No snacking while nursing, and other tales of a burnt-out 'good enough' mama.

I have mixed emotions about nursing these days with adrenal burnout.*

I worked so hard to nurse with FinnI didn't give birth in the hospital so I didn't have one of those awesome lactation consultants until I sought one out. He didn't return to birth weight for 4+ weeks --and wasn't able to suck efficiently until he was three months.  For three weeks, I was oblivious as he sucked but couldn't manage to get out the milk.

 Until his little body and brain figured it out (which happened miraculously one day just as the lactation consultant promised), I literally nursed and pumped for most of the day and night (literally). First, I would nurse, weighing baby Finn on a rented gram-sensitive scale before and after to see how much milk he actually got.  Then I used a hospital grade breast pump to squeeze out what he didn't manage to suck, and finally, I fed him the pumped bottle. About 40 minutes later I started the process again.

The pediatrician (we went through 3 or 4) wanted me to switch to formula, so the weighing and measuring part was to prove to the doc that Finn was getting what he needed in milk. I'm exhausted just thinking about it! On top of it all, he had infant reflux or GERD and was in pain a lot of the time. I did everything possible to try to help him-- elimination diets, natural therapies, medical therapies, etc. He had surgery at 9 months for an inguinal hernia which seemed to solve all of his problems. I went back to work when Finn was 8 months and because of the shaky nursing start we had, my milk supply was on the edge the whole time. It really started to dwindle when I went back to teaching. I pumped every 2 hours at work while sitting on the cold, cement floor of the bathroom. At 15 months we naturally weaned and I was grateful to have made it that far.

Bobo on the other hand, sucked like a champ from the start and he's still going strong at 20 months. He also has food sensitivities and had colicky symptoms (read: barely any sleep ) that I've worked on like crazy. But he's not a sweet little nursling like his big brother; breastfeeding B has always been like an athletic event. He twists and pinches and kicks. He grabs a cracker and heads over to my lap for a drink (picture his big blue eyes...a few sips and then a bite). I must have my shirt completely lifted. If his big brother is up on my lap for a cuddle, little B insists that he must nurse NOW and then pushes his way in. 

Obviously, I had to set up some boundaries with this one. 

First off, No Snacking While Nursing. I've been bitten, and it hurts. Plus, no crumbs on my breasts, please. Second: I'm sure the 'don't offer, dont refuse' system has worked for some moms out there, but not me. Don't refuse? If this sweet little toddler had his way I'd be shirtless and available for a quick nip at any minute. Not happening.

The adrenal burnout was a long time coming for me. As you can probably tell by the way I'm describing all of this, I'm a bit of a hard worker. Must. Do. My. Best. I once had a therapist who said to me when we were discussing the anxiety I was having about working so much, "what if you were just 'good enough'?" at the time I was shocked by how uncomfortable that was for me. I couldn't imagine letting myself get off that easy, or settling for mediocrity. 


Now I have been forced into accepting my own mediocrity. My new motto is 'just enough effort'. It's not that I was awesome at everything before (certainly not), but there's just so much I want to do!...climb mountains, bike, run, cook every night, make everything I see on pinterest...and I basically can't do any of it. 

I am on a path to heal which could take quite a while, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to unlearn my patterns of stress and to see what happens. I just know that it's got to be good.

As for nursing? I'm just going to see how that goes too....and take it easy on myself. I think that will make me a 'good enough' mama.

* I know that I haven't explained this adrenal burnout thing yet....basically, my adrenals have been taxed for 30+ years from allergies (caused by a compromised gut lining) and stress-- which is a vicious cycle. Now they don't work properly, which in turn has messed up my hormones and minerals. Healing takes a while-- but it will happen!

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