I had to make a difficult decision this week. After eight months of living without mood stabilizers, I opted to start back nine days post-partum.
Originally – before I was ever pregnant and C3 was barely a gleam in K’s eye – this was the plan. I wanted to breastfeed in the short term (yay! colostrum!). I promised myself I wouldn’t compromise my health to breastfeed — a happy, present mom is better for my daughter than breast milk. The thing is, I never expected breastfeeding to go so well – or to like it as much as I have. Which is why I felt so awful in switching to formula last night.
Whoa, mommy guilt. Although, this is much more about the sadness of having bipolar disorder than mommy guilt. I have to switch to formula due to something beyond my control. My milk came in fast and steady. It was lovely and thick. I was able to breastfeed and pump — and I liked it. I liked the feeling of a soft baby cheek next to my body. I liked feeling the slight cramping that meant my body was returning to normal. I lost 24 pounds in eight days. I liked not having to sterilize a bottle and measure in the dead of the night. I really really liked breastfeeding. And I had to abandon it because I have an illness that prevents me from doing something I wanted to do. Errrr.
In the scheme of things, I probably won’t remember this in a few years (weeks? months?). I know I am making the right decision for my family – for my daughter who may someday be a bipolar mom too. But dammittohell if I don’t just hate being bipolar right now. I’m symptom-free, and in order to stay that way I’ve made the decision not to tempt fate. I need a few months of strong stability in order to have another successful pregnancy. I need to be present and strong for my family – for my daughter and for my husband. So, last night I took the first pill from the starter pack of Lamictal. And then I cried as my daughter fought the bottle.
She fought the bottle long into the night. I’ve never heard her cry like that – never seen her little face all red and scrunched up like that. (Seriously, we have an angelic baby.) Several times, I had to leave the room while K calmly fed her over and over again until she seemed to get it. She won’t remember this. She won’t remember this. She won’t remember this.
This morning – after more than four hours of uninteruppted sleep (have I mentioned how amazing my husband K is at this dad stuff – he deserves so many things) and a cup of coffee(!) – I am more okay with my decision. My breasts are heavy and full and I don’t exactly know how to avoid the engorgement. No pumping/pumping. Tight bra/loose bra. Ice/heat. The only thing the internets seem to agree on is cabbage leaves.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a margarita. I’m going to toast my daughter, celebrate the fact that she gets all of me, and that I’m not going to be a drain on K. I’m going to celebrate my motherhood – the way I’m living it. Guilt and sadness have no place here. I have a daughter, an incredibly happy family, and a beautiful memory of breastfeeding. That’s not a bad start to this adventure.