The Milk of the Mortals

20 Jul

disclaimer: This post addresses some of the gorier details of breastfeeding. Anyone at all squeamish,

or male,

enter at your own risk.

As I have mentioned many a time before,

I am a milk machine.

That, for those of you who are not native to the land in mom,

means that I am breastfeeding my daughter.

For the first 3 months of her life,

my daughter has been breastfed, exclusively.

This means that I spend hours,

and hours,

and hours,

and days,

nursing and pumping,

pumping and nursing.

I don’t care what they say,

nursing is a job.

And a half.

In any case, despite the demand,

my experience with breastfeeding has gone relatively well.

However, because my daughter has a bit of a sensitive stomach (I take full responsibility. She has my DNA. Man.)

I have to be very careful about what I eat.

The most challenging part of this is that I am completely, 100% off of dairy.

I am allowed to ease myself back on,

but every time I take a bite of something buttery, it seems that her poop changes,

and we all know how I feel about unusual baby poop,

so I’ve decided to just steer clear of all dairy.

Now, let me tell you, this is much more difficult than you’d expect. Dairy, or milk derivatives, are found in so many foods.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to eat.

Well, as vicious cycles tend to do,

my lack of milk-consumption has affected my ability to eat,

and therefore, has impacted my milk production.

Aren’t you glad you now know this much about me?

I bet not.

But, as you know, I am all about the honesty.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that today was a rough day.

I was only able to pump half of the milk that I normally can.

And so, I started to get nervous.

I seem to have a real physiological reaction to all things baby,

so as the drip, drip, drip of the pump began to slow,

my heart began to quicken.

My stomach tightened into a knot.

I felt like a failure.

Now, I know that I have spent all of those aforementioned hours and hours and hours and days

ensuring that I am giving my daughter ample, caffeine, alcohol and lactose free milk,

but there is something inside of me that feels guilty.

I started to get nervous that I was starving the baby.

I know.

Can I still blame it on the hormones?

I decided that I would try to supplement, just until I could bring up my milk supply (which, for me, meant drinking gallons of water, eating massive amounts of food, including a whole chicken….well, almost. Yes, seriously.  And pumping, lots).

As my husband and I picked out our hypoallergenic formula from the grocery store,

that feeling of insecurity washed over me, once more.

Now, let me say the following, and this is important: I have zero issue with formula feeding. My husband was solely formula fed, and is probably healthier than I am. I realize that women choose to formula feed their babies for millions of reasons, just as I have chosen to breastfeed. If breastfeeding didn’t work for me, I’d have had no qualms about solely formula feeding my daughter. I don’t think that breastfeeding is ANY  better, whatsoever, than formula feeding. Just wanted to make that clear.

However, because I am my own toughest critic,

I felt embarrassed buying my daughter’s food, instead of trying to persevere, to pump every half hour, until I got the right amount for a feeding.

As I took the can off of the shelf and carted it around the store, I’m pretty sure I may have mentioned breastfeeding,

several times,

in a not-appropriate-for-public volume,

just so that I could convince myself that what I was doing was OK.

We payed the $8 for the tiny can of formula and headed home

(so that I could eat more chicken and dairy-free-chocolate and mango sticky rice).

As we drove down the familiar streets towards our house, I tried to do some soul searching.

What about this was bothering me so much?

And that’s when I realized;

It wasn’t that I was feeding my daughter formula as opposed to milk. I know better than to obsess about that.

It’s that it was a change.

I think it’s probably become quite apparent that I am a true creature of habit.

When it comes to my daughter, I like to know what to expect.

I like a schedule.

A game plan.

A familiar looking poop.

Yet, irony of all ironies,

having a baby is one of the least predictable things imaginable.

She changes every single day.

And that is great.

And I know that.

So, why is it so hard for me?

Most of the changes are so wonderful.

Like her laughing about peaches.

How cute is that?

And, just today, she was able to roll from her back to her front.

I know, she’s a genius.

She grows, and changes, and blossoms every single day.

I’m in awe of this.

If only I could accept it.

So, tonight, I swallowed my pride as I tried to coax her into drinking her first bottle of formula.

For many, many minutes, she wouldn’t take the bottle.

I told my husband, “She won’t take the bottle.”

(I think I was secretly thrilled that she so clearly preferred my variety of milk. I do work hard making her milk du jour, you know.)

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because it’s nasty!” I replied.

And here is a true confession:

You know those minutes and minutes when I was holding the bottle up to her (beautiful!) little mouth?

Yeah, well I had to see why she wouldn’t drink it.

So, I tasted a drop.

Before you judge me, it’s just one of those mom things.

Or, at least, it’s just one of those me things.

And, let me tell you, the stuff was nas-ty.

And no, I haven’t tried my breastmilk.

And yes, I would be honest about it.

Aren’t I always?

It just gives me the heebie jeebies.

Anyway, I finally distracted her,

using the sacred, ancient powers of the lit-up Blackberry,

and got her to take the bottle.

And I guess it wasn’t all that bad.

Except that she didn’t smell the way that she normally smells, after drinking.

And I had to scrub the bottle 3 extra times before I could get rid of the formula aroma.

And, most of all, I wasn’t the one responsible for feeding her.

And it hurt me,

just a little.

But, you know what?
Even in my insanity, I know that I’m doing what’s best for her,

even if the bottle tonight is her one and only serving of formula,

I did what I had to do.

I did my best.

And there’s something that I have to admit to myself:

These changes….

they’re just gonna keep on coming.

Tomorrow she may scoff at “peaches” and laugh at “zebra”.

I’ve laughed at “zebra” before. I said it so many times that I forgot what it meant.

Does that ever happen to you?

Nevermind. Me neither. I was just kidding.

She may roll in one direction and not the other.

She may take her morning nap,

or she might decide to have a dance party with me instead (I hope! I hope!).

Motherhood is all about changes.

Changes in my body,

my sleep schedule,

my sanity level.

Changes in her everything,

every day.

So, I guess I’ll just keep trying to do my best,

whatever my best may be,

and take each bit of change,

one day,

and bottle,

at a time.

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7 Responses to “The Milk of the Mortals”

  1. Kristin July 20, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    I have to tell you, this post really touched me. So much so that I pulled myself out of bed to face the blaring light of my office just to whip out the laptop and tell you about it.

    You see, I find myself continually amazed by you. I read your entries and I think, “wait a minute..isn’t she supposed to be hormonal? tired? frazzled? irrational? at least a little bit?” There are times when I struggle to digest the changes in my own petty life, when I cling to what tiny amounts of control I can exert over things, when I’d almost rather run and hide than walk through it all…but then I remember that’s all (mostly) normal. It’s human. We’re all in this game together, and I’m grateful to you for sharing some of your human-ness with us today. Ripple effects, man.

    • mommyeverafter July 21, 2010 at 12:13 am #

      FIrst and foremost, thank you. You are giving me way too much credit. All I can do is to be honest, and to laugh at myself….just like you said, so eloquently, we are all human and in this together. And your life, in no way, is petty! I think we all cling to that which we can control; that which is a constant. Change is scary! But, good. To think, on this day last year, my baby was only a wish. It’s amazing what a difference a year can make (there’s a reason why it’s a cliche, I think). Thank you, again, for all of your amazing comments. They inspire me to keep writing!

      • Kristin July 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

        🙂

        So here’s the deal (yes I follow you on twitter and saw your msg about dairy-free chocolate..)

        As someone who is allergic to nearly everything under the sun and in the factory, I’ve found a dairy-free, gluten-free, organic, etc. etc. chocolate bar that is actually quite delicious. It’s called Crispy Cats Toasted Almond (and here’s the weird part..I borderline strongly dislike both dark chocolate and almonds, and yet this bar is AMAZING). But before I over-sell (only for the bar to possibly under-deliver), here’s a link for your visual taste buds to judge: http://store.nugonutrition.com/products/00006.html

  2. mommyeverafter July 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    WOW, those bars look amazing! I happen to love almonds and dark chocolate, so they are up my alley, indeed. Where does one find such delicacies?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. mommy, ever after - August 8, 2010

    […] like “zebra“. […]

  2. The hardest post I’ve ever written, Part 2. | mommy, ever after - February 24, 2014

    […] safe for breastfeeding. I was still very committed to nursing my son, as I nursed my daughter for 18 months. It was something that I was not only consciously proud of, but something that I felt had defined […]

  3. The hardest post I’ve ever written. | mommy, ever after - February 24, 2014

    […] safe for breastfeeding. I was still very committed to nursing my son, as I nursed my daughter for 18 months. It was something that I was not only consciously proud of, but something that I felt had defined […]

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