Monday, April 4, 2011

Meeting in the Middle Series: Post #1

So my request for posts was met with gusto from a few moms who had creative and heartfelt ways to put to words their breastfeeding experiences (some nightmares, some quick fixes). Our first post comes from my cousin Becca; her nightmare began on day one and failed to lessen for months, yet she remained steadfast and nursed her sons both for around a year. She's one of my favorite people to call with questions about nursing, health-related issues, and other facets of motherhood. I hope you enjoy reading through her broken boobs saga!

If you are wanting some breastfeeding stories, have I got a doozie for you! To all of those people out there whose baby came out of the womb with breastfeeding perfection, I kind of want to tell you to f**k off, but of course, I won't. I was bound and determined to nurse. I'm a RN and worked in the NICU after graduation for about 2 years. I saw differences in the health of babies who received breast milk that could not be denied. However, to be honest, I also wanted to nurse because, a- it's free, b- it burns 500 calories a day, and c- I wanted big boobs for once in my life. I couldn't find a negative in the bunch.

So, anyway, I had Simon at 10:30 pm and he latched on pretty much right off the bat, and he stayed that way until 7:00 am the next morning. Epidurals hindering breastfeeding? Not in my case! My nipples were already sore at this point, being fair and sensitive skinned didn't pave the way for an easy time. I had lactation consultant after lactation consultant tell me that he was latched on perfectly, so I just kept at it. By the time I left the hospital my nipples were bleeding, yes, bleeding. The words bleeding and nipples should never be in the same sentence together.

We got home and he nursed about every 1.5-2 hours and I used feel crazy anxiety when he'd start to show that he was hungry because I knew how painful it was going to be. It was knife stabbing directly in to my nipple pain, ear to the shoulder, toe point pain. I kept calling the lactation people and they just kept saying, "yes, breastfeeding is painful, but it will get better, blah, blah, blah." When Simon was one week old, the pain was still pretty bad but the wounds on my nipples seemed to be healing a little bit. My husband and I decided that we were going to show him off that day to all of our co-workers. I woke, feeling tired like any new mother, and took a shower. I noticed after I got out that I had a red streak going across my right boob but it wasn't tender or anything. The nipple still felt like it was going to fall off, but the boob itself felt fine so I didn't think much of it. 4 hours later, I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck, the truck reversed, and hit me again. My husband took me to the clinic where my temp registered at 102.5 and I was of course, diagnosed with mastitis. Mastitis is a systemic thing so the put you on heavy duty antibiotics for that. I felt better in a few days; my nipples, however went downward.

When Simon was about 3 weeks old, he had just finished nursing and I looked down at him and he looked like bozo the clown. There was blood all around his mouth from my broken nipple- I got sick to my stomach. The next day I called to set up an appointment with the lactation consultant. She took a look at my goods, grimaced and said, "you should have been seen a lot sooner." It turns out that I had intraductal yeast, probably from the antibiotics. Yeast is a little critter that tears your skin apart, hence, broken boobs. She wrote me a script for some diflucan and sent me on my way with an "I'm proud of you for sticking with it" hug.

The stuff seemed to work over the next couple of days and I had hopes, then it got painful again. I was getting so frustrated that I'm pretty sure I dropped my basket with my husband a few times. I kind of wanted to take sand paper to his nipples just so he knew how I felt every second of the day. I went back to the lactation consultant when Simon was a little over a month old and she said the problem was that Simon had thrush too so we just kept giving it to each other, back and forth. I guess a symptom of thrush is shiny cheeks because that's the only symptom Si had?....weird. Anyway, she gave us both scripts and gave me this FANTASTIC stuff called, "all-purpose nipple cream," which I filled over and over again to give to breastfeeding friends. It saved my world.

The holes, yes holes, in my nipples closed completely when Simon was about 3 months old. I have scars to show for the work and I can still shut my nipple in a dresser and not know it's happened until I try to walk away. So nursing was painful for 3 months. Whenever somebody tells me that they didn't nurse because it hurt too bad, I have to use all of my will-power not to roll my eyes and call them a pussy. I know, not nice.

You think I'm done with my story? Oh, no- I'm not. When I went back to work, I wasn't too worried about Simon taking a bottle because he'd been doing it for a few weeks in preparation and he took it like a champ. I had been using fresh pumped milk however. My sister and I watched each other's kids and she could not get him to take a bottle, he would buck and scream and basically tell her to go to hell. I noticed that when I would thaw out my milk, it had kind of a funk to it. It smelled metallic and soapy. I tasted it, yes, I know-gross, and it tasted exactly how it smelled, like soapy metal. So, I called my trusty lactation consultant and she said, "oh yes, you have too much lipase." Too much li-what? It turns out that my body creates too much of the enzyme lipase which is what breaks down fats. So after I'd pump and freeze the milk, the lipase would break down the fats in the milk at an increased rate and the bi-product produces a bad taste. The way to deactivate the lipase is by scalding the milk. So, I had to throw 20 bags of milk, which took months to store up because I am not a Holstein like some lucky women out there, I produce just enough if that, and I had to start from scratch scalding every ounce I pumped from then on. PAIN IN THE ASS!

So- in summary, my nursing experience went like this.
1.Bloody nipples
3.Bloody nipples
4.Intraductal yeast
5.Bloody nipples
6.lipase issue

Not easy! The good news is that I was able to give Simon strictly breast milk for a year and nursing my second son was much better! I only had holes in my nipples for 1 month! I still had the lipase issue but at least I knew how to handle it.

Good work to all you mommas out there!

No comments:

Post a Comment