My husband and I were joking this morning that my ovaries used to be the assholes (and I’m sure they still are I just don’t need them at this very moment) and now that assholery has transitioned up to my boobs. So, without further delay, here is the story of what is going on with the upper half of my body.
When AV was born we thought everything was going well, saw a lactation consultant at the hospital, they said that it looked like she was latching and feeding, but since I only had colostrum we couldn’t tell if she was fully eating. When we got home I fed on demand (pretty much all the time) and based on what I know it seemed to be going just fine. Then we went to her 2 week pediatrician appointment and they noticed that she wasn’t gaining weight like she should and suggested adding some formula (which I was totally fine with, I just wanted her to be healthy), thinking that it was just because my milk came in a few days late. So we started adding a bottle of formula a day and she was a much, much happier baby, and I continued breast feeding.
Then we had a lactation consultant come to the house and it all basically went to hell. From what the LC saw she was not actually able to get my entire nipple in her mouth (apparently I have huge nipples, which I didn’t even realize could be a thing since my boobs are pretty small at a 32B prior to pregnancy, another fun fact I didn’t know could happen), so she wasn’t really getting much food. And even worse, my supply had likely been going down since my milk came in. So she suggested stopping breast feeding for a week or two and moving to exclusive pumping every 3 hours to try and get my supply up. So I became a pumping fiend, along with taking mothers milk supplements, oatmeal and drinking a shitload of water. And it started to help a little bit, getting us to where I could drop the formula bottle, but still only making just above what she eats in a day.
We tried breastfeeding again two weeks later with her getting a tiny bit more (the LC was there with her scale) but not enough to be without bottle or pumping, so I was basically trying to feed her and then pumping right after, basically meaning that was all I was doing all day, every day, which pretty much sucked, especially with the husband back at work. And then I got thrush, luckily she didn’t get it since we weren’t doing a ton of breastfeeding but it meant that I was back to 100% pumping (thrush sucks ass by the way, it’s basically a yeast infection on your nipples, good times). So for another 3 or 4 weeks I just pumped every 3-4 hours, night or day, and I got pretty good at hooking up quickly and multi-tasking, I can completely get ready while pumping except for clothing, as well as clean the entire kitchen while hooked to the damn thing. And then we went on vacation and since I had the hubs 24 hours a day to help I decided to try the breast feeding thing again since I now knew what I was looking for at least to see if she was getting enough milk to actually swallow instead of just munch/sip. And during vacation she seemed to be getting a little bit better, but she still wasn’t satisfied, after a boob session she would still need a bottle soon after to not be hungry. At the same time I experimented with stretching out my middle of the night pumps to every 5-6 hours, giving me some much needed sleep and sanity, and it hasn’t effected my supply so the pumping got a tiny bit easier.
And now we are back home and at the fun continues… As I was about to call the lactation consultant for some advice on my options I noticed that I was bleeding from the left boob while pumping on Sunday night. Googled and figured out that it wasn’t harmful for her to drink the milk but that it could be a sign of a cracked nipple. Then in the middle of the night my left boob was rock hard and in pain radiating out to my arm. So I pumped after bottle feeding her and the pain increased into the morning and I could feel a huge lump under my nipple. Called the dr and they said that I likely had a clogged duct but it could quickly lead to mastitis so I needed to basically stay in bed, take ibuprofen and pump every 2 hours until the lump was gone. So I’ve spent the last 48 doing that, let me tell you how easy it is to take care of an infant while strapped to the pump pretty much all day and night, and just when my pumping schedule had gotten easier I had to return to this hellish schedule. I finally put her on the left boob this afternoon and that plus another pump session has finally cleared the lump. I was happy that she seemed to be getting something and I thought maybe we were making progress but when I put her to the breast later today she barely ate and then was starving for her bottle 5 minutes later.
So basically we are at a crossroads and I don’t know what the fuck to do. I have exactly 1 month of leave left until I go back to work. I would love to be able to breastfeed the majority of the time and pump just in the middle of the night but I don’t see it happening without a huge amount of additional effort – more expensive LC consultants, pumping and feeding at the same time so I don’t screw up my hard won supply, and I don’t know that it’s worth it to screw with it if it ends up that she doesn’t get enough food and I lose my supply and can’t even return to pumping to feed her. Sure I HATE the pump, especially when I am pumping while she is laying next to me and I’m trying to entertain her and pump at the same time and I can’t even pick her up and snuggle her. I am going fucking office space on this thing once I am done (which is also a dream of others, perhaps we should do a youtube compilation) but ultimately what I want most is to be able to spend time with my daughter and enjoy her instead of obsessing over the feeding. She is eating breastmilk even though the way I am getting it for her is crappy for me, she seems totally fine with the bottles. And the pumping does have his benefits, anyone can feed her which allows my husband to put her to bed and do the night shift every night and all night on weekends so I can sleep in between pumps.
So that’s where I am as of today, any advice from those of you that have transitioned from 100% pump to boob without losing your supply or mind is much appreciated.
*And again, no judgement on any type of feeding, exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, formula or some mix, this is just my experience and what matter is that my girl is eating and healthy, although it would be awesome to have this be a little easier on me and my shit for boobs.