As I sit to type this post, a smile comes to my face.
Not because, I'm feeling exceptionally witty or have fantastic Tiny T stories.
But because of how ironic it is, following my last post.
I have stopped breastfeeding.
While it was 100% my decision, the factors that lead to this decision were a matter of Tiny T's health.
I still believe that a mother should be free to chose the method in which she feeds her baby, free of judgment and commentary. I still believe that had I been able to continue nursing, I would never have been 100% comfortable in public. I still believe that it is a tremendous undertaking, physically and emotionally.
With all of this, I am still sad.
Let me backtrack.
In my last post, I detailed Over Active Letdown and Foremilk/Hindmilk imbalance. Shortly after I typed that post, it became clear that things were still not moving in the right direction. The extreme block nursing led to a sharp decrease in my supply, right as Tiny T hit a growth spurt. But there was more and something wasn't sitting well with me. Tiny T continued to arch his back, scream, have explosive blow outs in his diaper, and he was not sleeping.
At his one month checkup, his doctor suspected reflux and we started Zantac. I continued to power through breastfeeding, got my supply back up and then developed a yeast infection. This was getting CRAZY. But, like The Little Engine That Could, I just kept repeating.. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." I mean, all of the adds tell you "Breast milk is best", so surely my effort was the BEST thing for Tiny T, right?
One week after starting the Zantac, things were getting worse. We are talking all day crying, short naps, diaper rash and an inability to get the Zantac into Tiny's little body. First off, the stuff is flavored mint. Think peppermint schnapps. My little boy smelled like he closed down a bar after ever dose. He would drool, throw up and his clothes would reek of the minty awfulness called Zantac. The doctor wanted to see us with one request. I needed to dumpster dive for a dirty diaper so that it could be cultured in the office. Blood in the stool and a positive result for Milk Protein Intolerance.
I could feel the tears welling up. I had read about this online and knew immediately that I would have two options. Go dairy free and wait up to a month to have the dairy fully leave my system or switch to formula. I left the appointment with a new prescription for Prilosec, a sample can of Nutramigen and instructions to call the office with my decision within the next day or so.
Mr. T and I had a long conversation that night. We weighed all of the options. And for us and our entire family, dairy free was not going to be conducive to a happy home. So that was it. I stopped nursing that night. I'll be detailing my tips for beating engorgement in another post!
I wish I could say that it was smooth sailing. Quite the contrary. The next 48 hours were incredibly trying. Tiny T cried and cried and cried. I anticipated a trip to the emergency room, because I have never seen crying of that intensity last for so long. I was also panicked that he had only had 9 ounces of formula in 15 hours. I can only thank God that this 48 hours coincided with a trip to my parents' house. I am honestly not sure what life would have been like without support. Even with the support of two other adults, I was still short tempered with Toddler T. I felt as though my heart was being twisted in a knot, while my spine was being crushed in a vice. I was exhausted and nervous. I second guessed my decision to go right to formula without giving dairy free a shot. I felt guilty and selfish. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to hide under the covers. It was exhausting and I'm sure I was no peach to be around.
The good news is, Friday morning ushered in a new day. We went back to the doctor to rule out a reaction to the formula or something more serious. I left that appointment feeling hopeful that in just a few more days, we'd really be headed down the right track. This seems to be the case. Tiny T has been doing much better every day and I truly believe that the Prilosec and Nutramigen are working. I also know, in my heart, that I would not have been able to live a dairy free lifestyle without feeling some resentment. I would constantly be hyper vigilant about what I ate. Any time Tiny T seemed fussy, I'm sure I'd agonize about what I ate in the week before. In truth, I knew it was beyond what I could reasonably do.
In another way, I wanted my body back. It is almost two years to the day of my first ectopic. In this two years, I have had surgeries, countless shots, blood draws, diet changes, 9 months of a pregnancy, a cesarian section and every challenge of breast feeding. I was feeling spent. I had the energy to keep breastfeeding but not to add in a dairy free life.
I had to remind myself what the nurse told me three and a half years ago. "Take the emotion out. Babies need to eat, and they don't care how they get fed."
So ironic, don't you think? I was never going to be a lactivist but am now feeling sad that after 6 weeks, I am no longer nursing.