We had another really dreadful night last night. No sleep. Screaming until 2am. Calpol. Constant breastfeeding.
I’m so tired it physically hurts.
To top it all off, my period is back. Actually, it came back last month but wasn’t too much of a bother. This month it’s evil. Pure evil. Sorry, I know this is too much information.
Over the Christmas period I’ve found that I’ve totally fallen out of love with breastfeeding. Actually, that’s probably not the right way of putting it. I still admire breasts and their ability to create life sustaining milk that is perfectly packed with just the right nutrients for a baby. Milk that changes and adapts as the baby does so that it always contains just the right nutrients and antibodies that the baby needs. It’s perfection. Well done nature.
However, I haven’t slept in six and a half months. Iris still wants to nurse every two hours through the night. Sometimes every hour. Sometimes even every 45 minutes. I used to snooze while she nursed and so I felt that I was getting enough (just about) sleep to survive. Now it’s different. Now she’s developed this terrible habit of scratching me as she nurses. Really scratching me. She leaves big red lines down my boobs that throb and sting. No amount of trimming her nails helps. I’ve been cutting them every single day. I can’t sleep through it. Our side-lying half-asleep feeds are over. If I try to cover my skin with clothing she tugs. If she can’t tug the clothing off she cries and grabs at my hair. I can’t take it anymore. I need some sleep.
I think she actually does it in an attempt to get more milk. I think I’m not producing as much since she started eating solid foods. I didn’t really expect my supply to drop because she hasn’t been feeding from me any less, no matter how much she eats.
I’m fairly sure my right side isn’t making any milk. Iris won’t feed from it. She just screams at it. I can’t get anything from it with my trusty Medela Swing either. The left side makes some, but it throbs and aches and runs dry long before Iris is satisfied. She will not sleep without breastfeeding. She just won’t.
I did some Googling, and apparently a drop in supply when the dreaded period returns is a thing that happens too. That’s probably not helping matters. Neither is the fact that I’ve got horrific cramp in my lower back and no amount of breastfeeding-safe painkillers will make a difference.
I’ve had enough.
I still want to breastfeed. I still want to feed Iris until she’s one or two, or until she decides she wants to stop. I want that so badly. The thought of not being able to do that is like being shot in the heart. It’s hurting me. It’s making me sad.
I found myself in the local shop earlier, gazing at the formula milk. It’s not that I don’t like the stuff. It’s just that I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to feed my baby with my milk until she didn’t need it anymore. That was my plan. That’s what I was doing. I still want that.
I bought a tub. After scanning the ingredients I picked the one without fish in it, because I find the thought of my baby drinking fish oil strangely sickening. It’s probably good for her. Still weird though.
So now it’s sitting on my kitchen worktop, tormenting me with thoughts of my failure. If I feed her this stuff I know it’ll probably be the beginning of the end. I know that supplementing with formula does nothing to help a mum struggling with milk supply. It’ll only make my milk supply drop further. The thought of it is hurting me. Really hurting me. If I feed her this stuff I’ll forever have to say ‘I only managed to breastfeed for six months’. I know that’s better than not at all, or a few weeks. I know. And I know I’ve done well, that very few mums are still breastfeeding by this point. I get that. I’m proud of myself for getting this far. I’m just gutted that it’s going so badly now, because I want to keep going. I really want to keep going.
I have no idea what to do now. I do know that I’m tired. So tired that it hurts. I know I have to do something. But what? My heart tells me the formula isn’t the answer, but I long for a rest. A break. Some time to do things that define me as me. Some time where I don’t feel like just a milk machine. Just a giant boob with no personality. No things that make me a separate person. I don’t do anything any more. I don’t do any of the things that make me who I am. I breastfeed. I try to make it through one day at a time with no sleep. Something most definitely has to give.