Even before I was pregnant with El, I dreamed about breastfeeding her. There is nothing more engaging and powerful, in my experience, than sharing this experience with my children. There were times when I thought that maybe the only reason I wanted another baby was because I wanted to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is also one of the most difficult things I have ever done for my children. To ensure they get as much breastmilk as possible, I pump while I am at work and on call. Breastfeeding my baby means that most of the time I am attached to a machine – not my baby. This is the part I hate; but I am reminded of why I endure it when I lay down at night with El by my side, her little body pressed up against my chest, listening to her suckle as she falls asleep. I never want it to end.
A few weeks ago, the “brelfie” (breastfeeding selfie) began trending. I loved the idea of having a picture of my experience feeding my baby. I have many photos of me feeding my baby, but they are all from far away, or with covers, or even just for me to see. I was delighted to create something that I could share with the world. This is my life; what matters to me the most – giving myself to my children.
Breastfeeding is so much to me: it is food, but it is also comfort, bonding, sharing, and love. I wish my babies didn’t grow up because I will never get tired of this amazing experience
It’s been weeks since I’ve been here… and three weeks have passed since I’ve been back at work.
It’s been months since I’ve been at work… and it’s taken 3 weeks to get back to some kind of normal.
I’m happy to be back at work, but I miss my baby. I also miss my “free time” and I miss everything else that is important to me.
The last three weeks have been a whirlind of breastfeeding in the night, pumping milk between surgeries and baby deliveries, leaking breasts, making bottles, sleeping, cuddling with baby El, and maybe some sleep somewhere in there.
I still have mixed emotions about my decision to return to work early. I love my job and it feels great to be back, but I miss my baby – even more than I imagined I would.
In my absence she seems to be doing well. So far I have been able to continue breastfeeding. Although, I can sense her getting impatient at the breast when the milk doesn’t come as quickly as the bottle. My milk supply is having a hard time keeping up and I’ve had to start some supplements. Hopefully it will pick up in the next little while.
She is excited to see me when I finally get to her after a long day of work. Even at 5.5 months, she had begun to give little hugs and bury her face into my shoulder. Then she opens her mouth wide and dives into my face – her idea of a kiss. It doesn’t take more than 5 minuets before she is suddenly pushing to lean back and rooting for her comfort. She still loves her special mommy and El time, and for that I’m so thankful.
Everyday I come up with some great thoughts and ideas that I want to blog about. Everyday, however, I never find time to sit down at my computer to write them out. Right now I have borrowed some time: baby El is awake but content in her swing. A is at school. E is distracting our Nanny. I am sitting at the kitchen table drinking cold coffee, awkwardly holing my breast pump in place with my forearms as I type this post (I’m still waiting for my pumping bra to arrive from Amazon). I am lamenting the fact that today was A’s year end party at school and I missed it … because it it totally escaped my mind after I read the notice sent home last week. I am not looking forward to explaining my absence to a sullen little boy when he gets off the bus in about an hour from now.
Yesterday I eagerly sat down on the bed, ready for my marathon afternoon of nursing El to get her to sleep, and I placed my computer within reach – hoping that maybe I could blog about one of the many thoughts that have been floating around in my head. Unfortunately, El wasn’t going to cooperate. After an hour of struggling to get her to sleep, I decided to wrap her up in the carrier and take her for a walk. While on my walk I came up with a great idea: I could make a voice memo of my blog ideas and then transcribe them another time. So that’s what I did! I walked and I recorded some great blog ideas.
But this morning, with my borrowed time to blog, I didn’t feel like listening or transcribing any of my ideas from yesterday. I felt this overwhelming sense of sadness and disappointment; like the emotions that go along with the posts was missing and I was just transcribing some sort of task. My sadness was extended because I didn’t want to listen to or write down my thoughts from yesterday (really, for the past week or so that have been neglected). Instead, I decided to write about these feelings of disappointment.
My lack of blogging is just one place that I have been feeling disappointment. For weeks now I have been trying to find time to add some breast pumping sessions to my day with the hopes of increasing my milk supply. I want to do this slowly in anticipation of my return to work in 3 months, and also to counteract the likelihood that my supply will decrease when I have my IUD inserted in a few weeks. Alas – that hasn’t been happening reliably. Let’s also not forget about my unfortunate omission of A’s celebration today. And then there is the complete lack of time (and energy) to get back into an exercise regime. The weight loss has slowed and it’s time to kick it up a little, but there is no time. My only form of exercise comes as leisurely strolls around my community with a fussy baby strapped to my chest. Oh, and there is also a serious lack of quality time that I spend with my other two kids… I feel like an epic failure.
I know that;s not the case; but it doesn’t stop me from feeling that way. I want my life to go back to having some reliable structure and from, even if that structure is different than what it used to be. Like most, I am a creature of habit and I thrive on routine and schedule. This daily routine of “no/poor sleep – nurse fussy baby all day – maybe eat – maybe drink coffee – maybe shower – maybe do something I want to do” is really starting to eat away at my will. I’m not sure what to do to change things up…
“Why are you so worried about your milk? He asked, after I broke into tears.
It was 7am and I couldn’t help but let the pooling tears run down my cheeks. I had been awake most of the night feeding El, who just never seemed to be satisfied. The day before had seemed a pointless day to wear a shirt and bra, because my breasts were out all day, on demand to her. She was finally asleep, my breasts were empty and deflated, like they had been all night, yet the mere thought of feeding her left me leaking more than just tears.
Maybe I have been obsessed lately. I know El has a small tongue tie, and I know what that could mean for our breastfeeding relationship. I have mentioned it to everyone from the postpartum nurse in the hospital, to the pediatrician who looked after her there, to the home care nurses drawing her bilirubin, to my own family doctor. Everyone just keeps telling me not to worry about it because she’s feeding and growing well. But her latch is shallow. I know it could be a lot better, and I fear that while she gets enough milk now, she might not get enough in the future. I love breastfeeding my babies, and she is the last one. I want to breastfeed her for a long time.
So, why shouldn’t I obsess? This beautiful baby was part of me – she came from my own body and flesh. Now that she is born, she is still part of me; everything that provides for her, nourishes her, and keeps her happy and alive is from me. She knows my voice and she knows it means comfort, fulfillment, closeness, and love. I am the only person in her world who can give her all of that by simply holding her in my arms and offering her my body.
It is not just milk. That milk is me. I AM the milk.
My beautiful baby drinks me in and for those minutes – those hours – we are one again.
I am not ready for that to end, so I can’t help but worry about my milk.