Friday, September 7, 2012

The Last Time

I just nursed my son for the last time ever.

I typed that sentence and then literally stared at it for ten whole minutes before figuring out how to continue writing about this. 

It's difficult for me to move forward here, because there's a package of Enbrel in the fridge downstairs waiting for me. I know that as soon as I finish this post I have to go inject myself with it. I need to go inject myself with it. My joints are getting worse. Much worse. Yesterday I stubbed my toes a little and almost passed out in pain. I owe it to my family to be as healthy as I can be. I need the medication so I can keep up with my growing son. It is obviously the right decision. 

But it's still hard. 

Our last time nursing was wonderful. Since I've been weaning for over a week, I didn't actually have much milk to offer him. He suckled a little, but mostly we just cuddled, skin to skin, for about an hour. I cried but I also laughed at him smiling up at me. I will never forget that hour.

When I first made the difficult decision to wean, I was unimaginably sad for the first few days. I think I probably cried harder during those two days than I ever have in my life. Some of it was hormones from weaning, I know, but most of it felt like grief over the RA taking something away from me that I wanted so very, very badly. But then some kind words from a friend and this post helped me remember exactly how much I have to be grateful for. My RA may be quite bad now, but I was extremely lucky to do well enough off my meds to conceive and carry OZL. I am so, so, so lucky to have my happy, healthy, growing little boy. He is totally amazing and I'd go through anything to have him in my life. And this change of mindset allowed me to actually enjoy and cherish our last few days of breastfeeding.

But it's still hard. 

It feels appropriate that we leave for California tomorrow morning. OZL and I fly to Los Angeles to hang out with grandparents while APL continues on to San Francisco to take part in the California Coast Classic. APL will ride his bike 525 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise awareness for arthritis. He has also raised $4,500 for arthritis research. I'm so extremely proud of him. And it makes me feel better about having to make such a difficult and unwanted decision, because I know there are people out there who are trying to do something about arthritis. To change the future for people like me. And I couldn't be more grateful.

It's still hard. But I can do it. From this point...forward.


Stephanie Kay said...

I am in tears for you. Because I know exactly what you mean. I made the same choice with my first 2 kids. And it was one of the hardest decisions ever. I still remember having to leave the room when we began weaning my second son. He REFUSED to take a bottle. My husband had to battle him to feed from the bottle while I sat in my bedroom with full breasts and sobbed. Even now I have tears streaming down my face just remembering.

After that I scoured the internet for information. Based on the sketchy info I found, I decided that nursing while on Enbrel was worth the risk. My major reasoning was that if Enbrel would be killed by my stomach acid and pass out of my system uselessly then any Enbrel that would be in my milk would be killed by the baby's stomach acid and have no affect on him. So I took Enbrel and nursed 2 children who are now 3.5 and 6 yrs old. So far we have seen no differences in their health or development from the 2 that I weaned and put on formula.

I don't share this to try to get you to change your mind. Just sharing my story. Each mom has to way the benefits and risks and make the decision on her own. I just wish Amgen would support a volunteer study so moms like us could make a more informed decision!!

KCFitch said...

I don't want this to sound flippant - since I've never known the feeling of breast feeding and have no comparison myself... But I wanted to reassure you that you can have a beautiful connection with your child and not breast feed. You know me and Little Miss and you know how attached we are. We may have never had that particular connection but our bond is rich and wonderful in its own special way.

You're making the right decision. Your health and your ability to care for your family is far more important than anything else right now. Hang in there, cuz. Love to you, APL and OZL,

Helen said...

Oh, this made me cry.

I'm just catching up with your blog and I know you've all moved on to exciting, happy things (way to go APL!), but I can feel how painful this must have been for you.

You are right, though: you owe it to yourself and your family to be as healthy as you can be, and you are making the right decision. I hope, since I'm writing this a few weeks after you posted it, that the Enbrel is already helping you. Thinking of you and the little one.

Heather said...

I remember reading this when you posted it, and dreading this moment if I was ever lucky to have a baby. I figured since I'm at the same point now with my 3 month old, I'd go back and reread your experience. I'm crying. I can't even stomach the thought of not nursing my little girl and it literally kills me that may happen sooner rather than later. I think the part that hurts so much, is that breastfeeding has been such a challenge for us (I nursed, pumped and supplemented with formula for 4 weeks between weeks 4-8 of her life) and we are finally getting on track (I still supplement with formula, so we have that part going for us) only to have to potentially give it up. But I look back on a day like today, where every joint hurt, and I got frustrated with her fussiness (she's never fussy - today was a fluke) and I realize that I can't keep this up much longer...

Just thanks again for being so honest and sharing your story. It helps to know that we're not alone out here.

~Mariah~ said...

HEATHER: I won't lie - when I stopped nursing OZL it was really, really difficult for me emotionally. I had a very hard time with the decision and sometimes it still makes me want to cry just to think about it. But now with a year between me and that decision, I will say that I know for sure it was the right one. When they are so little - only a few months old - feeding and sleeping is pretty much their life. They don't do much else! The nursing is so so important at that point and so it felt so very cruel to take that away from him (and me). But as they grow and are able to do so many more different things - eat solid food, play, learn, hurt themselves ~;o) - you will find that being a mom is SO MUCH MORE than just nursing. I know saying that probably won't make it any easier for you - people said it to me too at the time and I just felt like they didn't understand what I was going through. But now I know what they meant. And you should be really, really proud of yourself for making it as far as you did - many women with RA can't manage more than a few weeks. In an ideal world we wouldn't have to make such a horrible choice, but in a world with RA taking care of our health to the best of our ability and keeping the evil RA under control really is the best thing for our families. Hang in there. And please feel free to email me if you'd like to talk about it more: