PPD – Libby
March 22, 2013
When Libby called and said she needed help weaning her 11-day-old baby I knew it was the right thing to do.
When I met Libby to work with her when her baby was 4 days old I saw she was an especially shaken new mom. When she told me she had a history of depression I knew I had to tread carefully. She was so unsure of how she wanted to approach feeding her baby and I understood. Typically I make up a plan for a mom with directions to make enough milk and to get breastfeeding going well. But with Libby, there were obstacles – the baby had been jaundiced, he had a tongue-tie, which tethers the tongue to the floor of the baby’s mouth and can cause a great deal of pain at every feeding.
While I was with her, Libby had a wild look in her eyes. She paraded around her apartment with only white cotton panties and her thick hair falling over her shoulders. Pacing back and forth like a caged animal, her eyes looking everywhere but in the room. Wanting nothing more than to be able to comfortably nurse her baby and feel at ease, everything caused her pain: the baby, the pump, hand-expressing. I think her own skin was causing her pain at this moment.
I gave Libby three plans: one to build a complete supply and get breastfeeding going normally, the second to mix feedings at the breast with bottles of formula and I gave her a plan to reduce her milk supply and wean completely. I asked if she was under the care of a psychiatrist. Yes, she assured me. I stayed with her longer than usual because I was afraid for her. I left after her husband came home.
When that call came seven days later I was at once relieved and saddened. The medication that had worked for her was truly incompatible with breastfeeding. I called the Infant Risk Center to clarify. The lovely woman on the phone in Texas felt the weight of my sadness and listened to me as we both mourned the loss of breastfeeding for Libby and her baby boy.
When I spoke with Libby a couple of days later she was calm and expressed her sadness at the loss of breastfeeding. As I hung up I thought of Kelly. At her funeral Joel told me that he saw how connected she and Katie had been whenever they nursed. Those moments with Katie where when she was the happiest and most focused in the last five months of her life.
The part of me that ached for Libby found peace in knowing she was going to be well and that her baby was going to have his mom. And her would have her longer than five months.