Tag Archives: medication

An Evolution

7 Aug

I always knew I’d breastfeed. But when I set out to nurse, I think I saw breastfeeding as a static, uniform thing — you did it or you didn’t, and for those who did, it was just all the same. As a new parent, it was both enlightening and reassuring to discover that’s not true. It is, in fact, extremely nuanced, as individual as the ones doing it. But I also discovered that as soon as you find your footing, things change. Like your baby, breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship is a living, ever-changing creature.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing with you the evolution of my breastfeeding experience… two and half years of the ups, downs, tears, joys, and mundane of nourishing my little one (and myself) in the process.

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Pre-birth – I suppose this started years ago when I watched my step mother nurse twins for 18 months. I’d never seen a baby breastfeed before and this seemed revolutionary to me at the time (at 15). Closer to time for z-baby’s birth, though, I took a breastfeeding class at work and attended some lunchtime discussions at work for nursing moms (led by a lactation consultant). A few days before I gave birth I started getting nervous and watched every video I could find from Dr. Jack Newman. I watched healthy newborn latches over and over and over…

Birth – Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I wanted to nurse right away but z-baby was in a transition nursery for over 6 hours. When I did get him, we started right away and he latched — but not a great one. I had already asked for a lactation consultant and we saw them three times before we left the hospital. Z-baby was a sleeper… he wanted to eat, but he wanted to sleep even more. So my most vivid memory of those days was stripping him down each and every time he needed to eat (so he didn’t feel too cozy) and gently nudging him awake throughout every feed. Z-baby’s papi took this very seriously, like his personal mission those first few days.

Month 1 – My milk came in quickly and plentiful and z-baby was a great eater. I loved nursing, but it was soooooo painful. But not in the way I could have imagined. I had a bit of Carpal Tunnel during the pregnancy, and it kicked into overdrive those few weeks following birth. My hands would freeze up like hooks and I was terrified I’d drop the baby. And my hands didn’t just go numb, they ached and pain shot up through to my elbows. I remember crying through several of those feedings from the pain. My mom or husband would have to either support the baby or my breast or both. It sucked (no pun intended). I couldn’t sit down to nurse without water and a towel because there was so much milk it seemed to get everywhere!
*Nursing equipment was very important: Boppy upstairs, Brest Friend downstairs, multiple towels, nipple cream, pads for the bra, nursing bra.

Months 2-3 – When the painful claw hands went away, nursing became a breeze. I loved it still, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I had to have my gallbladder taken out and we happily fell into co-sleeping, which made the night-time nursing even better. Z-baby loved nursing and was still in that pre-wiggler phase where he’d pretty much stay put through a whole feeding and was serious about his nursing… no playing for this guy… yet!
*Equipment: We dropped the nipple cream around this time and started trying the pump and bottles. 

Nursing z-baby, 5 weeks

Months 4-9 – I went back to work after 3 months and it was hell. H-E-L-L. Z-baby refused all bottles and reversed cycled. My first day back I had an off-site meeting and tried to pump in the car, only to realize I had no batteries or charger. I got so engorged but survived. I was at a leading public health agency in the country and they had lactation rooms and pumps which were great, but it was still a challenge to find the time during the day to do it and an open time slot in the rooms. I luckily telecommuted several days a weeks and had someone watching the baby in the house, so I could just nurse those days. But on days when I wasn’t home, z-baby waited for me all day and then we nursed all night. I welcomed the nursing, but he would be so hungry that he’d overeat and puke everywhere and I could never keep up with the laundry. We introduced some solids in here but he could care less. Most of this is a blur for me because the postpartum depression set in during this time, though I wasn’t fully aware of it. But I know I worried all day about z-baby not eating and raced home to be with him and only then was I ever at ease. And in those early days of still undiagnosed postpartum depression, it was the nursing that kept me going… alive even.
*Equipment: Pump, pump, pump. And pump some more. Sometime during this time we also stopped using the nursing pillows.

Months 10-14 – I finally started getting treatment for the postpartum depression, and while this was still a very difficult time, it did start to get a little better. Breastfeeding was still the light at the end of the tunnel each and every day. Looking down and seeing z-baby and seeing him relish the time as much as I did left me speechless. Or maybe it was from the biting, I can’t remember. No longer just a wiggler on the couch, he’s a roller during nursing, too. He nurses upside down and sideways, bouncing and swaying. I never knew my nipples were so flexible… I still overproduced and donated gallons (and gallons…) of it to a friend. But I’m finally not gushing every time I go to nurse.
*Equipment: I think I still used nursing pads when at work or separated from z-baby, and the pump, of course.

Months 14-24 – I stopped working, put away the pump, and started staying at home with z-baby full time. Life is goooooooooooooood. Nursing becomes something I do often throughout the day, but no longer think about. Z-baby became vocal about his nursing during this time and asked for it frequently. Nursing in public became both easier and more difficult. Easier because he could just sit in front of me and I could angle away from people… harder because he never stayed in one position and insisted my shirt be ALL the way up to give him total access. I struggled with the decision to wean or not so that I can get pregnant again, but it just never felt right. Z-baby went through lots of ups and downs… times when he needed to nurse a lot (usually growth and developmental spurts and teething) and periods where he didn’t nurse as much. Biting still an off and on issue, and the nipple fiddling started (playing with one while eating off the other). Momma became a serve yourself buffet during this time — z-baby would pull up my shirt and insist on his “deeta” whenever he wanted it.
*Equipment: A chair. That’s it. No pads, towels, creams, pillows, nothing. Oh, and a nursing bra. But I had to be careful somedays because he sees the act of sitting down as an open invitation.

Months 24-30 – Here we are, nursing at 2 1/2 years. Nursing is still an acrobatic act, day and night. We’ve pared it down to going down and waking up from naps and bedtime. He’s starting to respect my wishes some — needing to wait or stop during the night, for example. But he manages which side he wants and the exact position he wants it in. I also have to nurse cars and trains, and he’s even tried to push it up so I can have some, too (such a helper!). He even managed to get chocolate milk out of me one day (that’s a post for another day)!!! He had his first sleepover with grandma (our first night apart!), which was his first night ever that he didn’t nurse. And just very recently did I hit the nursing wall. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m ready to wean. I know I’ll miss it, and I can’t imagine motherhood without it (at first at least), but I’m ready. Is he? I don’t think so, and we’re working on potty training so I won’t do anything right away… but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
*Equipment: Nada. Except for the darn bra! There are times when he needs a quick comfort session of about 3 seconds and I don’t even sit anymore… just bend over.

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Two and half years of breastfeeding. No cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastisis. A little bit of yeast once. Overproduction and numb hands. Gallons of milk in my freezer. Lugging the pump to work and z-baby on a week-long business trip. Surgery and anesthesia. Postpartum depression and medication. Nursing pads, pillows, and towels. Reverse cycling and cosleeping. Nursing in bed, on the couch, at the table, typing, writing, on the phone, in the car, in public, in therapy, on planes, in meetings, standing up, sitting down, bending over. Two and half years. And I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

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I just couldn’t stop

23 Mar

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, it was the first day of strawberry season around here. I was so excited for so many reasons.

First, this is just the kind of thing I loved to do as a kid, and I wanted to start the tradition with z-baby. Strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, watermelon… you name it, I’ll pick it. In Mexico my favorite things to pick were aguacates and liches (yum!). I’ve also been in a cooking mood, and there are so many things you can make with strawberries. Plus, Z-baby loves his outside time, but isn’t such a fan of getting dirty. I thought this would be a good way to get him to play in the dirt. The biggest reason of all, though, is that just thinking about strawberry season really put of lot into perspective for me.

When we moved here last year, I was still really struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. But I think I had forgotten just how much… Back then it had been on my list of things to do: “Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom and live here, I’m going to go do things like pick strawberries. In the middle of the day. In the middle of the week!” It felt so monumental, so… rebellious even. But I never did it. Strawberry season came and went. Then blackberry. Then blueberry. We didn’t even go cut our own pumpkin in the fall. In fact, there’s a lot of things that I just don’t remember from those first few months here. I was still that depressed. It wasn’t until later in the summer that I started feeling good, starting getting out and doing things, started enjoying myself, my z-baby, my new town. I was happy to get off the meds in later summer, too. But that didn’t mean that everything was miraculously better. I still had some anxiety. Not a lot, but I still had to go through a period of learning how to better manage it on my own. It was slow. But it felt normal. It felt good.

Now I’ve made it through my first winter post- postpartum depression. Winters used to be so hard on me. March, for some reason was the worst. I inevitably hit rock bottom every March. My doc suggested I use a light box this winter. And I was going to do it, had every intention of buying one. But I forgot. I was distracted by the fun I was having with z-baby. I did make it a point to get outside more and try and soak up as much sun as possible. And the climate around these parts is forgiving in that way, so maybe that helped. Are things perfect? Hell no. But I do feel a lot better than I’ve felt in a very, very long time.

Now I say all that to explain what went through my head when I read the simplest of statements in a newsletter Sunday afternoon: “The u-pick strawberry farms may open for the season tomorrow, but you’ll have to call to be sure.” Immediately, I was like, “Yes! Strawberries! That sounds like fun!” And then I remembered last year’s proclamation and the failed follow-through. And that’s why when I woke up Monday morning, the first thing I did was grab my phone and call to see if they were really open. And that’s why I threw on some clothes and took off with z-baby and headed to the fields even before sig-o had left for work that morning. I know I’m a different person now than I was just a few short months ago, and I wasn’t going to put off another strawberry proclamation again.

So how was the event? Z-baby picked three whole strawberries. Then he felt the sandy dirt on his hands and decided this was not the fun he thought it was going to be. He took off his hat and tossed it over a few rows. He carried the buckets. Until he got distracted by two little girls munching on berries as they picked them. He watched them for a long time and then picked one out of his bucket and chomped into it. And then spent the next 5 minutes spitting and wiping his tongue clean. Then he kicked the buckets. Then he dumped all the berries out of them. Then he picked at the leaves. Then he found his real calling. He kicked the dirt. And he loved it. Me? I filled my bucket in an almost delirious trance, talking half to z-baby and half to myself the whole time about how beautiful the berries were, how good they smelled, all the things we could make with them. The sun was hot but the day was cool and berries were perfect and the dirt smelled as good as the berries and the leaves were scratchy in a nostalgic and not too annoying kind of way. And then I filled another bucket. I just couldn’t stop. It was like meditation, the movement, the senses. I finally stopped when berries were falling from both buckets. I thought about getting more buckets, but thought it wiser to stop for the day… if for no other reason, so I can come back again soon and do it all over again.

The new Vaca Loca

27 Feb

So waaaay back in August, I made the decision to stop blogging. More than anything I came to a point where I felt like I didn’t need to blog about postpartum depression anymore. I had gone off all my meds (with my doc’s blessing) and was feeling good and was ready to stop thinking about the postpartum as much as I could.

Six months later I’m happy to say that I’m still meds-free and feeling fine. I still think about the postpartum more than I’d like to… but I’ve come to accept that it’s just part of the fabric of who I am now and its remnants will likely always be there. And I’m ok with that.

But I miss my vaca loca. I miss the writing, the venting, the sharing. I follow a few other really great blogs and they’ve inspired me to get back at it (along with some prodding from my sister!).  So I’ve decided to re-invent this little blog. I have no idea what will end up here, but I look forward to finding out.

Getting back on track

5 Aug

Just a quick update before I head out of town again. True to my word, I got an appointment and checked in with my doctor. She’s keeping me off all meds for now until we can talk some more next week. And so far so good — both depression and anxiety still at bay so I couldn’t be happier about that! So I’m looking forward to visiting with friends while I’m in town and doing some shopping, and even making a quick visit to my psychic. Yep, now you know…a well-kept secret about me.  😉 Updates on all to come sometime later next week. Until then…

A bad, bad patient

1 Aug

So I’ve tried to be transparent and honest in this blog. And I’ve said a few things that surprise even me now (I’m a pretty private kind of person). But there’s a post I’ve been needing to write for a week or so that I find downright embarrassing. The fact is, I’m a bad, bad patient. Why? I’ve really messed up on my meds. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. I mean, it’s not a good thing…and it really irks me.

So here’s the situation. A few weeks ago, my back went out. I was on multiple muscle relaxers and pain pills. So in my stupor I missed some doses. It was very hit or miss. Then I started taking them again, but I was visiting family and out of my normal routine and it was hit or miss some more. Then I just totally dazed and now it’s probably been at least 7 days with no meds. At least. And I gotta say, I’m feeling pretty damn good. In fact, I’m feeling better than when I was on the meds lately. I’ve had some dizziness, which I imagine is from the withdrawal, but no other side effects. That’s not to say that the meds haven’t helped, because they absolutely have. But maybe — and this is admittedly a big maybe — it’s time to come off of them. There I said it. Now I don’t mean completely. With my history of depression and anxiety (I now know) and my family history, I’ll likely have to be on something for maintenance. But I’m hoping that I can get off the majority of it. And yes, this conveniently coincides with my last post, in which I ponder my readiness to try and get pregnant again. I know I may still deal with some depression and anxiety during another pregnancy, but cutting out some meds would be a very good thing. And I’m aware I would likely have to go back on something after delivery because I’m high risk for postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it. But I digress.

In the meantime I have to figure out what to do. I need to make an appointment Monday morning with my specialist, which sucks because she’s now 4 hours away. I’m going to email her, too, and let her know the situation and see what she says to do between now and then. I’m writing that here so I’ll follow through with it and not just add it to a list of things to do. And hopefully I won’t get into too much trouble for being such a bad patient.

Now’s not the time…or is it?

17 Apr

A while back, when I was probably at my lowest point with postpartum depression, my doc told me to hold tight, that it wasn’t the time for major changes. So I waited and secretly planned for changes anyway. And while it wasn’t what the doc ordered, I think it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Ultimately, only time will tell, but I’ve been feeling better this week now that the changes are really starting to take action. Moving to a new city, rented our house, rented us a house, got a mover, almost entirely packed the house (thanks to sig-o), got the utility change-overs settled, and after much deliberation, quitting my job. I had given notice, but they asked me to stay and so I did for a while, but I’ve had enough and I don’t want all the changes we’re making to be tainted by old frustrations. Last week my anxiety had been through the roof and my doc gave me something to help me through the move. But it took me a few days to even the get the medicine and by the time I got it, I haven’t felt like I’ve needed — I’ve only taken it once. And yet I’ve been feeling great. I won’t say relaxed, but certainly more chill than I was. Which just makes me think that regardless of having postpartum depression or not, we know what’s best for us. And it’s up to us, and only us, to make decisions and take action to make our lives into what we want and what we need. I’m not saying it’s easy to do make changes, no matter how significant, but it could be just as important as the therapy, meds, etc… that we do to battle postpartum depression and anxiety. It’s all about taking care of ourselves and following our own intuition in the process. That’s what I’m trying to do, and so far…so good.

Afternoon anxiety

10 Apr

So I saw the doc this week and was very happy to be able to say that I feel like the depression is better. Now if we could just get the anxiety under control. I asked about the afternoon anxiety I’m experiencing. It could because of when I take my meds or could be everything going on right now or could be both. At any rate, she gave me a prescription for something to help me get through everything going on right now. But then I found out after my appointment that I did not, in fact, have the health insurance that  I was supposed to have now. So I can’t get the medicine. This weekend we’re packing. Like major packing. Leaving just the basics out. This is highly stress-provoking for me and I could really use the help right now. I’ve pretty much been totally overwhelmed this week. We signed a lease to rent our house out and applied and was approved was to rent a house where we’re relocating. Both are good things, but make this move so much more real. I do feel better being able to know and see where we’re going. But I can tell my head is overwhelmed and stretched too thin when I get frustrated over simple things with the baby. Like him wanting to be held all the time, not taking a nap, needing a diaper change. And I was feeling that today. Just frustrated and tired and paralyzed — I can’t concentrate on anything long enough to finish a task. We’ll soon be overtaken by all the laundry I haven’t done in weeks. I mean that literally. Totally overtaken. And naked… we’ll be naked when we’re overtaken because we’re running out of anything to wear! Headlines will read: Naked family of 3 and family dog swallowed alive by dirty laundry.