Decisions

My visit to Dr Urcuyo was comforting in that I came away reassured that I'm not about to expire from the mastitis.  But his lack of interest/ability to help me means that I'm left to deal with the illness on my own.  He's given me two choices – he can cure me by using drugs to stop my lactation, thus forcing me to wean Petra cold-turkey, or I can put up with the mastitis.  Neither choice is at all appealing.  What I need is help to wean Petra gently without making myself sicker, or ideally, help recovering.  Unfortunately that's not available here.

We go to Vancouver in two weeks.  I'm not sure that I can wait that long though.  I'm tired and am finding the everlasting illness increasingly draining and stressful.  Antibiotics have just suppressed the worst of the symptoms, not resolved them.  Each time I finish a course, my fever goes back up.  It would seem, therefore, that I'm going to stay in the state that I'm in for the foreseeable future.  It's a big thing to ask of myself – pack up here, fly to Vancouver, pack up there, fly to New Zealand, and get settled while dealing with an infection and fever.  Instead of organising our possessions and enjoying the visit to Vancouver and the arrival in New Zealand, I'll be focused on trying to resolve the mastitis.

And, I don't want to wean Petra abruptly while we're travelling because she'll already being going through enough upheaval without me withholding the breast as well.  So if I don't do it now, I'm facing the possibility of feeling crappy for another couple of months at least while I go through a slow weaning.

These things have me asking myself whether it might be time to stop trying to fight the mastitis and just take the pill to stop my milk supply.  Dr Urcuyo assures me that this would cure me.  If I do it now, I'll feel better and Petra will have recovered from the shock of the abrupt weaning before we start travelling.

However, I can marshall compelling arguments for continuing to breastfeed as well.  Petra's not ready to stop breastfeeding.  She's eating solid food with more gusto now, but she doesn't drink from a bottle and turns her nose up at formula.  We're practicing with formula in a bottle, but at the moment, a quick wean would involve basically starving her into submission.

Breastfeeding is not just about food either, something that the non-breastfeeders amongst us don't seem to recognise.  It's also about solace, comfort, love, and security for Petra.  If she's tired or unwell or overwhelmed or just in need of a snuggle a snack will soothe her.  Forcibly weaning her would mean abruptly denying her those comforts.  It seems such a violent wrenching thing to do that I have trouble even thinking about it.  We'd work out other comforts of course, but I imagine that the transition will be very hard for all of us. 

Because breastfeeding is so important to Petra, and to me as well, I want to be sure that I've done all I can to get better.  I wonder if I should hold on until Vancouver just in case someone can put me back together or help me wean more gently.  And I wonder whether I am really sick enough to justify doing something drastic like taking a pill to stop my lactation.  I'm not dying after all, I don't have an abscess or a really high fever.  I'm just mildly feverish and tired and stuck on antibiotics.

I'm going round and round without getting any closer to a decision.  Time's passing all the while, so if I don't decide soon the decision will be made by default.  I'll be going to Vancouver sick and probably staying that way until we get to Dunedin.

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10 Responses to Decisions

  1. Tami says:

    I'm not sure how an abrupt quick wean would help your mastitis. I know that would mean you could take the super strong meds, but wouldn't you be more likely to get more clogged ducts with an abrubt wean? Are you still dealing with some clogged ducts along with the mastitis or just the lingering infection?If you haven't read through it already, I highly recommend taking a look at Kellymom.com (great breastfeeding resource) regarding mastitis. http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/mastitis.html

  2. Janette says:

    Thanks for the link. It's a helpful website.My doctor wants to give me medication to stop the lactation on the theory that once I'm not producing milk, I will stop being infected. I wouldn't even consider a quick wean otherwise as I'm sure that would make me sicker.

  3. Janette says:

    I can imagine this is a very difficult decision, especially since you're trying to do what's best for your daughter (and avoid the hell of mastitis for yourself). If you do decide to wait it out until Vancouver, maybe you could contact a lactation consultant now (via email?) and start the dialogue before you get there? Having had a couple mastitis infections, I know they can be brutal, so I can only imagine the fatigue that would occur with recurrent bouts.

  4. Janette says:

    Thanks for the sympathy. I'm surprised by how many women have had mastitis. It's not something you hear much about until it happens to you.I thought of a lactation consultant as well. A friend gave me a contact and I sent her a long message this evening (after I posted my even longer lament on Vox) I read her reply just before I read your comment. She gives me hope because she has ideas and theories and assistance to offer.

  5. Then says:

    I think it is wonderful that you are continuing to breastfeed; there is nothing else like it and so good for Petra. Trust me, when you do all of your travelling it is far easier to feed that to deal with bottles. I read your other post about the consultant and I hope that information helps you. Sounds like your doc is taking the easy way out by giving you limited choices. You really need some strength and energy for your coming travels! Hope you are better soon.

  6. Janette says:

    Glad to hear she was able to provide some helpful ideas! Breastfeeding was NOT second-nature and problem-free for me, and my lactation consultant actually made a world of difference, offering all sorts of amazing advice that no one else knew 🙂

  7. Janette says:

    Yes, breastfeeding doesn't just happen by default. Those first couple of weeks are tough and then if anything (like the damn mastitis) happens later, you need help. If I'd had access to a lactation consultant here, I think I'd have been able to deal with the mastitis in a very different way.You'll be an expert breastfeeder this second time around. When you get that far, I'll be really interested to hear what the first few weeks are like with a second baby as compared to the first. I'm hoping you'll tell us that it's a lot less stressful now that you're not a complete beginner!

  8. Janette says:

    Thanks! Yes, I don't think my doctor has served me well during this – I don't think there's a big breast feeding culture here, so he just couldn't understand why I'd want to fight to keep feeding.I'd much rather breastfeed on the plane than use formula and solid food – all the paraphernalia and preparation solids requires seems so much more hassle.

  9. WorkingTitle says:

    I'm sooo late to comment on this. I read it but forgot to comment. You're probably traveling now, but if your checking your blog from hotels, etc….. hope you're feeling better!

  10. Janette says:

    Thanks! I am feeling much better – thankfully. I was going spare….

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