When we left off at ATOTB Part 2, I had begun taking Domperidone and established a good supply and all was right with the world (roll credits)…
But this is real f*ing life and I’ll remind you it’s called My Life As A Case Study, and everything about me is either “acute”, “chronic”, or on a good day “in remission”. There are no happily ever afters in regards to my bodily functions.
So true-to-form, breastfeeding has continued to be a fight.
Starting with: Chronic Mastitis
I think I had Mastitis in ATOTB: Part 2, when BG was around 3-4 months old. I took antibiotics and then discovered silverette cups and healed right up.
But then I got Mastitis again when BG was about 5 months old and I was determined to just muddle through it and let my body fight it on it’s own because I was NOT going to take antibiotics, especially stronger ones that would prevent me from breastfeeding.
So I suffered. I had patches of staph all over my body and I was completely worn down. Then I looked for natural remedies and I started drinking a concoction of apple cider vinegar and honey that seemed to help…but then it got worse again. At my wits end, I mentioned it to my therapist (who is also a birth/postpartum guru) and she told me to take Echinacea and Calendula tinctures. I drove directly to the store after therapy that morning, bought the stuff, and by the next morning the patches of staph had all but disappeared and my nipples quit throbbing. I practically wept with joy because I didn’t feel like complete sh*t after several weeks of pain and fatigue.
Then I had some trouble with plugged ducts, and I started taking sunflower lecithin on top of the echinacea/calendula. And that got better too.
Around the time I started these herbal tinctures, I started to have chronic mouth sores (or mouth ulcers) which are actually common in people with inflammatory bowel diseases like UC, and I already had a special steroid mouthwash for such occassions. These were some of the worst I’d had though–so bad I couldn’t eat sometimes due to the pain. And usually they only come about when I’m “flaring”, but I was not showing any symptoms of a flare. So I just sucked it up.
Around this time, BG turned 6 months old and I rejoiced in the fact that–against ALL odds–I had managed to EBF for 6 months, which was my initial goal. I may have felt a little bit smug, thinking “I got this now. The worst is behind me. I can do this indefinitely.”
Ha. Ha ha ha. HA.
Here I was, starting to fret that BG might not want to wean and that I’d have to make a decision about when to stop. You know, because I was thinking that it would be my choice since, ya know, I had become so proficient at breastfeeding–with my trusty herbal tinctures and my Domperidone and all.
But every time I would try to back off the Echinacea, the staph would return both on my nipples and in patches on my body. My “guru” told me I should only take it when I had actual mastitis–at the first sign of it–but this left me confused and bewildered because the “signs” were always there. So WTF. I just kept taking it.
The mouth sores were ever-present for several weeks and no amount of mouthwash and L-lysine could give me relief. Two sores would pop up (on my inner cheeks, my gums, my inner lip, and even on the sides/underneath my tongue) and as those 2 sores began to disappear, 2 new ones would appear! I was at my wits end so I emailed my GI nurse (my UC specialist) and asked her if there was anything besides the prescribed mouthwash that might help. My UC nurse was skeptical and even in the absence of other symptoms she deduced that I was likely “flaring” and asked me to take *steroids*. If you have a chronic illness then you probably understand why I balked when she said that. Even though these steroids (Uceris) are not systemic and far less sh*tty than Prednisone, I still don’t want to take them unless I’m in a full-blown flare. And even then, I will usually flare for several weeks before I “relent” and submit to taking anything. But the GI nurse insisted and I really like her so I totally *lied* and agreed to start the Uceris. Nope.
Ironically it dawned on me that the sores came about when I started the Calendula tincture. So I quit taking it. And dontcha know…those mouth sores went away…naturally, only *after* I spoke to my GI nurse and lied to her. And I’ll have to lie again (because of course now the truth is not an option) and tell her the Uceris worked.
I am a piece of work, I know.
So mouth sores, solved! Back to the boobs…
I should probably tell you now that I have named my boobs. The one that (apparently) makes more milk and is easier to nurse BG on, is called “Business boob”. The one that is slightly less useful is called “Casual boob”. Business boob is the one I’m always having problems with.
At 6 months, BG got her first tooth! And we started feeding her solids–I make organic pureés for her now. Most recently she’s been cutting her second tooth and while she doesn’t bite (much) she is rough when she nurses…
So I got a blister on my business boob.
The blister popped.
It left a hole in my nipple.
Yes, I said a HOLE in my nipple.
Which became inflamed. And the hole just kept getting bigger.
Thus, I have spent these last couple of weeks scrambling trying to “fix” it. Like, by myself with no help from anyone (guru, doctors, lactation consultant, etc.)…
WTF was I thinking???
My boob was *throbbing* with pain. It radiated throughout my entire breast, around my ribs and up over my shoulder.
Somehow, I have kept nursing BG. But we’ve both cried. Her, because when she latches and especially if she grates on my wound–I will yelp and scare the sh*t out of her. Also, BG likes to nurse for long periods of time and I can’t let her “camp” on my tattered business boob, so I have to unlatch her when she’s done eating, even if she’s asleep, which wakes her up and pisses her off.
So finally, I went to see the lactation consultant (LC) this past Thursday, to show her my wound and ask her what to do. Mind you–I am still fully committed to using my Silverette nipple cups. I have eschewed every other theory in favor of the theory that *breastmilk cures everything* (kind of like the crazy Greek dude who believes windex cures everything in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”)–I believe in my soul that the silverette cups, which bathe my nipples in milk, are my saving grace. Because of you recall in ATOTB: Part 2, they really did save my a**.
So I went to the LC and she was very sympathetic. She clucked when I showed her my wound. She suggested I get this “triple nipple ointment” (TNO) which is a combo of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory ointments. She suggested I rinse off my wound post-feeding, apply TNO, and try to let it stay dry and see sunlight.
I was like “Okay great!”
But I was lying *again* because you can’t use ointment with silverette cups and whyyyyyy would I want to dry out my wound when breastmilk and Jesus Christ are all I need??!
So I suffered through the weekend. I started using wound wash to rinse my wound in between feedings. I convinced myself that it’s ok to take 4 motrin (800mg) every 5 hours instead of every 6-8 hours. I convinced myself that the yellow stuff oozing out of my wound was a sign of healing. I convinced myself that it actually hurt less to latch. I convinced myself that this new Wish Garden “Happy Ducts” tincture I bought was helping and would waylay my chronic mastitis, so I bought like 12 ounces of it.
Yeah, I was losing it.
Ok, you’re right.
I had obviously lost my f*ing mind.
It’s just too bad Mr. MLACS wasn’t home (he is away at work until next week) as he might have been able to see through my bulullsh*t and gotten me the help I needed.
Yesterday I began to panic and flip-flop between thinking “everything will be ok” and “OMG my boob is going to shrivel up and fall off and how will I feed my child?!” I called and got an appointment today with Dr. Angel (my beloved OBGYN). As he entered the room, I took off my silverette cup and showed him my ooozing nipple wound and he cringed–which made me feel validated. I said “Most people would stop nursing, right?” And his eyes got big and he emphatically said “Oh yes, most would.” And as he looked closer I asked “So that yellow stuff, that might mean it’s healing, right??” And he said “Well, it can in some instances. But THIS is NOT one of them.” And my face fell in defeat and I said “So…it’s an infection?” And Dr. Angel said “Oh yes, definitely an infection.” And he said I need to dry it out–no silverette cups–use the TNO ointment and take antibiotics. I panicked and sputtered “But, but, but the nipple cups protect me! I can’t stand for anything to touch my nipple!” And Dr. Angel suggested gauze, which I balked at because I’d have to rip it off ten times a day to nurse, so we settled on non-stick pads.
And if you read this blog then you know that I trust Dr. Angel implicitly. So I did as he said. And I just nursed BG and it didn’t hurt much at all.
So hopefully the antibiotics/TNO/dry healing will work and allow me to keep nursing. Because I love it–I love caring for BG this way.
But I am counting the days until she is 12 months old and we can quit without the trauma and hassle of switching to formula. And I am worried about what might happen in the meantime, as we still have nearly 5 months to go.
Because surely, this is not the end of my troubles…