Monday, March 1, 2010

From beer hat to brokenhearted break-up

My baby has broken up with me and I just plain wasn't ready for it. I have never experienced what it feels like to be dumped by someone I love (seeing as I married my high school sweetheart) but I am guessing that I may be feeling a little of what that heartache is like.

I am not great with nursing, most people who know me know that I've done my best in that arena and for some of my kids it has worked but for most it hasn't. However, somewhere during this last pregnancy I decided that I was really going to give it my all with Lexie and hope for a really positive experience for us both. So, I nursed her in the hospital and thought it wasn't so bad because I had forgotten that the real torture wouldn't begin for a few days until I was released from the hospital and home with not a le leche lady for miles around. I quickly remembered the fun of trying to teach a baby to nurse while she is swallowing way more blood than milk and while I am digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands and crying, meanwhile hoping for a great experience. Still I opted to press forward.

Perhaps I should have taken a clue from my friend Jackie who came over the day after I had come home from the hospital. She was 8 months pregnant with her fifth at the time and when she arrived I noticed her eyeing the stains on the front upper thigh of my sweat pants so I apologized for my sloppiness and explained that it was merely blood from me trying to nurse. Her face twitched ever so slightly into a look of horror and then back to a delightful smile, yet I knew she was right when she said, "seeing that much blood while trying to nurse is all I would need to make me head straight for the formula." I had formula-fed three of my babies and am all for a woman making whatever feeding choice is best for her and her baby so I am not anti-formula but for some reason I had had this desire to nurse Lexie for months before she was even born so I knew that I wasn't going to give up after merely days of trying.

Well, weeks passed and the nursing continued to be painful but Lexie seemed to do a pretty good job so I was happy with the way things were working out and by two months she was a champ and most of the pain for me had subsided. I had even spent a considerable amount of money renting a nice pump from the hospital so that I could be sure I had a good milk supply and so Lexie could get used to drinking from bottles. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had way less milk than I used to feed my other babies but everything I read assured me that supply and demand would work in my favor, so I pressed on.

Quickly I began to realize that Lexie was really only happy if she was eating or sleeping, so she spent A LOT of time nursing. When we were in Utah for my Grandpa's funeral I think that Lexie spent the entire trip attached to my body because if we went anywhere and she wasn't eating she was crying. Similarly, when we went home for Christmas she spent all of her time nursing. It seemed like I was her own personal beer hat and that she wanted me to hold her at all times---day and night---so that any time she may want a little swig or a snack I was ready and waiting. She never seemed totally satisfied and I was starting to go crazy because I had four other children who really didn't want my time monopolized by this new little parasite.

Still, I did love the special bond that Lexie and I shared and I loved being able to disappear for a few minutes and have some quiet time with my baby. Though that also meant I was a sitting duck and had no way to escape the constant barrage of needs of the other four if there was no other adult to attend to their needs. One afternoon while I was pumping for Lexie, Tate came in and took one look at me then paused briefly before running out of my bedroom, he returned moments later with a sippy cup and told me he wanted me to pump him some apple juice next. Anyway, my point is that I had developed a love of nursing but was also frustrated that Lexie never seemed satisfied.

To make a long story short, my pediatrician recommended that I try and start giving Lexie more formula, so I did. I was hesitant to follow her orders but deep down I knew that Lex just wasn't gaining weight fast enough so I gave her a few bottles each day, then graduated to nursing for as long as Lexie would tolerate then immediately afterwards giving her a bottle. I noticed the time Lexie would nurse growing shorter and shorter and I felt very helpless. Finally, after my trip to Chicago last week with Justin (during which I left Lexie and did not take a pump) I sadly and silently knew that was the end. Truth be told I felt totally rejected and definitely brokenhearted. My baby who had once needed me and only me, not any degenerate with a bottle (no offense family members who have fed Lexie), had begun to be very frustrated with me because I was apparently starving her. Darn that deceitful mother nature and her lies of supply and demand.

So, today at the pediatrician for Lexie's 6 month appointment the doctor and I agreed that I was the weak link and the cause for Lexie's stunted growth. We learned that in the past two months Lexie has graduated from the tenth percentile to the seventieth percentile and that all she needed was 60 ounces of formula a day and a lot more calories. Needless to say, Lexie did not look like the chubby man at the top of this entry while I was her beer hat but is now starting to develop a striking resemblance...maybe he has formula in those plastic cups!!