The darkness before dawn

Last night, I went to bed early — early for me early. So it was no real surprise when my eyes popped open long before dawn.

As is my nature, as I woke fully, I began to fret. When I went to the doctor for my sinus infection, I explained that I am breastfeeding and have some supply issues. She took extra care in prescribing medications as a result. And I felt good about those medications until I got home and Googled them. The antibiotic, while basically considered safe, is of the group which the nurse at my OB/GYN’s office told me not to take. The decongestant can kill my supply — and it’s the 24-hour variety, so it’s not like I can take one pill and stop if things look iffy. Nobody can quite agree on the nasal spray.

I still hadn’t heard from the hospital lactation consultant I called, so I decided to wait and ask her. But she didn’t call until the end of her work day, and I missed her call. She is going to call again today. In the meantime, I tossed my questions out to the lovely people in my local breastfeeding group on FB. Answers were still mixed, but one woman suggested I call the Tennessee Breastfeeding hotline. It’s 24/7; why wait?

The woman I spoke to was very nice, but she scared the crap out of me. The antibiotic, she says, can stain Kai’s teeth. She was less concerned about my milk supply drying up (Compression! Water! Relax!), but the medication was worrisome. She suggested some alternates I can ask the pharmacist about, but really I should just drink my own breast milk and get a neti pot.

I have a neti pot story, but I won’t get into that now.

I did, however, pump and drink 3 ounces of breast milk. I still feel like crap. But just to be on the safe side, I pumped 3 more ounces this morning and gave it to Anya. And took some brewer’s yeast with the lactation oatmeal concoction I eat for breakfast, so I can pump again later and drink some myself.

I never did pick up my meds. I don’t know if I should take them, or the substitutes the LC suggested, or just suffer and hope the infection clears up on its own. My choice can literally affect the rest of Kai’s life, and I am paralyzed by indecision.

This is the mindset I am in when Anya awakens from a nightmare.

Lately, Anya and I have been having bad dreams. Mine are…my god, I don’t even know where to begin. Odd. Mine are odd. I understand the basis behind most of them, but I still wake up going “What the…?” Anya’s are simpler. Hers are about loss and abandonment. She dreams often of her grandmother dying. (“Mimi went to sleep and wouldn’t wake up,” she says.) She also dreams that I go to work and never return. (Who needs to lift weights when you have guilt like this?) Last night was a Mimi dream.

“You have a bad dream too, Mama?” a little voice asked in the darkness. This is how I learn I am not the only one awake.

“No, baby. Did you?”

“Yeah.”

I pulled her close and kissed her hair. I told her I am sorry she had a bad dream. That Mimi is just fine, and we will see her at lunch. I told her how lucky I am to have such a sweet little girl, who loves so fiercely and worries about the health and happiness of the people in her life. She snuggled against me and smiled that sweet little smile I first saw the day she was born, as I cuddled her close to my breast.

“I love you so much, baby,” I told her.

She sighed. “Me, too, Mommy. I love you, too.”

Eventually, her breathing slowed. She was asleep once more.

I never did get back to sleep. Instead, I spent the pre-dawn hours nestled between my children, their little heads nuzzling me as they slept.

Not at all sorry I missed sleep for that.

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