"Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk," Said No Mom Ever.
I've definitely heard this saying various times throughout my life, but never did it resonate it with me the way that it does today. As I sit here reflecting on my breastfeeding journey these past few months, I've only now just realized how much my feelings and emotional connection to this aspect of mamahood have changed drastically.
As I mentioned previously in my last post, the first weeks of breastfeeding were not what I anticipated at all. First and foremost, the whole experience (THANK GOD) wasn't painful, which was a shock and a relief all at the same time. I had pretty much convinced myself, throughout my entire pregnancy, that it was going to be the most painful part of motherhood (and boy what a waste of mental energy that was). Secondly, the fact that I didn't feel connected to it at all in the beginning was in it's own way devastating and relieving. It was devastating because deep down I so badly wanted it to be the magical and and special bonding experience that it can be. However, it was also relieving because I did not put any pressure on myself to exclusively breastfeed. From the beginning, I was open to the idea of supplementing with formula, and in fact, I welcomed the idea with desperate arms (I have exhaustion to thank for that).
I can't help but think back to those initial weeks- how dark they seemed to be and the guilt that I frequently seemed to feel. Guilt, you ask? Yep, guilt. Guilt for not having the intrinsic, natural connection to motherhood and breastfeeding that I thought I would have. I can't believe I was so willing to give up on breastfeeding, and so quickly at that. This is all very ironic now since these days I find myself grasping at straws, doing everything in my power to hold onto nursing for as long as possible. I don't exactly know when my feelings changed, but the truth is they did. Breastfeeding has become one of my favorite parts of motherhood. One that I look forward to every single day. It's often said that babies nurse for comfort, but maybe it's a two-way street. I certainly know that I get joy and comfort from holding Camilla close, in knowing that this is the absolutely safest place she can be, and in knowing that no one will ever protect or love her the way that I will and do.
And to think that in the beginning, I had more milk than I knew what to do with. So much so that I even disposed of my milk a handful of times, for reasons now I can't even remember. Regardless of what my reasons were then, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that disposing of breastmilk should NEVER be an option. And the fact that I ever did brings tears to my eyes. It was only a matter of time until I'd have to deal with a dwindling milk supply, even if only as a lesson that I took for granted something that I should have been holding close to my heart from the start.
These days, Camilla is eating FAR more than I can produce in a day. We have run out of my frozen milk stash, so we have had to start resorting to some formula feeds during the day. On weekends, it's been an inconsistent struggle to get Camilla to nurse, as it seems she becomes frustrated that she's either not getting enough milk or she's not getting milk fast enough (the dreaded consequence of bottle feeding but the inevitable struggle of a working mom). I've definitely shed tears of sadness that this part of motherhood seems to be slipping away, especially now that I have become so attached. I have shed tears of regret that this connection didn't click sooner. I have shed tears of inadequacy as I feel that I am no longer enough for my daughter.
Despite these feelings, I am still holding on for as long as I can. Our pediatrician recommends that we night-wean our daughter, but truth be told, if she wakes up in the middle of the night to feed, I want to embrace those moments and cherish them because I know they are fleeting (perhaps I'll regret these very words a few months from now). I have begun to add in pumping sessions to my day in the hopes that I can convince my body that my daughter still needs me (as much as she used to).
And so I have, in fact, begun to cry over spilt milk, both in the literal and figurative sense of the phrase (sigh). Well, that wraps up my current feels for the day. Off I go. Where you ask? To pump, of course.