01 August 2013

Battlelines and Cabbageboobs

I've never been one to shy away from discussing my issues with depression. There's a strong history of it in my family, and it goes hand in hand with a couple of other health issues I have (thyroid, PCOS). I have struggled with it from at least puberty, but was never diagnosed until shortly before I married Manthing, when the stress of nursing school, studying for licensing exams, packing to move to another province and planning my wedding overwhelmed me and I started having massive panic attacks and uncontrollable crying jags.

I was marginally concerned about postpartum depression with Girlchild but I managed well off my meds, and when she weaned, transitioned back onto my medication without any issues. But since then, I have endured a major depressive episode that lasted nearly a year. It took me over a year to recover once I was on a med that was working for me, and it wasn't long after I started feeling like myself again that I found I was pregnant with Tadpole Jones. I had a panic attack when I looked at that urine test. How was I going to be able to manage a pregnancy unmedicated? How would I manage breastfeeding? After a long conversation with my doctor, I went off my meds. Just for the pregnancy, was the start. Then we would see how I was doing immediately postpartum and make a decision from there.

Having an anxiety disorder and depression means that I worry more than a normal person does. And I worry until I am physically ill. So I was worried about this for 9 months (I knew I was pregnant the day it happened. Because I track obsessively. And worry compulsively).

The first few days with Tadpole Jones were alright. I thought, yeah, I can do this for 6 months, I can nurse and give my baby the best start possible, I can drink the breastfeeding kool-aid like I always have done, and put aside my concerns about my mental health for him. I have great supports - my parents are literally a 2.4km drive from my house, Manthing has been a rock the entire pregnancy, I have good friends who pop in with Ice Capps whenever I am starting to feel a little low.

But he had jaundice (precipitous birth and Gestational Diabetes does that to babies), and was a difficult latch, and lazy eater. I was pumping to help build a supply for after the 3-6 month window I'd given myself off meds (notice it had already decreased from 6 months to 3-6 months?), and so I was spending 10-12 hours each day just dealing with feeds. Let me remind you I also am 'walking sick' - I have gall bladder disease, and I am lucky if I can manage to eat 1000 calories a day without making myself sick and putting myself into excruciating pain. So I'm not really making a quality breastmilk.

To make matters worse, I had a migraine that lasted from 2 days after he was born until yesterday at midnight. I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't find the patience to deal with my beautiful girl, I was ready to throw my wee man into a trash bin. Oh! And I was developing mastitis! Good Effing Times™!!

2 days ago, while sobbing (again) on the phone with my mum, I decided I needed to switch to formula. I am not physically healthy enough to be nursing a baby. And it was taking a huge toll on my mental health. And I'd made a commitment to my family that I would never allow my mental health to nosedive like it did in 2011 again. It was a catch-22 - no matter what, I was going to wind up giving that wee boy formula because I was either too sick physically, or was going to be too sick mentally to do it.

I drew a battleline in the sand. I am not going to allow mental illness to steal my children's childhoods. I've already lost a year of the Girlchild's childhood to this monster, I'm not losing anymore. So yesterday, I packed my bra with cabbage and bought formula. I have enough pumped milk from the last 2 weeks that I will be able to transition Tadpole Jones over the course of about 6 days. And Manthing has been fortunate enough with work that he's been able to take the middle of the night feeds that last few days so I am starting to feel human again.

It might take me a while to get over the guilt of not breastfeeding, but since I would have more guilt about being a shitty parent, this is okay.

Weird fact of the day: when you take the wilty cabbage out of your bra, it doesn't smell like cabbage anymore.

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