Breastfeeding, Second Time Around.
I nursed Isaac for 26 months — without really meaning to. I had some vague idea at the start that I would like to breastfeed exclusively for at least three months, maybe six months if possible, but certainly I would stop nursing once he grew teeth.
Of course that didn’t happen. Despite us starting him on the bottle since he was three weeks old, Isaac suddenly rejected bottle feeding at around two and a half months. He steadfastly rejected it ever since, despite us trying every single bottle and teat out there. Even when I returned to work after eight months, he would rather starve for the day, or just take the bare minimum to survive (30 ml? 40 ml?) from SPOON FEEDS rather than take the bottle. So there was no question of feeding him formula milk (though I very optimistically bought a tin when he was six months old) because you can’t feed formula milk from boob.
With Isabel, I was determined that she not reject the bottle. Because I would be returning to work after four months, she would still be too young for solids so she had to be able to take the bottle. So we bottle-fed her quite a bit more, and because she fed well and slept well when bottle fed, we ended up with her taking expressed breastmilk for most of the feeds except for the first morning feed and her one night feed.
But it also meant that it was a lot more stressful for me to keep up my milk supply. I would really like to breastfeed her exclusively for at least a year — but a few times, when I fell ill or when Aunt Flo visited, I found my supply dropping and on the brink of not being able to keep up. Each time, I did all I could — drinking copious amounts of water, eating salmon for every meal, taking all the galactagogues possible, forcing Isabel to latch before every single feed just to stimulate more production…
And it worked. Each time, within a week, the milk supply would return and I could even freeze additional bags of milk for future supply dips.
But this time, I found myself faced thawing my very last bag of frozen milk and knew that it was time. I can eat all the fenugreek and salmon and drink special teas all day but I was returning to work where it would be even tougher to keep up regular pumping, Isabel’s appetite is growing and she needs to be fed.
Still, I felt very sad about it. Ning and I spent ages at the supermarket comparing the tiny print on ingredients, googling whatever term we didn’t know — but I knew in my heart that I wasn’t really that sort of mother. I just wanted to avoid the reality of having to give something other than my own milk to Isabel.
So I was strangely happy that Isabel rejected the formula milk at first! At least she could tell the difference! Still, she finished it eventually. And I try to console myself that there’s nothing bad about formula milk — so many of us grew up on it.
But also, I’m not going to give up! I won’t insist on total breastfeeding just for the sake of it, but I’ll keep pumping and latching for as long as I can, so that she can continue to benefit from breastmilk. Even if it has to be supplemented, some is better than none.
It’s daunting trying to maintain all this pumping while at work, but#nevergiveup YX! Here’s hoping this tin of formula milk would also be wasted in the end!