Friday, May 20, 2011

Flu

Taking care of an infant is a thankless, messy, exhausting job under the best of conditions. I like to think that I normally handle it with a certain amount of finesse. I can deal with the sleep disturbances, the pacing back and forth, the bizarre way that all newborns can tell the difference between when you're standing and when you're sitting, the unpredictability of it all. I do it, and I smile. But you know when I'm ever-so-slightly less able to deal with the physical and emotional demands of taking care of an infant?

When I'm suffering from the worst stomach flu of my life.

I spent most of yesterday and today silently praying that I was sympathetic enough towards LL when he was sick with this flu last week, because holy cow this really sucks! I don't blame him at all for spending three days lying on the couch intermittently crying. I wish that I could do the same. Many people have written about how one of the worst things about motherhood is that you don't get any days off, not even sick days. Still, I think that most people can at least call on some family to step in with assistance when it gets really bad. The fact that we have no family in the area always hits me hardest at times like this, because just having somebody home with me who could help to hold Kermit on occasion, even if I still had to do the majority of the work of caring for him, would make a huge difference. It would help me to avoid those times yesterday (and yes, plural, multiple times yesterday, though slightly better today) when I sat in a rocking chair holding Kermit while both of us cried, as I gulped back my instinct to yell as loudly as I could about the misery of it all.

On the breast feeding front, Kermit is indeed breast feeding a bit. I'd say one-third of his feedings are entirely at the breast, one-third of his feedings he rejects the breast completely and eats just from a bottle, and the remaining third he nurses for some brief period of time before appearing frustrated, and then I top him off with a bottle. This sounds all nice and promising, except that it means that I never know how he's going to want any particular feeding. I attempt to nurse, then I need to go make a bottle, feed him the bottle, then put him down and hook myself up to the breast pump. The nurse-bottle-pump thing means that every single feeding takes an hour or longer, and I have to be at home for every single one of them. Thus, I can never leave the house. Which is not a long-term solution, obviously.

Even with pumping after every single feeding, I have run through my entire freezer of milk and have needed to start supplementing with formula. Even with three solid weeks of ridiculous over-the-top pumping, my milk supply has not budged at all, but Kermit's appetite (thanks to some reflux medication) has gone up. The stomach flu has thrown everything into even more chaos. Eating or drinking absolutely anything makes me ill, so I'd be dehydrated even if I weren't also trying to sustain another human being. Thus, my supply has taken another hit, and I haven't had the energy to pump for the past two days to try to keep it steady.

Perhaps I'll start up again after I'm recovered, but I suspect that my supply has dipped for good. And I'm trying to make peace with that. If I can figure out when Kermit is nursing and when he's not, I can just plan to nurse at those feedings and save myself the heartache of offering the breast at other times. My current plan, I think, will also include cutting out all that pumping. I know that this plan will cause my supply to continue to drop even further, so it probably means that Kermit will stop nursing entirely within the month, but I just don't have the energy to fight it anymore.

Assuming I'm over my flu, and assuming that S and Kermit don't get sick in the meantime, we're flying to visit my parents on Tuesday. I can bring a breast pump with me, but there's no way that I'll be able to pump eight times a day while on vacation. At this point, I kind of feel like I've been tilting at windmills for long enough. So, I'm nursing Kermit as best as I can right now, to try to force as many antibodies into him as he'll take, and once I'm over the flu, we're probably going to step it down a notch and let Kermit decide how much he wants to nurse.

But first, I have to get over this ridiculously awful flu.

3 comments:

  1. Oh no. I hope you feel better soon. It is so hard to have no family for help.

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  2. Oh I feel for you! I hope you're on the mend for sure!

    I'm 99% sure we had the same stomach bug at our house. It. Was. Awful.

    And the little one got if first and then me and Mr. Random followed and we both said it was the most miserable we've been in years. We were surprised Wiggles didn't complain more! He just lay very still most of the time he was ill. Poor guy!

    Also, totally hear you on the no family to help you out part. It is SO hard!

    So I hope you're all healthy and have a nice vacation!

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  3. I hope you feel better soon. I totally get the lack of sick days and it really sucks.

    In regards to the nursing. You've done everything that you can do. The fact of the matter is that (despite the bullshit Le Leche says) not all woman can breast feed. It is why all communities had wet nurses. Because, in a village situation, when a woman could not produce enough milk for her child, another woman who produces like a cow (ie me) would nurse the child. you can not control physiology of your body. You're an amazing mom. Both LL and kermit are lucky to have you.

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