I’ve mentioned before that feeding Sadie is a heavy responsibility. And I’ve done a lot of it by following my own instincts, as well as trusting Sadie to follow hers. I think, for the most part, Sadie eats a healthy, well-balanced solid diet. As she gets closer and closer to her first birthday (less than two weeks–what the?), my milk supply is getting lower and lower, at least in terms of what I can get when I pump. I suppose this isn’t totally unexpected, but until recently I had been mostly planning on continuing to send Sadie to daycare with expressed breastmilk to drink, even after she turns 1. I hadn’t given much thought about Sadie switching to cow’s milk at that age, other than it costs money, while breastmilk is free; I drink skim milk, and so we’d have to start keeping two kinds of milk around; and I’m still sort of clinging to the making-breastmilk-keeps-the-fat-off effects of lactating (though I’m seeing a pretty significant decrease there, too!).
But when I realized this weekend that I only had three bags of frozen milk to fill in the gaps when I don’t pump enough, I was hit in the gut with repulsion at the thought of Sadie drinking the milk of another animal. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE milk. I drink it at least once a day, and I can frequently be heard saying, “I’m thirsty for milk,” while eating a variety of foods (pizza, spaghetti, ice cream, tacos). Although I’m not super crazy about commercial dairy operations, I do purchase organic milk that at least claims to be sourced from small farms, and I don’t have any inherent repulsion at the thought of people drinking cow (or goat or sheep) milk. Heck, I’ve even milked a goat, home-pasteurized the milk, and had a warm glass (don’t like it once it’s chilled). And it’s not like Sadie hasn’t been enjoying dairy products. She loves yogurt, and just this past Sunday we learned that she has quite the taste for expensive, strong cheese (thank you, Kroger Sunday samples). But I’m somehow really turned off when I think about Sadie actually drinking milk.
One of my sisters is The Queen of Pumping (and I do mean this in the most loving, impressed way), and she does not have the “and when she got there, the cupboards were bare” problem where frozen milk is concerned. In discussing my supply change and hesitancy to send Sadie off to daycare with a sippy cup of cow’s milk, she kindly offered to pass along some of her frozen supply. I’m not sure about the rest of our family, but I think I’m correct in saying that she and I, at least, view breastmilk as liquid gold. So this is a testament of love, in my eyes. And I will likely take her up on it, at least for a while. Because, although her breastmilk is not the same as mine, the thought of Sadie drinking her milk doesn’t wig me out like Sadie drinking cow’s (or goat’s or sheep’s) milk.
The thing is, though, this isn’t a sustainable solution. There are certainly limits to how much she can give me. Yes, she has much to give (I’d love to tell you how much, but I want to respect her privacy here, or at least what’s left now that I’ve named her The Queen of Pumping). But she has her own baby who will one day nurse less and less, like Sadie has. And although she may not have the same hesitations about cow’s milk that I seem to be having, I know she’d like her baby to be able to drink breastmilk as long as is reasonable.
So where does that leave me? Of course, I’ve “googled it,” but there is SO MUCH conflicting information. Soy milk? Rice milk? Oat milk? Almond milk? Concerns: providing Sadie with enough calcium, vitamins, protein and fat. Curiosities: If Sadie continues to nurse past one year (which I believe she’ll still do, primarily at night), and her solid food diet is diverse and healthy, would she be alright without any of these “substitutes”? Could I send her to daycare with sippy cups of water? Are there special baby nutritionists?
I suspect I’ll get over myself and this milk issue before too long. I mean, I LOVE milk. So who am I to deny Sadie one of my all-time favorite beverages? But this is what’s rattling around in my head these past few days. Envious, aren’t you?