Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Struggling, grateful, etc.

Welp, things are things around here.  THINGS.  I've been dealing with increasing pain for the last 5 or 6 weeks, which I *finally* got to see my midwife about, and for which I got a prescription.  That was on Friday afternoon.  Friday evening, I came down with a terrible fever, on-top of not having eaten enough that day because I took my lunch-hour time to go to my midwife appointment (I am not smart!) so I was a total shaking basket case, and thus began my mastitis experience (which is ongoing, though no more fever at this moment).  Just as I got some initial relief for Ailment A, Ailment B showed up.  Cue the tears.

After talking to my midwife, I do think my feelings of woe, exhaustion and fatigue are due in part to my Ailment A making me so, so miserable while trying to balance work and everything that comes with new motherhood, plus a low supply.  I'm hoping that if this prescription heals it, my mental health will also improve.  I also need to make sure I'm eating and drinking enough.  I really suck at that.  It's like I'm trying to function on the terms of my pre-baby experience (skip lunch to go to a doctor's appointment, it'll be ok as long as you eat shortly thereafter! NOOOOPE BODY IS NOT OK) and that is just not working for me.  No truer "duh" statement was ever probably written, but there you have it.

Then there's breastfeeding.  I want so badly to make exclusive breastfeeding work, but...

I want to at least make it to 6 months.  The low supply I have is a downer (god forbid I forget to take those Fenugreek pills) and the fact that my daughter still can't latch without extra help is frustrating (it's not her fault, I just wasn't made to breastfeed...same as I wasn't made to have kids or something, apparently...great!) and it's attaching a feeling of anxiety and, frankly, bodily-failure to breastfeeding for me, which sucks.  And I know that things would be okay if I didn't exclusively breastfeed.  Logically, I know this.  Formula (whether fulltime or supplemental) would not kill her.  In addition to my friends (sincerely, thank you) even my crunchy MIDWIFE was even like, 'hey, do what you can, and don't feel bad if you can't continue' which was flat-out shocking considering the pressure I felt from their office + all the pro-breastfeeding signage everywhere there.  But I don't want to have this be another instance of my body massively failing me.  Different battle, same war.  I just want to win this one.

It's hard right now.  But I feel like if I didn't push through, I'd beat myself up about not trying hard enough forever (regardless of the merit of that self-accusation*).  Whatever "hard enough" even is.  It's hard but I am still feeding her and getting enough to freeze bit by bit, so I know it could be worse.  The latch difficulty is disheartening and frustrating, but not a brick wall.  The mastitis won't last forever and I don't think it's supposed to impact my already-low supply forever either.  It's a bunch of difficult things that aren't individually horrible, but taken together are stressing me out (and who knows, maybe that's impacting my supply too -- a Ouroboros of a problem) .  But I feel like on some level, I signed up for this willingly, and therefore just have to roll with the punches (which admittedly may not be the most self-kind/self-forgiving outlook).

But, onwards and upwards, as they say.  If I allow myself to wallow in melancholy for too long, it's just going to get harder to tighten my laces and keep hiking on.  The important thing to remember (and this is totally a pep-talk to myself here) is that my ailments will not last forever.  Breastfeeding will not last forever.  Maybe it will even get better!  This is the longest shortest time.  I am so grateful for this little one.  It's hard.  I expected it to be hard -- just not in these ways.  But still, so grateful.  Struggling, but grateful.

And just to even the tone out here, I was able to wrap Freddie up in the Moby yesterday evening and Patrick and I got some basil ice cream with rainbow sprinkles at Bev's, exchanged pleasantries with another family of a ginger baby (it's like a cult, you guys -- a secret club), and then strolled lazily around the VMFA sculpture/fountain garden as the shadows grew long.

And hey, my dog hasn't led another poop-puke fest, so it could be worse.

*There really is no way to talk about this without it seeming like a judgement on formula feeding, is there?  Ugh.  The dialogue about it all is so fraught.  It seems like there's this concept that you should have to show a punchcard of all the ways you tried "hard enough" to make breastfeeding work before turning to formula.  Ugh.  Fraught, I tell you.  Fraught.  In more ways than I can even attempt to articulate.


  1. I felt such relief the first go round when I decided to do formula for Warren. Everyone I had encountered emphasized the need to breastfeed for the bonding experience but he and I hated breastfeeding. Natalie can latch, but breastfeeding is such a time suck as well (she likes it for nutrition AND comfort so pacifiers haven't worked yet). I'm going through quite a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding myself because I love feeding one kid but it prevents me from spending time with the other kid or helping out around the house so I understand the frustration (just for different reasons). Do what will make you stress the least because you'll want as much happy time with Winnie as you can get!

    1. Oh yeah. I had a 9-hour marathon session when she just wanted to comfort suck all day. No bueno. But, it passed, and hasn't happened again, thank goodness! I think I also dislike breastfeeding because I've been in so much physical discomfort that it's been hard to focus, so I end up dicking around on my phone or whatever just to distract myself which probably impacts bonding but ow ow ow so fuck it, you know?

      Is your mom able to help out around the house to give you more of a break?

    2. She's been great with holding/rocking Natalie when I'm preoccupied with feeding Warren and with making sure the dishes pile up. I can tell she's nervous about me heading back to work so I haven't asked for much help. Asking for help and not feeling like a lazy ass is probably the hardest thing for me right now.

    3. Oops make that "dishes DON'T pile up". Haaaaa!

  2. I am in complete awe than you can nurse your baby and produce enough to freeze...truly! Im 4 and a half months in and have a grand total of....wait for it.... 3 whole ounces in my freezer! At one point in time, I was really stocking up-I believe it was 12 ounces.
    My little Lucy did some major damage on my nips in those early days (even after a frenotomy which we initially refused) which necessitated me using a shield until she started to get the hang of it at three months, but I still have latch issues. I will never be that mom nursing hands free while baby is in a carrier. But I remind myself how uber grateful I am that my boobs work period.
    Sounds like a bit of new mom bliss with Freddie in the Moby and Bevs ice cream in hand. I love that you share your experience so so so much!
    In new mom solidarity,
    Is there a brand of fenugreek you recommend?

    1. Indeed! It feels like I'll never be able to get her to latch sometimes, then other times she'll magically be ok. It seems totally random so I'll go for a while without trying a good deal of the time. :(

      I get the $10/180 capsules Nature's Way from Ellwoods. They sell Gaia there too but it's like $20/60 capsules, so I try to avoid that!

  3. Oh man, it's hard. In the first months, I just felt like every day was a new chance for me to fail. I had failed to flip my baby and had a c-section, I had failed to get her to latch, so was exclusively pumping, and then when my supply dropped, I was failing to make enough food for her. It was SO hard. I will say for me (and I really support you with the breastfeeding, I'm not trying to push formula here), that the best thing about formula was that it gave me a chance to succeed. No longer was I so focused on feeding Frances, so I could work on other things, like loving her, playing with her, singing and talking to her, things that sometimes felt like Just Too Much, when it was all that I could do to feed her. You are doing a great job. No matter what, it will get easier, that I promise you.

    1. "I just felt like every day was a new chance for me to fail." Yes. Yes, this. It is really hard sometimes and I think I just have to remember that these times when I feel like I've failed...she won't remember them. But yeah, sometimes it feels like everything else just becomes secondary to the hard stuff, which sucks.

      Thank you <3

  4. I am so sorry this happened... being sick definitely affects your mood. But I hope things are looking and feeling better now that you got the right diagnosis.
    Do not feel guilty, new motherhood is hard and feelings are normal. This does not mean you love little Winnie any less, just that you are dealing with a lot of difficult stuff.
    As for the breastfeeding, hang in there, you can do it (and if not, if you reached your limit, it's also OK). Yu took a while to learn to latch and it was heartbreaking to see her try so hard, and achieve no "measurable" results. But, eventually she learnt. Get a good lactation expert and seek support, maybe la leche league or a breastfeeding group?
    All the hugs: You are doing great.