At first I was indifferent to breastfeeding my daughter. I had read all the studies that encourage feeding and the benefits so I knew I wanted to give her that time, but to me I didn’t get what all the excitement was for. Our start was rough – my daughter wouldn’t latch on properly and I grew very frustrated. I invested in a specialist for breastfeeding who gave us great tips but no real resolution other than hard work. Our goal was to make 6 months before switching to formula and solids.
Then I saw my Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) doctors…
My rheumatologist manages my Cellcept and Prednisone intake. If it were up to him, he would have wanted me back on the immune suppressant drugs right after birth. That we managed to go 3 months of breastfeeding is great but I’m playing with fire. Even though I’m on Prednisone I could have a relapse attack at any moment. No one really knows if my prescribed dosage is sufficient to ward off an attack. He made a valuable point that my daughter would rather a functioning mother than a couple extra months of feeding. He was also greatly concerned with how much and how long I’ve been on Prednisone for. I have been taking an oral dose daily since over a year ago when we started the in-vitro process but there is no denying that the long term effects of steroid use is damaging.
Then I saw my neurologist and we thought of other options:
What about Rituximab? There isn’t coverage in Ontario for the use of that drug for NMO patients. Even though I could get it donated from a drug company, getting someone to monitor and administer it to me would be difficult.
What about other immune suppressant drugs that were safe for breastfeeding? I didn’t tolerate Imuran last time and why mess with something that obviously works well? He thought it best to stick to Cellcept.
So, I resigned to the fact that on a certain date I’d start taking Cellcept and give up breastfeeding.
And then something magical happened. Just as I was ready to wean off the Prednisone (from the last year of use) and get back on Cellcept I discovered what everyone was talking about. I guess when you take something away, like the ability to walk, see or even breastfeed, one can’t help but really see its value. As I count down the days before I finally make the call and give up breastfeeding for good I cherish the moments that my daughter and I share together. Those are the moments I finally feel like a mom. Thankfully she’s taken to her formula meals via a bottle quite well. Most days I feel like an insufficient mother because I can’t continue to feed my child as mother nature intended. At moments I curse this frustrating disease and even after so many years now I still question “why me?”.
So for now I am grateful for getting as far as we have – after all, I did have a baby against the odds of in-vitro and NMO, and we did breastfeed for almost 4 months.