Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whining about weaning

Breastfeeding has required a great deal of effort on my part.  A few months ago, I discovered the root of my troubles is "insufficient glandular tissue."  Despite my greatest efforts, hundreds of dollars on food, drugs, herbs, acupuncture and an SNS; I could not exclusively breastfeed my sweet daughter.  If you are not familar with the term insufficient glandular tissue, you should also know it goes by the (embarrsing) name of "hypoplastic breasts" or even worse "tubular breasts."  I prefer to use IGT because it defines the reason for the other two names, and sounds less deformed.  

Technically, these breasts are deformed--somewhere along the line of puberty and early menstruation, I lacked the hormonal stimulation to create mammary tissues.  Even though all my efforts to supplement made an impact, they could not make up for the fact that I didn't have enought milk-making cells in my b-cups.

Shortly after this discovery, we hit a sweet-spot in feedings.  I used the SNS a few times a day, offered bottles a few times a day, and I pumped two times a day.  Suddenly, baby girl did not want to breastfeed.  I was defeated, once again.  The embarassment, shame and stress were all back.  How could I ever maintain my supply?  Why did she not want to breastfeed? and of course What was I doing wrong?

Things got ugly in my head pretty quickly.  My mind was full of negativity and confusion, and I was at a loss.  I had no idea what to do.  Then I started spotting, eight days later I started bleeding, three days later it got heavier, a week later it was worse.  After 5 weeks, I made an appointment with a RN.  She was very respectful of my choices (acupuncture, herbs, home birth, etc) and she offered to me what she knew.  Two choices: birth control pills for three months or metformin.  Since we have no desire to prevent future pregnancies, metformin was my choice.

The goal with metformin is to help my body handle sugar better, this should allow me to lose weight easier, since I gained weight breastfeeding.  If I am able to lose weight, my hormonal balance should come under control, thus preventing excess estrogen and insanely long periods.  Hopefully, all of this will establish a normal menstrual cycle and allow me to get pregnant in the next year.

After 38 days of bleeding, changing the sheets, I started getting faint, weak and exhausted.  I hadn't yet filled my prescription yet, and had to miss a day of work.  On my day off of work, I pulled out Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northup.  I read, the book most of the morning while in bed.  I discovered some amazing things, and rediscovered what I knew to be true: I could take charge of my health.

What I knew deep down, but had ignored was painful and empowering.  My daughter stopped breastfeeding because I had nothing left to give.  Sure, I had milk, but my body lacked the strength and energy.  I have put dozens of tiny things ahead of my well-being, to the detriment of my health and my relationship with my husband and daugther.

I have discovered that I stuff my emotions. Today when I heard news that made me sad I thought "it's okay, get on with it."  I realized immediately, that it was not okay and I needed to cry.  I cried for 10 minutes, about a broken washing machine.  My daughter and husband, snuggled me, smiled and accepted that I needed to let it out.  I felt so much better.

Now begins the hard work, changing my life: body, mind and spirit so that I can be healthy, and whole.

I love my daughter, and I miss breastfeeding.  I am embarassed that she weaned at 9 months, I wish I could nurse her into toddlerhood.  I cannot have that dream.  I have to let it go and accept that my body has done all it could to nourish her for the past 19 months.  It may not offer her a full belly, but my body can offer her snuggles and with that strength, love, comfort and support.  

Weaning happened when she was ready, not when I was.  Weaning happened when I needed it, she listened to my body when I would not.  My little girl saved my life.  

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