Last night around 4:45 AM, I had a huge "A-HA!" moment, and it all started with a burning breast duct last Friday night.
You see, I've tried to be as non-dramatic and whiny as possible with this whole nursing experience. I know I've complained some here and there but the absolute bottom line truth? My life has been miserable for the last 6 months. The MSPI diet has been brutal for me. I eat a small variety of things and I am constantly reluctant to put anything at all in my mouth. I stand around at parties and functions out with a glass of water and smile and act like I don't mind that I'm not able to eat anything. My body has been in complete and utter revolt. I've lost 30 lbs in 6 months with zero exercise. My hair is coming out in clumps. I'm having bizarre skin issues. My digestive system has been so screwed up, I've worried if I have somehow created my own food intolerances or if I've damaged myself. I have had so many blocked ducts and milk blisters, and no one can tell me why.
Beyond me, baby S has just never been right. We had good days here and there, but generally speaking, she has always been fussy, cranky and sleepless. I haven't had more than a few hours of sleep in a stretch for as long as I can remember. In fact, I'd say that my average sleep each night for the better part of 6 months has been 4 broken hours, at best.
This is not a life that benefits anyone. Anyone.
Just for the sake of "breast is best."
Friday night I started feeling an intense searing in my right breast. I had no idea why and hoped it would just go away. It persisted the entire weekend, but I had no fever, no lumps, nothing to indicate mastitis. The pain got so great Saturday that I actually caved and called my ObGyn's emergency line. He was kinda shocked because I never even called his emergency line once when I was pregnant. (Either time) I suggested to him that I maybe had thrush but there were no classic symptoms on me or the baby but I didn't know what else it could be. He suggested ibuprofen and heat and call him if it didn't get better.
Nothing helped. It didn't get better.
But I rode it out until Tuesday and went to see him. He told me he couldn't believe how frail I looked. He checked me over and said there was no obvious explanation for the pain and called the hospital lactation consultants to ask for their advice. They said it could maybe be an early case of thrush, to take the baby to her pedi and have them check her. If she was positive then we both probably had it and he could treat me as such. He looked me in the eye and said he was really concerned for me and wanted me to consider switching to formula.
Pediatrician visit went exactly as I expected. Baby S showed ZERO signs of thrush. But she did show signs that she has been dropping in weight percentile... AGAIN. She's in the 25th percentile for weight. She is so skinny. Pedi suggested maybe the crazy every-hour-on-the-hour night waking is related to acid reflux and she needs TWO full doses of preva.cid a day.
I sat in the parking lot after this visit and cried. I was so sick with a sinus infection, I could barely talk, and my breast was burning and my baby was crying in the back seat and I just felt... really hopeless. For the first time in a long time I felt broken.
And I came home and I told my husband that I wanted to try formula.
And we did.
I won't say that it was easy. I have been beyond emotional the past 2 days over this. Last night when she woke to eat at 4:30, I could tell she wanted nothing more than to snuggle up in bed and nurse. And I wanted the same. But I knew it would only serve to confuse her. So J gave her a bottle while I lied in bed and quietly felt hot tears running down my face (and lots and lots of snot running down my throat--ugly crying + sinus infection=VILE combo) and after she went back in to her bassinet and he got back in to bed, I laid there and cried for another little bit... and then it happened.
I love nursing. She loves nursing. But it ISN'T WORKING this time. We are happy together for those 15-20 minutes while she's eating. After that? She's miserable. I'm miserable. I feel like I have no life. I have no ME. I have no time to give my husband. I have less time to give little L than I can stand. I'm constantly holding a fussy baby who won't nap and whose tummy is bubbling and I'm up all night long, groggily fighting my way through all of this, all for the sake of keeping up nursing. I've spent HOURS and HOURS of time on my phone (while nursing or holding a fussy baby) googling allergies, MSPI, thrush, burning breasts, milk blisters.... MAKING MYSELF SICK with worry over what the best thing to do for her is and what will happen when she turns 1 and how much longer will I have to nurse her and WHEN WILL MY LIFE EVER GET BACK TO NORMAL?!
The noise of all of this has been utterly deafening.
And I realized at 4:45 AM that what I've been doing all this time has NOT been working. It is time to try something else. For every one's sake. At the very best, for her to be less fussy and my family to get back to normal and enjoy life again and at the very least, for me to be ME again.
Today? She laughed and smiled and played for 2 solid hours without fussing one time. She went down for a nap without screaming and she has been asleep in her crib for 2 hours.
I don't know what is to come. 24 successful hours on a hypoallergenic formula doesn't mean things will be perfect. But it does mean that it is time to press ahead on this chapter and close the other one firmly behind me.