The horror that ended my breastfeeding journey

Okay, so this post is a little late for me, since I stopped breastfeeding my third, and last, baby over 6 months ago. But I’ve learned something new that I wish I had known then. And holy hell it is insane.

Breastfeeding can be the most wonderful, fulfilling act in motherhood. The bond with your baby, the way they look up at you with all the love in the world while they nurse. The way they squeeze your hand and smile with milk dripping down their chin. The way they decide then and there that they want to grow up to be acrobats in the circus and start practicing in your lap, still attached to your nipple. Wait… That last part isn’t wonderful or fulfilling.

There are some real downsides to breastfeeding. The judgements and scrutiny about every single decision, cover on or off, how long should you do it for. Everyone has their opinion and people love to make mothers feel like shit for not following what the masses feel is best. That’s only the beginning, and the type of thing we unfortunately see all the time. I found out first hand that it can get a lot harder than that.


Due to fear, I failed at breastfeeding my first. The doctor insisted that I NEEDED to supplement with formula and once I did, my baby was no longer interested in nursing. But with my second, I had done my research. I ignored my pediatricians formula pushing and went for it on my own, and I ended up nursing my baby girl until she self weaned at 16 months. And I loved it. Obviously there were baby acrobatics and the judgements for going past a year and all that garbage, but I was happy and proud. So once I had my third baby, I was sure it would go well. Why wouldn’t it? I’m no rookie mom anymore! I know what I’m doing and this is going to go great.

I started my breastfeeding journey again, and this time, life was determined to knock me down a notch and show me how hard things can really be. Things seemed fine at first. Baby latched on right away and seemed happy. But before we even left the hospital, I was already starting to worry about his feeding schedule. He seemed to try so hard that he would fall asleep. Then wake up a bit later, nurse himself to sleep, and on and on and on and nothing ever seemed to be enough. He had lost weight after birth, like babies always do, but he was taking way too long to gain it back. I supplemented with a bit of formula to make sure he would get enough to grow, and I figured that once he got a bit bigger, he would get better with nursing.

That wasn’t happening. Finally, the pediatrician took a closer look and noticed that he had a tongue tie. It wasn’t severe, but it was enough to make nursing difficult. They recommended I get it snipped. I was so hesitant because it seemed so scary and honestly formula isn’t a bad alternative anyway, but this was my last baby. I wanted that bonding, and I was determined to make it work. So we went and got his tongue tie snipped. It was so fast and he cried for maybe 2 minutes before nursing again and it was such a relief.


So at about a month old, he was finally nursing long enough and strong enough to get as much as he needed, and I slowly weaned off the formula. I baked lactation cookies and drank beer and tons of water and got my supply up and I was so proud. Again, I got a big head and figured we’d be fine now. I’d nurse until he was a year and a half! Maybe even longer, who knows! And things went really well for a while. They really did.

Until he got his first tooth. I don’t know if it was just teething, or if maybe my supply dropped and he was frustrated, but the booger started biting me. He was only 4 months old, and I just couldn’t give up so soon, so I tried to hang in there. But he got another tooth and the biting got worse. I pride myself in having a high tolerance for pain. After all, I birthed all three of my children naturally, without any drugs or help at all. I figured I could handle some biting.

But I couldn’t. My body started reacting in ways I couldn’t control and it was overwhelming and scary. Every time I needed to nurse, I would feel like I was punched in the gut. My stomach would drop and my heart would speed up and no matter what I tried to do to calm down, it just got worse. I would latch him on, cringing the whole time, and then yank my breast out of his mouth if I thought he might bite or if he was almost done. This continued for over a week, and my reactions got worse. I became nauseous, and I was basically having a panic attack every time he nursed. Sobbing and everything. I just got these intense waves of fear and depression and it scared the hell out of me.

I felt like I was going crazy.

After a very emotional outburst, my husband convinced me that it needed to stop. I was a wreck and only getting worse, and with my mental health, we need to avoid as much bad as we possibly can. So I made the decision to pump instead. I did that for as long as I could, supplementing formula when I couldn’t pump enough. And for a few months, I made it work. Every week I was getting less and less from pumping and I was supplementing more and more formula, until I decided it was time to put the pump away forever. And honestly, I felt so free.

What really got me, was that about a year later, I learned about something that sounded very similar to what happened to me. It’s called D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. It seems to be tied to the sudden decrease of dopamine in the brain during letdown. Most commonly used words to describe it are: anxiety, sadness, dread, angst, irritability, etc, etc, just a wave of all negative emotions. Although anyone experiencing it would experience it a bit differently, it’s the same underneath. And it is devastating. I think my anxiety disorder made it a lot worse and made me fear the crushing wave that I knew was coming. At the time, I thought I was just majorly overreacting to being bitten, which is bad enough to experience! But I felt so weak and couldn’t understand how a little pain could make me feel so low.

The worst part of all this is how alone I felt. I had never heard of anything like this before. I even read a bunch of pregnancy and baby books cover to cover(years ago) and I do not remember ever hearing about this. And it kills me to imagine other women going through it, thinking they are going crazy, or thinking they are failing their baby, that they’re a bad mom, and none of it is true!

I hope my story can reach at least one person who needs to hear it. Because I wish someone had told me.


Adulting with ADHD

First, I must warn you. This is not going to be a “how to” post. This is going to be a “this is so hard” post. To commiserate. No advice here. Sorry. There’s probably plenty of other ADHD bloggers with their shit (sorta) together though so… Okay, moving on.

First of all, I wasn’t diagnosed with inactive ADHD until I was 26. (It’s all classified as ADHD these days. So basically, Inactive means that the hyperactivity is in the brain, and Active means the hyperactivity manifests physically as well.) That means I struggled with school and life and everything for a long time and I never knew why. I’ve always had that there’s something wrong with me feeling and who would have thought that finding out that there was, in fact, something wrong with me would make me feel better! Well, not better, but understood I guess.


Why? Because it erased my fears that maybe there was nothing wrong. Maybe I was just lazy. Maybe I was just kind of a waste of space. A waste of breathe as a person. But no, a diagnosis meant there’s an actual problem, and if not fixed, can at least be managed better than stumbling my way through life because my sense of direction has failed me again.

I can’t think of a single area of my life that my ADHD doesn’t affect. As a kid, I missed birthday parties because I totally forgot about them. I got bad grades on projects because they seemed so overwhelming that I procrastinated and then had to cram in a weeks worth of work into a few hours. Getting older didn’t change any of these things. What changed was the impact of my highly irritating quirks.

Now, instead of forgetting birthday parties, I would forget about a shift at work and arrive super late. I actually missed out on a job because my sense of direction failed me in the biggest way and I never made it to orientation. I get overwhelmed by bills and often pay late because I procrastinate on those now. And the brain fog? Well, let’s just say when other moms started talking about “mom brain,” I didn’t know what they were talking about because I have always been like this.

Forgetful. Absentminded. Lost. Overwhelmed. I. Am. A. Mess.

I can’t seem to finish a single household chore without getting distracted and starting on another. And believe me, getting much done at all is hard enough. Seeing a mess makes my brain shut down and not want to do anything at all. My view as I’m typing this is a desk with a billion unsorted papers scattered everywhere that I’ve been meaning to get to for…. forever.

And with my kids… Sometimes I’ll have to ask them to repeat themselves more than once because I just couldn’t focus on what they were saying. I am completely useless with my sons math homework because math has always been like an alien language to me. Recently, I missed an important doctors appointment simply because I forgot about it. And don’t even get me started on where my keys are because your guess is as good as mine. And biggest one, I am the worlds most annoying fidgeter. I think my ADHD pairs up with my anxiety on this one and I drive my husband crazy with my leg twitching and awkward hand movements and inability to sit still without moving my foot or my finger to trace an object across the room.


I am the worst housekeeper ever and completely unreliable in planning anything or getting anywhere on time. And believe me, it annoys me as much as it annoys the people around me. But I know now that I’m not alone. I’m not just lazy and useless. I have an actual medical diagnosis to explain why my brain is the way that it is. Hopefully soon, I’ll even have a fancy new prescription to change my life and make it better.


Pain and Parenting

A lifetime ago, when I imagined my life as a mom, I honestly thought I would be the most soft, loving, nurturing mother there was. And three kids later I am those things, when I can be. One thing I didn’t factor in, that I never would have imagined would play such a huge role in my life, was pain.

Like it or not, I’m a different person when I’m hurting. I have much less patience, less focus (which is pretty scarce to begin with, thank you ADHD), I get irritated easily and I’m much more likely to raise my voice. None of that really screams soft, loving and nurturing.


As I write this, I am bundled up in my biggest blanket, desperately trying to stay as warm as possible while I take my painkillers and pray they kick in before my kids wake up. Winter is coming, and besides being a pretty awesome GOT reference, it rings true for me in acting as a warning. But instead of whitewalkers, winter brings me a promise that I will hurt more. The colder it is, the worse it gets. And if there’s rain or snow, that’s when it’s at its worst.

And although I know that kids are resilient and forgiving, and I apologize often when I get too angry, that’s not enough. They may forgive me, give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me. But their behavior changes. My daughter is very sensitive and gets even more so during these times. My son expresses it outwardly, in explosive behavior. When upset, he screams or throws things, runs out of his classroom at school. Once in a while he will even hit another classmate or his sister. And although some of all this is because of my sons autism, and my daughters ADHD, I know I can’t lay the blame solely on that.


I’m constantly trying to be better, but the mom guilt never ends. So tell me, if you deal with any sort of chronic pain, how does it affect your parenting? And if you’ve got any tips, feel free to share with the class, because I am very much still learning.


What Animals Mean to Me as Someone with Mental Illness

Ever since I could remember I have loved animals. And I wasn’t picky. I loved my childhood dog, but I obsessed over the wild and spent many years longing to move to Australia and marry Steve Irwin. (I was a kid, don’t judge me the man was amazing.) I would daydream about catching snakes and wrestling crocodiles, nursing a baby kangaroo back to health or pulling over on the side of the road and checking a dead possum to see if it had babies in its pouch, and you guessed it, saving the little guys. I know that seems extremely specific but it happened in one of his episodes…

As I got a little older, I started begging my parents for pets. I had a parakeet, then a hamster, and then my parents were fighting so bad the pets stopped for a while. After the divorce and years later I convinced my mom again and got a mouse, then later still a cockatiel. Only one of those pets died, the hamster that was probably already sick when we got him. But the rest, I was forced to give them all away at some point. It broke my heart each time.

So I went in another direction. I don’t remember which animal started it, but I turned myself into an amateur wildlife rehabilitater. From my early teenage years, then moving out of my moms house and in with my grandma, up until I was engaged and ready to move out, I took in whatever needed help. I mean, I’m not in Australia so there was nothing too crazy. Countless baby birds, a mourning dove with a hurt wing, a baby crow that was sick in some way, a baby raccoon, baby bunnies, and a baby squirrel that gave me a reputation at the ASPCA when I took him out of his cage to kiss him goodbye before turning him in. (Whenever I turned an animal in, it was because the SPCA or the vet had found a real, qualified rehabber to take care of them.)


But to be honest, I didn’t only do this to help the animals. I did it for me too. Caring for animals is the most natural therapy for me and it helped me through years that I didn’t even realize I was not okay. And when that all stopped, because I started having kids and needed to focus on them, I didn’t even realize how much it was helping my mental health until it was gone. It felt like a huge part of myself died and I have gone without therapy for a long, long time.

Now, my husband and I rescued a giant German Shepherd who was sick and weak and sad, and he has grown into a happy, and very anxious, beautiful boy over the last two years since adopting him. He’s mamas big baby and I love him to pieces. And I gotta say, shoving my face in his fur and loving on him when I’m down really does help. So much.

Lately I’ve been in a depressive episode, and although I’m medicated and functioning well, I’ve been finding it hard to be truly happy and care about much of anything. Until I finally convinced my husband to let me get another pet. And ever since, I have been going nuts finding a tank and supplies and contacting a rescue group and it’s all made me so happy. And now that I’m just about done, and almost ready to go pick up my new friend, I’ve realized that this is what’s been missing in my life for so long.

So it’s time. I’m starting over, and sticking to pets for now, but this time no one will be forcing me to give my babies away. The rehabbing will wait until my youngest is older and I’m certified to do it the right way, but that’s okay. Because I’ve finally remembered my first therapy. My best, most natural approach to happiness and good mental health. And I am finally so excited to see where the next few years take me.