Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Baby Talk :: Accepting the Drought


Happy Tuesday mamas....it's time for another addition of BABY TALK!

Here's the rules:
{1} Write a post on ANYTHING baby related...pregnancy, parenting, products, stories, advice, you name it!
{2} Grab this button and put it somewhere, anywhere in your post!

{3} Publish your post on Tuesday!
{4} Come back and enter your post in the super neat link-up tool found at the bottom of every Baby Talk post.
{5} Check back and read the other blogs who have linked up!

Easy as pie!

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As I'm sitting here thinking of how to write this post I have tears welling up in my eyes. This shouldn't be a sad post, but it's making me feel that way.

A little over a month ago I started to notice a severe decrease in the amount of breast milk I was pumping each day at work. Since returning to work just six weeks after Kenley was born I have been pumping 15-20oz each day. Kenley goes through three 5oz bottles while with her grandparents during the day, so I was pumping just enough to get her through plus a little more to store.

I think everything started to go down hill after our trip to Colorado in February. I emptied our entire breast milk supply for the trip because 1. We needed it so that I didn't have to be bound to the baby and could enjoy my vacation and 2. because I assumed I'd have no issues re-stocking the freezer when we got home.

Since then it seems every day is a bigger challenge than the day before...in the breast feeding department that is. It's been a slow progression but where we stand now I am only pumping 1-3oz while at work. ONE to THREE ounces a day. In THREE pumping sessions. Obviously, that's not enough to feed Kenley during the day so we've had to supplement formula. In addition to that, my supply is SHOT by the end of the day. I tried and tried to nurse Kenley when I'd get home from work but she would work so hard for nothing which would send her in to hysteria which of course sent me in to hysteria.

Of course, I took to the web to do some research. I needed to find out what was causing this decrease and what I could do to fix it.

The common causes are as follows:
-Fatigue
-Illness
-Caffeine
-Smoking
-Alcohol
-Medications
-Stress
-Herbs & Spices
-Birth Control Pills
-Pregnancy
-Diet & Hydration

My baby has been sleeping through the night since she was 5 weeks old, so I couldn't blame fatigue. Caffeine makes me sick so if I have any it's in small amounts. I don't smoke. I have an occasional cocktail but I don't think enough to have an effect. I'm not on ANY medication (not even taking any advil). The only stress in my life is this low milk supply. I use some spices in cooking but I can't imagine adding oregano to my spaghetti sauce is causing this decrease. I am not on the pill and I am certainly not pregnant. So, I figured that the cold I had for three weeks and my diet / hydration had to be the culprits.

So then I looked up what to do to increase my supply:
-Increase nursing sessions
-Pump more frequently
-Drink more water
-Eat a balanced diet
-Eat a lot of Oatmeal
-Take Fenugreek supplements

I did all of it. Everything. I took three Fenugreek vitamins a day, counted calories and chose healthier food options, downloaded an app to track my water intake, pumped three times a day at work and added a pumping session before bed, nursed Kenley on both sides at every feeding I could, tried more skin to skin contact and ate a shit ton of Oatmeal.

It didn't work. 

You guys, I can't even tell you how many times I've cried over this. I felt like my body was failing me and that I am failing my baby. I would actually get sick to my stomach feeding Kenley formula.

You don't have to tell me how irrational this sounds because I know, believe me, I know it's ridiculous. I know that I was able to exclusively nurse my baby for nearly 6 months despite all the issues I had in the beginning. I know that I did the best I could and my baby is thriving because of it. AND, most of all, I know that formula isn't poison and that billions of perfectly healthy babies rely on formula every day. I know. I know it all. But still it all made me feel so sad.

I don't know why there has been this stigma or pressure or expectation put upon moms about breastfeeding. It wasn't too long ago that breastfeeding was frowned upon and formula was the recommended source of nutrition.

The point of this is that I am sad that I have come to this crossroads. I am not mentally or emotionally ready to be done breastfeeding but for some reason my body is putting on the breaks. I had to talk all of this through with Carolyn {she's my person} and I asked her....do I stop before I'm ready or do I continue to bust my ass to increase my supply, and per usual, she gave me the best advice:

"a non-stressed mommy is more important for Kenley than formula vs breast milk"

and she is so, so right. Trying to fight through this is just going to stress me out and disappoint me, and that's not what I need OR what Kenley needs.

I also reached out to my friend Andrea whose son, Vincent, is 10 months old. She had pretty much the same issue as me and was a huge help! She had the same feelings I was feeling but after giving in and realizing it was time to stop she was doing great and feeling great and she said something that I will forever remember and share with my breastfeeding friends,

"You've done a huge, great thing for Kenley by getting this far and no one will ever be able to tell on the 1st day of Kindergarten which babies were breastfed for 6 months, a year or not at all.  You're going to do so much for her throughout the years so don't worry if this didn't turn out exactly how you wanted. "

I think what I needed more than anything was someone who understood how important this was to me to listen and to tell me it was OK. {thanks friends!}

Even though it was hard and emotional to stop, I've got to say not breastfeeding is pretty nice! I finally feel, after 15 months, that my body belongs to me again. I loved growing my little nugget and loved breastfeeding but it's nice to be able to count calories again, not feel guilty having a glass of wine or three and to NOT have to be hooked up to that damn pump for an hour a day is pretty amazing!



32 comments:

Kelly said...

Awww, I'm sad that you were sad... BUT happy that you've come to peace with your decision and are pleased with the outcomes!! The advice that you got was amazing and SO true!! Have a fabulous day, mama :-)

Jess Beer said...

Oh honey! I thought maybe you were going through something like that from your last few posts, but I'm so sorry you were so stressed! I'm right there with you. We've been supplementing with formula for Abbie since I went back to work - she drinks anywhere from 15-24 ounces each day and I can only pump between 4 and 9. (The day I got 9 I jumped for joy...and the next day I think I got 5. Fail.)

So glad you had Carolyn to talk to about it, and she is 100% right. It took me a while to be okay with supplementing, but my body just doesn't make enough for whatever reason. I could have written so much of this post!

Jessica said...

This is exactly my story when Noah was 10 months old. We did the best we could for our babies and I'M PROUD OF YOU for going 6 months! That's amazing. There's nothing wrong with formula and before you know it, that little girl will be eating chicken strips and hot dogs and you won't even remember how to heat up a bottle ;)

Emily said...

I'm so sorry about all of this! I wish you wouldn't stress so much about it though, it's not something in your control! Kenley will be thrilled as long as she gets a bottle - whether it is breastmilk or formula! Plus your friend is right, it's not fair to yourself or Kenley to be so stressed about it!
I think it's awesome you made it so far...think of the women who don't even try at all!

Bridget said...

So sorry that you had to go through this. As mother's we have high expectations for many things, and breastfeeding for as long as we want is one of them (if we pick that route). I think 6 months is GREAT and your friend is right...no one knows on the first day of school who was breast feed the longest (or still is for those attachment parenting types), Well actually...they may know if the 5-6 year old still is...haha

Ashley said...

Why is everything about breast feeding so stressful!
Doing it in public - you're judged. Not having a good latch - nipple shields and pain. Low supply - stress which lowers your supply even more. No supply - feelin like you failed. I coul go on, but bf'ing STILL stresses me out and makes me upset because I had almost zero supply from day 1, and we had to quit completely at 4 months because he refused to latch.
I'm so glad you've come to peace with your decision, the happier and more stress free you are, the happier Kenley(and Jason!) will be. As long as you are feeding K something healthy, you are feeding her right :)
You are doing a GREAT job Kristin!

Katie said...

This is almost identical to my breastfeeding story! I still find myself feeling guilty about "quitting," but the fact of the matter is that I was so stressed about my production that it was overshadowing all the JOY. It just wasn't worth it anymore. Jaqs is 13 months old now; perfectly happy and healthy!

I'm sorry you've been so stressed about this! We put so much pressure on ourselves as mommies, and it's difficult when we don't "live-up" to whatever expectations we've put on ourselves, but it's obvious that Kenley is a loved and happy little lady and that's all that matters!

Allison Boutwell said...

Breastfeeding is SO stressful...everything about it! I think mommas have so much pressure put on them to breastfeed from everyone that it makes it hard. Your friends are both right! No matter if Kenley is getting breast milk or formula she is going to be happy either way and you're still a fantastic momma. There are so many women who don't even try to breastfeed! 6 months is a great milestone.

Carolyn said...

I'm so glad that you're ok with your decision now!! :) Kenley is such a happy and healthy baby and that is because she has such an amazing mommy! :) Love you!

Ruthie Hart said...

awww girl I am sorry to hear you went through this! I can imagine I'd be like you, emotional at first but Carolyn is right.. not being stressed is the best gift you can give Kenley and how awesome that you got to EBF for 6 months! So many women don't make it that far!! Thank you for sharing all this with us... we have our BF class in a couple of weeks!

MIL said...

You have done above and beyond for Kenley and you will continue, so take care of YOU. J was breastfed for almost 6 months and see how healthy he is! You know my jobs and the infant I take care of has been on formula since I started (3 weeks old) and he is doing fine! Kenley has even more super power in her!

Tell your Dad Happy Birthday from me you know us (old) long time friends!

AND thank you for the shout out on your Mother's Day Blog. Very sweet!

Miss you, love you and J, Kenley, & Bailey!

P!nky said...

Awww sweet girl I'm so sorry you've been stressed and sad. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I'm sending you happy vibes.


I totally agree with Carolyn, you've done what you could, so now just enjoy the next step. :)!

Jillian said...

My mom cut out fat during her pregnancy with me and the end result was that I couldn't gain weight from her breastmilk so I actually had to go on a special formula so I could gain weight so be thankful you didn't have to do that

Sarah at Midwest Pillowtalk said...

poop. i am going to have to switch my bump-dates from mondays to tuesdays because i just love this link up and mommy talk!
ANYWAYS.
i am so sorry your supply is decreasing :( im having fears of mine not coming in or never having enough myself. but you tried. and you succeeded. you stuck through the hard parts and that is all more than okay! you are a great mommy and doing everything you can for your sweet one. she loves you for it.

ajs {of MN} said...

i had a REALLY hard time with supply. we're talking NOTHING and i was only able to BF while in the hospital (3 days). It was awful and really hit me hard! I wish there was more prep on what to do and how to handle BFing IF it doesn't work for you- and not b/c you dont try but b/c you body just IS NOT HAVING IT!

thanks for sharing!

Refrigerator Memories said...

New Follower here! Your daughter is adorable! Sorry to hear your bf journey ended sooner than you'd like but great job making it this far!

Tickled Pink Mandy said...

Aww girl, this is so hard. But I think you know that you have done a great job. Any little bit is awesome and sweet K is lucky to have you care this much!! :) I've had a decrease in my supply these past few weeks as well. It started after my bout with the flu but I'm thinking my body knows I need to start weaning myself this summer...

Two Small Men Movers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lillian said...

From day one my milk didn't come in, they say a fast labour plus an early one can cause that. Finally day 5 my milk came in, but formula had already been forced on my premie baby and it was impossible to catch up. I cried, I did basically everything you did and nothing. They say sometimes its genetics, my Mom barely made it 6 months with all 4 of her kids. Collins is happy, healthy and up to a regular weight. Its bittersweet. Freedom is nice, you can now exercise more, diet more, drink more, etc. Your friends are right, a happy mommy means a happy baby and thats all that matters. Cheers girl.

Anonymous said...

I had struggles too, with my son I was back at work in 6 weeks, he didn't sleep, I didn't sleep, terrible labor and delivery, non-supportive work, husband having hard transition, and everything I mean everything hurt! He is a beautiful big boy! My daughter some issues with breast feeding busted my tail like you and supply dried up around 11 months, but I was easily supplementing by 6, I just couldn't keep up. Beautiful big girl! You do what you can and realize at least the effort was made, the benefits were received and now time for the next stage, keep in mind some of your sadness is your hormones readjusting because of not nursing totally normal, but people don't usually give those influences enough weight. You've done great!

Tiffany @ Austin Family Diary said...

Girl! I'm so behind on reading blogs. Thanks for sharing your story. Breast feeding is such a stress of mine and Elliott is not even here yet. I'm praying for an easy time with it because I've got a mother who believes bottle feeding is the way to go. Kudos to you for making it 6mos!

Erica said...

I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. I am a preggo first time mom and sometimes everything can be so overwhelming! Thank you for sharing your story! It sounds like you are doing great!! I will definitely be following you and linking up every week!!

Nicole-Lynn said...

Aw thanks for sharing this! I'm sorry you had such a difficult time with it. I'm glad you're at peace with it all now!

Katie said...

My girlfriend is going through the same thing girl! I completely agree with your decision. It sounds so stressful I can only imagine! I guarantee I would do the same thing. Glad you're much happier!

Nat said...

First I love all your honesty- its so refreshing! You did a great thing for your daughter for 6 months and you should be so proud- like your friend said a less stressed mommy is better for Kenley in the end

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