So my meeting with the neurologist was this morning, and it went… not well. I can’t say it really went badly necessarily, but it certainly wasn’t what I would call good.

I first met with the PA who works with the neurologist, and he went over my history, did a perfunctory exam, and discussed my symptoms in moderate detail. He then excused himself and went to discuss matters with the neurologist, who then came back in to offer me a diagnosis. His opinion, based on the information he got from the PA, is that the presyncopy* is being caused by complicated migraines. And while I think that this might be a diagnosis worth exploring, I’m not entirely convinced that this is the actual cause. And sadly, I’m too inflexible to do what is necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

Generally, I’m a firm believer in science– trial and error methods are excellent ways to uncover truths. Form a hypothesis, test it, review results, etc. Only in this case, the hypothesis is based on the fact that once, the presyncopy was associated with a migraine, and that I have had mild headaches with it since then. The neurologist seemed really keen on treating my headaches, which is great, except that I wasn’t there for headache treatment. He seemed to focus too hard on the one occurrence that coincided with a migraine, and was somewhat surprised when I told him that my episodes since then have involved mild headaches if any at all. I really, really get the idea that he either didn’t get the full story from the PA, or that he didn’t pay attention to the full story from the PA.

Anyhow, as I said, I’m generally a firm believer in trying almost any reasonable method to attempt to resolve various issues. But in this case, the desired treatment is to put me on migraine preventatives, which he thinks will show us for sure whether or not these spells are actually migraine-related or not. And, again, I’m all for trial and error, and I love me some good pharmaceuticals, but… these are drugs that absolutely, under no circumstances, not at all, ever, never, ever can be taken while breastfeeding.

I didn’t know when I started breastfeeding if it would work for us. I didn’t know whether I would like it, whether I would want to keep doing it for any length of time, whether it would even be important enough to me to force the issue or anything. I wasn’t sure the babies would latch. I wasn’t sure if I’d make enough milk. I wasn’t sure if I could stand to have two babies physically attached to me for so long. I certainly couldn’t imagine sticking with it for six months, much less the full recommended year.

And if you’ve read me for any length of time, you know what happened. It did work for us. I did like it. I did want to keep nursing for a length of time. The babies latched (if not perfectly, at least functionally, most of the time), I made more than enough milk (most of the time), and I loved having my babies so close to me, so often. And frankly, after the first insanely intense six months, it seemed pointless to stop, since we were all still enjoying it. Now, I find myself with two 10-month-olds, and wanting to cry when the doctor suggests that I wean.

I knew after I made it to six months that I would definitely keep going to a year, and around 8 months, I figured out that I had no reason or desire to wean after that one year mark. I could honestly see myself nursing them for an embarrassingly long amount of time (embarrassing in the US, perhaps…). The bottom line is that I am not ready to wean them, and I don’t think I will be any time soon.

When the doctor came in the room with the PA after discussing my notes, he quickly described my diagnosis, what it could mean, what it could do to me if left unchecked, or treated incorrectly, and then said that he recommended XX course of treatment, and then quickly added that because I was breastfeeding there was nothing they could do for me. He asked when I expected to wean (even though I had already told the PA that I had no intention of weaning any time soon), and when I told him that the babies would be one year in June, and that we’d just have to see what happened after that, he strongly, strongly encouraged me to wean them sooner, much sooner, preferably NOW. I (weakly) tried to defend my position, saying that the boys were absolutely not ready to wean, that it was simply not going to work, and his reply was that they would have to stop nursing if I didn’t let them**, and that it would be “rough” for “two or three days” but then, they’d forget all about it. And I just wanted to cry.

I really had no idea how emotionally attached to the breastfeeding relationship I’d become***. And it really offended me that the doctor made light of prematurely ending what has been a beautifully working breastfeeding relationship. It really makes me think that he either does not have children or that his children did not breastfeed or perhaps did not breastfeed for very long. I don’t know honestly. I just know that I have no intention of stopping breastfeeding, especially just on the off-chance that this might be migraine-ish activity causing the dizziness.

So here finds me at the crux of science and emotion. I am simply unwilling to experiment with treatments to the detriment of my parenting wishes.

Adding to this is the fact that I’m not entirely convinced that this is the cause of my spells. I’ve had only a few very mild ones since I last saw my primary care doctor at the beginning of this month, and at her suggestion, since then, I’ve been really careful about making sure that I eat quite a bit more protein and watching my overall sugar intake (and eliminating high-fructose corn syrup altogether… goodbye, my Coca-Cola Love…). And of course, there’s also the fact that, while disconcerting, as long as I have a diagnosis that ensures that I’m not, you know, dying or that I’m not actually going to progress to full-on fainting, then I can deal with the dizziness. I don’t think I could deal with trying to wean ten-month-olds who still nurse to sleep for every nighttime and every nap, nor could I deal with formula and bottles and scrubbing and trying to force them to take the bottle when they aren’t interested anymore.

So. No further diagnosis for now, except what I tease out on my own through whatever experimentation I can manage while keeping my babies safe and relatively happy. And I’d do almost anything to keep these guys happy:

Sweet Jack

Crazy Henny

*for the normal people out there who’ve never dealt with such things, syncopy is just the medical term for fainting, and thus, presyncopy is the feeling you might get right before you faint– dizziness, ringing in the ears, tunneling of vision, etc.

**There seems to be this pervasive attitude lately that babies are “just” babies, that they aren’t actual, you know, humans. They don’t deserve to be treated like humans, but rather like objects that we direct here and there, that we force into things, that we set aside to pick up when it’s convenient. Sorry, but my children are human, and as their protector/guide/care-taker, it’s my job to make sure they are treated as such. They have feelings and needs that are not only worthy of consideration (as one would offer to another adult of one’s acquaintance), but are necessary to be honored, as they are only babies, for whom we should act as advocates. I would never, ever snatch away some bit of comfort and just haughtily tell them that they’ll “get over it” in a couple of days. I am, frankly, thinking that if this neuro. dude has kids that he must have extremely easy-going kids, since mine would pitch a holy shrieking fit for days and days and days if they were cut off from breastfeeding. They’d be clingy and tearful and inconsolable for far, far longer than “two or three days”. I know that breastfeeding is about the actual feeding part, but it’s also very much about the emotional connection, the physicalness of being close to Mama, being safe and comforted. And I can’t say I know many mothers who would willingly trash their child’s lovey or deny their child a much-needed hug– why should I be expected to drop breastfeeding when it is so much more than eating to them? The answer is because they’re “just” babies… strap them in the car seat, put it in a corner with a blanket over it, and toss a pacifier in there– they’ll get over it eventually… If it becomes necessary to wean for medical reasons, I would certainly approach it with more consideration and thought than simply stopping on a whim because some doctor is impatient to wait a few months to start trying a treatment.

***I kind of wonder sometimes if there isn’t a bit of a biological imperative at work here, forcing one to grow deeply attached to behaviors that they feel strongly will benefit their offspring. I think it’s what leads some people to strongly prefer bottle feeding over breastfeeding, because they know that ultimately, they will feel more bonded with their child if they don’t resent them for forcing themselves to continue breastfeeding when they hate it (in the case where someone is choosing to bottle feed because they hate breastfeeding, of course). It’s like biology forces us to do what we know will be best for our child in our exact circumstances. I know it would devastate my boys– and me– to stop BFing now. It’s just such a force that it feels almost futile to try to fight against that instinct to keep up our BFing. Weird.

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14 Responses to Answer?

  1. Star says:

    Good for you for standing up for yourself! My experience has been that most doctors are woefully underinformed about breastfeeding, and it sounds like in your situation they consider it an annoyance that you have something that is keeping you from availing yourself of the treatment they want to offer you. Perhaps, since you aren’t convinced of the diagnosis anyway, you could seek a second opinion? You might luck into a provider who would be more supportive of your decision not to wean at this time. I actually had a dermatologist tell me to pump and dump for 8-10 hours after receiving a subcutaneous anesthetic when I was planning to have something removed, just in case it passed into breast milk; baby was 6 months old at the time and I had not been pumping so I was like, what am I supposed to feed him in the meantime? It was totally silly, but she was so insistent that I just said I would wait to have it done.

  2. kimbosue says:

    Good for you! And I think you nailed it with your statement. So weird. Doctors/other moms pressure you to BF then other doctors/moms pressure you to give it up!

  3. JJ says:

    They are so stinkin’ cute! I hope you wont have to wait much longer to find out whats going on–Im sorry there still arent solid answers.

  4. Brandy says:

    I think you are right. I would not stop breastfeeding for the small chance that the headaches are causing your episodes.

    I also think you’re exactly right on the baby thing, that most people really don’t consider them humans. They say babies are resilient, they’ll get over it, they’ll be fine screaming their head off because they won’t remember it, when it reality, we don’t know if they’ll be fine. They aren’t able to talk to us and tell us in words how they’re feeling. There are probably ramifications much farther down the road that we don’t even connect to things that happen to them in early development.

  5. jenn says:

    I was kind of crushed when Pumpkin decided to self-wean at a year. I understand the bond and the emotional attachment. I would get a second opinion- find another doc who is more in line with your parenting point of view. My sis has a chronic illness requiring daily medication that is potentially extremely dangerous with pregnancy. Her original doc refused to treat her if she ever got pregnant- and she literally can not function without this medication. she finally found a new team that shares her very educated point of view and now she is starting to think seriously about having a family. I digress, but the right people supporting you is vital. It may take some time, but it sounds like you are not rushing into a round of medication anytime soon anyway. You need to take care of yourself for those adorable & beautiful little babes, but you also need to take care of yourself in a way that keeps your family safe & sane too!

  6. Angela says:

    I wish I would have fought harder. Breastfeeding did not work for us. But pumping did, and I loved being able to give my boys exclusive breast milk, and had hopes that we’d learn to breastfeed. But then I had horrible postpartum, and major panic attacks that lasted for hours and I had to take meds to make them stop. Meds that were in no way compatible with breastfeeding. So I stopped when my babies were only 9 weeks. I had two more weeks of a stash and now they are formula fed. It breaks my heart still that I stopped. I can’t imagine having to stop when your boys know what’s going on! Don’t do it unless you have to mama. Dr.s like to pretend they know everything, but sometimes they are full of crap and would rather give meds than take the time to give accurate diagnosis. Good luck, I hope you get to continue and figure out what is wrong with you. It’s just not fair to have to choose between your well-being and your babies.

  7. Tracy says:

    Adorable, as always.

    I think everybody has definite philosophies when it comes to raising kids, and I totally respect yours. On the other hand, I think a lot of people (including me) do believe that while babies ARE people, they are NEW people, and thus, highly adaptable. I think that for the most part, they look to their parents to determine how they feel about things (outside of the basics like hungry, tired, hurt, and sometimes even then.) I know Scott is constantly projecting how he feels and what he likes on the kids, and I have to stop him. For example, his hatred of cats comes directly from his mother. His insistence that people are more comfortable with their shoes off in the car is HIS preference (not mine, and maybe not the kids’ either.) I could go on and on, but I regularly say, “the kids will let us know if they need….”

    With that said, your kids aren’t exactly at the same stage of communication mine are, so I appreciate YOU looking out for what YOU know they want/need. That is a mom’s job! I know that I would NEVER have taken Evan’s “Bobby” (blanket) away from him at 9-months, and I won’t even do it now at almost three years. At one year, I didn’t feel they NEEDED their binkies anymore, and after taking them away abruptly, I found that I was right. If it had caused more of an upset, who knows what I would have done?

    I wish you could find some relief without sacrificing what you feel your kids need, and hope the changes you ARE making give you some.

  8. Tara (TIMO) says:

    Wow, that’s a lot to take in. I’m glad you stood up for yourself and your body and your boys. I wish you had more information and suggestions. I do think that adding protein and eliminating HFCS/sugar will help with the dizziness. Also water. Make sure you’re drinking enough. I know I have that problem. I’ve been having a few spells myself and realized that it’s hot here (80d plus 70%+ humidity) so I’ve upped my water intake. And I’ve been gorging myself on Easter candy (someone has to rid the world of black jelly beans and I take that responsibility very seriously) so I’m only doling out a small amount daily to keep my sugar more balanced.

    When did J&H become big boys? So adorable!

  9. Trinity says:

    Oh, Kate, I cringed and sighed heavily when I got to your mention about the medication and thought, “Oh no…I bet she can’t take that while she’s breastfeeding…” I wish I could say that I can’t believe the doctor would suggest weaning so flippantly and without any understanding of what BFing might mean for you. But, having worked around doctors for the last three years I’ve learned that some doctors only see the the patient’s chart, not the actual patient.

    Like you, I did expect to love BFing as much as I do. I love having that relationship with Arlo. I love that emotional connection. It would devastate me to wean right now or anytime in this first year (and even beyond, I’m guessing), especially if it’s not on our (me and Arlo) terms.

    Thinking of you, Mama. XX

  10. Photogrl says:

    I’m so, so, so glad you stood up for yourself with the doctor! As I was reading along, a feeling of dread was growing within me. I’m really uncomfortable for you…it sounds like the doctor didn’t really listen or think through what he was saying. A second opinion probably isn’t a bad idea, and in the meantime, I hope upping your protein/losing the sugar helps. I second watching your water intake, I know my supply and well being suffers if I don’t get enough in…and by enough, I mean a huge ridiculous amount, like at least 125 ounces/day.

    The boys are adorable…I can’t believe they are getting so big!

  11. Samantha says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I loved breastfeeding, and like Jenn, found it really tough when my son self-weaned at a year. I was ready to continue for a while! Once you get through the first 6 months of breast feeding, it becomes so easy! And especially as they get older and more mobile, it’s a great way to have some quiet bonding time. If your babies were getting less interested in nursing, if each time you had a dizzy spell a migraine occurred, then you might be in a position where weaning would be logical course of action. But for your neurologist to come in and tell to abruptly wean on his hunch, seems a little premature. I think doctors should be willing to work with BFing mothers, and sadly, they mostly seem to view it as an inconvenience, or maybe something nice but not necessary.

    I would recommend continuing to monitor yourself over the next couple of months, to see if your spells get worse or you can draw more connection with migraines. You can also see where your boys are at with breastfeeding, because they may suddenly have other ideas about what they want. If you do decide to try migraine medication, I’m sure you will also want to take a more gentle path of weaning, as opposed to abruptly stopping too. You may also want to talk to a local La Leche League, to see if other women have migraine issues and how they handle their headaches while continuing to breastfeed.

  12. Rachel says:

    Argh! Time for a new doctor. Did I write that my pediatrician suggested weaning my then 4-week old due to a little (very minor) medical situation? The very same pediatrician with whom I had a long conversation about the pluses and minuses of unweaning my 2-year-old? I just think that doctors are generally clueless about breastfeeding and it very much sounds like you’ve made the right decision for you, for now. However, if things aren’t better with your dizziness I would definitely consider looking for another doctor (not that you were necessarily asking my advice, but …). I can’t wait to see your big, happy boys soon!

  13. jill says:

    Every picture I see they get more and more adorable 🙂

    I’m sorry you didn’t have a better experience with that doctor. I’ve been to a orthopedist who sounds much like you described – I gave my history/complaints to someone else, they then left to speak to the ortho and then I saw him and the assistant person for all of 5 mins while he shot out his guess at what was wrong. It was a ridiculous waste of my time and I felt like I was a ridiculous waste of his time too. Total BS.

  14. strongblonde says:

    ok 🙂 officially nominating you for a blog award. because you are awesome. no pressure 🙂

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