struggling with pumping — and life. feeling guilt. frustration. a little anger. envy. sadness. feelings of inadequacy.
honest thoughts going through my head today:
can annabel really bond with me when i’m away from her 9-10 hours a day 5 days/week?
will i ever feel on top of things and non-distracted throughout the day ever again?
at least she still smiles for me.
on a related note,
i’m considering taking reglan/metoclopramide [for milk supply]. i realize this goes against what i had said previously [that i’d chill and start supplementing] but every time i think about it i honestly cannot STAND the thought of not being able to breastfeed her — at night, on weekends, in the morning. it is worth the #$(*&@# pumping, but i’m really struggling right now and feel like i’m falling farther behind every day. i feel like it is part of what makes our relationship special [because let’s face it — i’m not even her primary caregiver most of the time that she’s awake. which kills me to write, but it’s true] and it would break my heart to a) give up the bonding time with her and b) not be able to provide milk for her.
all of the other tricks [fenugreek, mother’s milk plus, etc] aren’t working and i feel like turning to pharmacology for a couple of months wouldn’t be so horrible. if it worked and didn’t produce side effects, that is.
anyone have any experience with this?
on the up-side, my planner came. and it’s pretty, but bigger than i expected. more on that later when i’m not in a hormonal tailspin.
Oh, I am so sorry you are frustrated and I promise it will get better. Milk supply is tricky and as someone who struggled with it over the past 10 months, I would say, just do what works best for you. whatever will make you feel better, because it is very important for your well being and consequently for the well-being of your family. Just make sure that A really needs more milk that what you are producing, and it is not the "unrealistic" expectations you are placing on the supply. If you feel that she needs more, than you do what you think will get you both to a better place, including the medication.
Oh, I forgot to add, I ordered the planner on your "recommendation" (well, you did not directly endorse it, but I got the idea from you blog). It arrived yesterday and I love it. May be this one works for me… most day planners come to me to die 🙂
You are still THE mom, and no one can every compare/compete with you. Regardless if you are not a primary caregiver M – F, you are there when she wakes up and goes to bed, and you have 2 full days on weekends! It looks like you make the most of your time together, and she loves you and this never goes away. I do the same thing – day care 9 – 5, 5 days a week, and I try to make the most of the time we do have. Lots of hugs and kisses, we play, we go out, actually I spend all my time with my little girl (and my husband, whenever he is not busy :)) She knows who you are and as she becomes older and more expressive, you will see more expressions of affection, and will be more definitively reassured. I think working mothers all have low points, and it is important to validate your feelings, you are not wrong or over-emotional, you are probably just really tired and it is hard to be chipper and bounce back from some emotional downs when you are so tired. It is OK. I promise that she knows who mom and dad are and loves them! For instance, my husband was away for 3 weeks, but when he came back she was so incredibly happy and snuggly, giving him kisses and smiles. They know!
Of course she will have a meaningful bond with you when she’s older! Of course she’ll love you and know you and recognize you, you are here Mama and you always will be. You give her unconditional love. This may sound silly but step back and look at the big picture. Life is hard sometimes, but you’ll make it!!
You are a marvelous woman – I’ve been following your blog for a year now & think you are doing exceptionally well. Your desire to continue breastfeeding as a kind of compensation for being apart from Annabel so long makes perfect sense to me, and so long as the drugs have no adverse effect I’d say go for it. I am past childbearing age, have no kids of my own, but what I’ve observed from an abundance of nieces and nephews is that a regular schedule is probably the ultimate in importance for the sense of security and safety, rather than Mom’s continual presence, & you have got that in place for Annabel. In my opinion she will really need Mom’s wisdom & guidance by the time she is in second grade, so maybe your part-time work schedule could be in place then. That’s a very wise plan. Am looking forward to a tour of your Erin Condron planner.
Yes and yes. The bond is formed with the consistency and quality you spend with her, not quantity. There are plenty of parents who are with their kids all the time and don’t have a good bond with their child. You are caring, loving and thoughtful that is what she needs. Babies bond with their fathers and tend to spend even less time with them, even in two income households. The fact that you don’t feel on top of things right now is because you are very busy taking care of your beautiful daughter. As she becomes more independent you will get more in a groove. I know it seems like you are falling behind but really it hasn’t been that long and soon you will be surprised at the changes. You do not get those smiles from a child that isn’t happy and hasn’t bonded. As sad as it may seem, you want her to bond with her caregivers as well, that way she is happy and not stressed when she is at daycare. Babies know who is who and many like the variety. You are doing awesome.
So grateful for your honesty.
I am an American living in Europe and have basically converted into thinking that extended maternity leave and part time work is normal once a woman has children. (Of course the governments here ensure this.) Is there no way you can reduce your hours? How does that work with your position/fellowship/point in your career? Do all colleagues with children in your field have to barrel through? Is there no flex time option?
Just curious. You are doing an AMAZING job, btw. I just want you to feel on top of your game:)
I want you to know you are not alone in your thoughts/struggles!! I had Clara just a short while after you had A and while our mental battles are not the same (mine is more beating myself up b/c of Clara’s crappy sleep habits that we cannot seem to figure out) we, as new moms, have to remember that in the end, it will all be ok. Your decision to supplement with formula, or not, will not change A’s love for you, her smiles, her joy, her attachment, her sense of security etc. No one can replace YOU. 🙂 YOU are her momma, and a FANTASTIC one at that.
Wish we lived closer so we could start a new mommas support group! Ha! 🙂 Oh and I am excited to hear your thoughts about the EC planner!! You know I love me a good planner!!
You are doing a great job. Think of allllll the working mothers in North America….now think of allllll the children that have working Mothers – and realize most children have wonderful bonds with their parents regardless of the work or SAH situations.
My first thought at reading this post was, "Wait, there was a time when you DIDN’T feel distracted and too busy??? Lucky!"
More seriously though, I have resisted cutting back to pumping three times a day for all the reasons you outlined above. That being said, feeding Dyls a big dinner containing as many solids as she wants about 1hr before bed, followed by bath and then nursing has greatly reduced my anxiety about not producing enough for her to get anything when she nurses, since I know she’s already mostly full. She still gets 2-3 ox (max), but mostly she just does it because she likes it and it soothes her. As Annabel eats more at night, you might find that happens with you guys too.
Also, I’m right with you there on the anxiety. I lay in bed awake for an hour last night freaking out how when med school starts I’ll never see her again. Unlike you, I’m happy with our current arrangement where I see her before and after daycare. I’m afraid that going to even less time will be really sad for me. I know she’ll be fine though.
No breast feeding supply advice as I have no children. FWIW, my Mom went back to work when I entered 1st grade and while I had older sisters around many times I was the first one home after school. I sometimes still joke with my Mom that I was a "latch key kid". She still doesn’t think it’s funny. What I’m trying to say is that I turned out fine, I never did/don’t hold that against her. Anyway, take a deep breath and know that you and your family are in my thoughts. Somehow this will work out.
I hear you on the breast feeding. It’s no comment on others it’s just that I absolutely don’t want to give her formula unless I truly have to. I seen this same strength of feeling in a couple of women I know who knew that they did not want to try breast feeding at all- I suppose it’s just the flip side.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve commented before. My second daughter is almost exactly the same age as A (my older daughter is just 3). I am not working at the mo (am in the uk) and I still feel much of the same general guilt and anxiety. I very much miss my work, I worked right up until my second daughter was born and am itching to get back despite being in no position to do so. And I feel guilty that I don’t appreciate being at home more. I think I have hit a bit of a wall. It does definitely get better though!
I have been reading a book called ‘why did nobody tell me’. It is published by Mumsnet, a UK parenting forum and uses lots of quotes from posts. After I read you comments about work I wanted to share this bit with you
‘I found out recently that for quite a few years my dad worked a six and a half day week… This means my sister and I must have hardly seen him. I have absolutely no memory of that. What I do remember is… Princess Di’s wedding, a holiday in Sussex, lilac blosssom… Nothing, nothing to do with how much my parents worked or spent time with us.’ in other words- try not to worry!
(it’s a good book, btw, as is Naomi Stadlen’s What Mothers Do, if you are looking for something about being a mother, rather than how to bring up a baby.)
Be kind to yourself, it sounds like you are doing wonderfully and the fact that you care so much shows what a great mum you are. And well done on a fantastic 5k time! I am so keen to get running again, I just need to coordinate my husband being home in time to have the children and me being awake enought to tie my running shoes!
Sarah, as a mom who is on the other side of the work-mommyhood spectrum, I also have feelings of inadequacies, frustration, guilt and anger like you!
I feel guilty that I have (hopefully temporarily) given up on a career that I worked so hard to figure out for myself and achieve. I feel guilty that I even feel sometimes that I would rather work than be at home at times. I feel like I am inadequate in my job as a SAHM as i am not 100% the best mom being at home all day long with Iris. I feel frustration that I can’t currently go out and find a job (being 9 months preggo). I worry a LOT about how I am going to get back into the workforce after taking some time off. I also worry about whether or not going back to work will affect my children. Sometimes I wish I could be a sahm forever, but the other "independent woman" side of me makes me feel guilty for feeling that. I am just a big mess of worries and negative thoughts! ugh! it’s nice that you put it out in the open and you are honest about your feelings. i think that is the first step in relieving any stress re: motherhood/work.
It’s not easy being a woman these days! You have choices now (vs 50 years ago when the norm was to be a sahm) that each have pros and cons. And guilt is a part of every choice. It’s just the way we are built haha (to feel guilty and worried about everything).
Hang in there. BTW, is it even possible for you to find a PT job doing what you do???
hoping to 🙂 we’ll see what happens! as you know, ‘m geographically limited. CAN’T wait to hear about your new arrival soon!!!!
Sorry, but I just don’t get it. I don’t understand having an aversion to formula that’s SO strong that you would willingly take drugs– reglan, domperidone, etc.– that pass into breastmilk and are ingested by a growing baby. None of these drugs are FDA-approved to enhance milk supply, none of these drugs have had extensive, quality studies to investigate the short and long-term effects of exposure in an infant.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Being a working mommy is SO hard. I have 2 daughters-ages 4 and 2 and I went back to work after 16 weeks with both of them. They’ve been in daycare and/or preschool from 7:45-5:15 five days a week since then. When my first was a baby, I remember being super upset that she seemed to prefer her daycare "mom" to me many days. It was SO hard for me to deal with that. Then I started thinking, "At least that means she’s happy when she’s away from me for so long…" Fast forward a few years…my girls still spend the same amount of time away from me each week, but I am super close to both of them. I find that being away from them for so long during the week forces me to make sure that the time we do have together at nights or on the weekends is quality time. Annabel will have a strong bond with you too. You’re her mommy. I saw a quote on my friend’s fb page today that said, "No one else but you will ever know the strength of my love for you. You’re the only one who’s heard my heart beat from the inside." Truth. Hang in there…it gets better….
Hi there! Love your blog and I’ve commented once before. Sorry to read about this difficult time…hVe you looked into Shatavari to help with milk supply? I would try that before Reglan, domperidone. Check Whole Foods
Just wanted to say that I am in medical school now and you are an inspiration–I know it can’t be easy and just wanted to say that I think you’re doing an awesome job. Also, for what it’s worth, my mom’s a lawyer and worked full time when I was growing up; she’s pretty much my hero and best friend. I had au pairs throughout my childhood and don’t feel damaged or disconnected from her–she’s my mom! Nothing changes that. You are doing a great job.
thank you catie!
I am sure you must have heard of this, but have you tried blessed thistle. Blessed thistle in combination with fenugreek seems to work wonders for many mums. Taken singularly they do not have the same effect on the milk supply than when taken in combination. If you haven’t you may want to consider this option before going the reglan way.
Whatever you decide, just know that you are an amazing person,juggling so many hats. I am a SAHM and still struggle and you are working and doing such an amazing job of being a mother, wife and career woman. Your daughter will love you regardless!
it’s a component of the mother’s milk plus stuff that i’ve been taking – but i don’t think it does much. i wish it did though! a commenter above mentioned something called shatavari which i am going to look for.
To Erin– actually, France ranks much higher than the US in terms of several infant and child health parameters. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and be a baby 🙂
I’ve been struggling with supply for my 7 week old. Renting a hospital grade pump had helped me, but we did (and may again) need to supplement with a little formula. Our boy was eating upwards of 6-8 oz/feeding, which was so beyond my abilities! Not that I’m advocating either way, but I wanted to say from one mom who wanted to exclusively breastfeed to another, it wasn’t so bad to supplement with formula. It broke my heart at first to feel like I wasn’t providing him enough, but after a few bottles, it was a bit relieving. My supply seems to have (just barely) caught up with him now, and we’re on day 3 of being formula-free again. While I do, personally, prefer exclusive breastfeeding, I wanted to say that supplementing might not last forever, and it might be what you need to relieve some stress and anxiety.
I used metoclopramide for the last 4 months of breastfeeding so that I could make it to my daughter’s first birthday and start whole milk. It did increase my supply some but not a ton. I definitely didn’t have an oversupply but had enough to get through those 4 months. I say give it a try!
I wish I had time to write a long response, but I’m home postcall with my 1 year old. Go for it with the reglan. We give it to patients all the time (or zofran) and its very rare to have any side effects. I am doing crazy things to keep nursing at bedtime now, so I can totally relate. Go with your gut on this one; if its important to you, do whatever you can to make it work. (of course formula is fine, but I get the sense that its more than just the milk, its the breastfeeding relationship).
Working Dads have meaningful bonds with their babies, and they spend even less time with them than working Moms – so I think you’re good on that front. Sorry you’re feeling low. It’s great that you recognize that you’re in a cycle – next stop – step outside it and observe it objectively – I find that this technqiue decreases the power it has over me. Hard to do, and I can’t say I’m more than occasionally successful at it – but when I am – it works!
I think you’re doing a great job! It’s hard to get perspective when you’re right in the middle of things, but I just want to say that breastfeeding does not make you a more nurturing parent. And personally I would NOT supplement with reglan, or anything else not approved by the FDA. If there have been legit, published studies documenting that exposure to these drugs are safe in an infant (I’m assuming that trace amounts of these drugs wind up in the milk), then go for it. If not, I would give her what ever breast milk you could, and then supplement with formula.
As someone who struggled with severe post-partum depression (which, as you know, can surface months or even years after delivery) I would recommend talking with a therapist. A lot of what you’re saying is exactly what I felt. Talking to a therapist and starting on an antidepressant made my life so much better.
thanks natalie – i’m leaning towards not using the reglan, though i don’t think it’s a terrible thing to do (there haven’t been huge studies, but it’s been used that way off-label for a while without any known ill effects, either). i also don’t think i have PPD — it’s more like bad/sad days once in a while — BUT i remain vigilant about thinking about it. if i have more days like i did the day i wrote this post, i would definitely look into seeing someone.
As someone who was one week away from going back to work full time before we decided it wasn’t worth it, and wrestled with the decision to put a law career on hold (for years…for forever…who knows) while still paying for it, I truly don’t know how working moms do it. I don’t worry about what it will do to my prospects of possibly getting back into the workforce, I just know that there is no place I would rather be than at home with my kids. However, there are also days when I think we would all be better off if I got out of the house more and had something part-time. I admit that I wrestle with judging moms who work a lot of hours and have their kids in daycare full-time. i hate to say it, but it’s the truth. At the same time I know that it is not easy for them, but it’s their decisions and is what works (or is necessary) for their family. Everything about having a baby is challenging, whether you work outside the home or not. I’m sure it will get easier and that elusive perfect balance will be met.
As for breastfeeding, do what your gut tells you. I completely understand your desire to have those special times with her. I spend all day with my kids, but those quiet times in the dark with my baby are still so special. I tried everything sort of medication with my second to keep my supply up when it started dwindling around six months and ultimately had to switch to formula. I hated doing it, but it happens. Sometimes I wonder if I could have done more… Either way don’t beat yourself up about it, but if breastfeeding is important to you (as it obviously is), do what it takes.
thanks krista – appreciate your honesty and your perspective 🙂
What they all said 🙂
As far as supply, I’ve also been struggling a little, and for me with Cam’s brain issues I feel much more tied to giving him as much breastmilk as possible than i did with my other two (I’m hoping to go well past the one year mark that I eked it out to with them). The past 2 days I have been pumping about an hour before he needs to eat, then nursing him for ~10 min each side, then topping off with a bottle. I am already pumping a little more and had 1.5oz extra at the end of the day today. I don’t know if trying something like that this weekend might be worth a shot? Yeah, it kinda sucks doing the extra pumping / feeding, but I’m hoping it’s just for the very short term. (Not that I think the meds are a bad idea, whatever works for you, just throwing this out there!)
it might be but i have to admit that not having to pump all day on weekends is like — well, it feels like such a needed break for me from my most hated task ever. but i could throw in 1-2 sessions/day like that . . .
I love the honesty. I wouldn’t be against taking reglan/metoclopromide for milk supply. If/when I have kids, I’d like to breast feed, too, so I understand that. I think you’re a dedicated mama and although I’m sure it is tough being away from her 9-10 hours a day, when she is older she will appreciate what a strong and smart woman her mom is. Just my thoughts! Glad you got your planner!
I recently got accepted into medical school and I have definitely had to think and make the decision of "is this what i want to do." I truly want a family and want to hopefully one day work part time, but I also know that there is no way that I could stay at home all day with children. Your blog is an amazing example of how you seem to balance all the important things in your life– and I love how honest you are about it as well. Obviously it is going to be a struggle, but the fact that you are still working full time and manage to breast feed, run and be a wife and mother is inspiring. I hope I can one day do the same 🙂
Just remember that lots of people are very inspired by your hard work and determination!