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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?!?!?!?!