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Bittersweet - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
Bittersweet
I love breastfeeding. OK, I'll admit that I am not necessarily a huge fan at half-past midnight when Margaret decides she wants a snack a scant three hours after dropping off to sleep, but in general it makes me pretty darn happy. It may be time consuming, but it's pretty darn neat to just snuggle an unhappy baby up to my chest and have her turn into a warm, content bundle in a matter of seconds. Also, the extra calories that I burn making milk are a very cool bonus. I don't even mind pumping all that much. Sure, it's a bit of a chore, but when it's over and I have something to show for it I get the satisfaction of having done something useful for my baby.

I'd heard many horror stories about problems that women had breastfeeding. Likewise I'd heard that pumping was onerous. I lucked out and got a baby who seems to have a knack for it, and aside from some early problems with plugged ducts things have been going well. I've enjoy cuddling her while she eats, with only occasional bursts of being irritated that I am being roused from my much-needed rest already. It also does much for my feelings about my body that while I may be terrible at conception, here is another part of the process that I can do well.

I must admit to being secretly a little pleased at Margaret's bottle aversion. She wants me to feed her the right way. Her grudging acceptance of the bottle is a good thing, she needs to eat while I am at work, but the fact that it is grudging give me a little irrational ego boost. She loves nursing and I love nursing her. What could be more perfect? In an ideal world I'd keep on doing this for at least a year, possibly longer.

Alas, we do not live in an ideal world. In the world we do live in, I have endometriosis, which is a progressive disease, and while I may not necessarily look my age my ovaries certainly do and then some. In the world we live in, I'm pretty darn sure that my only chance to have another child is to do IVF again, preferable as soon as possible. In order to do IVF again, I have to quit breastfeeding.

It is important to me that I try for another baby. It's not just for my sake, but for Margaret's sake as well. I honestly think it is much better to have siblings than to be an only child. Looking back I can honestly say that my sister's birth was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I want that for my daughter too. It's important enough that I think it is worth weaning her earlier than either of us wants if that's what it's going to take, and all the data available indicates that weaning her sooner rather than later is exactly what it is going to take. I want my baby to have the breast milk that is the very best nutrition she can get for as long as possible, but I want her to have a little sister or brother more. I hate having to make the compromise, but no amount of wishful thinking is going to let me avoid it.

I can start the IVF process again at six months post-partum. That makes December 18th the big day. Sometime in December I should call and set up an appointment. Presumably we'll have to have the chatty appointment first and then wait at least until my next cycle to do a bunch of tests to make sure Margaret didn't confiscate my ovaries while she was in there. Between testing and red tape, I expect it will be March 2009 before I can do IVF again at the earliest. I am planning on nursing Margaret well into December, and maybe a little longer. I am already feeling the urge to procrastinate on weaning until after the new year. Urgh. I really need to start thinking about it now, though. Margaret's four-month checkup is at the end of the month, and assuming her doctor gives us the green light I think the think to do is introduce her to semi-solid food after that. If she's started getting early foods I'll feel better about swapping her to formula, but I won't feel great about it.

Of course the other thing I need before I do IVF is my period. It's slightly weird to have to admit this, but I am completely unclear if I have this yet or not. At 10 weeks postpartum I had a single day of light bleeding, no cramps. While the postpartum bleeding had stopped a few weeks before that, I chalked it up to random postpartum changes because it couldn't possibly have been my period. My period is heralded by unmistakable cramps that tell me to grab a maxi pad. The first two days are heavy bleeding, with the cramps lasting the entire first day, then there are two days of moderate bleeding, and then three days of sludgy maroon discharge. Given the vast discrepancy between "normal" for me and the single day of light bleeding I was sure it was anything but my period. Then at 14 weeks postpartum I had two and a half days of light bleeding, with just the vaguest hint of cramping on the first day. Huh. I'm now at 16 weeks postpartum, and there are no signs of my body being fertile. I had kind of assumed that when I got my period back post-baby it would be like when I got it for the first time at 13, like switching on a light and going from nothing to full-gore cycling. I guess I have to wait two weeks and see if I get progressively less-lame bleeding. I seriously doubt I am ovulating, but if I see a repeat in two weeks with a more credible amount of blood I may invest in some ovulation predictor kits for diagnostic purposes. If my cycle has returned it is one less excuse I have for procrastination on weaning.
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Comments
enugent From: enugent Date: October 9th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is Margaret showing any signs of being ready for solid food (losing tongue-thrust reflex, interest in what you're eating, ability to sit up, putting things in her mouth)? If not, even if you get a green light to try, I wouldn't count on her getting any significant calories from it.

I'm sorry you're having to make this choice. I know exactly what you mean about feeling that even if your body doesn't do the getting-pregnant thing well, it is at least good at some other part of the process. I will caution you to try not to get too invested in that - it did a real number on my self-esteem when I did start having supply issues later on.

Formula isn't rat poison. It's good stuff, even if it's not the absolute best stuff you could give her under any circumstances. And you're right, having a sibling is a much bigger deal than what she eats for a few months.

Now that you have the experience with how easy introducing her to the bottle was, may I suggest that you be a little more proactive about the transition to formula? The older she is, the more she's going to fight that, just like she did with the bottle. You may want to try giving her a bottle of it (or a mix of formula and breastmilk) sooner, rather than later, to ease the transition.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: October 10th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Interest in what we're eating, yes though mild; situps, no though she can do crunches; putting things in her mouth, only things in reach of her mouth, including an occasional fist, but not including any fist contents since she doesn't actually grab anything she can move yet. What is the tongue thrust reflex?

I don't think she's ready to take third party food yet, but there are still a few months before the end of the year.
enugent From: enugent Date: October 10th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Tongue thrust is basically that they try to push anything in their mouth out with their tongue, instead of trying to swallow it. If you try to introduce solids before she's ready for them, you'll see it. :)

You're right, you still have some time. I keep thinking of Margaret and Howard as being almost the same age, because they are so close in gestational age, but Howard is significantly older in unadjusted age (significantly for this stage of development, anyway).
psychohist From: psychohist Date: October 10th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, so when she rejected the tiny bit of banana I gave her a few weeks back, perhaps it was a reflex rather than her changing her mind about wanting it.
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