Well, Daniel is done nursing.
When Kalena was born, nursing didn’t go so well. Not that she didn’t want to, on the contrary, she nursed all the time. A couple weeks in I started worrying that I wasn’t making enough milk because she wanted to nurse SO much. She would spend 30 or 40 minutes nursing and then be hungry again 30 minutes after she had finished. (And she also took a pacifier, so no, she wasn’t just nursing to soothe.) But do you know what you find when you google “low milk supply”? Reassurance that you probably make enough milk. Encouragement to feed on demand. Statements that babies want to eat often. Every pro-breastfeeding site I read made it clear that *true* low supply is REALLY RARE and this was all in my head! Okay, no site came out and said that, but it was certainly the impression I got. The implication was, if breastfeeding wasn’t working, it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough.
Every site encouraged nursing more often, and discouraged bottles and pacifiers. A few sites recommended pumping after feedings to increase supply but all warned that how much milk you get when you pump doesn’t indicate how much milk you’re making. Well. I nursed constantly. I pumped after every feeding (and got essentially nothing, by the way.) I gave her no formula. That went on for 6 weeks and then I had to go back to work. At that point we had to start on formula because I had no pumped milk to leave at home. But I still pumped at work, every 2 hours for 20 minutes. And you know what I discovered? In all that pumping I made enough milk for ONE feeding. Still, I continued to nurse when I was at home. I co-slept with her and let her nurse all night. It didn’t take long before she preferred a bottle though, and I got less and less when I pumped at work. I gave it up altogether around 4 months.
When Will came along I was ready. I started pumping right away instead of waiting until my milk supply was “established.” I bought fenugreek. And when he was still obviously hungry after several feedings in a row? I supplemented with either pumped milk or formula. And I didn’t feel bad about it. Every time he had a growth spurt I had to take fenugreek and add pumping sessions and supplement. It would take my body a few days to catch up, but it was working. He nursed for 13 months and then weaned himself.
Then Daniel was born. He couldn’t latch, so for the first 24 hours he got formula and I thought I might not get to nurse him at all. Based on my experience pumping for Kalena I knew I wouldn’t be able to pump exclusively for him. Fortunately, a good lactation consultant and nipple shields got him nursing on day two. He was in the NICU which meant supplementing after every feeding. Once he was home I switched to only supplementing when he still seemed hungry. Unfortunately, he didn’t gain weight on that plan. Back to supplementing every time.
I pumped, and took fenugreek and milk rich, and drank lots of water, and nursed on demand. But his low muscle tone means a weaker suck and tiring more quickly. By 8 weeks I knew nursing wouldn’t last much longer, and by about a week ago he developed an obvious preference for bottles. I’d spend several minutes trying to get him to latch only to have him quit after a minute or so. So we’re done. I’ve successfully nursed a child for more than a year and I made every effort and more this time around. It just wasn’t going to happen. I did my best, and I’m glad he got to nurse at all.