Selfish Sadness

April 1, 2011

I’ve been blogging about this in an effort not to internalize my frustrations and sadness. I’m one of two things– an open book, or a closed diary with a lock and key. I don’t do well with an in-between stage. The latter of the two options would be really bad for me at this juncture, so I’m afraid open book it is!

I am trying everything to get my milk supply up, but I think that if anything, it’s just returned to normal. Normal, as in, the same place we were in for the past two month or so, as Gregory hasn’t been gaining weight. So I’m watching him carefully for any signs of hunger. If he acts hungry after a feeding, I feed him the 2-3 ounces I’ve stored from pumping in the middle of the night (yes, I’m waking up to pump, I’m that desperate to have enough to feed this child!).

Yesterday, I’d already used my stored milk. It was 3pm when he woke up from his second nap. He fed, both sides, and was definitely acting hungry. I put him down and went to pump, just in case there was still something left that he had missed. Nothing.

So I did it. I grabbed some formula that was sent to us in the mail for free. Similac something or other. I decided that I should just try it out as an experiment.

He GUZZLED DOWN all 4 ounces (and this was AFTER a feeding!) in less than 5 minutes. Afterwards, he kept sucking all the air out of the bottle, as though he could’ve kept going.

And OH MY. What a difference. Afternoons/early evenings are not a great time for G, fussies and all. But yesterday? He was happier than I’ve ever seen him, even in a morning! So contented, so happy, so interactive. I brought him to piano lessons with me, and instead of having the usual clinginess, he was content to play by himself, the entire time. He even did 30 minutes STRAIGHT of tummy time, no break, no fussies. Um, hello? Different much?

I’m not giving up, by any means. I’m still taking tons of Brewer’s Yeast, eating a lot of calories, drinking a beer in the evening. I’m pumping after each nursing session and in between to convince my body to make more. We shall see if it picks up and starts making more than before, because that’s what G needs. Until then, I will continue to supplement for him if the need arises. I’m not afraid of him liking the formula more than breastmilk and rejecting the latter, because so far, he’s eaten anything and everything that’s put in front of him, including, even breastmilk from Courtney the other day.

After getting all the facts out of the way, here’s the emotional aspect. Last night, I was just so so so sad. I couldn’t stop crying. We fed him another 4 oz. formula bottle after I fed him for the evening– same thing, guzzled it down within minutes, turned into “Magic Happy Baby” afterwards. Seriously, I wonder if they put a baby’s version of catnip in that stuff.

None of it is pride, yet hardly any of it is selfless love for G. I mean, it’s hard to think I’m doing the WRONG thing when he’s so insanely full and happy after a bottle of formula.

No, most of it is just selfish sadness. My baby is growing up. He’s half a year old. Part of this hasn’t hit me in a while because he’s so small. He hasn’t grown out of much. I can still pretend he’s only a few months old. Right, a 3 month old who can sit and crawl? Even though he obviously acts like a 6 month old, it hasn’t hit me.

But now, he’s eating other food and doesn’t rely on me as completely. Not only that, but he’s doing better with other food! That hits me worse than anything. It attacks the good memories I do have of breastfeeding him these last 6 months. I can’t say, “well, at least I got a good 6 months of antibodies in there!” without immediately thinking, “well, I actually starved him for 6 months”. These emotions don’t let me cherish the time we did have!

There is something so so bonding about breastfeeding, and that’s what I’m realizing I will lose soon–sooner than I had expected. It’s one thing to decide you want your life back and wean your baby, it’s another thing for your body to do it for you! I’m having a hard time forgiving my body for not making more milk. Sounds crazy, I know. It’s just hard to not be able to breastfeed when you want to, so badly.

Along the same lines, the moment I fed him formula, he smelled different. I never realized that the “baby G” smell I’ve grown so accustomed to is actually due, in large, to the breastfeeding. My milk has a certain scent that he has come to know, and vice versa. I’ve read studies that show a baby can pick his mother’s milk out of a variety of others, just by scent alone. Having him smell like some generic powder from the store just feels like one more slap in the face.

And then there’s this morning, where I tried to feed him what I’d pumped during the night. Instead, he pushed the bottle aside and tried to nurse. It broke my heart. He’s used to that usual comfort accompanying his meals. We ended up falling asleep in my bed, curled up together, trying to give him what he needed.

In an effort not to feel sad, I’ve been focusing over and over again on all of the blessings. We have a HEALTHY baby who wins hearts everywhere, he is just THAT cute. He takes 2-3 long naps a day and sleeps 6-8 hour stretches at night. He never spits up, never had colic or reflux. He’s not allergic to anything so far, not even things that I eat before I breastfeed. He is incredibly strong, hitting all of his physical milestones with ease (currently, he is ripping the toys off and out of his exersaucer– it took me quite a bit of strength just to do that!). ¬†We have dodged so many bullets with our firstborn, and I am so so grateful.

In reality, I would die for this kid. I suppose that dying to myself and my selfish sadness isn’t that big of a deal, in comparison.

3 Responses to “Selfish Sadness”

  1. Becks said

    I meant to leave you this comment a couple of post back (uh, like a week ago? more?) when you responded to my comment, and I just wanted to say this:

    Parenting is really, really hard. And it doesn’t ever get easier, it just gets hard in different ways. Being a mom is also really, really hard, harder during this season than being a dad by far. Most of us college educated girls have not been prepared by life for being moms, and we get thrown into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, with no swimming lessons. What you are going through, emotionally and psychologically, during this season of momhood, is a huge adjustment, and it take time to come to peace with it. To get proficient at it. To be comfortable in it. To be good at it. And in the meantime, there is a lot of struggle. I struggled a lot that first year, trying to be good at this job I was woefully unprepared for, and trying to figure out how to be content and happy with the life path God had put me on. Of course I always, always loved my baby with all my heart and soul – I would die for him! – but I did not always love being his mom. Sometimes I wanted to quit! Sometimes I felt like having this baby and staying home with him was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I would ask God why he sent me to college and gave me all these other talents if I was going to spend my life wiping the butt of screaming baby. It sucked!

    I remember I was gardening in the front yard and I was asking God, why did you put me in this life? I suck at being a mom and I am unhappy! I want to do more with my life than this! And he said to me very clearly, “you are like a flower in a garden bed. What would you think if the flower said, ‘I don’t want to be a flower, I want to be a palm tree.’? I’m the gardener, and I put each plant in the right spot. I want you to bloom where you are planted, and I have put you in this life because it’s the right life for you. Grow where you are planted.”

    Slowly, you get better at it. You learn to swim. It gets easier, and you get stronger. James was, or course, a more than usually difficult baby, but that just means it was a more than usually difficult adjustment. It doesn’t, in any way, mean what you are going through is not hard too. Or that your adjustment, and your baby, is not difficult and challenging. Parenting is full of little heartbreaks every single day, because every day it makes you confront your own inadequacies and failures. It makes you aware of how much your life was all about you before this baby came and demanded your life be all about him. It makes your weep because you want to give your child everything, and you can’t. I could not make James stop crying. You can’t give G the milk he wants. We cannot be what we want to be. It’s like the human condition in a nutshell.

    The best thing to do, is give yourself grace as you go through the struggles. It’s easy to be critical of one’s self, and there isn’t any good in that. So be especially kind to yourself. Go get a frappachino or a pedicure and read a novel for fun. Take the baby to the library and check out some fun books to read. Go see a movie. Just be kind, because God is kind to us. Try to show yourself as much grace as Jesus shows you, and remember, it’s a season. It gets better. It does gets easier! And you get easier at it.

  2. Christina said

    What an awesome, awesome reply. I guess only another mom could know!

  3. Morielle said

    kelly, I am so sorry that you are struggling with this! I don’t know why God picks out the different struggles each of us have but…. I will keep on praying for you guys.

    out of principle, I am not a supporter of formula supplementation. I’m sure this is because I have never had to struggle with this issue myself (quite the opposite, in fact, but its not a good thing!) however, I have personally witnessed the incredibly aid it has been to another friend of mine who was in an almost identical situation as you, 7 months ago. her baby girl was 4 months old and just a tad over 10 lbs…she had been loosing weight! (in her case, though, she had put her baby on a feeding schedule (every 3 hrs.) and was just letting her sleep 12+ hrs through the night and that was probably a lot of the reason why her milk was drying up.) in my mind’s secret I was so judgmental of her at the time, but now she has an incredibly healthy BIG almost year old baby girl and I have had to admit that formula supplementation definitely was the right thing for her to do.

    I guess the main danger in that is that a mother might convince herself that she just can’t breastfeed past a certain point with future children and just automatically start formula supplementing.

    my point is that I can’t imagine how hard this is for you! as a like-minded breastfeeder i’m sure in many ways this feels like such a defeat and discouragement to you. even though I have had the opposite problem, I have still struggled with the frustration and humbling experience of one’s body not meeting the needs of one’s baby.

    I promise that if you do have to formula-supplement gregory consistantly I will not judge you. his well being is definitely the most important thing and food, even less than perfect food, will be much more nourishing to him than no food. i’ve been really impressed by how gung-ho you have been about doing everything in your power to both increase your milk supply and help G get what he needs, so whatever you do, I’m sure it will be the right thing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: