Failing at my nursing goal?

I haven’t made the public Facebook announcement yet.  I will.

I had a goal of breastfeeding Willow for as long as she wanted, but not beyond 3.

Then just before Christmas a friend commented on the frequency of my elimination needs.  I didn’t find it crass.  I was going A LOT!  I shrugged and when I got home, I slowly unwrapped the packaging surrounding the plastic stick.  To my surprise, the line went pink plus.  I fumbled with the stick a little before bellowing my husband’s name.

It has been about 4-5 weeks since we found out.  In that time, I have been battling constant head colds, stomach viruses, and respiratory issues (bronchitis, for example).  My daughter has had minor colds for a while, but recently the lack of cold drainage developed into an ear infection.  She’s been fussier than normal.  Willow, my daughter, has been wanting to nurse constantly.  At night, we bed-share.  *Please spare me the unnecessary, judgmental comments that it’ll lead to dependency, this is the reason she doesn’t STTN, or it will severe my marriage due to the decreased intimacy we’ll experience.  (Clearly intimacy hasn’t been that big of an issue, am I right?)*  As such, she nurses at night.  While I’m not as tired as I could be if we didn’t bed-share, night nursing does rouse me from my deep sleep.  I’m not getting the sleep I need.

I’ve been irritable, cranky, and rude.  I’ve yelled a lot more than I’m comfortable with (I’m not a screamer.  I am normally pretty logical in conflict.  I get frustrated and stern which is fine, but I never have been this bad.  I’m cursing up a storm, screaming at Willow when she cries (mommy guilt anyone), and nagging Frank often.  I stumble through my daily routine dazed.  I grow aggravated over simple inconveniences.  My body is weak.

Nursing requires that I eat 500 extra calories a day.  Pregnancy requires 300 extra calories in consumption.  I lost weight quickly after I delivered Willow because I nurse on demand and unintentionally don’t consume those 500 extra calories.  I get busy and forget to eat.  (I know, crazy right?  Yet, this tendency to forget eating may be linked to issues discussed in my previous post.  I’m pretty sure it is linked, but not entirely certain.)  Anyways, I’m 12 weeks pregnant (as of yesterday) and still weigh less than what I did before I was pregnant with Willow.  I’m trying to eat, especially lots of protein.  Every day I fear I’m not getting enough nourishment to grow a healthy baby.  I’m scared that my decreasing size is leading to future complications for labor, premature labor, and/or a child with disabilities.

My goal for nursing now is one year.  I have an amazing supply (thank God).  I could very well tandem nurse.  (Kids don’t need formula after a year right?  As such, she won’t NEED my milk after a year right?)  However, Willow was a week early.  I have to be weary of premature labor.  Nursing is a form of nipple stimulation and can initiate labor.  (I have had a previous miscarriage and fear that every time my stomach aches slightly after Willow nurses that I might lose this baby because I want to continue nursing.)  How do I start to wean?  Is it safe to start doing so now?

I feel selfish.  Yet, I haven’t had my body to myself for the past two years.  My breasts are touched more than I like (and physical touch is one of my love languages) and so I don’t let Frank near them.  (I get grumpy when he does…the poor guy.) This body, like all women, was designed to carry and care for a child (which I chose to and God blessed with the ability to do so, even though it was longer than I liked).  I feel guilty for wanting it left alone for a while, and not just at work.  I want to sit and not be caressed or tugged on while in the comfort of my own home.

Formula is hidden in the crevices of Willow’s closet…or I should say the current storage room closet.  I felt angry when it was sent to me.  I pushed it away like a dirty secret.  In the first six weeks, I yearned to dip into it, but I was determined not to.  I had a great supply and didn’t have a need to use it.  Nursing was more about my will and my determination than Willow’s food source during that time.  I guess in some ways it still is.

Women talk about how beautiful and serene nursing is.  It can be.  I do enjoy the forced sitting time.  It causes me to slow down and live in the moment.  I enjoy that, even if at times regrettably so.  I like looking into Willow’s eyes and I get to see her smile as she suckles.  Most of the time though I get annoyed.  Willow will twist her body, pop on and off, fuss if I put it away because she is distracted, she’ll grab and twist my nipple, Willow will clamp down on my nipple and flick it too.  I will pull her off and the wails commence.  I’ve tried slapping her in the mouth and she laughs.  Lately nursing feels like a chore.

In the hopes of getting some semblance of rest, I will ask Frank to give Willow a leftover bottle from when she was watched by Lisa. (There is always a reserve left over when Lisa watches her, but never my MIL.  I’m not sure why.  This is another source of frustration that I’m not sure how to tactfully address so I stew in silent resentment.)  If I’m in the vicinity, Willow won’t eat from the bottle.  Frank sometimes just hands her off saying, she’s hungry.  In my mind I’m swearing at him, “Just give her the damn bottle and let me gain strength.  Try harder!  Why does it feel like I do and you aren’t.”  FYI: marriage isn’t a competition.  It is a dangerous game when you pit yourself against your spouse.  Frank is amazing and does go out of his way to accommodate my needs.  I am forever grateful for him.  I feel like I at least need to voice it here so he can read it when I seem like an ungrateful, nagging bitch.  (See, cursing.  I don’t usually do it in my posts or real life.  I just can’t find “better” or more accurate words with my current brain energy.)

I wonder if I should supplement these last two months with formula.  (Maybe she’ll sleep better?  I know this is a lie.)  I feel a surge of guilt too because I’ve silently judged mothers who supplement or give formula.  I’m sorry.  Some women have tried really hard and they want to breastfeed (they know its many benefits) and legitimately can’t.  I don’t know their circumstances.  There are others that get me angry because they told me to give Willow solids too early, they insinuate that Willow doesn’t like my breast-milk, or that my milk isn’t meeting her needs.  For those women who have tried and weren’t able to or chose not to, I’m sorry that the prudent breastfeeding discussions has led to any mocking or belittling of or towards you, especially if I contributed to that, even inadvertently.  Also, I feel I’ll let friends down or even worse, women, if I supplement now.  I wanted to go longer than a year.  I wanted to let Willow decide she was done.  I can’t.  I feel selfish admitting this.

I’m drained.  I can continue nursing, but my sanity, compassion, and energy are waning.  I sit, idle to the world, but frantic in my mind.  I want to sob.  I feel like a failure as a mother—I am not home with her and she’s in the care of others, I do work I dislike so I want to relax when I get home first rather than meet another person’s needs, and I get irritated at the slightest cry.  I secretly wish I still had my placenta.  Is this late postpartum depression?  (Americans reading this will have chagrin over the placenta idea.  It is supposed to help alleviate depression symptoms.  It isn’t cannibalism.  Can I convince my husband of this?)  I haven’t fully divulged these feelings even to him….why am I doing it on the web then?

Maybe he’ll read this, words I haven’t been able to vocally decipher, and hear my quiet plea, my silent sobs, my fear, my guilt, and help ease my heavy heart.

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