When I got pregnant with Baby Bear, I knew that there was the possibility of allergies, of FPIES, like with Little Cub. I prayed they would be simpler, easier, one or two foods tops. Him being worse, well that couldn’t, wouldn’t happen. Not to us.
Something that never entered my mind was that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed him. Nursing was one thing I was good at. I had an abundant supply, an oversupply actually, of milk. I made chunky babies from my boobs. It was like magic. It was my superpower! When sick, mama’s boob was a cure-all! Pinkeye – BAM gone! Diaper rash – Pow! Ear ache – Zap! Throwing up and can’t take anything else…There’s a boob for that! It was the one thing I could control and do for my child when everything else in the world was out of control with their allergies.
So when I nursed Baby Bear for the last time in the doctors office yesterday, holding back tears (not well, mind you). I couldn’t believe we had gotten to this place. How could all of my work to keep him safe and fed and happy, be failing?! How could I have failed him? I had cut and cut and cut foods. I could cut more, I told myself. But in truth I couldn’t, my body and emotional state needed the possible quick fix and true help that formula could bring. I was a mess emotionally and was struggling with out having much of a support system. Baby Bear’s health was failing, rapidly. Caring for one child with special needs was hard, caring for two? I was drowning. Formula was a life preserver to help me be the mama that I need to be for both my very special children and the possible healing that Baby Bear so desperately needed. Already his doctor was referring us to the Children’s hospital, talking about seeing a team of specialists and getting scopes. If the formula helped, we could postpone that trip- for now at least.
This time around, at least I know it isn’t actually me he is allergic to. I didn’t have a doctor telling me that my baby was allergic to me. I had a doctor that had been fully on board with me trying to do an elimination diet. With trying holistic approaches and healing technics, who, in fact, encouraged it. But despite all that we tried and did, I still couldn’t get my milk to a place where it was healing him or even keeping him stable. It wasn’t me, but it was something in my milk that was making him sick. What that is I don’t know. Corn, beef, zucchini? The list is only comprised of a few more items and yet every diaper comes away positive for blood and in the last week visible blood stains the diapers. Mucus, more and more of it happens. Diarrhea. Reflux. Spitting up to full projectile vomiting. Cough and congestion that lingers from a cold. Something was seriously wrong with my baby. It couldn’t be FPIES, I told myself. It wasn’t this bad with Little Cub… thus it had to be something else. Maybe something easily fixed? But then story after story of other children who also had it this bad, and worse, flits through my mind. It could be FPIES.
My heart was, and is still in tatters. My breasts ache and every time he cries I have a let down. When he was crying today I almost unconsciously pulled out my breast and latched him on. I stopped myself before I actually did it but that is how intense, how primal, the urge is to nurse our young. I still have moments of bawling from grief so intense that I feel like I have lost a limb. That my heart is missing. That a part of me that was “mom”, or the mom I had imagined I would be, is gone.
I know that will change. I know that my bond with my littles will be special still. That my love for them won’t go away or even vaguely diminish. But this is a loss, plain and simple. It is also a healing, but for now I will honor that loss and know that I will be glad of the healing soon enough.
Parenting is all about sacrifice, for a “crunchy”, hippy mama that used to believe that “Breast Is Best,” this is a pretty big sacrifice. But I would give up more to keep my little man safe.
Plus, when your little smiles up at you when you are feeding him, be it at your breast or from a bottle, it is hard not to feel like you heart is lifting out of darkness and know that everything will be, has to be, ok; because how can a smile that wonderful be anything but a good thing?
I am the mother two wonderful and Rare children and am honored to be the step mama to two awesome teenagers.