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Painful

Next week is my spring break, and Mr. Bunny and I are ditching our baby for a lightning quick trip to Chicago. We’ll only have one night and part of a day, but that’s enough time to have dinner at my favorite restaurant and spend some time watching TV in a hotel. That’s about all I need out of a vacation. The thought of leaving my child in an entirely different city makes me feel very…sick….but I have a strong suspicion that it will be good for us. Even after my sister in law asked me if I was leaving our overnight caregiver with power of attorney. And, when I said no, adding, “Oh…well…they probably take verbal consent.”

[Perhaps she was getting back at me for the whole DOG thing. Which has resolved in a way that seems like a reasonable compromise. She wants to bring the dog because she enjoys the dog’s company during the drive, but she’s found a daycare place here, and if she can’t get care, the dog will go in the basement. As it did yesterday, and I must say, the whole visit was just heavenly. I got to move around in my house without feeling threatened! I didn’t even have to think about the baby-dog interaction!]

My milk supply has been slowly dwindling. I was pumping five ounces a day, then four, then three, now about 2.5… On days when I’m at work, Bun Bun typically takes 4 ounces, so I’m no longer keeping up. And I’ve been in denial about the need to do something, but the Chicago trip is forcing my hand. So I sent Mr. Bunny out to buy some formula so we could make sure she’d take it before leaving someone else with our baby and  not enough milk. (You’ll be happy to know he got the kind with MAGICSTUFF. Sigh!) On Friday, he tested it out. She loved it. He said she went at the bottle like a starving wolf.

I’ve been trying to take Bionic‘s outlook–Bun Bun’s eating so many different things now, formula’s just another food. But I find the whole thing very painful. I think about all the posts I’ve commented on where a woman was dealing with feelings of guilt or inadequacy because she was unable to breastfeed or was having to supplement. I was so sincere in telling these people not to feel bad. You’re choosing what’s best for your baby and what’s best for youyou’re a wonderful mother… Yeah. All at bit useless. And I have Extra Zero reason to feel bad, as the reason my body can’t provide for my baby anymore is that it’s busy providing for my fetus. So I should really not find myself tearing up or feeling unwomanly, should I? But I do. It hurts.

And the other thing that hurts, like really fucking hurts, is my nipples. A month ago I thought I could play through the pain. I was so totally unprepared to begin any kind of weaning process. But two weeks ago I started toying with the idea of cutting back to just morning and bedtime feeds. Pumping hurts a lot, and if I lower the suction it takes me a billion years to suck out my measly ounce per session, and it’s hard enough to fit in sessions between meetings and classes without it taking a billion years…And on days when I’m home I just hurt all day and wince at the thought of feeding her…and she opened up a little tear on one side AGAIN…and no amount of working on latch or changing positions or anything else helps. So I’ve been taking it day by day, not quite ready to pull the trigger on anything.

And then yesterday I found myself with formula in the house. And I realized I could just do it. I could cut back, and start a process I’m going to have to/want to start eventually.

And so I did. I had Mr. Bunny give her a bottle instead of feeding her out of my tore up tits. I felt like a selfish whore. And when I realized we’d need a shitload more formula if we were going to be doing this every day, I found myself scuttling through Target with my containers, feeling like every other mother’s eyes were on me, JUDGING. CONDEMNING. And then today I gave her a bottle for the first time ever, and yeah, she loved it.

However illogical, my heart aches a bit at this small separation, this tiny shift in how necessary I am.

But I tell you what, my nipples are ever so grateful.

22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lisa #

    Ugh, breastfeeding. So meaningful and so hard. I had to give it up around 9 months. Really, it was closer to 5 or 6, and then it became exclusive pumping except for any overnight feeds. Once I went back to work at 4 months my son started to reject me for the bottle. It was awful and made me resent my job. Around 6 months I wasn’t keeping up anymore and I started to supplement with formula. I too felt that guilt in the store. By 9 months my supply was so sad that I finally called it all quits. For the most part I got over it, but I still feel envious of friends who somehow make it work longer than I could (and my son is almost 2 now). If you’re feeling guilty, don’t. You truly have done your best. That’s the mantra that got me through.

    March 11, 2012
  2. Jen #

    This feeling passes. You know what helps it pass faster? Feeling your poor overworked nips heal. That helped me a lot. And the sudden emergence of what feels like gobs of free time not spent attached to a pump, but doing something else, something less painful. Focus on these things and the time will pass. Trust.

    March 11, 2012
  3. I hear ya. It sucks. Pun intended.
    For what is worth, it gets better. Not soon, but, as with everything else in life, it does get better. And then, you’ll get to ask BunBun to help you, she’ll take the milk out of the fridge and bring it to you (you of course need to open the door, but hey, it’s team work) and then take it back and close the door. And feel so freaking proud that nothing else matters. Until you ask her to take the banana peel to the garbagebin, and SHE DOES JUST SO. And then you get used to it and expect more.
    All I’m saying, it gets better.

    March 11, 2012
  4. “I think about all the posts I’ve commented on where a woman was dealing with feelings of guilt or inadequacy because she was unable to breastfeed or was having to supplement. I was so sincere in telling these people not to feel bad.”

    Speaking as somebody who’s had to supplement with both children, I still do this. And I told myself before I had my second child that if I had to supplement, so be it. But I still felt incredibly guilty when we brought out the first bottle of formula–not helped by the fact that she so evidently preferred the breast and we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get her to drink from a bottle.

    But you’ve done great to get this far. My son was four days old when we started supplementing and my daughter three hours (very low blood sugar at birth). Hopefully, you’ll be able to breastfeed Bunlet exclusively for as long as you wish, but if not, it’s OK to feel bad, so long as you move through it.

    March 12, 2012
  5. I have been here. It’s been 6 months. I will say it gets easier. After a few weeks I felt a bit of freedom even, but it still makes me sad at times. For me it because a routine quickly and now I look back at my nursing cape holding the mirror in the back seat up thankful that I don’t need it right now…but still it’s hard. With you on this.

    March 12, 2012
  6. Nicole #

    I totally hear you on the formula thing. Ive cut back to 3 times per day and its really not much so I supplement quite a bit. Every bottle I make her, even though she loves it, makes me a little bit sad.

    March 12, 2012
  7. Repeat after me: Don’t feel bad. You’re choosing what’s best for your baby and what’s best for you…you’re a wonderful mother.

    A very smart lady once said that….

    I think that the perspective that this is just one of the many foods Bun Bun eats is a good one. None of those other foods come out of your breasts, right?

    I think you are doing great.

    March 12, 2012
  8. I hope you have a wonderful trip with Mr. Bunny to the beautiful (unseasonably wonderfully warm!) city of Chicago.

    Oh, I hear you on how painful it is letting go of BFing. I will say this: It got easier for me. For weeks, the wound was very fresh and raw, but slowly it became the new status quo and I enjoyed the many ways life was easier, especially how much more TIME I actually got to spend with the babies. (I weaned them/stopped pumping at 7 months.) FInally, one day I realized I wasn’t sniffling about it or telling hubs how bad/guilty I felt about our decision. I so hope this happens for you too.

    xoxoxo

    March 12, 2012
  9. SRB #

    Oh man, do I hear this! I hate pumping more than anything and try to avoid it like the plague. I am stunningly unsuccessful at this cue to, you know, real life. Dammit. It is a necessary evil so I’ve been playing through the pain. But lately, I barely get an ounce. And I’ve been telling myself “You are a terrible mother! This means he isn’t getting anything when you do feed him! You are starving your child!”

    Obviously, he is not starving. He weighs enough, plays enough, sleeps enough. He is fine. I’m the one who is reluctant to admit that I’m drying up before I’m ready, But maybe he is ready. This is hard for me to admit because breastfeeding is the only thing my body has been able to do right, without intervention, in this whole baby-making clusterfuck. I too wish I could take the advice I’ve offered to others as you echoed above. Why is it so hard?

    At any rate, all this talk of formula reminds me that I need to nut-up and look into this. Magicstuff you say?!? Tell me, or my child will go bliiiiiiiiiiind!

    March 12, 2012
  10. I am sorry that your heart, your maternal instincts and your nipples are hurting so much. You are a wonderful mother, Bunny. You so clearly are. And now you start the adventure of being a wonderful mother of two, even if one of the wee ones is still in-utero. There is only one of you and two of them. Sometimes, your attention (or breasts, or arms, or whatever else) will not be available for both Buns at once. So one Bun will wait, or one Bun will get to have formula, or one Bun’s diaper will be wet for an extra 3 minutes. My guess is that these are formative experiences for little ones.
    Tell that guilt to go jump off a bridge. You are busy parenting and gestating right now.

    March 12, 2012
  11. oh, sugar tits. welcome to my conflicted, slightly ridiculous world. lordy, you should have seen the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from me when the formula began. i troubled deaf heaven with my bootless cries. i rent my garments. i raised rent and refused to paint. (and i totally stole that one from woody allen, but it’s too good not to.)

    it got much better. used to be i couldn’t even look at a bottle without tearing up, let alone wash them, thereby admitting that they weren’t being used, as their box is clearly labeled, FOR MAGIC BREASTMILK, OF COURSE. now the only reason i’m bothered by washing them is that, frankly, formula smells yucky.

    the quality of life improvement that comes with not-hurting nipples cannot be understated, and i’m including quality of life for bunbun. or maybe, unlike me, you are so sweet and mother-y that you’d never let knifing nipple pain make you short tempered. in which case, forget i said anything.

    finally, i see your imagined target condemnation, and i raise you buying formula at my hippie coop. the place with posters about Why We Do Not Carry Coca-Cola Products and Why GMOs Are Evil. (for added funtimes, i buy the hippie formula with the little guilt-trip right on the package, which says that since breastmilk is the only good food for babies, this product (which, by the way, meets all FDA infant formula requirements) is for TODDLERS. assholes.)

    March 13, 2012
    • Ah yes. That’s why I finished buying my groceries at Whole Foods and went across the street to Target. And in fact, when Mr. Bunny and I were standing there looking at the organic version of our Similac, we were both like fuck no. What’s the point in buying ORGANIC POISON?

      March 13, 2012
      • right? the point, in my case, is that everything is so much cheaper at the coop. plus, better graphic design on the hippie stuff and no foil label to catch the eye of hippie house guests.

        March 13, 2012
  12. Trinity #

    I have a deep well of dread when it comes to weaning. We’re not there yet, and I don’t know when we will be. But regardless of how it unfolds–as something I initiate, or something Arlo initiates–it is going to be a roundhouse kick to my heart. I feel ya, friend. I will echo everyone else’s sentiments–there should be no guilt for taking care of yourself (and yer nips!). There are so many other ways to nuture that bond with BunBun, and you’re going to have so much fun discovering them. Hang in there!

    March 13, 2012
  13. I’m sorry that you have to go down this road before you are ready – and I understand how you feel. It is good to know that Bun Bun is perfectly happy with formula, even if you haven’t come around to it yet. Like with so many other things, in my particular case g didn’t want to have anything to do with it, despite throwing away a ton of $$$ trying out all of the brands out there, which nearly caused me to have a nervous breakdown (and I’m sure that helped immensely with my supply issues). I did find that he would happily take cow’s milk and so I began supplementing with that when my supply tanked. Although this happened before the magical 1 year mark, he did not appear to suffer for it.

    I hope you can manage to go easy on yourself. After all, your particular excuse is pretty darn amazing!

    And have a fantastic spring break and getaway!!

    March 13, 2012
  14. Ana #

    Oh lordy I hear ya. The pain sounds really really tough. I’ve written oodles on my breastfeeding woes. Baby #1 never latched on (or I never tried hard enough to get him to latch on….oh the guilt is still there) & I exclusively pumped for a while so he was still getting the magic stuff…but then the supply plummeted and I had to supplement a little, and then more, and then I was ordering 6-packs of extra-large cans of Enfamil on amazon subscribe & save and it was over.
    Now with #2 I “tried harder” and it worked…but my pumping yields sound like yours, and he’s only 5 months old and I’m NOT PREGNANT. Ugh. I think breastfeeding is great, when it works, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work—and the set up of our society (having to go back to work so soon & pumping all the time) makes it really really hard for it to work out. What I hate is the “crazy” that goes along with it—and I freely admit to having been infected by the crazy, despite asserting to myself & others the whole “do what’s best for you and your family and its perfectly OK to use all or some formula”. That feeling of failure & angst at having to supplement…when really we should be proud that we’ve come this far despite all the obstacles.

    Enjoy your getaway, it sounds AMAZING!

    March 13, 2012
  15. It is tough dismissing those feelings of inadequacy. As happy as I was to pack up my electric baby, on Sunday Andy asked me ‘So are you not feeding him anymore?’ and it was just his tone and the fact that I am pretty sensitive about the weaning process as a whole (not the electric baby, still glad that little sucker is gone) but I got all defensive and shit. He was like ‘Whoa! I was just asking’. But I told him his tone made it sound judgey. So you are just not going to feed your child anymore? That is what my brain heard. So I can comiserate with your feelings. Obviously I am in a slightly different sitch than you. My nips are still peachy. So morning and nights are totally doable still. But the next step…..the actual giving up a nursing session….I am not sure how I will get through it without an extreme amount of sadness and guilt.

    March 13, 2012
  16. Jen #

    By the way, we’re going to Chicago (with kid) the weekend after you to go to OUR favorite restaurant (what’s yours? We’re headed to Alinia) — my sister will be babysitting that night, and sadly I now cannot include the wine pairings, weep for me — so don’t leave a mess behind, okay?

    March 13, 2012
    • Green Zebra. It’s like Alinia for vegetarians. Except nothing is like Alinia. We were just reminiscing about how out of control the wine pairings were. We got, like, 10 glasses behind and every time the server brought a new one, he’d have to rearrange the whole flotilla of glasses. But the other option was to get totally shitfaced. ANYWAY, I hope your trip is awesome!

      March 15, 2012
  17. Funny how we can find ways to talk back to the mean, guilt-filled things that other people say to themselves, but have a hard time doing that for ourselves. You are clearly a fabulous mom to both of your kiddoes, and part of being a fabulous mom means taking good care of yourself so that you can continue to be a fabulous mom.
    Also, so glad to hear that sticking up for yourselves about the dog thing has worked out. And have a great time in Chicago!

    March 14, 2012
  18. Breastfeeding seems to be one of the most emotional aspects of motherhood. I know it was/is for me, and it was very hard to wean/quit pumping as early as I did (and I had a seriously low supply). On the one hand, you know that you’ve done everything possible and given your child the best possible start. On the other, though, there’s that…something. That need to provide from our bodies, exclusively. That connection. And that something can reduce one to tears.

    Also glad you stood up on the dog front, and glad the last visit worked out well. However, not too diplomatic your sister-in-law, huh?

    March 15, 2012
  19. Misfit Mrs. #

    I hate that you had to give this a try and that it’s the new path forward before you were ready. Parents are a judgy bunch, so think of it as a way to meet more of the non-judgy types. That little one growing right now seems to need your full biological attention. That is a good thing all around. Dinner out with the husband sounds incredible and I’m hoping you were blessed out on fine dining and delightful telly.

    March 17, 2012

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