The Let-Down Low-Down

Let-Down-Low-Down2So breastfeeding. That shit’s weird, right? At least that’s how I feel about it. Ever since I saw the first evidence of what my body was capable of, I’ve oscillated between “what the hell?!” and “how freaking cool am I?” I mean, it’s a powerful feeling to see my son grow chubby and healthy on nothing more than what my body produces. Not only did I create this little man, I am the only person in the world that can create a food specially formulated just for him and always available on tap. I am a goddess!

That said, it’s a huge burden too. He only drinks my milk. ONLY. MY. MILK. And I’ve discovered that I’m not a “milk maid.” Meaning that I don’t just produce lots of extra milk for fun. Apparently, my body provides enough for my son, but there’s no extra in there. I have to pump for twenty minutes to get an ounce of extra milk out of me. I’ve tried drinking special tea blends meant to promote lactation. I’ve tried drinking Gatorade on top of staying hydrated. I’ve tried half a bottle of beer for the supposed lactogenic qualities. And I’ve lingered many a morning over a bowl of oatmeal hoping the grain will give me the ability to make more milk.

Since I’m returning to work in two weeks, this presents a serious problem. I have maybe ten ounces of frozen breastmilk in my freezer. That MIGHT get this kid through a day of feedings. And if I only have a day’s worth of feedings available, I’ll be constantly one step behind his needs- only able to pump enough at work to feed him for the next day. And that means eventually, I might have to supplement with formula. Granted, that’s not really the end of the world. I was fed formula exclusively as a baby, and I’m just fine.

But just as with our choice to cloth diaper, my choice to breastfeed is also spurred on by an economical component. One large package of formula costs about $30. And supposing we go through one a week, that’s $120 a month. My understanding is that babies continue to grow when you feed them, so he will probably start eating more formula the larger he grows, increasing our costs to probably $180 a month. And if we find out he needs a special formulation, like a soy-based formula or some kind of sensitive formula, that’ll cost more. So sticking with breast feeding until he’s weaned would be ideal for us financially. And I would also like to believe that he’ll be sick less often if we keep up with EBF (exclusive breastfeeding.)

So all of that said, I breastfeed a lot. Like a lot. All the time, really. In the mornings, it seems like he eats once an hour (or more often) for four hours at a go. Then there’s a lull for about three or four hours with more sporadic, shorter feedings. Then we’re back on the boob hourly like clockwork until bed time. Maybe there’s a comfort nursing component to that, but he spits up often enough that I know he’s really getting milk out of me. And the spitting up causes a whole other fear that my milk is somehow not formulated well. That something I’m eating is causing him gas and irritability. One person even said maybe my milk is too thick. What the hell can I even do about that? Oh and he seems to be teething already, so he’s pissed off about that too. Poor kid.

With all that said, you’d think I’d be a pro at public breastfeeding by now. But nope. Despite what the picture above might imply, I’m still really shy about it. My father’s visit last week had me out and about, which was great since I’d been pretty cooped up at home if I wasn’t at Storytime or lactation group. But when I’m out in public, I end up feeding Gibs in the car. I don’t have the balls to just whip out a tit yet. Even though I know I have the right to feed Little Man openly anywhere I’m legally allowed to be, covered or uncovered, I find myself heading out to my car and draping a swaddling blanket over both of us so I can get him latched on properly. I look like a ghost sitting in the passenger seat of my Cube.

I’m getting a bit better. Obviously I openly fed Gibs at lactation group. That’s kinda the point. Only recently have I found the nerve to duck out of Storytime to feed my son in the corner of the room. So far, I’ve never had the cojones to feed my son in a restaurant. Recently, at a steakhouse, I left the restaurant to get a swaddling blanket from the car in order to cover up at the table. But when I reached the car, I just ducked in to feed him instead. So I missed out on adult conversation and my plate of food had been delivered and was getting cold when I came back. And that was with supportive family there to back me up if I got heat for feeding my son. And I did the same thing at a trendy bistro with my family as my dining companions. Shame of all shamefulness, I even fed my son in the bathroom at the same bistro. Granted, it was a nice lounge-y sorta bathroom with a leather ottoman across from the toilet and very clean. Still, it was a bathroom.

Earlier this week, I announced on Facebook that my son and I were going to go out to be real people that day. We were going to go to stores that had nothing to do with babies and eat where urbanites gathered for light conversation over lingering lunches. And I was going to get a latte. LIKE REAL PEOPLE. So I struck out on this mission.

Gibs screamed his head off in Best Buy in his Baby Bjorn carrier. I felt like the worst mother in the world looking through the bargain bin of Blu-Rays. There must be a patron saint of mothers because I found a movie I’d wanted to own on Blu-Ray for a couple years despite the ruckus I was causing. This meant that I didn’t leave the store empty-handed. Which means I can call that outing a success. Why was the poor kid causing a scene? Because he was hungry…AGAIN. I caved and fed him in the car. *sigh* Baby steps I suppose.

I also managed most of the lunch, though in hindsight, I will admit that spaghetti and meatballs was probably too ambitious a meal for a new mom with an infant. I ended up holding him on my shoulder while trying to wolf down pasta with my dominate hand. Gibs spit up all over my chest. We are a classy dining duo.

But the latte…the latte freaking happened. I didn’t get to sit at the cafe and sip it in repose while flipping through a parenting magazine, but I did get it, and it was glorious! So in that way, I suppose the day was a win. Though it didn’t feel that way when I got home yesterday.

Long Kiss Latte

The Long Kiss Latte- my current measure of success

I gotta learn to forgive my missteps. And my first misstep was not giving my son what he needed just because we were out in public. I need to whip out a tit and ruin someone’s day! (Thanks to Tasha Rose for posting this video on her FB wall earlier this week!)

14 thoughts on “The Let-Down Low-Down

  1. All the challenges of motherhood that nobody talks about. How lucky your readership is to hear your stories. Stick with the breast if you can. I know I struggled with the exact same issue when it was my turn up at bat. I’m sure others have too. I’m glad you have a good support group to keep you going.

  2. I do breastfeed in public. Some people don’t like it. Lucky thing I don’t care what people like! People like stupid things and they will stare at boobs all day long on tv. (Victoria secret ads?) So if I want to breastfeed in public with a freaking blanket over his head, you better believe I will! I will and have walking through walmart lol. But it does take some getting used to. And one lady stopped me because she wanted to see the baby and instead she got an eye full of boob but thankfully she just laughed and thought it was funny.

  3. That video is HILARIOUS. Love it!!! And, breastfeeding in public is tough. I was just never comfortable enough with my own body (and enormous boobs at the time (to just whip them out). Also, in the beginning, breastfeeding is cumbersome. Breastfeeding a 5 month old who knows what they are doing and can GRAB the boob is so much easier than trying to get a 1-2 month old to latch on. Plus, the covers, sometimes Tabitha HATED being covered. I can’t really blame her. So it just made it difficult all around. Also, babies get to an age where they are SUPER DISTRACTIBLE so I can’t imagine breastfeeding in public working… I had to literally lie down on the bed and do side lying nursing because any other way and she couldn’t focus on eating.
    The pumping at work thing and making enough milk is so so so so difficult. I am glad you won’t beat yourself up if you supplement with formula. It really is okay. I do understand the financial piece of it. Sometimes you can just only do what you can do and no more! Good luck!

  4. As my month old infant and I prepare to take our first social trip out into the world for lunch today, your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m terrified enough about getting the car seat to lock into the stroller, let alone attempting to breastfeed in public. The car seems like as good a place as any, especially considering the over-active let down problem I have. We are talking fire hydrant action every time I nurse and I’ve tried everything (block feeding, pre-pumping, horizontal nursing etc.). I can’t imagine spraying the other latte lovers from across the table would go over well. So yeah, breastfeeding is freaking challenging and awesome at the same time.

    • Oh man. Your let down sounds like fun. 😦 I’m only a month ahead of you, but believe me- you got this. And the routine of getting him in and out of the car, the stroller, the carrier, etc. gets easier everything. Also your core is still healing so the car seat feels heavier bit it will get easier. You can do it!!!

  5. Thanks for writing this! I clumsly nurse 8 weeks wise, Gaius Falco in public without a cover. I feel awkward every time! I returned to work two weeks ago and still pump every two hours to keep up. This post made me smile. We are awesome mothers. Cheers!

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