Friday, June 6, 2008

The end of one cycle

It's been a while since I've been here; once I started really working again, blogging for me got difficult. After all, when your job is blogging, you don't really slack off by... blogging. And I don't even have any time to slack off. My days are packed, from early morning until whenever I sleep, though for the past week I've been sick, so the schedule is completely, 100% irregular. I've had a really hard time sleeping since I got sick.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Jack is now almost four months old, he's beautiful, he's enormous, he's chatty and playful and happy, and he's now strictly a formula baby. He might have been the last time I blogged... that was April. I'm not sure. But I want to get the story out, to have a record, because it still hurts, because nearly every day, something happens that reminds me of the hurt.

Lots of personal details ahead.

We were doing okay with breastfeeding. He was a hungry boy, so we were sometimes topping him off with formula, but mostly, I'd just stay up with him for long nights, and we'd watch movies and nurse and nurse and nurse. We were in frequent contact with the lactation consultant at the pediatrician's office because he was just so hungry all the time (and growing so fast!), but everything seemed fine. We were happy, if tired. I never had any left over to pump, but since I work at home, that wasn't an issue. He took an occasional bottle, but since Jack will put anything in his mouth and suck, and always has, that wasn't an issue, either.

Around five weeks after he was born, I started menstruating again. I've always had hellish cramps, so I was pretty pissed off -- wasn't I supposed to get a break? where was my break? -- but that meant I needed some sort of birth control, because the last thing we need right now is another little person! This one's a handful. So I called the doctor, she called in my prescription after we discussed which pills I would take -- since I was still breastfeeding, and needed a certain kind -- and I started taking them. Great, right?

Not long after, Jack started to get really fussy during feedings, and never seemed satisfied. I talked to the lactation consultant more. We were advised to time his feedings and cut him off after a while. We were advised to top him off with formula more often. I went from not being able to pump much to not being able to pump at ALL. More and more, his father was bottle feeding him (I wasn't supposed to unless I had to), but he was thriving, so the doctor and the lactation consultant, they didn't worry much. I was trying so hard to feed him, and consistently failing more and more, with no idea what was going on. No one ever asked me about my pills. I didn't know they could be a problem, didn't think about it, didn't question it... my doctor had made sure everything was okay.

But the pharmacy didn't. We'll get there.

At eight weeks, I finally gave up. I was tired and upset and sick of calling the lactation consultant all the time. I was tired of Jack fussing. I just wanted him to be happy. The next week or so (I remember, it was like six days after I quit nursing him), Christopher went to pick up my new birth control pills, and that was when the pharmacist owned up to their mistake. They hadn't given me the special pills my doctor prescribed. They screwed up and gave me regular birth control pills, which had dried up my milk.

I called my ob/gyn's office the next day in tears. They prescribed a drug that was supposed to restart my milk production, and I thought everything would be okay. It was such a relief to know that I wasn't a "failure," that it wasn't me, but someone else's mistake. I got my new pills, and my new prescription (this time making sure, even with generics, that everything was the right drug), and started the pills that were supposed to restimulate my milk.

Except I almost immediately came down with dire symptoms that indicated a bad reaction to the drug. I was told to stop taking it. There was nothing else they could do for me. I waited a few days and tried again, because I was so desperate to be a good mother, to be adequate, to be able to simply feed my son, but I had the reaction again and had to give it up.

A friend spoke to a lawyer on my behalf. Apparently I could so -- and would win -- but wouldn't get anything out of it, since there was no "monetary" damage. I've never been much of a believer in the emotional distress suits, but if anything qualifies, I would think this does. I was devastated, and am frequently devastated all over again. Jack has problems keeping his formula down, and I keep thinking, maybe that's my fault. My attachment parenting books hinge on breastfeeding, and I wonder, am I a failure at that? I snuggle my baby, and I love him, and hold him and cherish him, and have slept with him so often... he shops with me in his baby sling... but I'm a failure at the most basic aspect of mothering.

I know it's ridiculous. I know I shouldn't feel like that, because it ISN'T my fault, though I guess I could have been double-checking every prescription from the pharmacy (like I am now; that's a lesson learned). But it keeps coming up. He went to the doctor recently for some problems, and we were talking to the doctor about switching formula, and she went on and on about how "nature had a plan with breastmilk," and since that was always the same, it followed that the same formula was a good idea, too, and I just broke down. I wanted to be on nature's plan.

I took him to the farmer's market recently, a woman was admiring him and his chubby little knees. She asked me if he was formula fed, and I said yes, and she said something about how all formula fed babies were fat, and I almost lost it then, too. With Dr. Sears going on about lean babies, and my fears that I will pass my own poor health and diet habits on (I'm desperate not to, and improving my own health all the time), all I could think was -- I've failed, I'm a failure, and now my son is fat.

He isn't, by the way. He's perfect, and I've stopped making sense long ago, but there are so may things that happen that remind me of this, that keep bringing up the fact that this happened, that I had to stop nursing, and it just kills. It comes up with friends, too -- even just tonight, when I was talking about Jack teething with a friend who'd moved to Dallas and hadn't heard what happened, he cracked a joke about the impact of that on breastfeeding, and I just wanted to die.

But I keep telling myself that it's okay. Jack is happy, and we're happy. It just keeps coming up, but someday, I'll get over it. In the mean time, here's a picture of my beautiful boy, looking much older than he really is:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I ran into your blog with google alerts for "attachment parenting".

I had a thought while I was reading. I think that you ought to keep nursing him even if you are "dry". Formula feed AND nurse. Your body ought to release oxytocin (the hormone that helps milk let down) and both of you can benefit from the bonding, which will in turn stimulate his immune system and yours. I believe that if you nurse him enough, than you have a chance to stimulate your milk production, that's how it was produced in the first place, after all.

I think that you will find that that feeling of inadequacy will get you nowhere fast! Feel confident that you are a capable but most of all a flexible parent.

You will do well, I'm sure of it, if you follow the path that makes the both the happiest. Don't bother yourself with unearned guilt.

I am having trouble with keeping my son in cloth diapers, he hates them. He hates the biodegradable kind too. He wants the plush, super soft, bleached, mega trash making diapers. My green soul feels a little sick and guilty with every paper diaper I throw in the trash. This baby, however, could care less. He wants nothing to do with the cloth diapers. So I swallow hard, and buy the pampers.

We all just do our very best. Your closer than most if you practice even a little bit of the attachment parenting concepts. Don't beat yourself up!

Your son is beautiful. He just a tiny bit older than mine.

Ok, I'm done.