Monday, July 02, 2007

Motherhood = Crazy

Emiko had her four month checkup this morning. She had her second round of vaccinations, which she handled like a champ. A champ who screams bloody murder. But she's fine, and should sleep really well tonight, which is a bit of a plus for me.

I was talking to Emiko's doctor, who I really like, but looks like he's twelve. I was telling him that nursing wasn't going very well and I was about to give up. Emiko won't even nurse anymore. When I try, she cries. Which really hurts my feelings! So I am still pumping at least twice a day, and try to give Emiko at least one bottle of breast milk a day. I keep thinking maybe I will stop, but I feel so guilty about it.

Dr. Merok suggested that I should listen to my baby -- if she's ready to stop nursing, then that's all there is to it. He assured me that Emiko was doing great -- she's all caught up with regular full term four month old babies. So if I want to nurse, fine, but I should stop torturing myself.

Last Wednesday Emiko had her Early Intervention evaluation to determine if she qualified for services based upon her being a preemie. Some preemies are at increased risk for developmental delays. But not Emiko -- she passed with flying colors! I talked to the speech pathologist at length about Emiko and the troubles we are having with nursing. The pathologist said that Emiko doesn't have a weak suck -- she just prefers drinking from a bottle. And that that's fine -- developmentally at least, Emiko is doing beautifully and so if I want to stop nursing, then I should.

So now I've gotten permission from my husband (I don't know why, I just need his approval about this), Emiko's doctor, and a speech pathologist to stop nursing. But as I type this, I'm pumping. What the hell is wrong with me???

I feel so guilty about wanting to quit. I feel guilty that I don't have the time to pump the five times per day I really should be if I want to keep up with Emiko's needs. I'm not back at work yet, so I have plenty of time, right? And I feel selfish -- why would I not want to do what's best for my baby's health???

Then I read this article:, and I found the quotation that sums it all up for me: "Breastfeeding was my last chance to get something right."

I had such amazing plans for what Emiko's delivery would be like. I was going to labor in the Alternative Birth Center in the tub. I was going to listen to music and Todd was going to rub my shoulders and scratch my back through contractions. As soon as Emiko was born, Todd was going to cut the umbilical cord and then Emiko was going to inch up my belly and start to nurse, just like those babies in that Swedish movie they show in childbirth class. It was going to be perfect.

Then Emiko came six weeks early. I didn't even know I was in labor -- it was the fastest labor ever. But it meant that as soon as Emiko was born, the nurse cut the cord and they took her away. We didn't get to labor in the tub. Todd never scratched my back. We didn't even take the camera -- I just thought I felt kinda lousy and wanted my nurse midwife to tell me that everything was OK.

Of course I think it's my fault that Emiko was premature. I know it's unreasonable, and not true. But I can't get over feeling that way. It seems like that was my first parenting failure. So nursing took on even more significance.

It is nearly impossible to establish breastfeeding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We were crammed in a room full of babies, and it was a big pain to get the screen out to give moms privacy. And that was only if you had a nurse amenable to that idea. Some of the nurses were very pro-nursing, and others weren't. So I had to pump to get my milk established, and basically waited until Emiko came home to try to figure out how to nurse.

It's hard to compete with twelve days of bottle feeding. Of course Emiko would like that better. It's easier. But she was willing to nurse once we got home. We nursed pretty much exclusively the first two weeks home. Then I took her to the clinic to be weighed, and she'd gained one ounce. In two weeks. So we had to start supplementing. We would nurse, and then I'd give her a bottle of either pumped milk or formula.

I felt like such a failure having to give Emiko formula. It's so crazy -- but it was so upsetting. Then I kinda started to accept that it was OK -- I had to tell myself that "formula is not failure." But I never completely believed it.

But things went along like that for quite awhile -- we were nursing well up to about a month and a half ago. Then Emiko started really freaking out when we'd try to nurse. So I hired a lactation consultant, who for $200 told me that Emiko had a weak suck and I have low supply. She instructed me to pump every time I gave Emiko a bottle. Pumping takes half an hour. I would have to pump five or six times a day. How do you do that? Emiko is not so good at sitting still. And it's really hard to hold a baby while pumping.

Now Emiko is teething, so she is completely done with nursing. I guess maybe it hurts her aching gums when she nurses. I used to be able to get her to nurse when she was sleepy or first thing in the morning, but now she refuses. If I try keep trying, she just screams louder. I can't make her nurse.

So why do I keep doing it??? Emiko doesn't care. Her health is great. She is happy and adorable and well-adjusted. Why am I so crazy???

It's just that the whole time I was pregnant, I was so determined that I would nurse. And I've worked so hard -- how do I just give up?

I'm trying to make it to six months. I'm not back at work until the end of August. Emiko is sleeping much better -- so I maybe have more time for pumping. I'm going to keep at it for now. But I think about quitting every day.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Every birth is a perfect experience in its own way. It takes profound courage for a laboring woman to confront complications and to willingly open her already open self even further to include unfamiliar people and procedures into her experience. Monks spend lifetimes in soggy caves trying to achieve this state of humility that women are able to experience through giving birth, being then vessels through which the ultimate creative impulse is served and manifest.
Who is to say if one set of circumstances is more perfect than another, and who is to say that the mother whose child is taken from her at birth did not “bond” with the child. There is truth to be gotten and beauty to be seen in all births.
–Kate Botlos
I would suggest listening to yourself, along with Emiko. You'll know when YOU are ready. I totally understand your feelings about breastfeeding, being the final thing to get right, as do so many other mom's out there. It's okay to morn the fact that the birth didn't turn out as you dreamed. Hopefully you will be able to continue pumping or let it go with out guilt when the time is right. Don't beat yourself up, you are a great mom!!!