Monday, May 24, 2010

Pain, Pride, PND

Well my days in hospital ranged from morphine-induced happy time, to exhaustion, despair, love, happiness and the beginnings of PND. (Post-Natal Depression). I have a history of depression, and it is a part of my immediate and extended family, which made it possible for me to see it in myself and know that the hole I was slowly sinking into would swallow me whole if I didnt get help. 

Hospital - Day 1. Went to hospital and arrived at 7am on the dot... having not being able to eat since midnight the night before (and was in bed by 9pm... so this made it 10 hours without food... not normally a problem... but being preggy and knowing that you are not allowed to each is a torture all in its own ;-) was lined up to be the first C-Section of the morning... then got bumped to 2nd, then to 3rd.... and of course I wasn't allowed to eat... so 14 hours without food.... then went in for the surgery... Riley was born at 11.29am on Thursday 11th March. Weighing a healthy 8lb 9oz (3.905kg). Got wheeled back into recovery and wasnt allowed to eat until I had passed wind or "gone to the toilet"  to ensure that everything was still working.... well I didnt appreciate that... and got served pretty quickly after the surgery... after all the family left :D Can't remember how many times Riley woke during the night. and all my BFing had to be done lying down... which is hard enough to get the hang of when you're a seasoned feeder (i've been told) and I had nothing to compare it to... so I had no idea if I was doing it right or not..

Day 2. Can't remember. was BFing, but again didnt know if I was doing it right or not.

Day 3. Can't remember. but I do know it was about this time that i started to crack and bleed, and I simply associated it with "getting used" to BFing...

Day 4. By this stage feeding was so painful that i physically couldnt hold my son because I would be having convulsive shakes and bawling my eyes out in excruitiating pain, and would have to get a midwife, nurse or lactation consultant to hold him to me while I clenched my hands and gouged at my palms. Halfway through this day, it wa suggested to me, and we decided to try expressing and finger feeding Riley to give me a chance to heal a bit. (no amount of Lansinoh was helping) which involved pumping, then taping a tube to your finger and the other end connected to a syringe, then pouring the EBM into the syringe and letting him suck on your finger for the EBM. Doing this messed with my head in so many ways. Relief that I didnt have to suffer through the bleeding and the convulsive shaking, but utter disappointment in myself that it wasn't working for us they way that I expected. 

Day 5. Finger Fed through tears as all I wanted to do was BF and "be a mum" and be able to do what our bodies were designed for. 

Night of Day 5. Dave and I had a long intense talk about bottle feeding EBM, FF and trying to BF. By this stage i was so deeply down the rabbit hole that I knew if i kept going the way I was - one day at a time, always waiting... waiting to heal, waiting for the next feed with gritted teeth, waiting for things to get better - then I would just keep sinking down into myself and very likely not be able to come out of it on my own, or with any amount of help. It was at this point that I realised how lucky I was that I was able to recognise my own warning signs. I thought long and hard that night, pros vs cons, my health and happiness, Daves health and happiness (i have never seen a man so upset as he did when i was in the throes of a pain convulsion) That night I made my decision.

Day 6. Discharge day. After having made a certain decision and put my own plan in place (albeit in my head) I felt so much better and happier. I had decided to switch to Formula, but express as long as possible. after days of lactation consultants, my midwife and nurses/midwives on duty on the ward, I didnt feel like I was gettin anywhere and could not see a light at the end of the tunnel. When my midwife came to see me before being discharged, I informed her of my decision, which she supported, but then suggested another alternative. nipple shields. Which i tried before we left the hospital. and they worked. was still painful, but i could hold Riley there myself, so I decided to give it one more shot. 

At home. We used them for a few days and they were working great, I was even healing, slowly, but I was... we tried BFing again without the shields, and he seemed to be doing great. but was still loosing weight. at his lowest point he had lost approx 12% of his birth weight. I was cracking and bleeding again. I was sinking again. Nothing I was doing was working and my poor boy was not getting fed properly, was sleeping all the time and lost all his chubb. 

My midwife and I came up with another plan of action. pump and bottle feed exclusively (no BF at all) until i was completely healed with formula top ups so he could get back to his birth weight. One pump hire later and we were in business. After 2 weeks of this he was regaining his chubb and I was healing. When I was back to 100% I wanted to try BFing again. (I still didnt feel like "a mum" because I wasn't BFing) but I noticed after a week of this that at every feed it was the last thing I wanted to do... I would give him his dummy first to try and keep him quiet and not want a feed, but in the end I would have to feed him, and by this stage he was so worked up and hungry that he would not feed properly, scream, cry and fill up with wind. Which obviously didn't help the situation. 

By the time my 6 week midwife discharge visit arrived, I knew that BFing was not something I wanted to continue with Riley, because I believe it is a beautiful and natural thing, but I was resenting the situation, and I didnt want the resentment to turn towards my son or BFing in general. I would love to try again with our next child when we have another. I knew though, that if I kept going, I would not even want to attempt BFing for fear of history repeating itself. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that BFing just didnt work for us, especially with so many people BFing around me, and such a pro-BFing environment... 

But the main thought that has kept me sane, happy and willing to try again is this...

Children rememebr the love you have for them, give them and show them... They don't care where their food comes from, as long as they are fed, comfortable and safe with you. 

and on that note I leave you with some of my favourite pics of those hard, hard, hard weeks that really kept me going :-)

In the hospital

11 days old (at home)

2w 6d old

playtime with dad

Real Love, Real Mess


  1. Kahlia I totally get where you are coming from! I made the decision to bottle feed my daughter after 2 months of weight loss (her), chronic fatigue (me) and total despair (both of us). She is now a happy healthy 5 month old and hasn't looked back. I understand all the emotions that go with the conclusion that it isn't working out.
    Good on you for making the right desicion for you both so early on!

  2. Kahlia, I nearly cried reading this post - I too had huge problems with breast feeding and post natal depression, and it was only swapping to formula that saved my sanity (plus the love and support of many loved ones around us)....thanks for sharing this :)

  3. I'm with you Kahlia. I had huge problems with feeding both my babies, and I went through that guilt and pain and blood and tears that you've written about. I battled through 5 bouts of mastitis over 12 weeks of EBM and formula with my first, and 8 weeks of EBM and 1 lot of mastitis with my second. I made it to breastfeeding in the end with both of them, but not without a toll on me and those supporting me.

    Pre-kids, I was always one of those people that looked down their nose at women who didn't breastfeed, but after my own experience I hated that I could have been that person. I applaud your decision to bottle feed, and the others who have posted here. A good friend gave me some great advice when I was in the thick of it - if you stop enjoying your baby it is time to give up.


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