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.