Wearing a camisole was second nature to me: Wake up, clean self up, throw on a cami and jeans.
I spent the past year (yes.) wearing camis. I guess you could say that they wore me.
For a pregnant woman and a nursing momma, a cami is a convenient piece of clothing. “How?” might you ask?
-It is a form fitting piece of clothing that hugs that ‘cute’ little person pod growing on your belly. If you wanna show it off, you wear a cami. If you don’t want to show it off but still want a semblance of tight clothing, you wear a cami.
-A cami is forgiving. That fabric stretches with an ever changing body, including one that has grown to 42 weeks gestation and a month or two after giving birth.
-Bulges be gone!
-That stretchy fabric easily comes down to convert into a nursing top with easy access.
I have had at least 10 different camis that I wore for the past year. Amazingly enough, they all made it through without many scars. I didn’t wear many other outfits or shirts of any kind while pregnant and thereafter.
Because of breastfeeding, I didn’t wear t-shirts. A t-shirt is terribly inconvenient for a nursing mother. Why yes, I DO want to lift up my entire t-shirt to nurse my baby. Yes, I DO want to show you my entire spare tire that has blown up around my core after birthing my baby. Sure, I’ll be HAPPY to hold a conversation with you while my t-shirt is around my neck. Why not?!
Instead of all of that rigamarole, I simply forewent it all and wore camis.
As nearly 5 months have gone by, I have missed wearing t-shirts.
Today was the the day I started wearing t-shirts again.
I knew this day would come, but I had no idea that it would come this soon.
I have been struggling with breastfeeding for the past few months. Daphne and I started out very well with our nursing relationship and I had no idea it would take a turn.
Daphne had started to decline in weight and was stagnating in growth. I became severely stressed and worried. I went through many stages of beliefs and emotions:
- Breastfeeding is going well!
- Daphne isn’t really gaining weight like she used to…
- I’ve been eating more often and richer foods…what gives? Why is my supply not keeping up?
- Daphne is just a little girl. She is just tiny.
- Am I feeding her as often as I should?
- I need to start taking fenugreek.
- I need to start eating oatmeal and drinking more water.
- I need to start pumping after each feeding and between (which seemed to decrease my supply, interestingly enough)
- Daphs is just tiny. She’s just a slow grower.
- Using the SNS is helping, but gosh is it cumbersome.
- Pumping all the time is not something I want to do. I’m tired of being hooked up to machinery like a milk-cow.
- I’m doing everything I can.
- Increasing feedings is helping!
- My doctor is worried…I am too now.
- I am finding a few more things to do to help encourage milk production (massages, skin to skin, increasing feedings)
- I’m feeling confident! I’ve done so much to increase my supply! She’s had to have gained a pound!
- What?! She didn’t gain weight? What a waste.
- I’m so stressed…why I can’t I provide for my baby?
- People think I’m starving Daphs. Am I a bad mom?
- Trying formula for a little while may help.
- Daphne’s growth is stagnating…I’m getting really worried.
- Time to add formula.
- Her measurements aren’t dropping! She’s growing!
- I think it may be time to switch to formula.
- I’m a horrible mom for not being able to provide for her basic need.
- I can’t let go of breastfeeding. I’ve worked so hard to get this far.
- Formula is working for me, but I’m having a hard time emotionally making the switch from nursing.
- It’s nice to be able to have Sam help me feed her during the night.
- Formula feeding isn’t what I thought I would do, but it is working.
- Nothing is ending up the way I wanted it to (natural unmedicated birth turned to a c-section, breastfeeding turned to formula feeding) and I’m not okay with that.
- I’m accepting it, slowly and as gracefully as I can.
In all honesty, I stopped breastfeeding about a week or two ago. It all started by incorporating more formula into her feedings. Realizing that I wasn’t providing the quantity or quality of breastmilk that Daphne needs to grow, I was devastated. I would feed her and she would drain me, yet still eat 3 ounces on top of what I provided for her. I just wasn’t cutting it.
Through all my troubles, I stuck with nursing. I tried fenugreek, oatmeal, massive amounts of water, foods rich in protein and fat, and kept up with my mother’s milk tea. I would use a breast pump and pump between and after feedings for extra stimulation. I had tried breast massaging during feedings. I fed more often. I gave it all I had for 4 and a half months.
I realized that I was not okay with Daphne’s measurements stagnating (her head circumference and length). When we incorporated formula into her diet, her measurements came on the incline. I was relieved.
I couldn’t stop giving her formula and go back to just me, as my supply had taken a hit from alternating between breastfeeding and with the formula. That vicious circle that nursing moms hear about when wanting to supplement with formula? The one that says that your supply will take a hit? Yea. Totally true. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand task. As the demand went down, my supply did as well.
Daphne is growing. Formula is treating her well.
I slowly weaned myself off of breastfeeding her. I started out by adding an extra feeding a day from me. Then two, then three, and then most of the feedings were formula-based. For a few days, I only fed her from me at night and through the day it was formula. My supply continued to drop and I experienced a few withdrawal symptoms including a throbbing feeling in my boobs and a few times I could have SWORN my boobs would pop like a balloon if a strong breeze hit them.
Two nights ago marked my last time breastfeeding Daphne.
Those nine words are so emotionally charged, you have no idea.
Maybe you do…maybe you can relate to the struggle I went through and am still experiencing.
I won’t forget that last time.
She was laying on the boppy pillow, eyes glowing with the moon’s distant shine beaming through the window. Her legs and arms were wrapped around my forearm as I was stroking her head. I looked up and stared at the dark closet, eyes swelling up with tears. I started sobbing and had to choke back. So many emotions hit me…feelings of inadequacy, feelings of freedom to start dieting how I want, feelings of joy in that Daphs is thriving with formula, feelings of sadness that I would not get to breastfeed her again, feelings of relief that I wouldn’t have to whip out my boob in public and risk exposing myself to strangers.
I won’t forget all the lovely memories I shared with her as we nursed. She’d lift her arm up and I’d bring her little palm to my cheek and repeat ‘mama.’ Sometimes, we’d share a giggle and she would just stare at me, stop eating, and smile—milk spilling out all over. I’d laugh harder and she’d get serious, just to turn and eat some more. I loved the feeling of providing for my little girl—feeling like I could do something worthwhile and so natural as breastfeeding.
Would I trade those experiences for the ability to wear a t-shirt? Not willingly. Not without regret. Not without feelings of defeat.
I still struggle with this decision. I am sure I always will. I did everything I could do to make breastfeeding work, yet it didn’t.
I am not as stressed about feeding Daphne as I had been in the past with nursing. I am able to eat what I want and come & go freely. There are a many positives about feeding formula to Daphs and by discovering more of them, I am coming closer to peace with this decision.
As I finish typing this post, in my t-shirt, I realize that being Daphne’s mom is one of the single most amazing things I have ever done with my life (apart from becoming a Christian and marrying Sam). Things won’t get easier and decision will get harder as time passes, but it is worth it. My days are bright and filled with so much love for my little family.
Life continues to change me.