I spend approximately all of my waking hours thinking about my boobs. That is only a slight exaggeration.
If Ansel isn’t attached to my boob, I’m thinking about when he should be attached to my boob next, or I’m pumping, or I’m drinking water so I am hydrated enough to make milk, or I’m eating some oatmeal or taking some fenugreek or . . . It’s really pretty consuming.
I’m sure this post seems a little out of left field, considering my recent ‘level up’ but I have come to realize that breastfeeding is the biggest mind fuck I’ve ever experienced. I feel 100% confident about it one moment, then in the depths of despair the next. There’s really no telling how it will go any given day.
So far, Ansel is continuing to grow appropriately, and have lots of wet and dirty diapers. He also continues to eat only my milk. This, all of it, is an accomplishment – and it is a situation I should be – and am! – grateful for, because other women would kill for all of those things. But the situation feels very precarious. Ansel is gaining, but still quite slowly. He nurses well, but has times when he seems frustrated at my breast and I, frankly, feel empty and like I’m not providing. The reality is, I just don’t quite trust my body.
On Tuesday, I went to a breastfeeding group at a local crunchy mama store/meet up space. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and – to be honest – I was expecting there to be a lot of lulu-lemon wearing yoga pants wealthy whole foods type moms there so I was anticipating not fitting in. Ansel and I went in, I got him naked and weighed him (he was 6lbs 9.8oz – up exactly an ounce from the day before at the pediatrician), then found a spot to sit in the huge crowd of folks, and started nursing.
There were so many mamas there. Some of them were definitely lululemon. Some of them were not. I sat next to two other women who were new to the group, one with an 8 day old baby, the other with a 3 weeker like me. Once everyone got settled, we went around the room and everyone mentioned what their primary concern was – from oversupply to under supply to poor latch to tongue tie. And lots of us cried when we talked about what was going on, or how scared we were that we weren’t able to feed our babies, or how alone we felt not knowing if we were normal. It was really, really wonderful.
And the lactation consultant, who is known across Denver as the boob whisperer/best LC ever talked to each of us in the context or the group and then also came around to us individually afterwards as well. Ansel transferred a little over an ounce during the feeding – which was a little disappointing. The LC said he’s gaining ok, but she wants to make sure we don’t ‘go off the rails’ – and with my PCOS dx, she recommended I get back on metformin to boost my supply a little, and start pumping 3 times a day after feeds to up my supply as well. And, of course, she told me to keep coming back to the group – for the support, to check Ansel’s weight, and to keep an eye on things.
I went back on Thursday (the group runs 4 times a week) and Ansel was up to 6lbs 12 oz – another ounce a day gain! He also transferred just barely under 2oz during this session! I also ran into two colleagues from another organization – one who was due just a few days before me. It was surprising, again, to hear the diversity of stories and struggles, and how deeply everyone was committed to making nursing work for them.
I called my midwife on Tuesday afternoon and got a script for metformin, which I started taking on wednesday. I also upped my pumping and instead of saving it in the freezer, we have been feeding it back to Ansel in the evening to help bump his gain up and also give La the chance to connect with him by giving him a bottle (this was a bit earlier than we wanted to start bottle feeding, but the LC recommended it and assured us it wouldn’t hurt anything) I’m trying to pump 3x/day after feeds or on the opposite breast when he only takes one (most common in the early morning or middle of the night) although there are days when I can’t get 3 in because he seems to be eating all the time.
I’m exhausted and a little bored with myself, but I also feel so so committed to making this work and feeding Ansel breast milk exclusively, if it is at all possible. The LC told me she was very impressed that we’d been able to not supplement at all given that he was both early and I had a c section, and that fact spoke well to our likely ability to keep going, especially with a little extra boost from the metformin and pumping. But the fear still hangs over my head . . .Last night, Ansel slept for 6 hours in a row. And I should have been so excited, right? Instead I was terrified about what that might mean for his weight and my milk. Fucking parenthood.
But damnit, he makes it all worth it (and I think he’s starting to get some chubby cheeks, maybe?)