Monday, January 9, 2012

milk, milk, milk...wish i had more

I am still struggling with low milk production, but I thought I had made peace with the fact, and moved on. Today I realized that I might not be quite as "over it" as I had initially thought.

I fed Emma some pureed chicken soup, and because she ate half a bowl (she has a very hearty appetite!) she did not want to breastfeed much before falling asleep for her afternoon nap.  My breasts felt engorged, and because I am still trying to increase the milk production, every time I feel that they get hard, I try to express the milk, rather than letting it sit there.  (I am also afraid of engorgement left alone, as I have unfortunately had two bouts of mastitis so far).  So I expressed the milk manually, since I don't have a pump here in Vancouver.  After about 15 minutes of squeezing my breasts, hunched over a baby bottle at the kitchen table, I got a total of 1.5 oz, which is about the usual amount that I can express, by any given means, including by electrical pump.  My mom was cooking in the kitchen, and I was expressing milk right next to her.  Food all around.

Just as I was done, Emma woke up from her nap and started crying.  I went over to check on her, and by the time I got back, the milk had disappeared!  I looked for it everywhere, thinking that I must be hallucinating, and in the end I realized that my mom had dumped it down the sink and washed the bottle!!!  I nearly had a stroke.  That milk was so precious, given that Emma gets so little of it, that I wanted to cry.  I did cry actually when my mom told me that it was no big deal, in fact she looked at the bottle and the bit that I had expressed was such a little that she thought the bottle was merely dirty and washed it out, not realizing that it was milk.  She never once apologized.  It clearly was not a big deal to her if she did not even think about the bottle that I was expressing into right next to her in the kitchen.  I mean, it's not as if I had done it somewhere else and brought the bottle in, I was doing it right in front of her and it did not even register!

I felt like precious gold was wasted, and she did not think anything of the event.  The truth must be in the middle.  I got upset by the waste, but also by the lack of respect for the "little bit" of milk, that little bit of milk is my effort, it is all that my body is capable of producing, and it is no small matter to me that Emma get every last drop of that.  It is my gift to my daughter and I am working bloody hard to make it.  It is not insignificant.  And my mom treated it as unimportant, which is why I got so upset.

I know that she won't understand, even if I try to explain these things.  How can anybody understand the frustration of having a body that does not work properly in just about any aspect of baby-making, the struggle to do every simple little thing, from falling pregnant, to staying pregnant, to delivering, to breast feeding.  The sadness of hearing Emma cry at my breast because the milk is finished, the frenzied hurry in the middle of the night to prepare yet another bottle while she is screaming, because I just did not have  enough to feed her like I thought I would.  The importance of this little bit of milk is that it is my triumph over not having had any (after all my milk had dried up).  To make this bit of milk, I have to take nine tablets of domperidone daily, not to mention the hours and hours spent pumping in useless frustration with nothing coming out.  This is THE BEST I CAN DO, so damn well I expect some respect for it.  Like the respect shown by apologizing for dumping it down the drain, as opposed to dismissing it because it was so little.

I am certain that my upset stems from much more than this event, that it is the pinnacle of years of frustration and struggle against a body that won't nurture a baby, in direct contradiction with my huge desire to do exactly that:  feed and nurture and protect.  So tonight I cried, and Emma got formula.  I guess I have not made complete peace with the milk issue after all.


  1. I can really relate to this. I had milk supply issues and any wasted drop was a cause of great anguish to me! My baby was born prematurely so I pumped for him while he was in the hospital. Sometimes the nurses would get too much milk out for the day and it was devastating to watch them throw out the "extra" milk at the end of their shifts. As my baby ate more I had to supplement with formula but still pumped and nursed him as much as I could. My baby stopped nursing at 7 months (his choice not mine) and it took several months to get over it.

  2. I'm so sorry. I would be furious at your mother and can imagine how frustrating it must be to see your milk go to waste. I've been battling a low supply as well and I HATE to have to give DD bottles. But I hate knowing she is hungry more. During my struggle, a friend told me that every drop of breastmilk DD gets is a gift, and that I was a great mother for working so hard to provide that for her, even if she also had to have some formula. I think the same thing can be said of you -- you are clearly a wonderful mother who would do anything for her child. You are doing a great job :-)

  3. You are a great mother.