This morning I played a trick on Margaret, meaning that sometime today she will get her very first ever taste of
At Margaret’s six-month checkup the doctor heaped praise on me for exclusively breastfeeding for so long. It made me a little uncomfortable, actually. I was doing it because it was easy for me as well as being best for her. I also didn’t feel so comfortable being praised essentially for my body doing the right thing, especially in light of the fact that my body can’t manage conception without major intervention, so I’m acutely aware that there is a luck factor involved. I also knew that we’d have to start the transition to formula at some point.
Up to now the drill has been that I nurse on demand whenever I was home. I also always nurse her right before I leave the house at around 9am, so she get’s delivered to Warren as fed and happy as I can manage. I pump twice at work, once between 11:30 and noon, and once between 4 and 4:30. The first pumping typically yields between three and four ounces between both sides. There just isn’t a lot of recharge time before that first pump, but I have to pump when the room is available. I combine the product of this pump into one bottle, which we’ll call bottle A. The afternoon pump yields 2.5 ounces each side; each will be its own bottle, which we’ll call bottle B and bottle C. Then I’d come home and nurse. Overnight Margaret will nurse several times, but without waking all the way up. She complains loudly with her eyes closed until you put her on the breast. She’ll then nurse until she’s fast asleep again. I’ll hold her, rock her, and put her back in her crib. On the first wakeup I’ll also go downstairs to pump from the other breast (i.e., not the one she just nursed from). This is bottle D which ranges from 2 to 3.5 ounces depending on how long she slept. The reason I pump in the middle of the night instead of first thing in the morning is that after the first waking her she sleeps less soundly and semi-wakes to nurse much more frequently; if I waited until morning there wouldn’t be anything left. (I pretty much have to nurse her when she wakes, or she will keep Warren up.) So, we have four bottles a day containing between 10 and 12 ounces of milk, all procured through out custom just-in-time delivery system.
Back in December, Margaret would frequently leave some milk un-drunk during the day, sometimes an entire bottle’s worth. The past couple of weeks she hasn’t left a drop. She’s also been noticeably hungrier when I get home and has been nursing more frequently. If I were home full-time no doubt my supply would increase to meet demand, and she seems happy on the days when I am home all day, but I’m not getting an increase on the amount I pump. I can’t pump more often than I do at work and I am dubious extra pumping would do anything anyway. We have started her on solids, but they mostly seem to end up on her rather than in her. We need to transition her to formula by March anyway, so now that supply is starting to become an issue it seems like a good time to start. Yesterday’s pump was also not a good one; bottle A was only 3 ounces and bottle D was only charitably 2 ounces. Margaret had been very hungry when I’d come home last night, and leaving her today with only 10 ounces of milk when there was a handy alternative wasn’t something I wanted to do. It’s only two ounces of formula total, spread out over bottles B, C and D, but it’s a big step for us.
Obviously we’ll have to see how this goes. I’m hoping that she drinks the formula-enhanced bottles without fuss and isn’t famished by the time I get home. My tentative plan is to see how it goes for a week and then if all is well to start skipping the night-time pumping session and instead stop combining the morning pump into one bottle. If I do that, then I’d have two bottles that are half and half, and two bottles that are mostly breast milk. More importantly, I’d get rid of my most hated pumping session. Not only is pumping in the wee hours of the morning a drag, but I’ve noticed that on weekends when I get lazy and skip it (instead of pumping and freezing, which I used to do more regularly on the weekends), Margaret tends to sleep better. On weeknights Margaret is often up every half hour after the second waking, clearly unhappy. On weekends when I am lazy she seems to get more at the second waking and will often sleep through until 7.
If I’d first added the formula a month ago I would have felt sad. I’m glad events have transpired as they have. Now her first tiny bit of formula is kind of welcome to me. She’s already had some food other than breast milk, and she clearly would be happier with a bit extra to eat while I’m gone these days. Now I feel like formula can be an ally in dealing with the least pleasant part of my day, the dreaded midnight pump. I’m also pretty happy with the formula that Warren bought. It’s label almost says, ‘You are an evil person for buying our product instead of nursing your poor baby until she is four years old. Shame on you. But if you persist in your evil ways, here’s the next best thing.’ Honestly, I was scrambling to measure it this morning because they don’t include a measuring scoop for fear that a plastic scoop would leech plastic into my baby’s food. While I’m may be eager to cut out a pumping session or even two I am still not looking forward to giving up the actual nursing. That part will be harder. On the other hand, I need her to be at least mostly off the breast when we see the RE on March 4th, and completely weaned before the start of my next cycle after that. So, we take it one step at a time. Doing it gradually, one feeding at a time will be easiest on both of us, especially if pumping sessions are the first to go. I’m trying not to look so far ahead that I start making mad plans to cut down to a single pump a day before I see how she reacts to today’s test.
Added upon getting home: She drank every drop and was hungry when I got home.