I've read until my eyes want to bleed, so I feel as though I have a good idea of how to get started - thanks everyone for all your posts and replies here. It truly helps a lot of us who are just starting back into the nursing game.
My story is long so if you feel like reading I'll share below. But in a nutshell my last baby is just now 5m old and was weaned 2.5m ago after a great solid supply and no issues nursing.
I have ordered an amazing electric double pump due to arrive in two days so in prep. I'll be getting some supplements and then get on this journey to hopefully re-lactation!
I'll say though that just to see what she'd do I brought her skin to skin to my breast this morning a few times (hungry and not hungry, tired and not) and she cried and refused to try. That was really difficult. I kick myself every day for choosing to wean and I'm not sure why I thought she would just... jump back on the wagon. So I forsee my milk coming back no problem (got a few drops with my single pump this am) but getting her to latch will be another story. Sigh.
Just wanted to share the beginnings of my journey here, glad to have a safe and supportive place to land.
ETA: this may be a silly question but getting the advice of a LLL leader or meeting up with someone - what is the cost of this?
My story begins in 2008 actually. After a successful breastfeeding experience with my first in 2004 I was determined to have yet another with this new baby (Luke). However he was born severely tongue-tied and I had no encouragement or help from my doctor (wishing I'd known then about LLL). Top that with a sudden onset of PPD and anxiety, breastfeeding was the furthest thing from dreamy, or wonderful, or anything I had felt with my first.
Luke was 2 weeks old when I stopped.
I looked at him for the next three years with such sadness and a longing for what didn't work. I formed an attachment to him that to this day (nearly 4) is odd to many who don't know our story. He's a mama's boy and though he wasn't breastfed for more than a few weeks, we have been very very close. I could never shake the horrible guilt I had for weaning, yet I was in such a fog struggling through the daily PPD crap I just kept on trudging.
When I became pregnant with Q very unexpectedly - the only thing on my mind was that she would be nursed until she decided she wouldn't. I dreamed of our breastfeeding relationship and how special it would be, her as my very last baby.
Just a few moments after she was born I brought her to my breast and she went to town. In fact the nurses couldn't believe how well she did, and said they hadn't had a new baby latch on that long in as long as they could remember. We all kind of giggled, she just wouldn't stop. My milk was different this time around. She was growing fine and got over the jaundice but it was different somehow. After a horrible brush with PPD again I immediately went on the only Rx I had, Prozac. I was told in the hospital it was "fine for her" but after being home a few days she became a different baby. Cried. All. The. Time. Was super fussy, very upset and difficult to console. So totally different than the boys ever were. I began to research Prozac and nursing and was so upset by what I found. Here it turns out it is NOT recommended and I kicked myself for not asking for Zoloft at the hospital like I considered...
Anyhow, we were without insurance and I refused to keep giving her the Prozac so I quit. Cold turkey. Which is of course not the best option, but I was so amazed. Within a week of stopping she was happy, sleeping well and in much better spirits. I was so relieved. I would rather HER happy and me struggle...
But things started to go bad, on my end. PPD reared it's ugly head, followed along by the anxiety that crippled me. I was a wreck and living with my inlaws didn't help much. It was weeks and weeks and weeks of this feeling - this awful darkness. Finally early March my husband came to me concerned. He wanted what was best for Quinn but also knew I wasn't able to function with these insane hormones and lack of medication or $ or resources to seek therapy or change the Rx.
He thought it was best for me to get back on the medication and my mom encouraged this as well. I was lost and emotional and gave in.
I will never, ever forget laying in my bed nursing Q for what would be the last time. I took photos and sang to her, stroking her hair. I cried all over her that afternoon as I felt at a loss to do anything else.
The next day it had been 24 hours since our last nursing and I stood in my mom's bathroom. Milk pouring out of me as she covered my breasts in cabbage. They were rock solid and hurt like nothing ever had. I sobbed to her how wrong this felt. "This isn't right! This isn't how it should be!" and she gave me that nod sternly saying "yes this is Ang, this is what you need to do, she will be fine". I will never ever get that moment out of my head - it replays like a bad dream. wishing so badly with every ounce in me I could go back to that day. To rip off those stupid cabbage leaves and continue on what my mama instincts told me to do.
It was excruciating. I quit cold turkey. I knew it would be all the harder if I kept nursing her and slowly weaning, so I didn't. She took formula like a champ and my well-meaning but frustrating mother told me that was great and all would be well. I cried, and I cried, and I cried like never before. I had to pull over to the side of the road so many times because I couldn't see past the tears. I spent days and days curled up in a ball on the couch. The ugly cry, the sobbing, GUT-wrenching crying that left my head pounding and my mind spinning. I have never been in a darker place in my life. It was absolutely and totally horrific. 5 days later, still in horrendous pain, I had to drive 10 hours away to OR to shoot my very last wedding. It was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to go on a nursing vaca. To stay in bed all weekend with Q, working to get my milk back to what it was. I would have cut off my right arm to be able to do that, but alas I had to work. I knew, I knew in my heart and my head if I went to OR that was it. My milk would be dried up by the time I got back.
And it was. And it was awful. I shared this with very, very few people. Only a close IRL friend and my family knew of the extent of this. I was ashamed and heartbroken and angry. Angry at the PPD and at the lack of benefits. Angry at my mom for being so "encouraging" when I was weaning. Angry at myself for listening to her. Angry at the moms who could successfully nurse their babies without these issues. Angry that I had to put on this face for my online presence. I looked at Q and felt so empty. I had abandoned her. She of course continued to thrive and was happy as could be.
Life slowly but surely found a new normal. As my hormone levels evened out I was able to see through less tear-stained eyes. The Prozac had entered my body once again and did it's thing (you know masked what was going on). I began to feel more 'normal' and couldn't allow myself to look at those photos I had of our last nursing together, I couldn't even let myself think of that time. That dark, awful time. (I've still yet to look at the photos...)
And now here we are, three months later. Baby girl just turned 5 months old and I have been working with a holistic health coach to deal with my anxiety and PPD naturally. While this is amazing news for ME I can't help but wish with every fiber in me I had this chance back then. To have dealt with my stuff this way instead of going back on the medication.
I'm terrified. I'm terrified of trying and failing, scared that she won't want me anymore. Scared of what people will think. Even a bit frightened/nervous to tell my husband. He supports me in every single thing, and though he wouldn't understand I know he would encourage what I want but it would be so darn nice if he DID understand. My mother of course will roll her eyes at me.
I will do anything, anything to make this work. I can not imagine going through life wondering and always remembering...
If you've made it this far, thank you so much. And thanks too for being a safe place I can share.