This is a guest post by an inspiring mother called Alena Lewis. Her determination to nurse her baby despite the challenge of D-MER. Don’t know what that is? Read on! Many thanks, Alena for sharing your story.
Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex
What the duck is that? I hear you ask… well apart from a few long posh words that make one sound very professional indeed, D-MER is actually a real thing!
Its New Latin but derived from the Greek word dusphori which means distress or from dusphoros, meaning hard to bear…Heheh gogo gadget google!
I first came accross the specific terminology which inspired me to find out more in the 8th edition of La Leche Leagues’ The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. A small paragraph on page 416 of the 550 page book, it explains how D-MER is a not-very-well-heard-of ‘glitch’ that a handful of women experience whilst breastfeeding.
A wonderful woman by the name of Alia Macrina Heise noticed feelings of worthlesness, hopelessness of being useless and worse. But only when her milk released and only lasting a minute or so before or during let-down. She wasn’t depressed but knew that these feelings were not normal as she had successfully breastfed two other children without experiencing such negativity. She started a blog and pursued various health professionals in 2008 about these feelings as it was apparent she wasn’t the only one who had them!
Alia set up her website D-MER.org and has since raised awareness of the milky menace. I ask you to go and check it out as it ispacked full of so much useful information, and once you understand what D-MER is about (I hope I’ve given a general summary here) I ask that you help to spread the word. If only one single mother is led to understand that these sensations are not in her head and they are in fact a genuine glitchy response to the hormones involved with breastfeeding and that she CAN get support to help her through it, I will feel that I can sleep a bit better a night!
I unknowingly experienced D-MER with my firstborn, it was muddled in with PND and so I thought that to feel that way whenever my milk flowed was just normal and a part of ‘it’… but it wasn’t until I began feeding my second child that I started to experience such intense feelings of guilt and misery around let-down again… I came accross the LLL article and boy it was such a light-bulb moment for me! I wasn’t nuts!
There were times, especially after no’1 that I thought I was being punished by spirits for keeping my child when I should have given him up for adoption- sometimes now when I am a little sleep deprived and the sensation it particularly bad I think this. Of course I know I’m not being punished, and the fact that I know others have felt like this is a help. Other feelings I experience are misery. Absolute misery! What is the point in all this? Why am I even here? I don’t deserve to be here- I should be dead! That way no-one would ever have to put up with my shitty face ever again! I tend to feel as though someone has taken a giant ice-cream scoop and gouged out the pit of my stomach and hollowed out my hands…
So why would you want to breastfeed if it makes you feel like that? I hear you ask.
Well, to be honest… I don’t (at times)! I loathe putting my flesh into that tiny mouth only to have a part of me sucked and drained away. It’s tiring at times, a real drag (way to go for promoting breastfeeding) especially when I’ve got a million and one other things to do and I’m feeling ‘crowded’ and need my space to find myself…
So what do I do when I feel like this? I cheat. I grab a bottle of defrosted breastmilk (or formula if my supply runs out and I can’t get any donor milk) and I hand Baby over to Daddy and jolly well run for it. Or realistically I go and do the dishes… Yes it may pose problems for my supply if it becomes a regular habit, which is unlikely seeing as actually I am more comfortable breastfeeding than bottle feeding MOST of the time…. but y’know what, you just gotta do what you just gotta do.
MOST times though, I am won over by the desire to feed my little bundle of joy the way nature intended. I think to myself that nothing beats knowing that the reason she is still growing and thriving is because of ME and only me. That’s selfish of me perhaps as I know that I’m not the only one involved in her care, but I really am the only one who can nurse her in that way. I get to have all those sleepy midnight coos and ahhhs and milky puffs and whatever other noises babies make whilst nursing at the breast (burping, farting etc)
She’s the only one to gaze so boldly into my eyes and make me melt like butter (ok so no’1 does that too.) and who can’t get enough of Baby smooshes?