These are the cries of a dairy cow:
I think my milk supply is starting to decline. I definitely did not pump as much milk as SS drank this week while I worked. I worked a 14 1/2 hour stressful, busy day and was unable to pump at my normal time the last time. And the high stress level and lack of proper hydration (due to lack of time for self-care) doesn't help my milk supply. Ideally, the solution to my (possibly) declining milk supply would be to pump every day when I'm not at work at a time SS doesn't need to eat in order to store up some extra milk (which I do try to do a couple of times a week before I go to bed). However, in reality, adding in a pumping session between feedings (which are still about every 3 hours) alongside getting two kids dressed and fed and diapered and fed and diapered and napped and fed and diapered every day just doesn't happen. So that means we may be starting to supplement with some formula soon if it seems like SS needs it. This is hard for me to accept. I wish I could be one of those moms that takes a "nursing vacation" and just leisurely lays in bed with her baby for a couple days and nurses constantly in order to catalyze my milk production - in my fantasy of this nursing vacation, someone brings me meals in bed and cleans up the kitchen and I am wearing a light white cotton nightdress with lace details and SS is just in his white cloth diaper and SS and I lounge in my white sheets and nurse and smile at each other all day and SS never spits up and everything is light and bright and sweet and earthy. But I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who needs his mama too, and that mysterious person who brings me meals and cleans and launders hasn't turned up on my doorstep yet, so no nursing vacation for me.
So if needed, I will continue to breastfeed and only supplement with formula. Needing formula makes me feel a little like I failed at breastfeeding and mothering and being a natural mama. I totally realize this is silly and not true, but these feelings still exist. Because this is a little disheartening, I started thinking of some positive effects of SS no longer being exclusively breastfed:
- I can drink an occasional cup of coffee and have the occasional Starbucks treat! I drank one full cup of coffee since SS was born, and he was horribly fussy and didn't take a solid nap all day that day. Since I don't have caffeine regularly (not even soda or tea) I am pretty sensitive to it, and poor SS seems to have the same sensitivity. Totally not worth the stress it caused. Baby or Mama.
-I can have the occasional un-perfectly-timed glass of wine or cocktail and not worry about how "pumping-and-dumping" will affect my milk supply and stock.
-I can be untethered from my baby for more than a couple of hours. I mean, let's be honest, who wouldn't want to be tethered to this cute little man?:
It's definitely no hardship. I love that our nature requires our togetherness. But it will be nice to have the option of a little freedom - I can leave him and not have to stress over when exactly I will need to pump to coordinate with his feedings and if SS will have enough milk the following feeding if I pump too late, etc. Right now I would rather just keep him with me and nurse him directly because the repercussions of our separation on breastfeeding stress me out.
-I can stop worrying about how my exercise is affecting my milk supply. I am still playing soccer (TRUE LOVE) and I'm hoping to train for a half-marathon, but am unsure of how this will affect my milk supply.
-It seems like pumping at work will be less stressful because I won't be obsessively counting and calculating every single ounce that SS drinks and I pump while I am gone
Of course, none of this is worth more to me than the perfect nutrition and sweet bond that breastfeeding provides SS - when faced with a choice between any of those options and breastfeeding, I will pick breastfeeding every time. I am just trying to look at the bright side of what might be our new reality.