The pixie is now three and a half months old. For three and a half months now we have battled together. Perhaps an apt name for this saga in our lives would be The Breastfeeding Wars: Starring Mama and The Pixie.
You probably remember a while back me talking about our breastfeeding dramas. Well, I haven’t talked about them of late, mainly due to plain exhaustion, but things have not improved. You can read more about the background to our story here and here. I have been given all manner of advice over the last few months and have slowly been filtering through it all in my mind.
The first time I realised in my heart that something was not right was when she was just a few days old. I remember thinking, she doesn’t seem to stay on for very long, I don’t think she is getting enough milk.
If only then I had trusted my instincts.
With that in mind I asked to breastfeed in front of our [hopeless] maternal child health nurse when she was one week old. The nurse looked at me and said, “Well yes, I can hear her swallowing.” Ok then, I guess all is well…
If only then I had trusted my instincts.
Since then I have had email counselling with a lactation consultant, I’ve sat with a lady from the ABA for three hours, I have seen the doctor, I have complained to my health nurse, I have googled and read all manner of mummy forums. I have read endless books and called the health nurse hotline. I have cried. I have thought many times about giving up.
The main suggestions from the crew above have been:
:: She has colic.
:: She has reflux.
:: She is fussy.
:: They are all different (love that one).
All the while my instincts have been telling me one thing, one niggling, nagging, titter-tattering thing: she is hungry, she is hungry, she is hungry.
When you are in a situation, it is so hard to see what is right in front of you. It’s also, in this culture, difficult to allow yourself to trust your instincts, particularly as a parent.
Over the past three weeks, with some advice from my mum and sis, I have been expressing after every feed and topping up our lady with a bottle. She guzzles it. My heart flitters and flutters seeing her drink. When she finishes, she wants more. She cries. She doesn’t sleep much. She is hungry. I am exhausted.
Today I took Miss Pixie for a weigh in. It wasn’t great. I am not one to take much notice of The Rules, but this time it just confirmed what I have been thinking, feeling, knowing: she is hungry.
This afternoon I saw a lactation consultant. She is convinced the pixie isn’t getting enough because she isn’t latching on properly. Why oh why this hasn’t already been picked up, I do not know. Why oh why I didn’t know this, as a second time mama, I do not know. I am trying not to blame myself.
Because she doesn’t feed for long, my supply has been drastically affected. The constant expressing helped in the beginning, but the pressure to produce the milk and feed her more and more is taking its toll. I am very stressed and under the pump, literally.
So you are asking, what now?
Now, I’ve decided, it’s time to give in. Note, like I said earlier: give in, not give up.
I am going to start supplementing one or two of her feeds with formula. I had to pause to type those words.
With the pressure off the hope is that I will be more relaxed and able to produce milk, and the pixie won’t be so hungry so will be happier and the whole situation will be easier for us all to work with. In the meantime the consultant, Sue, lovely Sue, has shown me how to try to re-teach her to latch on and get more of the breast in her mouth.
I really hope it works.
I have to also add in here a public apology to my Prince Charming. When my lovely fellow mentioned the word formula to me a few days ago, I responded with the vigour and outrage that one would expect had he said let’s feed our baby toxic waste. I’m sorry darling. It was not your suggestion that upset me, just my own high-achiever expectations that I, as mother, should be able to do that which is most basic: feed my hungry baby myself. Thank you for being patient with me and giving me the time and space to realise admit that you were right.