CAT Scan, weaning, unweaning …

Probably one of the most difficult moments of this whole experience was the morning of October 4th, when I showed up at the hospital to get a CAT scan. After all the paperwork was done and I arrived at the lab, I sat down for the nurse to prep me, and she asked me if I was nursing or pregnant. I said that I was nursing, and she explained that I would have to stop nursing for the next 48 hours because they were going to inject me with a contrast that would make my breast milk dangerous for my daughter.

I lost it. I was totally unprepared for this news, I had not prepared my daughter, I still felt guilt over having weaned my first child suddenly and had sworn I would not do the same to my second, my husband was out of town, and I had no clue what to do. Luckily, I reached my best friend on the phone, and she walked me out of my emotional response and encouraged me to put my health first, which is what was sorely needed at that moment. I told the technician to prepare me, but could not stop the tears from running down my cheeks as I did so. I already knew that I would probably wean my daughter for good, as her night nursing was interfering with my sleep and I knew weaning her was one of the steps I needed to eventually take as I worked on healing myself. A doctor walked in as this was going on and asked if I was o.k. I did my best to say yes, but I’m quite certain that moment is the reason the lab called back less than 8 hours later with the results of my CAT scan: NO CANCER. What a relief, for me, and especially for my husband, who deeply feared that we would get bad news.

I returned home and (after consultation with at least one more friend) told my daughter that just like mommy’s arm was not working last week, this week her breasts weren’t working, and that I could not give her milk. Her response makes me cry even now months later as I write this: truly the worst part of weaning her was sitting in the hospital imagining how she would react. She handled the situation with a grace that I still strive for when faced with unexpected and unhappy events. Unfortunately, at the same moment, she took on a burden bigger than a 2 year old should have to bear, and it began to visibly wear on her as the week progressed. Finally 10 days later, my husband and I decided to allow her to return to nursing.

This return to nursing was decided on after a tearful morning talking to a wonderful La Leche League leader who supported me in my choice to wean, but also encouraged me to consider options I hadn’t seen. In particular, she told me that I could choose to feed at times and frequencies that made sense to me, rather than those preferred by my daughter. I chose to allow nursing only once per day to minimize the physical requirements: the time of day I treasured most, right when I come home from work. No night time nursing, and no frequent nursing. Also, should I have to wean again if my diagnosis required it, only one feeding would need to be eliminated. Athough a little bit of a bumpy transition, the return to nursing was exactly what both I and my daughter needed.

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