Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seven Stages of Grief

It's no secret the last two months have been HARD on our family.  I've never been good at transitions, but the challenges of going back to work, spending such little time with my son, struggling with new schedules and procedures, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic each day, worrying over finances, and feeling like an inadequate mother, teacher, and wife have all been too much to handle. 

One of the toughest things for me to deal with has been breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding has been an emotional roller coaster full of highs and lows since day one...but the ride is officially over.  Below is my emotional journey regarding the topic over the last two months:

1. Shock and Denial
It began with Jackson's 4 month check.  I thought for sure he would be well over 15 lbs.  I couldn't believe the scale when he weighed in at 14 lbs, 4 oz--a mere 1.5 lb gain from his 2 month check.  I questioned the numbers, but reassured myself everything would be fine.  I did not worry too much, even though I was unable to pump enough milk to freeze.  I still did not worry when I stopped being able to pump enough for Jackson to eat during the day.  I made excuses that it was stress at work, starting my cycle again, an inefficient pump, lack of privacy while pumping, or teething.  I still thought my supply would bounce back.

2. Pain and Guilt
The pain and guilt at realizing I'm not providing for my child occurred the Sunday Jackson got so sick and we took him to Urgent Care.  The tears began streaming down my face as soon as I saw the scale read 14 lbs, 9 oz.  I was flooded with guilt for not recognizing my own inadequacies and for denying my son a full belly.  

3. Anger
I have been furious and questioned many things around me.
  • What is wrong with the body God designed for me? 
  • Why is my body failing me? 
  • Why can't I provide for my son's most basic needs? 
  • Why can other moms breastfeed exclusively for two years, and I can't make it to the six month mark? 
  • Why does everyone continue to ask me a never ending list of questions ("Have you tried Fenugreek?  Are you getting enough water?  How often are you pumping?") as if I can control my body?
  • Why do people make apologetic comments and look at me with pity as if I have done something shameful?
  • Why do I feel guilty for using formula?
  • Why is formula so damn expensive?  (Cost was a huge motivation for me when dealing with cracked, bleeding nipples and thrush in the beginning.)
4. Depression
Many additional factors led to my depression.  I continued to cry every morning while driving to work.  The onset of anxiety attacks causing hyperventilation led me to make an appointment with a doctor.  It has been two weeks now since beginning Zoloft and I am able to notice a big difference.  (FYI, Jesse has been on anti-depressants for a full month.  Our household is MUCH more relaxed and we are all able to enjoy our time with another again.)

5. Upward Turn
I adjusted to the fact that my body was not providing for my son and formula was the only logical solution.  The phrase "breast is best" is so ingrained in my mind that it took me quite some time to realize that feeding my child formula was better than putting my child to bed hungry.  It also took some time for the medication to kick in.

6. Reconstruction
Jesse and I did a bit of research and determined that Sam's Club is the best value.  Jesse purchased a Sam's membership and the three of us went out after our Friday date night to purchase our first container of formula.  We mixed one scoop of formula with three ounces of breastmilk for Jackson's first time.
7. Acceptance and Hope
I am currently pumping both sides twice a day and getting a grand total of 2 ounces.  I no longer breastfeed Jackson and I will stop pumping very soon.  Jackson will receive two bottles of breastmilk each day until he turns six months old, at which point there will be no more breastmilk in the freezer.  I find great satisfaction in snuggling with my baby and giving him a warm, full bottle of formula before he goes to bed.  He no longer cries after feedings.  I pray he is gaining weight appropriately. 

This is not the way I would have planned things, but I am still blessed with the happiest baby in the world, which makes me the happiest mommy in the world!

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