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nursing

Motherhood

The Tick That Freed Me: The End of My Nursing Journey

I recently started trail running and training for a trail half marathon.  It’s been such a great way to get some much needed self care, catch up with friends and get back into shape.

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After my last long run, I found a tick on my side.  It had already started to bury itself in me, but luckily I was able to get the whole thing out.  I really have no idea how it got there because I had on high waisted leggings (Can I get an amen that high waisted is in?  Gotta hold that post baby pooch in, amirite?!!) and my shirt overlapped that and the tick got through both, but I guess that’s what ticks do.

I didn’t think much of it at first because there was only about a 5 hour maximum that it could have been on me and I didn’t have any bullseye rash associated with Lyme Disease.  I called my doctor just in case and they suggested I take an antibiotic just to be on the safe side.  Ticks carry a ton of gross diseases, so it sounded like a good idea.  In California the rates of Lyme are really low and it’s the dead of winter here,  but I wanted to exercise an abundance of caution and figured what can an antibiotic really hurt?  Take a pill for a few days.

Except, oh, one thing, you can’t take it while you’re nursing.

Pumping for 10 day seemed like extreme torture and I didn’t have nearly that much milk frozen, so I figured, ehh no big.  The risks were super low and I was being overly cautious anyway, so I decided to skip the antibiotic.

Then about a week later, I started to feel really sick out of nowhere.  Flu-like sick, which of course is the catch all symptom for Lyme Disease.  I kinda freaked out, knowing it could very well just be a virus (It is the dead of winter after all.), but if there was a chance it was Lyme or anything else gross, a lifetime of illness wasn’t worth an extra three months of nursing.

That sounds dramatic, but there’s no definitive test to determine if you have Lyme.  It could show up in 3 months or 3 years.  It just seemed silly to trade 3 months of nursing for an giant unknown that I could eliminate with a dose of antibiotics.

I won’t lie, it was an agonizing decision and I went back and forth a million times.  Formula had to happen at least for the course of the antibiotics because I just didn’t have enough milk in the freezer.  But the decision loomed whether to keep pumping and go back to nursing or to just wean all together.

There was the guilt of stopping three months shy of Nolan’s first birthday when I had planned to start weaning.  There was the guilt of not being able to give him what I had given Isla.  There was the financial cost of the formula, which seemed especially unnecessary since I’m basically an award winning milk maker.  There was his whole dairy intolerance and would we be able to find a formula that would work for him.  There was washing a million bottles a day.

Then on the other hand there was the borderline tragedy of pumping and dumping (all that hard work literally down the drain.). There was the logistical nightmare of pumping every three hours with two wild animals children running around.  There was the option for someone else to be in charge of feeding Nolan. There was regular bras that didn’t make your boobs look like the tangerines in tube socks that they are.  There was cheese, and ice cream and omg, cheese.    And the freedom…

The first day of formula, I had plans to go out and celebrate Brittany’s birthday.  Formula meant I didn’t have to rush back for bedtime because I was the owner of the boobs.  It meant I could drink to my heart’s content (Well, sort of.  I was driving.) and eat all the dairy my stomach could handle (Turns out that amounted to approximately 3.5 bites of macaroni and cheese).  I was thinking of all of this as I drove over and I felt this overwhelming sense of freedom.  Like I was getting part of myself back; a part I didn’t even know was missing.  I went from pregnant with Isla to nursing Isla to pregnant with Nolan to nursing Nolan.  My body hadn’t been my own for over 3 years and until that very moment, I hadn’t noticed the immense pressure I subconsciously felt.  I felt so relieved when I realized I wasn’t tethered to one of my kids.  I can’t tell you how excited I felt to not be apart of bedtime in some way for the first time in almost 3 years.

That’s when I knew I had to be done.  Someone once told me that nursing is a relationship and it has to work for mother and baby.  I had worked so hard for so long to make it work for my babies and it just wasn’t working for me anymore.  It was really hard to get over the guilt of it, but I really think it was the right thing for me.  My heart hurt a little bit (and my boobs because ouch to the basically cold turkey weaning) the first time I had to go buy formula, but he’s a healthy, happy baby and it really doesn’t matter how he’s fed.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to have been able to nurse both my babies.  It hasn’t been without struggle and I haven’t always enjoyed it, but that’s motherhood, right?  But Nolan was eating the formula like a champ and it could be a total fluke, but he’s even started sleeping better.  I’ll take the wins where I get ’em.

So to all the mamas who are grappling with the decision, just follow your gut and make sure the relationship works for you and your baby.  If you’re committed to making it work, then fight the good fight, but if it just doesn’t work out or you just don’t want to, it’s not the end of the world and I hope it doesn’t take a bite from a disgusting insect for you to figure that out.

Here’s the real kicker of this whole debacle.  I spent a day and a half driving AJ completely crazy because I was literally changing my mind every 10 minutes before finally deciding formula was the right choice.  The next day, I finally got a reply from the lactation consultant.

“It’s totally fine to nurse while you’re on Doxycycline!  Adult doctors always say not to nurse to err on the side of caution.  Go for it!”

Really.  REALLY?!?!?!?!  

 

Motherhood

How to give up dairy as a nursing mama and not lose your mind

It started out innocently enough.  Nolan always nursed well, but spit up like nothing I’d ever seen.  The pediatrician deemed him a “happy spitter”, which is the most ridiculous diagnosis ever.  How can you be happy if you’re basically barfing all day?  He was never too fussy so I rolled with it for a while, but when I found mucous in his diapers, I knew that couldn’t be good.  I was sort of in denial that it was a dairy intolerance, especially since the pediatrician didn’t seem too alarmed, but my husband was dairy intolerant as a baby so it made sense.

What really convinced me was during one particularly violent spit up episode when it came out his tiny little baby nose.  This had happened before, but never to this magnitude.  I felt so bad for the poor guy and never wanted to see that sad, confused little look on his face again, so I did a dairy free trial for two weeks.

I didn’t really notice anything at first and after the recommended two weeks, so I tried some nachos.  Mexican food is my absolute favorite, but guess what?  It’s basically not worth eating without cheese.  Probably not the best choice to go so big right out the gate, but hindsight.  The next day he was back to spitting up and funky diapers, so it was pretty clear the dairy was the culprit.

I’m not a big milk drinker, so at first I just thought, “OK, no cheese.  That will suck, but I can give it up for my baby.”  Turns out it was a little trickier than that because dairy is in a lot of things I didn’t automatically associate with dairy.  No toast at breakfast because butter, no chocolate because milk, no cream in my coffee, no Ranch and most baked goods were out.  Dinners are a little more complicated too because pretty much all of my go to recipes have cheese in some form.  Declaring “It’s pizza night!  I’m not cooking!!” at 5 pm wasn’t an option anymore, which if we’re being honest has been the biggest challenge of the whole thing.  Actually, eating out in general got more complicated.

So, here are some do’s and don’ts of going dairy free.

Do:

  • Substitute avocado for cheese when possible.  This works really well on burgers, sandwiches and burrito bowls.
  • Use coconut creamer in your coffee.  I get mine at Trader Joe’s. Almond milk also works and bonus- Starbucks has started offering almond milk so you don’t have to give up your fancy drinks!
  • Use Smart Balance butter.  Can’t even tell the difference!
  • I have a crazy sweet tooth and chocolate has been hard to give up.  Ben & Jerry’s makes a non-dairy ice cream (using almond milk) that’s pretty good.  Oreos, while slightly questionable, are also dairy free!
  • Spices are your friend, especially when you’re eating chicken…again.

Don’t:

  • Don’t forget about checking sauces and spreads when eating out.
  • Chicken is a safe choice, but stick to grilled.  The fried stuff usually has buttermilk in it.
  • Be careful of carbs!  I found myself grabbing tons of carb-y snacks in a hurry when I got hungry throughout the day because I never have more than a 90 second window to eat, which leaves little time to read ingredients and I knew crackers were safe.  But they’re definitely not filling and you end up eating way more!  Nuts are a better quick snack.

Cooking at home is definitely easier than going out because I know exactly what’s in everything.  Below are my go to recipes that have been on repeat in our house since.

My Go To Recipes:

 

Eating Out 

I’ll preface this by saying none of these are really stellar ideas.  This is mostly things I’ve found out of desperation and laziness.

  • In N Out burger (or any burger really)- make sure to add ketchup and mustard because the sauce has dairy (cue angels crying)
  • Chick-Fil-A- stick- with the grilled and no sauce (more angel tears)
  • Sandwiches- no cheese, obviously
  • Chipotle- burrito bowl sans sour cream and cheese.  I thought this would be a total bummer, but I really didn’t notice it was missing!

Going dairy free has definitely been a struggle.  If Nolan was better at taking a bottle, I probably would have switched to formula.  By the time we figured out it was for a dairy intolerance he was already 6 months old. I figured by the time we trained him to take a bottle (he is very stubborn about bottles, so in my mind getting him to take a bottle full time would take at least a month, if not two) it would practically be time to start weaning him, so this seemed like the easier route for us.

It’s already a struggle to make sure I get enough to eat throughout the day while chasing around these two, so it’s really forced me to meal prep.  I get crazy hungry while I’m nursing and need to get food in my mouth fast,  and stopping to read labels and think about ingredients doesn’t work.  In reality, it’s forcing me to eat what I probably should be eating anyway (more vegetables), but it definitely takes the fun out of eating.

Having to eliminate something from my diet has really opened my eyes to the realities of living with a food allergy.  I know so many kids who have food allergies and this is their way of life.  I feel fortunate that this is only a short period of time that I have to go without dairy and that Nolan’s intolerance is fairly mild, but once Nolan is weaned and eating solids full time, it’s still something I’m going to have to watch until he (hopefully) outgrows it. Luckily, if he gets some inadvertently it will just lead to a stomachache and not a more serious reaction. It’s tough and I’ve been a trooper major complainer about it, but at the end of the day, it’s for my baby and that always makes things easier.

Have you had a kid with a dairy intolerance or other allergy?  I’d love more dairy free food ideas!

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