Monthly Archives: September 2013

Giving Up The Stash

It’s World Milk Sharing Week, so I thought I’d share a little something about my limited donor experiences.

My supply was so low at the beginning that I had to supplement with formula. I had no idea that donor milk was so widely available. I knew nothing of milk sharing schemes and milk banks. All I knew about donor milk was that it was given to premature babies. I didn’t even really consider where it came from, as ridiculous as it sounds.

I don’t even know if I’d have gone down that route if it was available to me. I was cut to pieces that I couldn’t feed Moo. Giving her breast milk from a woman that had a plentiful supply might have been a kick in the teeth. But perhaps my absolute love affair with breast milk might have over ridden that.

I didn’t have any milk to freeze until Moo was four months old. I’d fill the available bottles and then freeze any over. The occasional bag here and there. We bought a chest freezer, the idea was it’d be used for storing fruit from the garden, but it soon became rammed with bags of milk. I needed to do something with it. I’d dropped some pumps, but still had ounces to store. I preferred to use fresh milk, so much of it had been frozen for at least 6 months.

I could not formally donate, as I’d had a blood transfusion after Moo was born. Then a friend was wrongly advised to stop breastfeeding due to a medication she was taking. By the time she’d been made aware of the mistake, her supply had gone. I lent her my breast pump, but juggling an active baby, a university degree, a job and the amount of pumping to relactate just wasn’t doable.

So, I gave up my stash. Well, a large chunk of it. I worked out at the time that it had taken me at least 11 hours to pump. Totally worth every minute. It meant that her daughter had mostly breast milk until she turned one, and not one drop of my pumping efforts had been wasted.

Big love to all the milk donor mamas. To those pumping right now, for NICU babies, for friends and family, for low supply mamas, for two dad families and adopted babies. It’s the worlds most incredible gift.

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The Seasons

I love spring. With its promise of warmer weather to come. Easter eggs and blue bells, my birthday and daffodils. The air is cool, yet the sun warms the skin.

I love summer, with it’s long musky evenings and days out to the seaside. Ice creams and splashing, barbecued meat and salad. Sun kissed skin and freckles.

I love autumn, with its crunchy golden leaves and hats and wellies. Dark cosy evenings, the carnival, fireworks and rain lashing down outside while you’re cosy in front of the telly.

I love winter, with its crisp mornings. Frost on the grass and misty breath in the air. The hope of snow and the build up to Christmas. Hot, slow cooked meals and lighting the fire.

This planet is awesome.

Was This All A Bad Idea?

The blog, the Twitter account, the Facebook page? Am I just destroying myself by doing all of this? Maybe even the peer supporting is a mistake? I’m really hurting.

I’ve immersed myself in breastfeeding. I’ve become passionate about it unwillingly, I was built with the biological desire to breastfeed and it’s just good common sense to be in awe of the powers of breast milk. But I willingly surround myself with breastfeeding culture – images, information, articles. I do the same with beautiful, natural births. I follow Facebook pages and blogs that celebrate the successes of these things. The two things I didn’t have, the things that I get upset about on a daily basis.

Why do I do it? Would I feel any better about them if I distanced myself? Maybe the pain of my failures would have been numbed somewhat by now if I’d just left well alone. How can you get over something if you remind yourself of it day after day? Is it more healing to try to forget, or to analyse, dissect and process and then move on?

I suddenly feel like I want to delete my page and my blog. Give up my peer supporter role, leave all the online groups I’m a part of, ‘unlike’ all the Facebook pages. Cut as much of it out of my life as possible. It’s my go-to defence mechanism. But another part of me wants to see it through. Maybe one day I will feel better about it all, I’ll have some understanding, some acceptance. Maybe even closure. I just don’t know how to get there, and in the meantime, the wonderful birth stories and breastfeeding photos are cutting me to shreds.

Honesty

If only the world operated on a no holds barred honesty policy, I think it would be a better place. I don’t mean an aggressive ‘well, I tell it like it is to their face’ kinda attitude (that seems to be thrown around like its something to be proud of at the moment), but the kind of quiet, at peace honesty that just means that people are open and everyone knows where they stand.

There’d be no awkward feelings, everyone would embrace differences. There’d be comfort in knowing that someone out there felt just like you do. There’d be no taboo subjects, no embarrassment or shame. Diversity would be normality, ‘problems’ would be easily solved with shared knowledge, there’d be a much greater sense of community. Nothing would be swept under the carpet. Subjects like mental health wouldn’t be frowned upon, no one would feel isolated.

So why aren’t we all honest? I often feel like an oddity. When playing a team building game with colleagues, we were asked to cross the line if there were things about us that no one knew. I stayed where I was. I was the only one. I could not think of a single thing that I would not be prepared to share. Anything people don’t know is simply because the topic hasn’t come up in conversation.

Am I unwise to share so much of myself? Am I leaving myself vulnerable, open to criticism and judgement? And if I am, so what? I’m always open to feedback, willing to learn and grow. Maybe if more of society was honest with each other, there would be no place for negative remarks. There might be more room for empathy and compassion.

I hope that sharing my experiences of depression and anxiety is doing something towards breaking down the barriers around mental health issues. It’s widely reported that 1 in 3 of us will suffer at some juncture in our lives. If it’s so common, why isn’t it an every day, almost mundane conversation? Discussed at the pub, on the bus, over coffee and cake? Why do sufferers feel isolated, embarrassed, ashamed of their dark thoughts? I don’t want my daughter growing up in a society where anything that makes you who you are should be suppressed for fear of judgement, whether that’s any mental health issue she may struggle with, her sexuality, her career choice, her religious beliefs. Maybe its time we were all a little more up front and honest with each other.

As many, many generations of know-it-all mothers have said before me: Honesty is the best policy.

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Flashbacks

I’ve been reminded of a lot old memories today. Looking through photographs with my grandparents, many of them photos I’ve never seen. Moo looking tiny, jaundiced and losing weight in some of the pics. My sisters wedding that I can barely remember, a vague Christmas… It’s so sad. I missed so much whilst I was really mentally ill.

I also had a roast dinner at my mums today, it was delicious. But once I felt full, my anxiety crept in, I desperately wanted to leave the table. I remembered all the dinner times I spent at my mums after Moo was born, when I was incapable of cooking myself. Sitting at the dining table, having panic attacks about having to look after her, feeling totally overwhelmed and not wanting to live. I used to feel so isolated and helpless.

At least now I know that other mothers have felt the same, and that it doesn’t last. The anxiety passes much more quickly now, and I can think of positive events coming up in the future. It doesn’t seem hopeless any more, I don’t have to search for a way out. I just have to hope for a better tomorrow.

Low

I’m feeling pretty low today. Moo has been ill for such a long time, crying, whining, clingy. I feel awful for her. Urine infections are horrible at the best of times, but to have a fever with it too… She must feel miserable.

I’m feeling sorry for myself now. Cabin fever has well and truly set in. I can’t get anything done round the house, its a mess. I’ve heard constant crying for days and days and days. It’s hard to keep depression at bay. I can feel myself about to snap. I have to zone out for a minute, read some messages or send a tweet. Anything to take me away, just long enough to take a few breaths. I want to claw my own skin off quite a bit of the moment.

But, this will pass. This *has* to pass.

I Could Cry

I could weep for a thousand years tonight, an ocean of sorrow. I could cry until there was nothing left of my body, it would just dehydrate, crumble and die.

I so wish I could breastfeed. It seems such a simple wish. I wasn’t asking for much, just for the simple, natural, nurturing, loving, beautiful act of breastfeeding. I feel robbed. Who can I blame? Who stole the experience from me? What did I do to be denied it? Why do others get to breastfeed baby after baby and I got nothing. It’s making me bitter. At times I resent breast feeders. How dare you flaunt pictures of your darling breastfeeding babe. Can’t you see I’m broken? I’m becoming an awful, awful person.

Please Lord, take this grief away.

UTI

Wow, what a long day.

What I thought would be a trip to the GP to be told to keep giving her Calpol, turned into a trip to the children’s ward in hospital. The doctor seemed so concerned we got there quickly that I panicked and cried, and for a split second I got a brief snapshot of what it might be like to have a seriously ill child. Your natural instinct to protect comes out in full force and you realise that you would literally give anything to save them from any pain.

The hospital staff were fantastic, although Moo became hysterical whenever they tried to treat her. Her temperature was 40.6 while we were there, and trying to get a urine sample wasn’t very fun. She has a UTI and we were sent home at midnight with antibiotics.

There were children a lot more ill than Moo on the ward, some with kidney problems and others with NG tubes. I’m so thankful for Moo’s good health, she’s rarely ill. We’re so blessed to have the NHS and the luxury of modern medicine. I’m praying the drugs work quickly and she’s soon back to her normal self, I just wish I’d taken her to the GP sooner.

Squeeze those beautiful babies tight mamas, we’re truly blessed. Big love to anyone worrying for their child’s health tonight. My heart is with you.

Revelation

The last two years of my life have sucked ass. They’ve been awful. Easily the worst time of my life. I’ve sobbed my heart out, screamed, shouted, ranted and wanted to die. I’ve taken medication and seen a therapist. I’ve had surgery, a blood transfusion and had nipples almost shear completely from my body. I’ve been physically and emotionally exhausted.

I didn’t feel this way for a long time, but I’d do it all again. For my Moo, I’d do it a million times over.

This Sucks

This is really shit.

I love my daughter dearly now. I wouldn’t want my life to be without her, the beautiful soul that she is. I’m so blessed to have her in my life, that she was given to me. Her little character, her quirks, she’s simply wonderful.

But her coming to be, her existence, has changed my life, and not all for the better. I’m hurting so much. Her birth and my breastfeeding experiences and the depression that has followed has altered me. My confidence has been shattered, my relationship has changed, I’m suffering.

I want things to be how they were before. Or rather, I want the last two years to be different. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well I feel like part of me died. I don’t know how to get past this. I need to, I’m sick of it. Sick of being upset, angry, jealous, guilty, frustrated, tormented. Crying over the same old shit. I just don’t know how.