Breastfeeding is a two way relationship, but what if you find yourself running down a one way street?
Being separated from your infant during the nursing relationship is kinda like that. You desperately want to turn around and run toward them, feed them, comfort them, but the sign says no. You have no other choice but to follow the road and look for a way to drive around the block to get back to where you left off.
When I was told I'd either need to take steroids for an extended period of time, or I'd need to have emergency back surgery in August, I looked for the quickest route back to breastfeeding. I opted for the surgery, because I was told the steroids were not a safe drug to take while feeding my infant. This meant 5 days in the hospital away from her, but didn't mean months of steroids, which would have been the end of the relationship at the tender age of 9 months.
I already had milk supply issues and was using a supplementer 3 times a day. This quickly made my little one a boob addict. In the first 5 months, she got donor milk from a milk sharing mom I found on milk share. When the mom said she'd decided to quit work and stay home with her little guy, I was forced to look for another donor. Then I was forced to look for another. The health risk, in my eyes, was too great with more than three donors, so I decided to switch to formula.
The formula changed the flora and fauna on the skin of my areola, and I quickly proceeded to get a horrible yeast infection from the contact of the supplementer tube, formula and my skin. I tried to naturally balance this with white vinegar compresses, grapefruit seed extract, even Motherlove Herbal's Diaper Rash & Thrush Relief. I broke down and asked my midwife to prescribe Nystantin, which I had to wash off before I could feed her, but it kept the yeast under control, if I remembered to use it.
As the solids increased, I was finally able to get rid of the supplementer. It felt so good to be free of my medical device. Then, I lifted my oldest child out of a grocery cart. As the days and weeks went on, pain shot into my left leg, to the point of not being able to stand or sit. after weeks of some pretty hefty pain and numbness creeping up my leg, I found myself in the ER.
This city hospital that, thank God, cared about my breastfeeding relationship, did what they could for me. They even tried to get me a breast pump for me to use during my stay. I was given time and privacy to hand express my milk, and I did this about twice a day. Twenty-four hours after surgery, day five in the hospital, I was discharged.
It was torture being away from my kiddos, especially my little one, so the reunion was sweet. It was heart-breaking at the same time though because I was not permitted to lift anything more than 5 pounds for 6 whole weeks. If I did, I risked re-rupturing my disk. My 9 month old desperately wanted picked up, and not by just anyone, she wanted mama. I felt worthless, but there was one thing I could do. I got back to work building my supply that had dwindled during my stay.
I started my lactation herbs and tea again, and snuggled and nursed with my little one every chance I got. My physical therapist helped me organize pillows as to not put strain on the joint that had been repaired and showed me some good body-mechanics. Since I could not lift the baby, I used the side-lying position. This was great for me because I was still very sleepy from the pain meds, and It gave me a chance to rest.
I used the supplementer again for a short time, and by the time she was 10 1/2 months I was able to put it away for good.Although I was still not able to lift the baby, or walk very well, I felt a triumph. At least I could breastfeed her fully.
In the end, continuing the breastfeeding relationship did me much good. It kept my mood on an even keel, helped me feel worthwhile, and gave me the confidence that, even though I could not care for my daughter, I could do something no caregiver could. I could nurse my little angel to sleep.
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