Sunday, December 19, 2004

Caution: Breastfeeding Post

There is nothing quite as exquisite as breastfeeding a baby. It is the sort of experience that would make you do something crazy just to have it... like, you know, suffering from mastitis three or four times in six months.

For those not in the know, mastitis is an extraordinarily painful infection of the lactating breast. It develops all by itself whenever the combination of contributing factors (stress, changes in nursing patterns, plugged milk ducts, stress, tight bras, not drinking enough water, stress) achieves a perfect balance. The early symptoms are a painful lump in the breast, fever, achiness, and weakness. If you let it go past the early symptoms, you will find yourself totally bedridden, on antibiotics, and having to nurse your baby with a pillow in your fist to keep from putting your fingernails through your palm with the pain every time the baby latches on to nurse.

As soon as you feel the early signs of mastitis, you go straight to bed. You let the chicken you defrosted rot, and you order out dinner. You let the kids swing from the ceiling fan if need be, but you must drop everything that you're doing and immediately go to bed and don't come out for at least 24 hours. Some women get prescription antibiotics, but I just take goldenseal. The first time I had mastitis I took prescription antibiotics, but they flavored the milk. Tiny Princess didn't care for antibiotic flavored milk, so she wouldn't nurse, which only made the pain worse. (Keep in mind that the pain from mastitis is already so bad that you almost wish the baby was being born again just so you could get some relief.)

This time I came down with mastitis on a Friday. I felt the hot lump in my breast and knew what it meant, but I had to keep on going until someone who could fill in for me came available. I ended up having to drive the afternoon carpool because my friend had a repairman wander in several hours late, and the kids needed to get their money from the bank and do their Christmas shopping. By the time I was done with that, I had to go to bed. Favorite Husband came home and took over, cooking dinner while I slept.

But he was piling up the trash can again instead of taking it out. Favorite Husband simply doesn't do trash; he will let the trash overflow the can into a three-foot-wide heap and complain about how he has to step in trash, rather than simply taking the damn trash out himself. The last time I let him overflow the can like that, the trash bag broke right in front of the large can outside and I had to pick it all up, so I decided that mastitis or no mastitis, I was taking out the trash.

Three-quarters of the way to the can, I collapsed.

I took Bagel to bed with me and nursed him all night to keep the painful breast from filling up and becoming even more painful. It disrupted his sleep schedule and he was so tired most of the day that I wished I could slip him some phenobarb just to get him to take a nap. I spent most of yesterday in bed. FH ran all the errands and tended the kids, even changing diapers (although he threw them in a different overflowing trash can). We had Bagel in disposables because FH doesn't do cloth diapers either. But I still had to at least wash the laundry, because Princess is out of school pants and FH is complaining about his lack of socks and Sonshine will go ballistic without his boxer briefs (and FH doesn't do laundry either). And I was able to sit for a while in front of the knitting machine, so I knitted two ponchos and finished one of them in bed. I'm almost caught up on my Christmas orders, with one week to go.