Warning: This post is about breastfeeding. I try not to post about it much, but just wanted to give you a heads up and an opportunity to back away now if you feel the need.
(a stream of conscious writing to organize my thoughts and clear my head)
This past week, Julianna had quite an accident. It’s a really long story that I’m not comfortable going into much detail about quite yet, but needless to say it was an ordeal that included a lengthy experience in the ER and an overnight admission at Children’s Hospital. When we arrived at 11 p.m., I hadn’t pumped since around 5. This is pretty typical for my days recently, and not a huge concern. As we reached a very emotional 2:30 am, I was feeling really engorged and even started leaking through my shirt (which NEVER happens to me). Finally, I talked to a nurse who found me a pump and a lactation lounge and away I went. Armed with a pair of 2 oz bottles and an empty 20 oz water bottle, my aunt and I took to the task of me pumping while she attempted to unscrew and empty the small bottles into the large one. I was shocked at how quickly I filled those tiny 2 oz bottles that once took me ten minutes to fill in my early days! So here we are like wild women, trying to just get me empty enough to be comfortable so I can get back to my sweet baby, and give that baby something to drink when she was ready for it. I pumped about 10 oz total, and then stopped. This was probably only half of what I had in me, but without a hands free bra, I wasn’t going any longer than I had to. The next morning, I was up at 6, and by 9 am was pumping again – this time with a basket full of 2 oz bottles and my dear husband had the task of helping me. I pumped to empty, and then resumed normal pumping later that day around 4 p.m.
Since this time, I have seen a dramatic drop in my output – about 50% of what I typically produce. Could it be that my body thinks that my babies are done and has decided it doesn’t need to produce as much because of the few times I didn’t pump completely? Julie’s accident was of course tremendously stressful, so could it be stress effecting my body? I’ve been so close to my edge lately that I’m crying at the most frivolous things – like the Chinese takeout order being wrong or my mom suggesting a nap schedule. Somedays feel like I’m not only loosing my identity, but also my mind!
I have been so busy that I’ve hardly had the time to drink the water as I need to, and I’m sure this has some effect as well. On top of everything, the night after I got home, I woke up sick in the middle of the night, and have had a terrible sinus infection since. Could the infection cause a temporary drop?
Regardless of the how or why, it’s clear that my milk is not doing well these days. I can’t help but begin to wonder if it’s time to turn off my pump, and pull out the formula checks. My babies are used to formula and tolerate it well enough – it’s just that I DO believe that breastmilk is what’s best for them, and provides so many benefits. If I didn’t believe it with all of my heart, I wouldn’t be tethered to the pump for at least 2 hours a day.
I know it’s possible to come back from all this – drink more water, take the fenugreek, Gatorade, probably cut back on my caffeine to help me relax, and most of all, pump more often. I know all of these things, but yet I’m beginning to question if it’s WORTH fighting for. My babies are almost 6 months old – my initial breastfeeding goal. I’ve helped give their little bodies a jump started immune system and done my very best this long.
The thing I guess I question most is the value… Is pumping for two hours each day worth only being able to produce half of my babies daily needs? What happens if I drop even farther – is a fourth of their needs worth two hours? An eighth? Will quitting give me more freedom and less stress, making me a happier twin mamma – or will it give me guilt for not hanging in there longer?
As I’ve said so many many times before, the hardest part is when you want to do what’s best for your family, but “what’s best” is so unclear.
Most likely, I’ll keep on for at least another week, when the babies have their “half birthday” on the 22nd, and see how I’m feeling. We’re going to a wedding this weekend and the babies will be with my family, drinking mostly milk frozen from my early days. Hopefully coming back with a cooler full of milk pumped from this weekend will help me keep up with their demands for the short term, and will buy me some time to make my decisions. Maybe a weekend away will leave me a little rejuvenated and help my stress as well.
This mom stuff is not easy huh?