Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All Breastmilk, All the Time

I haven't written much of anything about the weight crisis. It was a hard 6-7 weeks. Almost like you cannot describe, yet everyone with a baby, especially breastfeeding moms, knows some of what you're experiencing.

The regiment/schedule was brutal.
1. Nurse Julia (30-40 minutes - she's slow AND sleepy)
2. Put her in the Pack N Play to entertain herself (usually if I was alone this is what I had to do) while I pumped (15-20 minutes to pump, additional time to clean up materials); hopefully she'd nap sometimes
3. Feed Julia a bottle of expressed breast milk (10-15 minutes)

Then I would need to rest(or eat or shower maybe if lucky) or play with Julia before starting this process over again - every 3 hours!

I hardly watched TV (sometimes when I pumped) or checked my email. I didn't go to the gym or even exercise at home. I didn't leave my house except for La Leche League meetings (twice a month) or weekly weight checks at Julia's doctor (ANXIETY producing!). I always had Julia with me, too, so that meant I got no time alone. That is hard for anyone, especially someone like me who needs exercise and alone time to recharge.

Someone asked me or Jai or my sister or my mom (I got reports from them) why (or when) I didn't use formula. At first that wasn't a consideration - it really didn't occur to me. Breast milk is best for your baby plus it's free (regardless of the time required). Then I started to go crazy - how do you live this life?!?! Formula became an option - almost every day I said "FORGET ABOUT IT, I'm done!" Many times I told Jai "tomorrow you're going to have to get some formula." Me, Tara, the breastfeeding advocate and resident cheapskate. However, when you're tired and no one else but you is feeding that baby, you explore alternatives.

It is all the time. It is my job, everything else can wait (other than food and sleep). Luckily it's temporary as many people tell us - breastfeeding ends, sleep deprivation improves, you have a different routine. My goal used to be feeding to feeding, then it was day to day and week to week, now I try to reach the next month. Right now my long term goal is 6 months and we start solids. Then breast milk won't be her only food. It still is the majority food source, but not only.

I'd like to make it 1 year which is best according to World Health Organization and before you can feed cow's milk even though we don't drink/eat dairy usually. If we make it to December 8, I'll be surprised and elated. I also will be happy to stop. It isn't really my thing. Maybe because it has been a challenging experience, yes, that is part of it. However, like with pregnancy, I could take it or leave it with breastfeeding. I enjoyed most of my pregnancy, didn't have problems, but I'm not a woman who had to be pregnant. Same with breastfeeding. It's a cool process, neat that my body produces food for a baby to eat and all the equipment is attached, ideally you can do it anywhere. Actually legally you can feed your baby anywhere you are allowed to be, public or private. Unless it is someone's private home and they ask you to stop; if that happens, you want to leave their home.

I am envious of women who have mothers who breastfed them. It is a valuable resource; many women my age are part of a "lost" breastfeeding generation. We have heard MANY stories of struggles with the baby weight gain issue too (I suspect those growth charts are created by formula companies) as well as breastfeeding challenges. Luckily more children are getting breast milk, even if in combination with some formula. Hopefully that means more girls will grow up to breastfeed their children and have supportive partners to encourage them.

I'm lucky to have a wonderful partner in Jai & Julia is lucky to have a great dad.