Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seven Weeks

I have to admit that I am sort of reluctant to write this post. I really don't want to discourage anyone out there with RA from following their dream to become a mother. But, personally, on my own journey I have been desperate to find honest stories about the realities of birth and motherhood with RA. I wanted to know what to expect so that I could prepare myself. But I found very few real stories, and so it has been scary to approach this post-birth period with almost no idea what to expect. So I'm sharing my story in the hopes that it will help - and hopefully, in the end, encourage - other women with RA who want to become mothers.

Today is OZL's seven week birthday. And, unfortunately, it's official: my RA is getting worse.

My feet (toes, ankles) and hands (fingers, thumbs, wrists) hurt a little bit more every day. The pain in my hands is particularly problematic - it's getting harder (and more painful) to pick up OZL, to wash pump parts, to carry the car seat, to snap those tiny snaps that are all over everything he wears...

I have to admit that it is really frustrating to have the RA return at what is already a really stressful and exhausting time. And I'm not superwoman - sometimes I have to sit down and cry about how unfair the whole situation seems. But, for the most part, I am trying to keep my spirits up and do the best I can to stay active and enjoy my time with OZL. This morning we even took a little hike (the picture on this post!)

Even though I'm hurting, I'm not quite ready to give up on breastfeeding just yet. So I emailed my rheumatologist, and with the blessing of my pediatrician we decided that it is time to increase my dosage of prednisone. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how I feel about prednisone - I hate the stuff. And I am bummed to have to take it because it will make it much harder for me to lose the baby weight (and will actually probably make me gain more). But, besides handfuls of advil, it is pretty much the only option I have for medication that is safe while breastfeeding. So I really hope it helps.

For now I still plan to fight to continue breastfeeding, but I'm also trying to come to terms with the need to stop, because the end is in sight at this point. I keep repeating to myself, over and over again, a comment that one of my readers left on my last post:
To your son you are more important than your milk.
I know this is true. I really don't want to have to stop breastfeeding before either of us is emotionally ready to do so, but if the RA keeps getting worse I really won't have a choice. I will have to go back on my meds in order to be the mother that I want to be. And, as I keep telling myself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.


Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Not sure about freezing breast milk but maybe you could research that possibility. This way in the event you have to go on meds that prohibit breastfeeding you will have a stockpile of breast milk to use until he is weaned off of it. I am pretty sure you can freeze it but not sure about the froozen shelf life. The Laletche League (sp) would be able to advise you, I am sure. What a joy and even though I know the trials of ra, a newborn is such a blessing. Enjoy him as much as you can. Trust me, they grow up way too quickly.

Melissa said...

I'm sorry your RA is getting worse again. I know you don't want to get back on meds so you can continue to breastfeed - but you are more important than the milk, and you need to be healthy to take care of him.

Also, I know lots of women who freeze their breast milk and those are mix it half and half with formula. So maybe you could see how long breast milk will stay good frozen and you could give it to him, even mixed with formula, for a while so he's still getting those nutrients.

Melissa said...

PS: You look really good.

A said...

Oh M! It breaks my heart to know that you're dealing with new baby stress AND this. You're absolutely right; you're SO much more to your baby than just milk, and while I'm a huge supporter of breast feeding, I think of all the adopted babies I know that never had a drop of breast milk and have turned out perfectly brilliant, loved, and nourished.

I imagine the cloud of motherhood can cause things to look darker in some cases (the highs are higher! the depths are deeper!). Know that you are doing your very best for your son, and if going back on meds helps you to be a better mom, then he'll benefit that way, too.

The only thing you can be is your best you. We all have thorns to suffer, and I'm so sorry that yours is rearing its head now.

I love you! OZL loves you! We are both so lucky to have you in our lives.

Anonymous said...

I honestly can tell you I know where you are coming from. This is the predicament I found myself in after my son was born. I wanted to breastfeed and I tried but this and everything else was hard. Just know that being a mother teaches you that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. I don’t know what you should do – I just know that you will find a way to do what you need to do. I often joke and say that God gave this privilege to mothers – things always work out because we are able to will them to. :-) I had to go on medications in order to be the mother my kids needed me to be and as overwhelming as it was at the time, I don’t have any regrets now. Hugs to you and be kind to yourself. -Lana

Maria said...

My Little one is 11 months old. I made it to 4.5 months with Pzone and advil. I froze as much milk as I could and was able to give my little girl a bit of breast milk everyday until she was six months old. I was more upset about it than my baby. She adapted to enfamil gentlease very quickly and I was much less stressed out when my RA was in control again. It was great not to dread the car seat, little buttons, and all the little things. One other plus to formula is that it is digested slower and my little one started sleeping almost 7 hours at night. Between my meds and the 2 extra hours of sleep every night I got over the sting of not breast feeding faster than I thought!

I have not posted much but I read every post since I found your Blog!


Zoƫ said...

I hope that the new meds work for you, if not I know that there are milk banks, maybe you could use one of those.ii

Mandy said...

Thinking of you you. So sorry about your pain. You and your lil man look good.

~Mariah~ said...

Thank you all so much for your support - and especially those of you who shared your stories. Not that I would wish this on anyone, but it's nice to know that there are people out there who actually understand what I am going through.

I have been pumping and freezing and HOARDING breastmilk like Scrooge McDuck since about Day 3. ~;o) I am TOTALLY planning to have a stash to be able to give him when the time comes to go back on my meds. Though the kid eats SO VERY MUCH that it probably won't last very long. But at least I'll know I gave him as much as I can. (If you are reading this and considering freezing breastmilk yourself, check out the Total Baby App. In addition to other cool things it does, it helps track the expiration date of pumped milk).

I'm also looking into the possibility of donor milk. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about all of these things as they come to pass!

Thanks again for all the support. It means a lot.