I probably come across 4-5 new articles on breastfeeding each day and they are pretty much all the same– Breastmilk is best… yadda yadda… You should do it until your child is 8… yadda… if you do your child will be Prom King…blah blah… you should feel free to whip out your boob wherever you want and blog about anyone who has a problem with it…
I’m honestly not trying to make light of it. I’m just trying to make a point– they’re all the same and they mostly all in one way or another make any mom who is unable to breastfeed feel guilty and that’s exactly what new moms need: a healthy dose of guilt. Woah sarcasm!
The truth is, breastfeeding is important to me and I think in all seriousness that it’s important to just about all moms, even those that choose not to do it. It’s just that in all the articles I’ve read I’ve never come across one like the one I’m about to write which is exactly why I’m putting myself out there and sharing something that is pretty personal.
I have a 7 month old daughter and from the start I was bound and determined come hell or high water that I was going to breastfeed her. I set my bar high– a year. That’s a high goal coming from someone who nursed for a month with my first. And truth be told nursing her has been a dream. I could not have asked for a better experience. My milk came in right away and there have been few supply issues. I experienced zero pain even from the very start which was astonishing to me. I made it to the one month mark with ease and just kept going. We were able to go exclusively for 6 months with the exception of one taste of pureed sweet potatoes and 2 days of formula. I had pumped 170 oz for her for when I went on a trip to Italy and it lasted all but those last two days I was gone. I’m pretty darn proud of that. I’m certain we’ll make it to the year mark and maybe beyond that as well.
You’re saying, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
Yeah I would have hated me too because the experience I had with my first, my son, was the polar opposite of everything I just described. Everything that could go wrong went wrong with that experience. It started with my milk not arriving until the 5th day and in my horror and fear of starving him to death I started supplementing. My supply was never sufficient no matter how much nursing and pumping I did. Then it turned out he had a milk protein intolerance that caused him to scream like he was dying every time I fed him. I know now I could have given up dairy and that it takes up to 3 weeks for all the dairy in your system to get out of your body but I didn’t know that at the time. I don’t remember the first month of his life other than to know I thought on more than one occasion “What on earth was I thinking?” In a nutshell it was a horrible experience but if you think all those reasons were bad enough let me tell you the thing that happened to me that no one EVER talks about and that took me hours of web digging to discover for myself.
You see if the exhaustion and blur of being a new mom wasn’t bad enough, the pain of cracked and bleeding nipples wasn’t bad enough, and the screaming child who was allergic to my milk wasn’t bad enough, I experienced something that I now know has a name. D-MER which stands for Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex and if you’re thinking, “Woah what the hell is that?” Then you are right there with me.
I’m guessing most women don’t experience this. Or maybe they do but don’t talk about it. Because I really did have a hard time finding information about it. But it goes something like this– you know the Dementors that live in Harry Potter’s world? The creatures that suck all the happiness out of you just before sucking out your soul through your mouth? Yeah, that’s what D-MER is. It’s a great big breastfeeding Dementor sucking the life out of you every single time your milk lets down.
So there I was, a new mom, my sweet perfect little boy in my arms. I was sleep deprived yes, but I still felt joy at the life in my arms. And then he would latch on. And within a minute my mood would do a complete 180. I started to feel drained of all joy and happiness. Dark thoughts filled my mind. I felt pure hopelessness and utter despair. It didn’t matter what I was doing or who I was with. I could have had someone walk in and tell me I’d just won the lottery while at the same time achieving world peace but if I was nursing while that happened I would have felt nothing. I thought to myself, “Oh this is what Post Partum Depression feels like”. But I was wrong, it’s not the same as PPD. In fact I did not have PPD. I had D-MER. But it took me some time to associate the two things (nursing and despair) together and by the time I did I had already given up. After all aside from all the other battles to fight, who wants to feel like they want to jump off a bridge 10 times a day? Not me, that’s for sure.
Fast forward 3 years to the nights before Allison was born. I had heard good things about using a breast pump to stimulate labor (which it did!) But I was shocked the moment that feeling returned to me. How could this be PPD? I haven’t even given birth yet?! So I started googling and that’s what I found. Now since I’m no where close to qualified to explain the problem medically, and it is a medical problem, I encourage you to go to the website and read about it because it will probably make more sense that way. I’m happy to say that just knowing about it and anticipating it helped me ward off those awful negative feelings and they haven’t been a problem at all this time around but at least if they happen again in the future I’ll know what it is and I can send my patronus (Harry Potter speak for the thing that rids you of Dementors) after the D-MER and not let it steal my happiness away from me.
Is this something that has happened to you? I’d love to hear from other people who have experienced this. Please share this article with anyone you think might need or want to see it.