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Weaning

Who thought it would be this hard? Who thought it would be this easy?

Ive been pumping since Z was born. Exclusively, since he turned about 3-4 months. It’s been so incredibly hard. But honestly, it was all I knew. I didn’t really know what it was like to wake up and simply latch baby on for a feed. Although he did latch on every now and then, it was rarely without a struggle and definitely not stress free for me (or him I guess) This was probably the main reason why I chose to EP. The stress. I know he didn’t have a tongue tie, nor did I have any issues with milk but it just seemed to be the path of least resistance for me then.

It started with the PISA< sitting on that chair in the corner of our bedroom, hooking up every 3 hours. I was never (unfortunately) one of those lucky women who could empty in like 15 minutes. I always took at least 40 if not much more. So there I sat with the ‘let go, let go, let go’ (at least in my head it sounded like my pup was saying that to me) sound playing in my head, sometimes with my iPad, mostly just massaging and hoping it wouldn’t spill. Every day. Every night.

Initially the husband helped so much! He ran up and down, washing, sterilising, brining me pump parts, changing diapers, feeding Z, rinse, repeat. But slowly he had to stop – other parts of his life and responsibilities had to come into play. And slowly I had to pick up the slack – start doing things on my own. I remember the first time I was shown how to put the pump parts together. I was in such a state! No sleep, my stitches hurt and I could barely stand and there I was trying to remember how to take that lil white membrane out without tearing it.

But I learnt, I had to. And then came the feeds. Z was always such a slow drinker. (Not any more thank God!) I would literally spend over an hour coaxing him to finish a bottle. In retrospect I wonder if I would’ve spent that much time had the milk been formula or if I had chosen to just re use the BM for the next feed. But then, all I wanted was to not throw away the hard work. So I persisted. And he drank. In his own time. It was hard. Very hard. Barely finished a feed when it was time for my 45 min pump. Barely finished that when I had to wash up and sterilise. Once that was done, he would wake up and need some interaction. Once he was fired, it was feeding time again – And the cycle repeated. For weeks.

But then it got better. I never realised it then but it did. He started solids, I dropped to four pumps. Life got a wee bit easier.

It’s 14 months now for Z. Almost. And I just dropped to two pumps yesterday. It feels strange. So strange. So much guilt. So much relief. So much happiness (to look forward to what I can do with the freedom Im giving myself) and so much doubt (am I doing the right thing by stopping? what if he wants more milk and I can’t make it anymore?)

But this day has been coming for a while. I had to drop a pump from 4 to 3 in India when I went for the hols. Time was just not on my side there. And when I came back I realised that I was barely getting enough from my middle pump. To make matters worse, I got a few cracks that refused to heal and got all sticky and sore. Leading to a bad reaction to coconut oil and a hospital visit for some antihistamines. I never really got my supply back after that.  I had to accept it, Im still coming to terms with it – my body is ready. Is he?

He takes a mix of almond milk and BM in his bottle easily. He has no problem with the frozen milk stash I have and he is a great eater (touch wood) so why am I still worried?

Mothers. Guilt. Doubt. Do these ever part ways?

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It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night

..and this week has been one of my hardest to get through so far. I have a headache that refuses to go away since tuesday and last night was probably one of the toughest nights for me since I’ve given birth.

Somewhere in Feb I started to notice my milk supply dropping. Of course I panicked. Started on fenugreek seeds twice a day (which works wonders BTW) and saw the supply slowly pick up. I reached a stage where I could actually start freezing my milk. And until yesterday I had built up a nice solid stash to help me out in case my supply ran low again or for emergencies. I worked hard to get that milk. Lots of pain and sleepless nights, lots of sacrifices in time spent at the pump after feeding baby, lots and lots of washing, sterilising parts, labelling jars…it was not easy. And then last evening we found the freezer door open. More than half of my frozen milk had defrosted. It was no longer viable. I took one look, walked into the living room, sank down on my sofa and sobbed. I have not cried that much or that hard for years. Maybe it was a bit hormonal too (but I was never hormonal during my pregnancy so it was new for me) and maybe it was a lot of pent up exhaustion and frustration but I really really cried. I cried for all my wasted efforts, and all my stress, all my loss of sleep and my hours and hours spent pumping instead of sleeping/reading/bathing/going out/relaxing/painting my nails or whatever.

I don’t ever ever want this to happen again and I was heartbroken.

But today is Jamshedji Navroze. A new year – the advent of spring. And with it I hope to have new beginnings and a new fresh outlook to life. The best is yet to come. Navroze Mubarak!

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Week Seven

When Z was born I tried putting him on the breast as soon as I could post the csec. I had never done any of it before so I was clueless as to whether too much time had passed or not and if that had affected the “bonding” everyone mentions. What I did know was that Baby Z had a great sucking reflex. He instinctively sought my nipple and sucked deeply. I was fortunate to have a steady and strong flow of milk very early. It was commented on and exclaimed loudly by practically every single nurse/lactation consultant who helped me latch-and there were many who did that. It was true, my breasts were constantly full and heavy, bordering on painful even after a good pump. I filled up bottle after bottle and there was just so much that we thought of donating some. And then it slowed down. I thought, maybe its regulating. (maybe it is) but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was getting close to 100-130ml per pump session and this is stressful because Z consumes 120-130 per feed. I was losing my buffer.

Reading up on why supply can wane, I realised that one of the main factors can be stress and lack of sleep. Seriously??!! How on earth is a mother of a newborn supposed to get any sleep? As for stress, no sleep can do that to you. And the fact that your whole life has changed permanently. So what was I supposed to do then? Relax? Sleep? take a holiday?I wish!

I’m trying my best to relax. Destress and calm myself down. The Hus is a huge huge help at night when he does all the feeds but unfortunately I can’t sleep through them because I still need to pump. And in the meantime my supply still stays steady instead of increasing. So I’m determined to try out some of the stuff I found online.

  • Drink up!  – This is easy, I love water and can guzzle down litres. The reason I’m skipping on this is just plain tiredness and forgetfulness. No more. I’m going to make a conscious effort to remember now.
  • Sleep – Trying that. It’s dependent on so many outside factors that it’s not always easy to predict if it will happen in a day or not. But I’m giving it my best shot
  • Pump in a stress free environment – This should be easy right? but who really has the time to rearrange the room to get the right chair to sit in with a plug point right next to it so I can pump and ensure that it’s also cool and not stuffy, comfortable and calming. I don’t. So Im sticking to my current location and hoping that me writing my blog (I’m pumping now) or reading an ebook while doing it makes the difference instead.
  • Fenugreek – Supposedly this helps boost supply. I have the actual seeds at home so no harm in trying them right? Just swallowed a teaspoon full and fingers crossed I see the difference soon.
  • Oats – Now this one is tricky. I’ve always been indifferent to oats. During my pregnancy, I tried adding them into my Almond banana shake and immediately felt nauseous. I need to give it another shot. Not looking forward to it but I’ll  try anything for the milk!

So, fingers crossed it works and my supply increases. I really need this. *sigh*