An Update on Breastfeeding.
Welcome once again to TMI Land. Please forgive me in advance for anything I share that might make your eyebrows shoot up into your hairline. (And if you are Doctor Honeydew, that's quite a journey.)
BSparl has been part of our family for twelve weeks, and we've come a long way in the breastfeeding journey. When I wrote about breastfeeding before, we were only about a month into BSparl's life, and everything was challenging. Just waking up to feed her several times a night was turning us into Zombie Parents. And breastfeeding, though something I was determined to do, was hard. I thought the milk letting down was painful. The nipple soreness was uncomfortable. And latching on was something BSparl did with such a vengeance sometimes that I was afraid she was a baby land shark. (Different from a building shark.) But the first few weeks were definitely the hardest.
Now, twelve weeks into the whole adventure, feeding her is easier. My milk isn't coming in at random times, but instead seems to have magically timed itself to come in when the baby is due to eat. It's an amazing thing, how my body has adjusted to provide my child with exactly what she needs. Low blood sugars after I feed her are still a little bit of a problem, but not nearly as much of an issue as in the first few weeks. (I'm blaming some of those on my body's adjustment to post-pregnancy life.) Latching on is better, especially now that she can hold her head up a little better, and the actual pain has been soothed by the constant use of these gel pads from Lansinoh. And no, that's not a paid product placement. The pads are just plain awesome. Using Lanolin gel on my nipples when they're particularly sore also helps a lot. (Holy freaking TMI. But whatever. I'm not much on shame these days.)
For about ten weeks, she was fed breastmilk exclusively, save for a bottle of formula at the hospital after she was born. But at the ten week mark, my work schedule started to shift a bit, causing me to want to incorporate a bottle of formula here and there. Yes, I pumped and yes, I had a good stash of milk going, but keeping that stash ... stashed was harder and harder as BSparl ate more at each feeding. When she moved from 2.5 oz up to closer to 3.5 oz per feeding, I had trouble keeping up. In order to ensure that she was fed breastmilk exclusively, I had to either pump all the time or just never, ever leave the house.
This was the point where I had to make a decision based on what worked for MY life, not one based on the recommendations of others. For me, I didn't want to have to pump while passengering in the car on our way to simple places like the movies or the grocery store. (My apologies to everyone on the road in our town - sorry if I flashed you.) I felt like I was actually a cow, and debated chewing cud instead of bubble gum. I even used this crazy ass device (the Pump Ease Hands-Free Breast Pumping Support Band ... in Bel Aire Blue) because I was desperate to reclaim a little bit of my work life. (And for the record, that support band worked like a charm but looked so bizarre that Chris and I were constantly collapsing into peals of laughter because, come on - there's nothing hotter than your wife working diligently on her laptop with bottles attached to her breasts. Wicked hot.)
After ten weeks of constant pumping and feeding, I needed more flexibility. So we decided, as a family, to work in a little formula.
Currently, I feed the baby first thing in the morning (around 8:30 am) and then throughout the day as needed. Sometimes, if we go out to dinner or visit family and friends in the evening, we'll give her a bottle of formula. For the most part, BSparl is breastfeeding the majority of the time, with maybe one bottle a day. But there's something about just knowing I have options makes me feel less stressed. Because I was bugging out for a while.
There's a lot of guilt when it comes to breastfeeding, particularly as a type 1 diabetic. Aside from hearing from The Mysterious THEY (you know what THEY say - THEY say way too freaking much) about the benefits of breastfeeding your baby, I know that breastfeeding can help keep a type 1 diabetes diagnosis at bay for the BSparl. And the guilt gnaws at me a little, every time I mix up a formula bottle, because I don't ever want to be able to point the finger at something I didn't do to protect her. (That's a whole different post, though. More on that later.)
I'm trying to do my best.
And now that there's a little more flexibility in my feeding options, I'm really enjoying the breastfeeding experience. I love the mornings with BSparl the best, because she wakes up all scrunchy-faced, kicking her tiny feet into the air and saying what sounds almost exactly like "Hi!" We change her diaper, I open the bedroom door to let the cats in, and then snuggle into bed for her breakfast. Despite the fact that Siah believes this ritual should also include her furry self, I love these intimate moments with my daughter. While I'm already thinking about the weaning process and looking forward to completely reclaiming my body, I will miss these moments.
... and I will also miss Photoshopping Siah into inappropriate situations.