My last post drew a lot of comments - thanks for your thoughts and for taking the time to share them. And thanks for keeping the comments mostly constructive. I know this is a really hot button issue. As such, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of yours:
First of all, thank you for all of you who wrote in about successfully feeding using only one breast. Reading your stories was inspiring and encouraging. All I can say is I'll give it my best shot. If I could make enough milk for Magpie with just the one breast, that would be awesome. It had honestly not occurred to me that that could be a possibility.
Jenny F. Scientist, PhD: Thanks for sharing your story on your use of long-term antibiotics to prevent recurrent mastitis. I talked to my doctor and she recommended against it due to the risk of developing C.diff or another related infection. So that'll be a no go for me. So glad it worked for you!
Amy and Alexicographer: Thanks for the warning about inflammatory breast cancer. Scary stuff. I didn't realize the ultrasound I had last week might not have picked it up. I know the chances I have IBC are slim but not none, so I will speak to my doctor about how to rule it out.
Shannon and MaybelB: Hormones, yup. Got those going on, big time. I've never felt so driven by them in all my life, so...um...animal....Thanks for pointing out the role they may be playing in my decision-making right now. I wouldn't be surprised. I am humbled by them, but will try not to be just swept away by them. Also, the sleep deprivation...that does a number as well on my rational thinking abilities. Not a good thing. I miss sleep.
zerodoll and Becky: Thank you for sending info on milk sharing. What an awesome thing that these communities are forming! At the moment, I'm not comfortable with it, however, because of the slim risk of viral and bacterial contamination. I know the risk is very small, but it's still too frightening for me.
Where I'm at today:
I am in the process of weaning the left breast while on antibiotics. My doctor gave me two more courses to have on hand in case I have a recurrence while I start and complete the weaning process on that side. I am sad to do this. It feels so final, and I had so hoped to find another solution. But I, and my family, can't afford me continually getting sick with such high fevers. Enough is enough.
I purchased banked donor milk Friday to supplement and get us hopefully to Magpie's four month birthday. Yes, I'm aware that pasteurized donor milk is lacking some of the benefits of fresh, but you do what you can. Perhaps my supply will have increased enough by Magpie's four month birthday that I can make up for the loss of the left breast's milk. I doubt it. I expect to combo feed with breast milk and formula after that point. If I could, I would eek it out with exclusive breast milk to six months and then happily combo feed with formula upon the introduction of solids, but I'm not expecting to be able to make it that far with exclusive breast milk and the banked milk is too expensive and difficult to obtain to be anything but a short-term solution. So we'll see, but I'm expecting we'll be a combo feeding family soon enough. Any thoughts or recommendations on the healthiest/best formulas is most welcome.
Finally, I wanted to respond to Anon and Carrie and anyone else offended by my post:
I'm very sorry you were offended or annoyed by my post or felt that I was disparaging formula feeding. I wouldn't want anyone who needed or chose to use formula to feel badly. I was merely trying to express my struggle with my personal situation.
To respond to a few specifics:
- "You are really sort of making anyone who has ever used formula feel like you think they are an abusive parent."
- "What EXACTLY are all of these terrible, scary, no-good, very bad things that so many of you believe will happen to a baby upon having formula touch her lips, and that will render her forever identifiable as a (insert shameful whispery voice here) "formula-fed baby?""
In fact, I said, "Thank God for formula. It is a lifesaver."
We NEED to have formula. I am grateful it exists. I am taking a trip with Magpie and Will this week and we will have formula with us...just in case. That said, breast milk has been demonstrated to have anti-allergic, anti-neoplastic, and immune-enhancing properties.
This does not make anyone "bad" or or "abusive" for using formula and does not make formula "evil." It does make me want to explore avenues to continue to offer Magpie breast milk while she is so little, exclusively, if I am able.
My personal situation is my own. I had cancer, as did both of my siblings, all before we turned 40. Will and I both have asthma. We both have eczema. There are major food allergy issues, again also on both sides of our families. None of these things were "caused" by formula, but they are our personal vulnerabilities. I am motivated to want to reduce the likelihood that Magpie might experience any of these things if I am able. I realize that she may have to struggle with any or all of them anyway, but I would like to try.
It is a shame that the issue of baby feeding has become so contentious in our culture that one person's wish to continue feeding with breast milk feels like an attack on others. It wasn't meant to be, and so if it felt that way, I apologize. We all want the same thing: to love our hard-won kids the best we can at each moment in time.
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