Healthy Kids/ Pregnancy & Birth

HUTH and PPD

HUTH is code for Hanging Up the Horns. I had no idea what this acronym meant until I became an Exclusive Pumper, also known as an EPer.

Never in a million years, would I have guessed that this would be the card I was dealt. For me, not being able to breastfeed like normal, was like a death. It has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life, and I have been through some shit. It killed me. I have talked about it here on the blog, in pieces, but it is still so raw for me.

I like to think, as I look back over the past 18 months and this EPing journey, that I was able to keep post-partum depression (PPD) at bay. But it’s so hard to see clearly, when you are still in the deep, dark, belly of your experience, that I am not entirely convinced I succeeded. Am I out? Am I on the way out? Am I still on the way in??

Throughout the past 18 months, I have felt the presence of PPD. My family has a history of mental illness, so my awareness has always been heightened of whether something was “wrong” with me or not. In fact, in the same week my dad dropped me off to college, I made an appointment with a physiologist and said: “look just tell me if I am bi-polar, tell me if something is wrong. I will do whatever it takes, whatever drug, I don’t care, just tell me straight.”  After talking to me, he realized, that no, I was not in fact bi-polar, just highly traumatized from having a mother who was.

But even after his reassuring words and almost 15 years of various therapies, I still hunt my emotions. Every single one, I stalk and analyze and self reflect. I do not let one pass by or accumulate. I find that I have a lot more power and choice in the matter. If I feel a wave of depression coming in, trying to drown me, trying to suffocate me, I can either give in and let it wash over and take over. Or I can fight it. I realize that everyone’s experience is different and that not everyone has the mental/emotional ability to “fight” it, this has just been my experience.

And so, over the past 18 months, PPD has sat in the corner of every room of my house.  Some days it’s just a tiny spec of dust, others, it’s an enormous monster. Either way, I beat it off with a stick, every. single. day. I do it for Penelope. I will not be so selfish to wallow in my own self pity and not be able to be emotionally present for her. I will not collapse under the pressure of it all, so that she has no stable ground to rely on. I will go the places that are uncomfortable for me to face, so that I can be a good mother for  her.

I am not saying I never cry or I never feel like I am going to loose it, but I have managed, by being very, very diligent, aware, and hard working, to keep my shit together. And by hard working, I mean having the courage to be and stay in therapy and always owning up to my crap.

But back to the point of the story. I have hung up my horns. I am done pumping. I pumped for almost 19 months and now I am done. That part of my life is over. Crazy.
HUTH and PPD
It’s been over two weeks since I last pumped, and still my pump sits next to me. I can’t bare to put it away. This pump has gone everywhere I have gone. I have pumped in the craziest of places. But mostly I pumped at the kitchen table, with my lap top in front of me, while Penelope napped.

This pump became a part of our family. It’s place in the fourth chair at our table. Never moving, always constant. Looking back at all the time I spent pumping, I don’t even know how I functioned. I am not sure I even want any more babies, because I can’t go through this again.

It all happened very naturally, my goal was to absolutely make it to 18 months and then try to get to 24 months. But then, all of a sudden, Penelope stopped asking for her post nap time bottle and instead asked for water. I also happened to have a bunch of things to do that didn’t involve sitting at a computer. So the next day, I skipped a pump. And then the day after that. Before I knew it,  a week had gone by. She still has not asked for her bubba once.

I will continue comfort nursing her for as long as she wants. Even if she is 5 before she fully weans.
I have also been hand expressing about an ounce every day and spoon feeding it to her. She gets at least several ounces from me, in a 24 hour period, from comfort nursing, but I need to at least see one ounce come out of me for my sanity. I consider it part of her daily vitamin regimen now! She also gets about two ounces of thawed frozen breast milk a day in her fruit smoothie. I wish she would get more milk, but it’s comforting to know that in just one tablespoon of breast milk contains over 3 million germ killing cells in it.

 

You Might Also Like

  • Lindsey (Mother Rising)
    June 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Well done! 🙂

  • Lia Dominique Andress
    June 6, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Ay Steph. I balled my eyes out reading this (am still crying). Not easy. And you know I understand and relate. I was thinking last night that one day it is just going to win over. That damn monster. Maybe ours are friends and we can get them together so they can leave us alone.

    Cheers to you for making it up until now. You should get the pumped tattooed on you. It is not easy to let go, no matter how our breastfeeding relationship finds us. LMA is down to once a day and I doubt I will make it to 18 months.

    You said everything so well. You made me really understand what I have been dealing with too. *sigh*

    Kisses to you girls. I can't wait to paint toddler toe nails and cook up a storm in July!

    <3

  • Jeanette
    June 6, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Wow! I'm just coming up to 11 months of pumping, I can see my second goal of reaching 12 months (first goal was 6 mths)on the horzon, and I want to go on for as long as I can.
    It's hard hard work, emotionally and physically, and I loath it, and am grateful for it all at once.
    Enjoy your pump free life Mama, you deserve it.x

  • Maureen
    June 6, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Ah… so proud of you, Steph!! Beautifully written… <3

  • Cassandra
    June 6, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Congrats Steph, you worked hard for your daughter and you've helped many people along the way. An amazing accomplishment by an amazing person.

  • Acacia @ Fingerpaint & Superheroes
    June 7, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Wow! From one mom to another, I am so proud of you and what your choices mean not only for Penelope, but for the generations in your family there after and all of us that are blessed to meet you in one way or another. What a legacy of whole health, courage and selflessness you have begun.

  • Stephanie
    June 7, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Thanks, Lindsey! I thought you might appreciate some of the language I used!
    Hi Anna! Welcome! And congratulations on your pregnancy. Your blog is super cute by the way. 🙂
    Oh, Lia. I wish I was there to give you a hug. Such a compliment, I am honored that it helped you articulate your own inner feelings. P.S. I love you so much.
    Go, Jeanette, Go! Let me know when you make your goal, so I can celebrate with you.
    Thanks Maureen! Peter actually said, wow, your writing has really improved…and for him to give a compliment must mean hell froze over. 🙂
    Thanks for you kind words Cassandra, they mean the world to me.
    Acacia, thank you. Thank you for standing witness to end of one legacy and beginning of another.

  • TheFeministBreeder
    June 11, 2011 at 4:06 AM

    I understand completely (well, not completely, but I was in a similar situation, so I get it.)

    I pumped at work and school for my last son until he was a year old. He had no problems nursing, but I was gone for sometimes three straight days without seeing him because of my crazy schedule, so my pump became like an extra limb. I have to say, I HATE HATE HATED pumping, but I did it because it was important for my son to get that breastmilk. I HUTH when he was 12 mos old, but he continued to nurse when I was with him until he was 31 months old. He weaned halfway through my third pregnancy.

    I WILL say that the PPD I had been battling started to come back pretty hard when I HUTH. The sudden drop in breastmilk production really screwed with my hormones, and all the sad feelings crept back in. About ten years ago I was diagnosed as bipolar, and then undiagnosed a few years later when a good therapist finally discovered I was just an overachiever dealing with the emotional fallout of coming from a completely screwed up childhood. Then, I got diagnosed with PPD after my first son, and took Zoloft until right after my second was born. I feel like I've always gotta watch out for the demons sitting in the corner of the room, and the hormones of birth/breastfeeding are so intricately intertwined with that.

    I will say, after my last baby (7 weeks old) I took placenta pills, and they completely crushed all signs of PPD. They worked like crazy magic. Like a tiny pill made with unicorn hearts. If you have the means, I highly suggest that route if you do decide to have another.

  • Nicole
    October 27, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    I thought I would share my story also because I feel like I am still in the grieving stage. My daughter is 5 months old now and I was only able to breastfeed her for one week 🙁

    I had very large breasts to begin with and when my milk came in I was up to a size G probably bigger. I became engorged and nothing would help relieve the engorgement. I went to the doctors and she recommended that I stop breastfeeding due to the size of my breasts and the fact that because they were so big breast tissue had moved up in to my underams and I was literally walking around with golf balls under my armpits.

    I look back now and so regret taking that doctors advice. I feel like there was something else that could have been the answer other than not breastfeeding. I still sometimes get so upset and grieve that I can't do that with her.

    If we do decide to have another child we have two already I really want to breastfeed as long as I can.

  • Stephanie
    October 28, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    @FeministBreeder…thank you so much for your comment! Sorry I didn't respond sooner, sometimes the alerts get lost in the black hole of my email. You are too funny, "a tiny pill with unicorn hearts"!! I actually did eat half of mine and encapsulated half and you are right, they are little happy pills. I am going to encapsulate the entire placenta next baby. Lots of Love to you!
    @Nicole…thanks so much for sharing as well. I wish I had some information to help you more, but I am not knowledgable with large breasts. I have several friends that are IBCLC's so I can ask them if you want. I wish you all the love and light in the world and hope you get your dream.

  • Amy
    November 30, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    Very inspiring! It's definitely shows your dedication to providing the best for your daughter. A lot of moms seem to miss the true nature of parenting, which is sacrifice. So, good for you for fighting through this difficult challenge. It will surely be one that you will always look back on and be thankful for the results of such hard work and care!

  • Anonymous
    January 10, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    God bless you for your openness. I am a young wife expecting my first baby in May and have struggled with some of the same fears. My mother is bi-polar and has manic depression. It's a very scary thing not knowing what to expect from myself after the birth. I have more confidence in myself after reading your inspiring words. I believe even more now that I can "fight" PPD and I am NOT my mother. sending a big hug of gratitude your way 🙂

  • Stephanie
    January 10, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    @esmom80…that is so true, it is about sacrifice! Thanks for your kind words.
    @Anonymous…thanks for the virtual hug and your honest words. It will be hard work, but you are right, you are NOT your mother. Love to you.