Today marks two big events: first, it’s officially my due date. Ha! Take that, nature! I beat you to it!
Second, today is the day that I had my first post-partum meltdown. I left Cate and Dave at home (her in the swing, him on the couch) while I went to the grocery store and to grab some take-out for dinner. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I came home and promptly dissolved into a puddle of tears in the kitchen.
I guess it was because the take-out place took forever with our order, and sitting there waiting was the first opportunity that I’ve had to get wrapped up inside my own head. When I’m home, it’s All About The Baby, All The Time. Having that extra 15 minutes of alone time was not necessarily a good thing.
So, the breastfeeding? It isn’t working. My milk just hasn’t come in. If I squint my eyes and turn my head sideways when I look in the mirror, my boobs look a tiny bit bigger, but overall there’s been no engorgement of any kind. I bought a nursing bra, and the woman at the store talked me into getting a C cup so I’d have “room to grow,” and believe me, there is still plenty of room in there. I feel gypped, I really wanted to have big bodacious breastfeeding ta-ta’s.
Yesterday I pumped six times and produced a combined total of two ounces. Is there any wonder why I nurse the baby for thirty minutes at a time, and then she screams in frustration afterward? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I’ve been trying to breastfeed her first, and then offer a bottle afterward, and she sucks down the formula like she’s starving to death. And I guess she probably would starve, if we were relying solely on me.
Also, when I’m nursing her, I’m constantly fussing with her head, moving her to a better angle, re-positioning my breast, trying to find a way to sit that doesn’t hurt my back, whatever. Compared to that? Giving her a bottle is actually pretty fun. I can prop her up on my knees, and lean over close to her face and talk to her and coo at her. And now that she makes eye contact, we can just stare at each other the whole time, which is pretty darn awesome. I feel way more bonded to her during bottle-feeding time than I ever have when trying to nurse her.
So, I kind of just… stopped. Sometime in the last day or so, I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m still pumping like crazy every couple of hours, because I figure that if I can produce enough to make one of her feedings a bottle of breastmilk, then all the better. Some is better than none, right? To try to help things along, I’m taking fenugreek, and drinking this disgusting organic “Mother’s Milk” tea (actual quote on the package: “To promote healthy lactation.” You know, as opposed to the unhealthy kind). That tea alone is proof of how much I love this child, because it tastes like licorice, which I despise. And yet I dutifully slug down my three to five mugs daily, in the hopes that maybe it will allow me to produce a few more droplets of milk for her.
Anyway, I was sitting at the take-out place and I started thinking about how most women have at least one part of their body that they hate and obsess about constantly? Mine has always been my breasts. They’re too small, they aren’t a pretty shape, my nipples are proportionally too large, whatever. Hating my boobs has pretty much been a constant in my life since puberty. I guess I feel like this is just another way in which they’ve failed me. And in turn, it makes me feel like I’ve failed my daughter, because I didn’t even make it through the first week.
I know I’ve said all along that I was ambivalent about breastfeeding and that if it worked, great, but if not, no big deal. And I guess I realize now that I was full of crap, because I really did want it to work, and I’m upset that it just hasn’t. I do wonder if I gave up too soon, but for the sake of my sanity, I couldn’t stand to keep putting both of us through the stress of it all.
Man, that Mommy Guilt thing sure can sneak up on you and kick your ass, can’t it? I never even saw it coming.
Tonight, Dave came downstairs with the baby after changing her, and found me crying while putting away groceries. (Hey, look, I can multitask!) I tried to explain why I was upset, and he held the baby out to me and said, “Look, she’s healthy, she’s happy, she’s doing great.” And he’s right, really. That should be enough.
But so help me, the first time I get one of those Mommy Drive-By’s where someone makes a disparaging comment about me bottle-feeding my baby, I am probably going to lose my mind and punch that person dead in the nose. Hopefully Dave will always have bail money on hand, just in case.