The Therapy Fund | Vol. 7

July 5, 2012

Sam the Anti-Preemie

A quick look at my own personal Sophie's Choice.

The battle in our house over the issue of weaning Sam is hitting a new high (or is that low). For those that have been following, I have been struggling since since March with the idea of weaning Sam. I had originally planned to use a solo trip to NYC in April as my weaning opportunity. As my trip got closer and closer, I realized that not only was Sam not ready to wean, but neither was I. Then, in May, Sam started a new trick of treating my nipple like artichoke leaves, bringing me to tears with his biting. But we worked through it, and for the past month or so nursing Sam has been an enjoyable part of my day.

But now, the issue of weaning is back, and this time it is my own personal Sophie's choice.

Way back in October of 2010, I fell down a flight of stairs while holding Sam. I protected him, but in the process, I ended up going ass over teakettle down eight stairs, hitting my head and let shoulder pretty hard on the stairs and then slamming my neck into the banister when I finally landed. Sam had a small bruise on his hand and thigh, but was otherwise fine. I ended up in the ER (after arguing with my parents and husband for an hour about my need to get to the ER). By the time we finally got to the hospital, I had lost feeling in my cheek and one of my fingers. That news got me through triage quickly and in a cervical collar even faster. Luckily, my CT scan came back normal, and I was sent home with pain killers and a heating pad.

Fast forward to March. After months of enduring neck pain, I finally called a physiatrist to see what was going on. By this point, I was waking up every two hours in pain and was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. An MRI showed three bulging discs in my neck. My doctor sent me to physical therapy and over the past three months has been giving me cortisone injections in my shoulder, muscles and finally my neck joints. Sadly, none of this is really working. My neck pain is still there, and now I am getting migraines associated with neck tightness.

At my last visit to the doctor, he told me that more injections were off the table for at least 6-8 weeks. He wants me to start a medication that is known to help with chronic pain. The only catch... I had to be done breastfeeding before I can start it.

And here we are at my Sophie's Choice: wean Sam and get the meds... and put off the meds so I can wean Sam on my own terms.

It may seems silly, but I am just having a very hard time with the idea of being forced to wean Sam by a doctor. I have so much emotion tied up in breastfeeding Sam. Back in the NICU, I became obsessed with my ability to produce breast milk. I failed at gestating Sam, producing milk seemed like the least I could do. It turned out, it was something I could do very very well. Two months into our NICU stay, I did a little exercise and added up how much milk I had pumped.... 24.7 gallons. (Most of that milk I ended up donating to the Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose). My supply has held strong, as has my desire to keep breastfeeding my boy.

But it is more than that. I have so much emotion, angst and pride tied up in breastfeeding Sam. Something about letting go of breastfeeding is hard for me. I feel like I will be losing something, but I can't put my finger on what it is. I am just not ready to let it go.

And there is the rub. For my own health (mental and physical) I need to not be in pain. To not be in pain, I need to stop breastfeeding Sam so I can get the medicine. Not an easy choice.

Any of you have words of wisdom for me?

Jennifer Holbrook
Have you tried Accupuncture or chiropractic work?
Might help the pain until you can feel like you are
ready to wean Sam. I am proud of you for getting
through the biting phase. I think I would have just
stopped there. I completely understand how you feel
about being able to produce milk and feed your preemie.
That is exactly how I felt. Finally I was good at something
that was good for my girl. It is so hard when you feel
like you failed them for not being able to carry to term.
Don’t do anything you are not ready for. You will know
when the time is. It might be next week, or it might be
next year. Let me know if you would like me to teach you
A really good relaxation technique I learned. Might help
for some situations. I actually could not believe it was really
Working! I am such a skeptic. 😉

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