As you probably know, breastfeeding has become a challenge for us. Not enough milk = introduced formula = made less milk + could only pump twice a day once I went back to work = made even less milk.
For a long time, I was pumping 20 millileters of breast milk per session, so before bedtime, I’d give her just over 1 ounce of pumped milk, and then I’d nurse her to sleep. In trying to change my disappointment about the inability to feed my daughter naturally, I called it her vitamin shot. I mean, it’s not much, but that little bit of milk had to be good for her, right?
Well, now Charlie has started refusing to breastfeed. She cries as soon as I lay her down and pushes me away. If I try to stick a boob in her mouth, she freaks out like I’m trying to torture her. But if I immediately give her a bottle, she’ll suck it down like it’s the nectar of Gods. She clearly has a preference. Now the only time she’ll take the breast without protest is in the middle of the night. And only for about 5 minutes before she falls asleep. Then I feed her a few ounces of formula before she passes back out.
So, now I’m down to pumping 10 millileters a session. Ten. Measely. Millileters. One third of an ounce. Two precious teaspoons. Here’s a unit of measurement most of you will understand: A shot glass holds 1 ½ ounces, or 45 millileters. For me to fill a shot glass with breast milk, it would take 4 ½ sessions of pumping – or 2 ½ days, in my case. Ten millileters is hardly worth the effort of washing the pump supplies.
But I can’t stop. She gets less than half a shot of breastmilk from me each day. I mean, a normal person would just chalk it up as finished and stop torturing themselves. But I still keep going. That one 5-minute nursing session in the night is my last stronghold. I adore it. And I know it’ll soon end. Last night, she hesitated. Like, ‘What the fuck is this, Mom?’ before giving in and nursing. I silently cried. My sweet little girl is growing up and asserting herself. My pathetic body is refusing to produce milk. It’s just a matter of time. I know I need to give up, but I guess I just want to hear from someone that it’s OK to quit.
Tell me it’s OK. That it’ll be OK when it’s over. That my baby won’t get sick right away. That formula will continue to make her grow and keep her healthy. That she won’t think of me differently now that I feed her the same way the nanny does. (My secret fear is that she’s going to call the nanny “mama” before me. And it could happen. The nanny gets more time with her on weekdays than I do.)
Breastfeeding, even the small amount I could do, made me feel special. It was something only I could do with my daughter. It was amazing and lovely and made me feel incredibly close and bonded with her. And now, I feel like I’m losing my superpower.