When last we discussed my boobs my son was hungry and I had realized no amount of pumping was going to keep up with him. God that sounds depressing when I type it like that doesn’t it?
I spent the last few weeks of my maternity leave with my son curled up against me while I drink Mother’s Milk Tea desperately trying to reinvigorate my supply. All this time I had to defrost milk from my sparse freezer supply because damn this baby was hungry. I mean he could nurse for almost an hour total and then still pound a few ounces. He was a beast and I was not keeping up.
I went back to work when Nathan was 12 weeks old. This was not by choice mind you. The long and short of it was that my leave time had expired and I hadn’t worked at my company long enough to be able to take a longer, unpaid leave while having my position guaranteed upon my return. This meant I was back at work and Nathan was in baby land where he had unlimited devices to keep him occupied and a kind woman to FEED HIM. Meanwhile in mommy land I had to schedule 3 pumping sessions a day and even then I was barely able to get 6 ounces. Total. It was so depressing.
I was getting by at this point with minimal defrosting because I was able to nurse the baby before I dropped him off and as soon as I picked him up and his ridiculous growth spurt was starting to diminish. I was feeling good. Then, Nathan got sick. He ran a 102 fever and lay in my arms the weekend of the 4th of July whimpering. I spent that weekend crying with him. I felt so horrible. He didn’t want to nurse but a few minutes during the day. I was struggling to get him to drink enough to keep from getting dehydrated. Over that weekend my supply nearly disappeared. He wouldn’t nurse and even though I was pumping almost every hour nothing I could do would keep me afloat.
I broke down the Monday of the long weekend and bought formula. I remember crying about it for the entire day I bought it. The can was like a scarlet letter proclaiming me a failure at the one thing I felt so strongly that I must do for him. I was hurting and heart-broken. I did the only thing I could think of. I called my mother. Something similar had happened to her with both me and my brother. She was sad for me but she said something that brought some clarity. My mother told me I had fought very hard to do the absolute best for Nathan. I had sacrificed time and brought work home to do while he slept so I could pump. I drank gross tea and took herbal supplements. I fought like hell. She told me the can was no scarlet letter. Nathan would be happy either way. He wouldn’t care how he was fed only that he was and that I loved him while doing it.
My mother helped me feel less terrible about what I perceived to be a failure of mine as a mother. She was of course right. Nathan has been growing perfectly fine on the formula and has been a very happy little man. He eats solid food like a champ and snuggles up against me to have his nighttime bottle before he falls asleep. My son doesn’t see what happened as a failure that is only how I see it. This made me feel less like I was making some horrible mistake. My struggle with this brought me a great deal of insight into what makes a mother. I won’t always feel wonderful about the things I have to do but I will do the absolute best I can for my son.