Milk crisis!

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Where oh where has my milk gone?

I went to express some yesterday and got a dribble. Less than one ounce! Just as I am supposed to be preparing us for a future with me working outside the home for part of the day. I have NO frozen milk because I’ve always just kind of lived day-to-day with Max, and then we went on a six week trip home with expressing would have been really difficult and so we all fell out of the habit. 

So how do I get my milk back, people? Any thoughts?

Gleaning from my usual sources – babycentre.co.uk, netmums, google in general, old baby manual on the shelf – I need to:

– drink lots of water

– drink fennel tea

– drink cocoa shell tea

– eat well

– rest

and maybe pray.

Max is still only 4.5 months and I really really want to keep going with breastfeeding. For his health but also for our bond. I feel like such a distracted mother with him, because I’m always chasing after Lola as well, and I don’t want to lose this time with him as well.

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Express yourself

There is nothing remotely fun or erotic about expressing milk.

I love my breasts. They have provided many, many hours of fun over the years. They were always on the generous side, so they looked good in curvy dresses and tops. When I first started working, I remember an older, female colleague sizing them up one day when I turned up in the office in a multicoloured minidress (I was still a student, in my defence), and saying “God, how do you get them to stay up like that?”

And sex? Well, my breasts were always pretty much my “start” buttons.

The girls are still one of my favourite bits, but now that Lola has come along it’s all a bit more confusing. They are abundant providers of milk. So I’m very pleased about that, and in awe at the whole thing. And I’m still having hours of fun… just in an entirely different way.

It’s lovely being with Lola, even in the wee small hours of the night. Sometime she attacks the boob like a ferocious little tiger, clamps on and sucks intently for thirty minutes, batting away all interlopers (me.. sometime Rufus) with her little hand. Other times she fools around, having a little snack then peering up at me with a huge shy smile before going in for another go. One time she flipped us the bird, I’m sure unintentionally.

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But sex? I won’t let Rufus near them. It’s just weird, somehow. I think my mind can’t quite separate the two so I’m waiting till Lola’s done with them to see if I can reclaim them for myself.

And now I’m on the expressing track. I managed to avoid it, mostly, so far because Lola turns into a demon at the sight of a bottle, or even a dummy. So I just let her get on with the boob. And it’s true that if you are one of the lucky ones who hasn’t had too much trouble breastfeeding (and my heart goes out to you if you’re not) it’s just so, so, so much easier than messing about with bottles and formulas.

With my back-to-work deadline looming in a month, though, Lola needs to learn how to take a bottle for the times when I won’t be there. Since she started sleeping longer, my milk flow has slowed to a trickle, so this morning I strapped on the breast pump once again to see if I can rev it up and store up a decent supply for her.

I really do feel like an old cow sitting here with the machine going “mheeh, mheeh, mheeh”.

Nor am I that hopeful that Lola is ever going to really get the hang of the bottle. Every time we’ve tried it she screams, or fools about in a completely inept way with milk going everywhere but in her mouth. Also, I’m not sure if the milk will rev up again sufficiently. I don’t want to move her onto formula if I can avoid it; but stressing about it won’t help anyone.

The other day we gave her a couple of spoons of rice cereal mixed with breast milk, and some spoonfuls of apple juice, and she got on much better with a spoon than a teat. So Plan B is going to be a sippy cup of milk along with whatever solids we are trying to introduce. I can see how that will be a time-consuming process.

Anyway, breasts, I salute you. And one day, I’m hoping we will go back to the old ways.

Piglet

I don’t want to cause irreparable harm to my daughter’s self esteem, or pave the way for an eating disorder, but lately, in my head, I’ve been calling her piglet.

She has the most humungous appetite. And I could see her filling out nicely these past weeks.

I didn’t know how nicely till yesterday though, when we celebrated her one-month birthday with a visit to the pediatrician, Dr P.

“Look at those cheeks!” he said, as soon as I wrestled her out of the pram. “And she has a double chin already!”

Semi-nude on the scales, she weighed in at more than 4kg.

“Is that a lot? That seems like a lot,” I said to Dr P.

“Well, a baby girl around this age would normally put on about 800g in a month,” he said. “Lola has put on more than a kilo in two weeks.”

We had been traveling along nicely, feeding every two hour on average, and a bit longer during the night, I told him, but the last few days she’d gone a bit haywire and was screaming for milk every hour and 15 minutes or so.

“Maybe you’re misinterpreting her cry and she’s actually screaming out, Mum, please, no more!” he joked.

Oh crap. Maybe I am, I thought. Who’s to say what she wants really? Every time she cries, I work my way through the options – dirty nappy? wind? milk? And usually conclude it’s milk.

He recommended I try to angle for a routine now… obviously nothing too strict. But I need to be a bit harder about getting her to feed at intervals of at least two hours, for my own sake, and also to save my poor nipples and keep up milk supply.

So this morning when she woke up an hour early and screeched for milk, we pulled out some rattles and toys and managed to distract her dor quite a while – she’s so much more alert now and interested in checking out stuff in general. Then I put her in her crib and let her cry while I boiled the kettle, which was pure torture. Then I swooped in and scooped her up to rock her for a while, and lo and behold, she fell asleep. So by the time she snapped out of her second nap, it had been almost three hours since her last feed.

Dr P says babies are tricksy, clever creatures and parents must get wise to that from the strt. She is only doing what we are teaching her to do, he says. So I must teach her that she sometimes needs to wait a little for her food. My knees quake at the thought of enduring too much crying to teach her anything; but I think she is right.

The crying is truly awful, though. When she’s hungry she cries like a cartoon character – you can actually see her tongue waggling around in her mouth and then she hits this particular note that makes my heart clench up and all my resolve fly out the window.

Sorry if this is all beyond boring, it’s just that feeding and sleeping are suddenly the most important subjects in the world to me! If anyone has any good advice, let me know.

Piglet is sleeping now, in her magic vibrating bouncy chair. I might have half an hour more before she starts up again. Or more, you just never know. Rufus is coming home late tonight and I don’t feel too desperate to be left alone with her right now, but no doubt I’ll lob her at him like a rugby ball when he walks through the door.