This is a soapbox moment, but I'm not standing on it ranting and raving... I am, instead, sitting wearily on it, nursing my son, listening to the oddly comforting sound of the air bubbles coming into the SNS along with his smacking and swallowing.
Yes, it's true, it's not just a myth, a fairy tale or lazy moms who let doctors and nurses tell them that their baby is starving. My milk has still not come into a full supply. It takes Tristan approx 1 minute to empty my breasts. There are those of us who, for some odd reason, never get a full milk supply. I am not the only one - I have met many women who have experienced it. My doula, even. She was the same as me - completely dead-set on breastfeeding her baby. The lactation consultant I worked with was very respectful of my wishes to not supplement with formula, and so was my doctor... it was very difficult for her to tell me that there was something wrong with my body and that I had better start giving him something in addition to what he was getting from me, because despite his great latch and his strong suck, he was getting dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight. He cried all the time, too, and when I found out that it was really not colic but rather hunger, I cried in shame for doing that to my dear little son for 3 weeks.
For some of us (I'll speak for me and my doula), there is a great deal of grieving and pain involved in not being able to nourish our children with our own milk. You've heard me complain about the circus of washing and sterilizing bottles and sterilizing water... the 3 months it took us to get good at using the SNS... that is the least of it. It is a kick in the gut every day when I see that *#(! can of Enfamil powder sitting on the counter. I can't even get my doula to talk about her experience supplementing, she is still so ashamed of not being able to make milk for her son. Breast feeding was an experience I was so looking forward to. I was a pretty hardcore lactivist during my pregnancy and scoffed at formula when I'd see it on sale in, for example, the sunday Target flyer. "Why would anyone shell out that kind of cash for formula when they could breastfeed their baby? Breast milk is so much better for babies! Have you seen the ingredient list on a can of formula?" - blah, blah, blah. And here I am, going to Babies R freakin' Us once a week spending $20 on a can of evil formula to keep my beautiful son alive. I HATE IT. And at times I hate my body and I glare at my breasts, cursing them for their dumb tablespoon of milk, all that they can muster at a feeding unless I haven't nursed in 8 hours and then maybe we'll get a full ounce.
But I've tried very hard and come to a point - a point where I can usually stand unless I'm really tired, as I am now - where I try to look at my lack of milk supply as a challenge I've been handed by a higher power, an experience I'm meant to learn something from. I don't know yet what it is, except for the one lesson I've learned so far, which is to not diss something that might come around and bite you in the butt, or to never badmouth a pair of shoes you might end up walking in. And to never pick on someone else's shoes, either, because you don't know why they're walking in them. I used to cluck my tongue at mothers I saw feeding their babies formula in bottles. Now I wonder... milk problems? or maybe adopted? and I hope that people will do the same and not stare in confusion if they see me using the SNS, which I have not quite got the guts to use in public yet.
Anyway, that was long. I need to go to bed, I am weary and Tristan is stirring in the bedroom. If you've made it this far, congrats