My Baby Made Me Sick
Originally Published in Frank About Feeding.
Simone is a remarkable mama. The difficulties she has faced are testament to her, her husband and her mini. At frank about feeding we understand that feeding can often be accompanied by feelings of guilt and loneliness. Our hope is to share feeding journeys and help at least one mama feel less isolated.
My relationship with breastfeeding is like my relationship with tequila: It made me a sick blubbering mess, but I kept doing it.
When pregnant with my daughter Satiya, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I didn’t prepare, but figured I would intuitively know what to do when the time came, and I did. Within 24 hours she was latching and we were on our way.
Then, on day two, "the sickness" hit. A couple of times daily, during breastfeeding, I had the most debilitating, knee quivering, aggressive nausea and vomiting. Beginning with a sudden intense cramping, deep in my soft postpartum tummy, leading to violent vomiting within five minutes and lasting hours at a time. The aggressive pressure led to loss of bladder control, leading to vomiting and urinating happening simultaneously.
My baby was making me sick. This wasn’t the blissful postpartum cuddle-fest I’d imagined.
Luckily my partner could predict when "the sickness" was coming; acting immediately, grabbing the baby, placing a bucket and a towel nearby and doing crowd control with the many baby-admiring guests. However, once the excitement of a new-born wore off and my partner returned to work, I was alone. Alone with my three week old and "the sickness".
One day I decided to take my perfect little babe for a walk to the lake. Sitting by the water, enjoying the late summers day, the cramping began. I ran in my flip flops, ignoring traffic lights and cars, for fear of throwing up and peeing myself in the street. I don't know how I made it but as I ran up the last few steps and into the house, my efforts were rewarded by having enough time to get to the bathroom before the sickness took hold. I spent many lonely days hunched over on the bathroom floor sobbing, apologising repeatedly as Satiya lay nearby crying. Bearing the guilt because I couldn’t respond to her needs immediately; I hated myself for being sick and not being able to give her the happy first months of life I had pictured.
I threw up onto her head more times than I would like to admit because I would try with all my might to fight "the sickness". But It was winning.
I spoke with midwives and doctors but no one had heard of it before. I even reached out to a teaching hospital in Toronto. Nobody knew why this was happening. There were lots of theories, but no solutions. I didn't really feel like I was being taken seriously. The only person who truly believed me and knew how to help was my partner with his lightning fast response times and escape plans. We tried formula which was hopeless: she screamed and cried, so I screamed and cried. Overcome with guilt I continued to breastfeed. I didn't know how to introduce her to the bottle in a healthy way and I didn’t want anyone to show me.
I wanted to breastfeed her but without turning into something worthy of the exorcist.
As my fourth trimester came to an end, so did "the sickness"; I’m finally able to leave the house without barf bags in my purse and fear of humiliation looming around every corner. I still have many unanswered questions. I haven’t heard of another woman experiencing "the sickness". But I am sure she is out there, with Gravol and Gatorade on her nightstand and a heavy guilt weighing on her heart. Satiya is now six months old and I am finally able to enjoy quiet mornings in bed feeding her; but I’m not quite ready to say that "the sickness" was worth it.