This question always struck me as odd. "If I can?" Why would I not be able to? I had researched breastfeeding quite a bit, and it seemed to me that except in very rare instances, a woman who had given birth would be able to breastfeed. Granted, the road might be fraught with difficulties. Granted, she might weight the various aspects of nursing, and of her life, and legitimately choose not to. But that wasn't really the same as "can't."
I still believe all of that.
Asher and I made the 50 minute trek to the doctor's office weekly after that. The first week after he began drinking formula, he grew over a pound, and more than an inch. On the one hand, this thrilled me - the problem was the lack of food, not something actually wrong with him. On the other hand, this pummeled me - I really had been starving him.
I have no idea when things started to go wrong, when my milk supply became insufficient. Looking back, I wonder about the month where he screamed and cried around the clock and wonder if he could have been hungry? But no - I know he was growing up until his first month checkup, and he stopped crying and began laughing on his six week birthday. The dates do not match up, but yet I know this mystery will always haunt me.
Even as I purchased the bottles and formula I was adamant that this was just for now. I also bought a $250 electric pump, and I was determined to bring my milk up, even if I had to pump all day.
And pump all day I did. This began a miserable schedule in which I would mix and warm a bottle, then nurse Asher, then feed Asher the bottle, then sit him in his bouncy seat while I pumped. And pumped. And pumped. Then, change Asher. Then wash and sterilize bottles and pump accessories. Then put Asher to sleep (in the sling, so I couldn't pump during his naps). Then he would awaken and we would begin again. Day, and night. I did this for months.
And that is not all I did. I was popping all varieties of herbal supplements, drinking liters of water, eating platefuls of healthy food (lovingly prepared by my wonderful husband, as I obviously had no time or opportunity to feed myself). I visited more lactation consultants. I purchased a contraption that allowed Asher to drink the formula through tiny tubes while nursing, allowing the "supply and demand" to remain true to life.
And yet, pumping even several times a day would produce only one or two ounces a day. My supply was not going up. Instead, it was actually going down.
To be continued...
This story isn't over yet...please come back tomorrow to read part two.