I read the research. Very carefully. And it just didn’t say much about breastfeeding on Klonopin. So I thought that meant “go ahead” and “maybe some risk.” Apparently, all it means is that not much of the medication goes into the breast milk, and that the amount varies quite a bit (milk is mostly fat cells, this medication is designed to travel through the blood, milk is not an efficient delivery system). What I learned today is that that little bit that makes it into the milk has a sedative effect on the baby. This is dangerous for many reasons, including the possibility that it will interfere with the little one’s ability to breath. Not good.
I cried in Dr. P’s office. I felt like I had already failed at some part of motherhood. She assured me that the ability to breast feed has absolutely no correlation to the ability to mother. I will be a good mother. She said it. Nathan says it. I say it. But I so want to breast feed my babies. I feel grief. I keep picturing the sweet moments I won’t have with my baby. And I have to fight like hell against the tiny voice in my head that says, “If you just tried harder…” It’s not all medication, every medication. Just the Effexor would be ok. But if trying could make it happen, I would have been off meds a long time ago. And the one that says “You won’t be special anymore; anyone can give a baby a bottle.”
I’m a babysitter. I know that this is untrue. I have given bottles to babies. They still love their moms!
Yes, if I could go off the Klonopin, I could breast feed. Yes, we’re going to try the one alternative that might work. But we’re going to try it (Ativan, aka Lorazepam, also a benzodiazepine) because if it works for me, I might be able to take less of it during the first trimester, when the risk is greater for cleft lip and palate, and during the final weeks of pregnancy, so that the baby will not have to go through withdrawal. If I can’t switch, or if I can’t “taper” to a low or as needed dose, it’ll probably be just fine. But this is the best we can do. And we have November, December, January and February to try getting me off Klonopin and on to Ativan without causing a nervous breakdown.
So, things to do in the first month of my timeline:
Find a psychiatrist in New Haven who knows about perinatal mental health. Anyone know of one? They are not easy to find. The one Dr. P suggested only does research and this Yale researcher gave me a list of referrals, but none of them list perinatal psychiatry as something they do. My therapist might know. We’ll keep trying. But tapering my Klonopin dose is dangerous, and I can’t do it without closer supervision. Going back to New York once a month is just not feasible. Why do I need to be “closely monitored?” Because the only time I have been off of Klonopin entirely was also the only time I have ever actually hurt myself. In fall 2007, I stopped leaving my house and twice tried to use a razor to release some of the pain by making tiny cuts in my upper arm.
I’m scared and want to clutch the medicine like some sort of physical life raft. I’m scared that I won’t bond with my baby. I’m scared.
It’s still possible to give my baby breast milk, even if it’s not mine.
With a prescription, I can get it from a breast milk bank like the Mother’s Milk Bank of New England.
Here’s some more information on breast milk banks in general.
If I find someone who is willing, I could do Milk Sharing.
But for now, I’m exhausted, not pregnant and going to cuddle with my supportive, wonderful husband, who is going to make a fantastic dad.