I’ve never been happier than I was the weeks just following the birth of my son. Everything came pretty easy. Delivery was shockingly quick, breastfeeding worked and the baby was thriving. I was filled with a euphoria like I’d never felt. I laughed like I haven’t laughed in years. Even in a profoundly sleep deprived state, life was bliss. The autumnal days were long and sunny and punctuated with the intoxicating newborn aroma. There were rough days for sure. In particular I remember dreading nights when in knew I was facing many wake ups, but then the sun would come up nice and early and I would be eager to start another day. In general I only had brief moments of anxiety, usually over the fact that things were so perfect something was bound to go wrong.
Six weeks later I went back to work and things got harder. The euphoria faded. Being a mom was somehow still the easy part. But I had to go back to being an employee. I certainly am not the worker I had been pre-baby. Back then I put almost all of myself into my job. That’s just not possible now that I have to give so much of myself to being a mom. I’m sure some women have figured out how to do it, but I’m still struggling with that major shift in my identity.
At around 4 months my milk supply dropped. I blame an overnight work trip that depleted my frozen stash and introduced my son to a world of formula and more than just one bottle a day. The guilt of choosing work over him stabs like a thousand knives. Trying to nurse my baby and having him turn away over and over, and fuss and cry, only to slurp up a bottle hurts my heart. I’ve tried skin-to-skin time, oatmeal, and I’ve probably drank gallons of Mothers Milk tea. We’ve spent whole days just focused on nursing, but I cant seem to maintain a strong enough supply. Some days when I’m home we need no formula. He doesn’t seem hungry but I still worry he is not getting enough food. When he’s with the nanny I’m only able to pump about 50% of his intake. So I guess I only feel like half a failure.
It’s gotten to the point that even the sound of the velcro on the pump case makes me cringe. I can barely tolerate the maddening whoosh whoosh whoosh, and let’s not even talk about the whole dairy cow analogy. Just when I’ve managed to sterilize all the parts it’s time to use them and then clean up again, and it’s just so disheartening. It makes me grumpy, and then I snap at Jason or even the baby even though I know it’s not their fault, and I feel bad about feeling bad. I know its not my fault, but I’m helpless to do more. I just don’t think I’m ready to stop trying.
I think back to those days when it was “easy” and I get so so sad. I remember that euphoric feeling and I’m sure it had everything to do with post-partum hormones. I’m probably lucky to have gotten the happy end of that stick. A lot of what I’m feeling now probably is also related to hormones and adjusting to nursing less and overall still getting back to pre-pregnancy levels. The roller-coaster women’s bodies takes a long time to come to an end even after the baby is born. None of it is easy.