the pamphlets and books from La Leche League. I was ready to breastfeed. I was going to knock this whole booby milk party out of the park, my kid was going to get the best she possibly could.
And then I had her three days shy of 37 weeks. 37 weeks is a full term pregnancy, she was perfectly healthy and happy in every way, and all was good. Except when it came time to eat. I pulled out my ginormous hot pulsating boobies (by the way, nobody told me about the pulsating part– was that just me?) in front of god and everyone, we stuck her on there, waiting for the big to-do, and she did nothing.
My mom was sure it was because my boobs were three times the size of her head. Everyone had a reason for why she wasn’t eating, and I didn’t care. I just knew that she wasn’t eating, and I needed to feed my baby.
In came lactation specialists, nursing helpers. We emptied the room, they brought in more lactation consultants. We tried turning off the lights, turning on all the lights, teasing her to open up, not teasing her, singing, music. WE TRIED EVERYTHING. In the meantime, my boobs were filling up fuller and fuller, and she wasn’t eating. In fact, she was turning orange. I thought I was prepared, but I didn’t have the answer to that– all I knew was that the doctors, the nurses, everyone were worried about jaundice. And she was so little, and they wanted to give her formula. But, I wanted to give her breastmilk.
So, I pumped. I pumped out the gooey stuff first, and we sort of let her suckle that off my hands. And it worked! Then I pumped some milk. And we put it into a bottle and she drank. She drank like it was nobody’s business. My baby wasn’t hungry, my stomach un-knotted, and I felt like I was taking care of my kid.
But then I thought about everything I had read. NIPPLE CONFUSION, BREAST IS BEST, I HAVE BROKEN MY KID FOREVER. And the knot in my stomach returned, and I was already failing as a mom. She was like– 46 hours old, and I was already failing. So, I cried, because I was hormonal, and I was completely void of all logic, and I turned to my mom and my husband and they were both like, “What does your gut say?”
“My gut says to feed my baby.”
And so I did. I pumped the milk I made into a bottle, and she drank. And then I did it again, and again.
And then I became one of those moms that NOBODY TALKS ABOUT. The moms who pump and feed. The moms who spend twice as long as the rest of the world feeding their baby. You want to know why nobody talks about these moms? Because these moms are too busy pumping to be on the internet talking about they are doing. They are literally either feeding or pumping ALL THE TIME. I would hook up the breast pump to both of my boobies, and I would pull my laptop in front of me (no iPhones yet, I am so jealous of moms that have iPhones now) and I would play games, or I would read baby forums, or I would just watch videos, I’d even hold my baby. We’d coo and talk. It didn’t matter what I did, it just mattered that I was getting that milk.
When I’d pumped enough, I’d pop a lid on the bottle, and she’d drink up. We did this for a long time.
So long in fact, that I can’t even remember how long it was. I just know that there were breast pumps and breast creams, there were milk bags, and there were also bottles and there were bottle warmers, and there was SO much stuff and it all had to be cleaned.
ALL THE TIME.
I got to where I could pump twice as much as she needed, but that took twice as long, and I’d freeze half and give her half. And then one day my boobs just didn’t make milk anymore.
And I was devastated. Here I’d hatched the perfect (and totally irrational) plan to make it through the first year on my milk alone, and my milk was gone. I had enough saved up to get her through another month or two, but the reality is that we only made it about the first six months on breastmilk and then we switched to formula exclusively after that.
Wow, formula was so expensive. She couldn’t take the powder stuff, only liquid, and when we did the math we realized it was costing more than my car payment.
But she took it, and she was a happy, healthy kid. I still felt guilty, heck, I STILL feel guilty for not making it that entire year, but the reality is that was a crazy crazy plan that was so unbelievably time consuming that I was actually missing out on spending time with my kid.
And so, there is a little part of me that is glad the milk stopped coming. Because when it did, when I finally wasn’t breast feeding and bottle feeding and I was able to be with my kid, and it was awesome.