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Update on the teething/nursing front:
Pia’s top two teeth have poked through, though we only had one really rough night while the second was cutting through (it seemed to take a looooong time). However, the nursing issues haven’t gone away. Perhaps it is simply the duration this has gone on, or that it is now compounded with the biting, but I have come close to throwing in the towel several times in the last week. The only thing that it looks like is that she is just a really rough nurser and causing chafing and chapping, so when the skin gets irritated it gets dried out and cracked, so saliva and bacteria grow and irritate the cracked skin causing the redness, soreness and split skin. Even from when she was a newborn, our ND noticed she would arch her back while nursing, she had never seen that before and thought perhaps it had something to do with her esophagus needing to be elongated (don’t remember the exact terminology), but no way to really prove that, just deal with it. Still, she tends to pull backward and yank on me while nursing. She is overall really squirmy, hasn’t been super still while eating, I notice in hindsight. The only reason that has become obvious is at the beginning of the week I had Matt pick up a container of Soy Formula because it was apparent I needed a break. What a contrast. She lies super still, almost super content while taking a bottle. Her daytime fussies have become minimized and getting her down for naps and bedtime just got about 80% easier. 

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Then it became compounded even more. I took a few days off from nursing her at all. In that time I didn’t get engorged like I had expected. I went from nursing an average of every 4-hours or so (with an 8-hour span at night), which should suggest I would still be lactating pretty heavily. I then tried pumping after about 24 hours, got about 1/2 an ounce in a half hour, plus even still pumping was painful at that point. The next morning I tried again, both sides (still not that engorged, full but not cantaloupes) and got just over 1 oz. Mid day I decided to try nursing again as I had nearly healed up. The first thing she did was bite down. I tried to be patient, I tried again- she bit me again. Tried the other side, she bit me again. Frustration at that point screamed to just give up. Personal reasoning told me if she still needed milk, I wanted it to be breast milk and not formula.


So another day went by, still wasn’t pumping nearly anything. The formula feedings were calm, content. What we have deducted is that it is likely that she hasn’t been getting very much milk when she nurses, so instead of taking long, smooth draws she is frantically trying to get more milk out and that is what I am perceiving as her being ‘rough’. My supply is low, or her nursing isn’t efficient, or probably a combination of both that are just compounding the problem. Wednesday I was successfully able to nurse her, it came right after she had a bottle and went much easier (probably because she wasn’t desperate). So now it comes down to my choice. I am told any way I continue on (trying to continue nursing exclusively, solely formula feeding, pumping, or attempting a combination) is up to me and what I think is best for both me and Pia. But I really get pretty wound up in these situations where there is so much grey area. I get too hung up on doing what is “Right” and “Best”, allowing too much of my own performance, accomplishment and fear of failure to be tied into it. It seems too selfish and easy to just ‘give up’ and give her formula; it seems too painful to attempt to continue on just nursing her; it seems like there are a dozen reasonable avenues I could try; it seems I have let this go on too long; it seems like continuing to give her breast milk has obvious benefits I don’t want to not supply her; it seems I have held onto a bit of self scorn in believing the ability to breast feed easily is tied to righteousness and pride; it seems while she is eating a ton of solids she isn’t quite ready to be weened; it seems I have a lot more sentimental expectation of how our nursing relationship will end that isn’t fraught with tears, frustration and a fussy baby. It was pointed out that this deliberation sounds a lot like the decision making surrounding whether or not to proceed with the scheduled C-section. 


For now I am following the advice to primarily formula feed her and attempt to nurse one or two times a day just to ensure I can continue to lactate. Likely this is the middle road and there are forceful schools of thought on both sides. Certain schools of lactation consulting offer only self-actualization and empty encouragement banked on how this is a woman’s natural ability; certain schools of the medical field are quick to offer medications and hold to the notion formula is essentially the same thing for the baby and it shouldn’t matter. Both sides are quick in leaping to judgement, each offering a biased and short sighted final answer, trying to ignore grey ambiguity in order to hold tight to their view of what’s right. I feel I need to seek contentment in the grey, trusting and holding in faith to not just what is right and best but what I am learning and being blessed with in the heat of the struggle.


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