Friday, February 1, 2008


Shortly after my daughter was born I went through a period of euphoria. That lasted for about three solid weeks. I was euphoric that I survived infertility and managed to birth a healthy and beautiful baby girl. Euphoric that the long 40 weeks were over and all the worries about if she would be healthy were past. Then my husband went back to work and I was alone every day with my breast pump. Now at 5 weeks I find myself in the depths of the baby blues. I feel guilty for feeling blue because I love and adore her so much and I feel guilty for feeling sad on days like this. Why am I sad? I have no idea. I'm exhausted. I hate my breast pump. I sort of feel like I want to quit breast feeding and I feel guilty about having those thoughts. Does that mean that I'm a bad mother if I quit breast feeding? I'm so so so so tired. I can't seem to manage to get myself back to sleep after my daughter wakes up for her second feeding between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m. I've struggled with insominia on and off for most of my life. I took Ambien the other night because my lactation nurse said that it was safe for breast feeding (better than unisom) but I pumped and dumped for one day just to be safe. My husband is putting a lot of pressure on me to continue breast feeding our daughter and I just feel like I'm letting him down. I never got her to latch so I'm forced to pump. It's time consuming and exhausting beyond words. I want this precious time when my daughter is an infant to be filled with good memories and happy days. But instead I'm so tired and miserable most of the day that I cannot enjoy this time at all. So which is more important? My breast milk or having a mother rested and fully present in her little life? I told my husband today that I plan on taking a break for a few days from pumping to get some rest and figure out what I want to do going forward. He didn't sound very happy about that decision. I'm really torn. Torn between taking care of myself and our daughter by getting much needed rest and giving her formula and breast feeding her. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

Anyone out there with any advice?


Stefanie said...

OMG, Kate, it's me Stefanie from Baby On Bored. I went through your EXACT experience with my first daughter and I quit breast feeding. There is NO SHAME in breast feeding not working for you. It's so insane the pressure we put on ourselves and that others put on us about this issue. My husband was bummed that I quit at first too. He kept thinking that our daughter would be more intelligent if I breast fed. It's all propaganda. My daughter is crazy smart and has had one ear infection in 3 years and it was so mild she didn't even need an antibiotic. I really think if you want to keep trying then do but if you need to quit your hormones will have a chance to balance out. I started feeling much better when I stopped. Of course,this shit is chemical and it takes time to get over the blues. I used to cry and cry all day long and I didn't get on Zoloft until my daughter was 18 months old so I didn't treat my actual ppd. I think you should take a Klonopin to get some sleep and have your husband give the baby some formula on that last feeding so you don't have to wake up for it at least once. Sleep depreivation can put you over the edge. And please please email me and we'll try to get through this together. Our babies are the exact same age.

sarah said...

There is no reason why you should feel you have to keep pumping and giving breastmilk if it is taking that much of a toll on you emotionally. Your post brought me back to my own son's newborn days and I felt very much the way you do.

I did continue, mostly due to the same pressure you are feeling now; my son was a preemie and couldn't latch the first 5-6 weeks, so I pumped until that time and then met with a lactation consultant who helped me to get him latched. That made a world of difference and we did end up nursing for a year.

But I also didn't admit that I was suffering from PPD until my son was almost 6 months old and most of the time leading up that admission was filled with guilt, resentment, sadness and shame over how I felt. Even now I feel like I have clarify that I loved my son through it all, but I was overwhelmed by everything.

Bottom line; take care of yourself and the rest will fall into place. If that means giving up breast feeding, so be it. Formula is not poison and how dare anyone try to make you feel like less of a mother when you are agonizing over this decision.

I wish you the very best.

Heather said...

I agree as well, you shouldn't put so much stress on yourself to continue pumping. It is more important for your baby to have a happy mommy than have breast milk. Hang in there.

Ann said...

I have not been in your situation, but I watched a very good friend struggle with a similar problem. I do believe that there are benefits to breast milk, BUT I firmly believe that having her mother present and rested and happy is much more important for your daughter than breast milk. It does not make you a bad mother AT ALL to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your daughter, and if that means formula - then I'm thankful that formula exists and that it does a good job nourishing babies.

In some ways, I think of problems with breast feeding to be similar to IF. Things may just not be working right, but there are other options. Do I wish that we'd conceived Zoe the good old fashioned way? Heck yeah, but science and medicine were there to help us and in the end it doesn't matter how she was conceived. And while it's clear that you wish you could breast feed, if you decide not to, science and formula will be there, and in the end, it won't matter what she was fed (that is assuming you feed her formula and not, you know, kool aid or something).

It need not be an all or nothing thing either, if you think you could handle pumping say once a day and then supplement with formula, that might be a good compromise. But that's up to what you think you can do, being happy and healthy for her is more important than what you're feeding her in this instance.

Take care of yourself. Just from reading your blog, it's clear that you are not a wimp.