Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lactation Paralysis

Technically I should be cleaning, because my living room looks like toys-r-us vomited all over it, but instead I am going to sit at my desk and write a NEW BLOG POST!
            Today I would like to raise awareness for a little known condition in new mothers. Particularly those that decide to breastfeed. No one ever warns you about it. Not the midwives. Not the nurses. Not the doctors. Not your own mother who really should have said something, except I am pretty sure she has blocked out the first 16 years of all her children’s lives.
             It is called “Lactation Paralysis”.
             At first I didn’t notice it because I didn’t have the energy to do anything but sit on the couch/bed and wonder how I was still alive after pushing a human out of me and then sleeping 4 non-consecutive hours a day for two weeks. But as my energy began to return, I became aware of things… things like the dirty diapers under the couch keeping company with a petrified apple core. And the soda bottle on the bookshelf. And the books on the floor next to the laundry basket full of clothes that may or may not be clean. And the family of empty toilet paper rolls that had moved in under the bathroom sink. None of these things would be hard to fix. 15 minutes of cleaning tops. Easy. Right?
            This is when I notice that I CAN’T MOVE. Why? Because there is a tiny human being attached to my breast for a half an hour, every two hours, all day long.  So I stare at the apple core, the fine layer of cereal crumbs on the floor, the coat that has fallen off it’s hook, the toys and cds that are having a mixer under my dining room table, and panic begins to bubble. I have to move.  I have to clean. I want to clean. I can’t live like this. I start to make lists in my head, because I am holding Thing 2 with my right hand, and I can’t write a list with my left hand.
             I take deep breaths and force myself to stare out the window and think about green meadows and unicorns and Jedi Masters.  I wait for her to go to sleep. (note: lactation paralysis only affects non-infant-holding activities.)  Then I attempt to lay her down. And then she says, “Psych! Just kidding mom, I was never really sleeping because I have GAS!” By the time she has burped my mental list has been transformed into a blazing mental scream of “MUST MOVE! MUST CLEAN! PLEASE GOD LET ME CLEEEAAANNN!” And then another adult enters the room, and casually tosses something where it DOESN’T belong, and I turn into a psychotic weeping bundle of paralyzed nerves.
            The good news is that lactation paralysis doesn’t last forever. My mind can’t maintain that level of stress for long, so I slowly stop caring about anything while nursing except that I am actually keeping her alive and that is probably more important than dusted bookshelves.  As she gets older, the paralysis begins to recede, and I discover I am able to do things with one hand. Like anyone recovering from a serious illness, progress is slow. Most of this post, for example, was written after Thing 1 decided it was a good idea to break out the xylophone while Thing 2 was trying to sleep. Which means my right side has been lactation paralyzed while I laboriously typed one handed with my left. For someone who can type 70 words a minute with two hands, it has been a special kind of torture. BUT I DID IT, GOD DAMN IT! Because I refuse to be a victim. I conquered lactation paralysis once before, and by golly, I can do it again.

Update: Judging from the amazing amount of STUFF mixed together on my living room floor, blogging instead of cleaning may not have been the best motherhood decision I ever made….is that a cream cheese wonton under the coffee table next to the vacuum filter?  hmmmmm.... must. get. house elf.


michelle said...

i love you. i love your blog. you take my brain and it's thoughts and make it funny. granted i don't have a second child yet but we are trying - so this is like reading my future. it scares me but i'm laughing too. crazy crazy laughter. hugs.

Katie Rose said...

michelle - you win the "best blog comment ever" award. i am so glad you are enjoying it!

Gill Glass said...

HI there from Hout Bay in South Africa :) Thank you SO much for this - its bringing back so many memories - my brats are now 24 and 21 - but I am rolling on the floor with laughter , hooting like a chimp with the tears running down my face - THANK YOU for making my day !!! And thanks to Lorena for posting so I found you :) Keep up the wonderful writing PLEASE !! Gill

Katie Rose said...

Gill- I am SO excited to get a comment from someone in South Africa!!! I can totally say I have an "international following" now, hee hee. I am glad you are enjoying, thank you for the encouragment, and please feel free to share with friends. :) And say "hi" to Lorena for me! She is a pretty kick ass lady...