At just shy of 6 months my daughter had her last bottle of my breast milk. It was a measly 2 ounces and took 3 pump sessions to get.
I knew something was wrong about two months prior when I stopped having a let down. I thought it was just something I stopped noticing when I pumped and casually asked my blog sisters about it. They all said it was a sign of me drying up and at that point I would need to be prepared to re-lactate or accept it for what it was. Re-lactating isn’t an option for me. I do not have the time or the mentality to commit and the guilt is overwhelming.
I was doomed to fail at breastfeeding from the start. After Lola didn’t latch and I started my exclusive pumping journey I was not willing to commit to pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock without fail. I pumped about 6 times a day and was able to feed her, with very very little left over. I think the most I ever had frozen was 2 6oz bags. This was not a full effort to some, but this was a huge effort for me. The majority of my day was hooked up to a pump. I missed out on hanging with my son, doing housework, and spending time working. All in the name of breastfeeding.
Around 3 months I had no choice but to start supplementing with formula and donor milk. I was not producing enough to get her through a day of daycare and I needed to get back to my career in real estate. My friends warned me once you start supplementing it could be a slippery slop. I didn’t listen and they were right. Directly after I started supplementing my supply dropped in half. I was pumping 17-22oz a day prior and I was lucky to be getting 10oz. I was still pumping the same as I always had! I didn’t cut down. Why was this happening?! When I started my first postpartum period a week later it made sense. I had heard starting your period would cause your supply to drop. It never recovered after that.
Despite my low supply I continued to be devoted to pumping. My supply kept dropping. My let down stopped and my breasts no longer filled with milk. I would go all night and in the shower without leaking a drop. Still I kept pumping, knowing that the 2-4oz a day I could eek out of my breasts was worth it to her health. I am not anti-formula, but I am very pro-breastfeeding and I was determined her would have that.
Our transition from 100% breast milk to 50% breast milk to less than 25% breast milk went somewhat smoothly. I added probiotics to help her tummy transition but she was still having issues. Lola became VERY constipated and started getting colds from daycare. The couple ounces of mommy milk she was getting a day helped with her constipation and that kept me going. I felt just awful for her as I could tell she was miserable.
Being an exclusive pumping and supplementing with organic formula isn’t cheap. I was paying $65 a month to rent a hospital grade pump even though I had a brand spanking new Ameda, plus formula is $17 a can. I was spending over $250 a month to feed my child. You can’t put a price on feeding your kids but that was starting to sting a bit. I decided to return the hospital grade pump last week and pump for another few weeks with my Ameda. The night I returned the pump I hooked on to the Ameda and did a 45 minute session. I got nothing. Well about 2 drops that wasn’t even worth saving. It was official. I was done.
And now to the guilt…. I have been hating myself the past few weeks as I’ve made the transition away from breast milk. She is miserable. Nothing breaks your heart more than knowing you are the reason for your child’s agony. If I had just done what I was supposed to do; tried latching more often, pumped how I should have…ect she would not be up half the night screaming in pain for constipation. This is my fault and while I take total fault and ownership from it, it does’t help me to stop feeing like shit.
We have had to start giving her a little prune juice and start solids a couple weeks earlier than planned to help her poop. This was not my plan. To some this may seem insignificant and not a big deal, to me it is. Although I know I gave breast-feeding effort, it wasn’t my best effort so now I am living with the consequences every day. All I want is my baby to stop being in pain. Fuck this.