As I've said before, breastfeeding is hard. And as I'm sure any pumping mama will tell you, pumping is harder. Pumping requires a lot of discipline, of which I have little. It's been a huge challenge keeping my supply up to feed Dot these last 10 months, and my supply has started to plummet in the last few weeks for some reason.
I theorize that it's due to her increased appetite for solids. She's eating more solids, so she's reducing her milk intake. This is all normal. However, I have not been sensitive to this, and did not begin to reduce the amount of milk we were sending with her to daycare. What this means for me and my supply: she's nursing less while she's at home because she's getting a greater and greater proportion of her daily milk intake while at day care. So I need to increase the proportion of her milk that she gets directly from me by reducing the amount of milk we send to day care.
In the mean time, I still have to figure out how to build my supply back up quickly. I figured all of this out during many late night smartphone research sessions after pumping almost nothing. Typically, in the middle of the night, Dot eats on one side, and I hand pump the other. I used to get several ounces, and lately it's been one ounce or less. I've tried taking supplements, eating lactation cookies, oatmeal, and hand expression after pumping. ANYTHING to avoid pumping more. But alas, here I sit at 3:30 in the morning, hooked up to the machine, trying to squeeze out a couple extra ounces.
I was at a La Leche League meeting the other day, and at the end of the meeting, the leader said something about how in the grand scheme of our babies' lives, breastfeeding is just this tiny little part of it. Her point was that we should cherish it, but as I thought about it more, the statement could also be construed as meaning it's a very small part of how we parent. It is very important to me that Dot receives no milk other than breast milk until she is a year, and I have worked very hard to get to where we are. And we are so close. Seven more weeks to go. But at what point am I willing to throw in the towel? Breastfeeding, while extremely important, is not the only determinant of whether she's a good person, or of whether she's healthy. I've read blogs by other moms who go to even greater lengths to feed their babies, and I don't know if I could push myself so far. My sanity is also valuable, and 3:30 am pumping sessions are threatening that sanity. But at what point? I don't know, but I'm not there yet.