It has taken me several days to muster the emotional energy to write this post. The past week has been one of the hardest and most draining I have experienced in some time.
The short summary of all of this is that I’m faced with a low milk supply currently. Everything with feeding had been going swimmingly with Baby N a natural until I went home last Thursday. Hindsight suggests that I got too stressed, anxious and exhausted in the first two days home and this manifested itself in a drop in my supply. I’m quite angry at my husband about this – although have not directly discussed it – because I think he had some kind of adjustment meltdown during these days which manifested itself in him being difficult and not helpful at times.
Throw into the works that I have no family here, being a first time mum is terrifying and I’m in recovery for the c-section and you’ll see the general picture of how it all fell apart. I also came home from the clinic to several loads of washing and various chores that needed doing. While he did pick up a lot of the slack, he quickly seemed resentful to my requests for things to be done. I’m sure I was demanding but HELLO, if this is not the time for him to be super-husband and suck it up I don’t know when is.
By Sunday the paediatrician was telling me to get a breast pump to support my feeding as baby N was not gaining weight. Hubby again procrastinated with this, so we were delayed in getting one. By Tuesday the Dr was getting worried. This came after The Worst Night Ever where the baby cried and fussed all night and could not be soothed. Now we know that’s because he was starving hungry but then I just thought I was the most awful mother ever as the night turned into day and I had not slept a wink.
Tuesday was also the date of our baby photo shoot and unfortunately the photos just show to me a hungry, exhausted baby. It’s something that makes me sad to my core. I think I’m going to hate those photos forever now.
By Tuesday night we had sourced a breast pump from a friend but then so many small dramas one after the other led to us not having the right parts and I wasn’t able to pump until Wednesday – a full THREE DAYS since the doctor told us to start pumping. This is bad because my milk supply had depleted even further during these (wasted) days. I have cursed myself multiple times for not having bought one before baby arrived. Same goes for a steriliser, bottles etc and also the sunshade for the car window,
By Tuesday night I was worried sick about the baby, my parents-in-law had also involved themselves in the situation and between them and my husband they all insisted I give the baby some formula. I was so exhausted and confused and worried that I relented, even though I didn’t want to. I’ve always believed strongly in breast feeding and the overwhelming sensation for me was abject failure.
Failure as a woman. Failure as a mother. Also, if you look at my whole journey I’ve failed to do things the natural way. I’ve failed to conceive naturally, I had to take many medications to continue the pregnancy, I had to deliver via c-section and now I can’t breast feed effectively. Total failure. I cried rivers on Tuesday. It was exhausting. I was so devasted I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my mum what was going on. Not that she can do much from the other side of the world, but still.
Of course the thing to focus on is that the baby needs feeding and he was immediately better with formula. He slept better and longer (as did I) and he looked better on Wednesday (also as did I).
Once I got my pump going Wednesday I was able to supplement his breast feeds with a top up of booby milk via a bottle. We also started a new regime whereby hubby feeds him formula at about 1am which means I can sleep from about 11pm to around 3am when he wakes up for his next feeds. I’ll confess this works remarkably well and I almost feel human with this schedule. I’m grateful to my husband for this.
I did however feel embarrassed telling the paediatrician that I used some formula as she’s super pro-breast feeding but I eventually did. She wasn’t so cross at me but she was furious at my inlaws for pressuring me to use formula. Meanwhile the inlaws keep mentioning other paediatricians that they know are excellent in a not-so-subtle dig that I should change doctors.
So much of this is (unwelcome) cultural politics. I chose the paediatrician without consulting them and also she’s a foreigner (like me). So regardless of how super qualified she is (she studied at Oxford, FFS) they are never going to like her. Ugh.
We did another weigh in on Friday and unfortunately baby has only gained a little weight so I have to be more focused on quality feeds. My life now is a cycle of direct breast feeding, followed by giving him a top up of previously expressed booby milk, followed by more pumping. It’s exhausting and means I can do very little else.
I can get about 40-50ml per pumping session now which is a big improvement on 10-20ml on Wednesday. I’m also taking some herbal supplements including Fenugreek to support my supply.
Hubby is not super supportive of my efforts to continue breast feeding and seems to think formula is a better and easier option. It’s hard to stay focused without a supportive network around and I’ll confess I’m really down about the whole thing.
Hubby is delighted to be going back to work on Monday and is not hiding it. He’s certainly making big efforts to help with many things especially as I cannot drive for another few weeks. He’s tired too and I appreciate that. However, I’m now worried about how I will be on my own. I’ve already gotten some cabin fever!! It would be better if I could drive but also if it was cooler weather. I can’t even take the baby for a walk in the stroller as it’s over 30 degrees by 9am. I could take him in the evening after about 8pm but I’m so exhausted that I have not managed this either. Maybe that’s my goal for next week.
To finish on a positive, baby N is overall a lovely baby. He only cries when he’s hungry (see above), if he has some gas or if you strip him naked. I appreciate I have a lovely baby who even looks like me (yay) so it’s not all bad. It was a bad week and the pumping is not fun but if we can get his weight up then everything will be ok.