Posted by: cck | June 8, 2012


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.



  1. You are completely right – a present mommy is better than breast milk! At least you got to experience it short-term. Enjoy your toasting!

  2. Thanks! I think we’ve got the hang of the bottle now. If only we had more of a schedule…

  3. I am so sorry, but you have to make the best decision for you and your family. The mom guilt sucks, I know. I tried and tried to breasfeed and did for 6 months, but never produced enough. I still feel guilty, wondering if I did enough, but I know that I did the best I knew how. I read somewhere that every mother should be celebrated for breastfeeding, if she does it for 2 days, 2 months, or 2 years. Yay you for having that wonderful experience and giving CG the best start possible. And yes, bottles suck. I never was able to exclusively bf and I hated having to deal with bottles and formula. My trick was to measure the water in a bottle and leave it room temp (never gave it to her warm) and then measure the formula in another small container and take those to the bedroom with me at night so I could mix bedside. Made late night feedings much easier.

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