So since I blogged about my pulling out of my spring marathon, I’ve not been too inspired to write about anything. I actually started a draft for a post about how I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal of breastfeeding for a year without any supplementing. I didn’t finish it because I did what I have been doing every time I think I’m not going to make it and get really pissed off, dig in my heels and start MAKING it happen. So a couple weeks ago I was pumping about 7 oz a day less than she was drinking. I had one, just one freezer bag left of about 6 oz so you do the math. Well instead of conceding, I went all insane Jane and looked for every little thing I could eat or drink to boost my supply without taking Fenugreek (it gave my daughter horrible diarrhea, though it did work) and you know what…it worked! All was well with the world again. I started to believe I was going to make it.
Here I am, 14 days away from the 1 year mark. I’ve been drinking dark beer every night, drinking Gatorade after EVERY run, no matter how short it is, putting brewer’s yeast in my yogurt and oatmeal every day, taking all sorts of vitamins and minerals, not taking pain relievers except acetaminophen…making sure I stick to my pumping schedule, basically doing EVERYTHING possible to just get through the next couple weeks.
I was actually starting to get a little bit ahead! I would feel so excited when at the end of the night I finished pumping and realized I had 2 or 3 extra oz to carry over into the next day! And then one day, I had just enough for the next day…and then the following night I was short. I was pissed. I felt like a failure. I was still doing EVERYTHING the same! Why?! Why was I getting less?! So I pulled that last 6 oz out of the freezer and made a snarky “poor me” comment to my husband. God bless him! The man responded perfectly. He said “Its ok. You’ve done so great! I looked it up and the percentage of mom’s that actually make it to a full year is in the single digits. I’m really proud of you!”
I knew what the issue was. All I had to do was look at a calendar. I was ovulating, and since my period returned at 10 months post partum, my supply will completely tank during the few days I’m ovulating and then again when I get my period. I also allowed myself to take the pain reliever naproxen, I’ll get into that in a minute.
So there’s that. My choices were to either 1.) Just give my daughter what I was able to pump and hope that she eats enough solid food to make up the difference, or 2.) start to supplement with formula.
I might be more willing to just let her make up the calories in food if she wasn’t such a finicky eater. Some days she eats great, other days she eats two bites and just wants my milk. I worry about her nutrition a lot. Mostly about her iron. Breastfed babies are more at risk for iron deficiency because breast milk does not contain a lot of iron like formula. If they eat enough meat or fortified cereals, great they should be fine but Ms. Alex will no longer eat fortified cereals and she sometimes eats her meat, sometimes not. And there is NOTHING wrong with formula! Some of these breast feeding pushers seem to act like formula is poison or unclean in some way and since I work for a company that makes it, I know that is completely false! Still, doctors and scientists agree that breast is best so I’ve been putting a ton of pressure on myself to make it work.
Anyway, back to the pain relievers. So it seems like since December, our family has been sick with various things (especially Alexandra) pretty much non stop. I’ve had so many doctors appointments and work at home days in the last two months, and I have a new boss that I can’t seem to get a read on yet. So every time I’ve had to send emails “coming in late today…”, “working at home today” I’ve STRESSED, WORRIED, PANICKED!
So when my own wisdom tooth started to hurt several weeks ago, I just dealt with it…telling myself I would get in to see the dentist when things slowed down and it was more convenient.
This is the cold, hard, truth. I haven’t been to the dentist in so long, I literally couldn’t even estimate or guess as to when my last appointment was. Yes, that is terrible, I know. I’m 30 years old though and never had a cavity so I kind of thought it was one of those things in life I could just put off until it was more convenient.
Well, the pain in my tooth did not get better. It started to get worse. Much worse. Alex got ANOTHER ear infection this week so once again, I had to go to doctors appointments and work from home. Tooth pain is slowly getting worse. Then, I’m sleeping in my daughter’s room the other night to monitor her cough and make sure it doesn’t turn into croup and my tooth wakes me up at 2 in the morning with searing pain. Its not just in my tooth anymore, its in my whole jaw, including the jaw up above it and now I have a huge lump at the roof of my mouth that is throbbing. And all I could think about was my dwindling milk supply and how pain relievers make it worse so I layed there until 2:45 am trying to get back to sleep when I finally cried ‘uncle’ and went downstairs and took some naproxen!
If you’re already thinking I’m crazy and stupid at this point, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have a problem because even when I’m know I’m being stupid I somehow have come so far and can’t stop! I never fell back asleep that night, and its pathetic that it wasn’t because of my child for once but because of a toothache!!!! WTF?! Seriously, WTF??!!
I told my husband about this and he seemed concerned. I continued to take pain relievers that day and felt guilty about it because of my milk. Later that night after dinner I was in so much pain I couldn’t really even have a conversation with him after we put Alex to bed. My jaw pain was causing a headache and the pain relievers just weren’t working. So once again, God bless that man! He said “You need to call the dentist tomorrow morning at 8 am when they open and you need to get in and get this looked at before the weekend.” I knew he was right.
So I find out I have an infection from my wisdom tooth that was spreading in my mouth. I got a prescription for antibiotics but the dentist told me was only a temporary solution. I needed to have the tooth removed. I kind of suspected this already so it was hardly a surprise, but still…having it confirmed was sort of a huge slap in the face. He also recommended that I just get all 4 out at the same time because another one was impacted and the other 2 had cavities. Cavities! But I’ve never had a cavity!!! Major blows to my ego today.
So as I’m driving to the pharmacy to fill my prescription and I’m sweating and feeling nervous about the fact that its almost 11 am and I’m still not at work yet, I had a breakthrough. WTF am I doing to myself?!
I haven’t run for a couple days because I took time to take Alex to her appointments and felt the need to work through my lunch breaks to make up the time and I’m just pushing all my needs further and further out and I’m not heading in the right direction. So I told myself to breath. I realized if I was feeling stressed out about taking time from work to take care of myself and my family, I should just take half a vacation day so that it was at least my own time and I could stop stressing out about it. Yeah, I only get 2 weeks of vacation a year so even taking a half a day for something as sucky as a toothache is really shitty. But once I made that decision it was like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could relax. There was also a Valentines party at Alex’s daycare in the afternoon that I really wanted to go to but felt like I definitely couldn’t because of all the time I was already missing from work. Now I could still do that and not feel bad about it!
So when I pulled into the pharmacy drive through and they told me it would be 20 minutes to fill my script, I said “ok” and drove right over to the grocery store where I bought some purified water for formula (because this morning I pumped 6 oz to my normal 10 oz) and picked up some beer for Tim and I this weekend. I got into the check out and the lady in front of me was taking her time in the self check out putting her groceries in bags and forgot her receipt. I realized for the first time in a LONG time that I was not in a hurry at all and was not the least bit impatient with her. It was a nice feeling. She realized that I was behind her and apologized to me and I told her very honestly to “take her time, she had done nothing wrong”. Probably since I was so nice, she smiled at me and said “I’m just enjoying a shopping trip without kids for once!” I smiled a true smile and even laughed out loud a bit and said “I am doing the exact same thing!”
I realized in that moment something about us moms that puts us in a whole new category, separate from anyone else.
We constantly give everything we have, every bit of ourselves every single day. We push through when we are sick, tired, had a bad day, and we do it with a smile. Our kids will never appreciate it until maybe someday they have kids of their own, and they shouldn’t. I would never want Alex to feel guilt over anything I’ve done for her. I do it because I choose to, I do it out of love, not for appreciation. Our own needs and wants always come last because we chose for it to be that way because we love those around us so much more than we love ourselves.
I’ve realized my happiness, my self worth has become completely tied to how my daughter is feeling, my husband is feeling, my work is getting done. I need to change that. Look at what happens when you let yourself go neglected for too long. It blows up in your face!
I need to get my hair cut. I’ve been wanting to get it cut for a while but it seems there just never is enough “time” that I want to sacrifice in order to make this happen. So this weekend, I’m going to do something that I have been dreading and putting off since Alex was born. I’m going to give her a little bit of formula and hope that it doesn’t cause her horrible diarrhea, even though it will be very hard to tell since she’s currently on round 2 of antibiotics for her ear infection. I’m sad that I’m going to do this, but at the same time also kind of relieved because it takes off a lot of pressure. Oh, life is funny, isn’t it?
Anyway, so I’m choosing to be positive about all this. I’m choosing to be proud that I made it 11.5 months of breastfeeding my daughter without supplementation with formula. I’m choosing to see today’s experience as a huge lesson for myself instead of a huge failure. I’m choosing to start making my needs more of a priority.
I’m also choosing to wish all the mothers out there a happy Valentines Day because you deserve to be appreciated on this day for all you do for all those you love. I know you always put yourself last and that you would do anything for those you love. Some people can say that, but I know you actually mean it. I know that you do the things you do out of pure love for someone else. No matter how you may feel about yourself, I think you are amazing and you are beautiful. I know you are a kind of strong that no one else sees. So while this “holiday” is typically for lovers, I think it should also be for mothers because there is no other love more pure than yours.
Happy Valentines Day, from another mother!