Did you hear the one about the woman who wrote the book about breastfeeding who isn’t breastfeeding?
This one is ironic, and not in the Alanis-Morrisette-confuses-irony-with-plain-old-bad-luck kind of way. You see, I wrote a book about breastfeeding (among other things), and over the past 15 years, I’ve been published pretty widely in all kind of publications on breastfeeding-related topics.I’m even credited in some quarters with having been the first person to use the word “lactivist” in a published piece (I’m pretty sure that’s not true, though). After a messed up breastfeeding experience with baby #1 (weaned to a bottle at 3 weeks due to bad medical advice), I went on to nurse baby #2 for almost 5 years, baby #3 for 3 years and baby #4 for 13 months. In other words, while I may not know a lot about a lot of things, I do know how to breastfeed my own baby.
Or at least I thought I did. Apparently my body had other ideas.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, breastfeeding has not gone so well with Baby Georgia, who turned 6 weeks old on Sunday. For the first time in five births, my milk never really came in. I did have colostrum for the first week or two, but I never got the full enchilada. I tried everything one would try in a situation like this, with the exception of the drug domperidone, which came highly recommended, but was discouraged by my doctor based on the fact that I’ve had a very bad reaction (crazy weird panic attack) to two other similar drugs I’d been prescribed in the past. But as for pumping, herbs, supplemental nursing system, plenty of skin to skin with baby, nursing on demand, nipple shields – yeah, I tried those. All of them. And the bottom line is that there simply was no milk forthcoming. At her second doctor’s visit, my pediatrician explained to us that she was dehydrated and needed to be eating more and more regularly – ASAP (I already suspected the dehydration which is why we went in to see the doctor that day). She was down to 4 lbs 9 ozs at that point. So Jon and I reluctantly bought a can of formula and some bottles (I refused on principle the freebie can they tried to send home with me at the hospital) mixed it up and began feeding our ravenously hungry, very tiny baby, waking her frequently as the doctor recommended in order to make sure she was getting enough.
So here we are at 6 weeks postpartum. I still try to nurse G every day, but she is less and less interested. I am no longer pumping because honestly, I just no longer have it in me to do it with no positive results at all. I hate pumping anyway, so to do the dreaded deed and see .222413 ounce in the bottle when I am done is just too demoralizing. It’s clear to me, a very experienced, knowledgeable breastfeeding mother with a high motivation to make nursing work that this just wasn’t going to happen for me this time. I know what it feels like when my body is producing milk, and I could tell almost immediately (although I tried to pretend it wasn’t so in the first few weeks) that things were not working right this time around. There just wasn’t any milk. I suspect that the biggest factor in my inability to produce milk at the moment is that my oldest child died in my arms only a few weeks before G was born. God only knows what the shock of that experience did to my body and its normal functioning.
G is bottle fed. I am increasingly resigned to this, and I am trying to make peace with it, although it feels very weird. I worry every single day about the health risks she faces due to lack of breastfeeding, and I am sad that we are not sharing the experience of being a nursing pair, something very special to me with my other children. Plus, infant formula is expensive, messy and smells terrible. But the reality for me at the moment is that it’s what’s available to feed her, and she needs to be fed. So there you have it. I do try to make every bottle feeding as high touch as possible, and she seems to be thriving now (aside from constant gas, which I also think is probably a result of the formula). Still, I feel a great sense of loss that I am not breastfeeding my baby. It feels like yet another bit of collateral damage from the loss of Henry, which is impacting me in so many other profound ways – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is yet another blow, but I am trying to let it go, move on and just enjoy Baby G. Because however she’s getting fed, she herself is totally yummy, as you can plainly see.
And now for a bit of shameless self promotion: I am nominated as best blogger (for my personal blog mamapundit.com) in the Knoxville News Sentinel’s annual readers’ poll. If you like my blog and feel like casting a vote for me, that would be fab – much appreciated. You can vote (no registration required) by GOING HERE and looking for my name. Pretty simple and should take about 15 seconds. THANKS Y’ALL!!! – Katie
READ MORE OF KATIE’S BABBLE BLOGGING
VISIT KATIE’S PERSONAL BLOG