A Mother's Dilemma
Not enough milk?
Finding My Way
I eventually managed to establish a limited breastfeeding relationship with
Julian. But it was only through a level of dedicated effort that, in
retrospect, I feel was insane. I nursed on demand. I used a breast pump between
feedings and ingested tons of fenugreek pills and tea. I tried several days of
bed rest, conferred with lactation consultants, and pored through my large
library of nursing references. I tried supplementing with an eyedropper to
avoid the dreaded bottle, which resulted in an angry, hungry baby an hour
later, and terribly chafed nipples.
What finally made a difference was using a supplemental nursing system, an
ingenious contraption that delivers formula into the baby's mouth via a tiny
plastic tube taped to the mom's nipple while he nurses. I used it at every
feeding. After a few weeks, my breasts leaked milk for the first time. And a
few weeks later, I first experienced the sensation of "letdown" -- the
feeling of milk flowing in the breast. The nursing system had worked for me.
But having to simultaneously fiddle with the tubes, tape, formula, and baby was
a hassle. One night I forgot to screw the cap on tightly and spilled formula
all over our bed.
Eventually I was able to hang up the nursing system. I found it easier to
nurse Julian for the few minutes' worth of milk I had and follow up with a full
bottle of formula. When I went back to work at six months, my scanty supply
diminished further. (Pumping had been out of the question because I never
succeeded in pumping more than 10 milliliters at a time). And by nine months,
Julian lost interest in nursing altogether.
Breasts Dry, Eyes Wet
Breastfeeding advocates respond to my story warmly with "Oh, what a
wonderful mother you are to have made such an effort for your child!" Or,
"Your story makes me so sad for all the women who don't even bother to
try." Although well meant, these comments miss the point.
Instead of enjoying those precious, fleeting days with my newborn, I spent
two months crying at every feeding. I had really looked forward to nursing and
wanted to provide my child with the benefits I had read about. And as I'd
always been insecure about my small-breastedness, I was excited to be part of
something in which, supposedly, size didn't matter.