Breastfeeding and I…
…are now friends. We’re still not besties, and yeah, it’s one of those friendships where I’m a bit wary, never sure whether or not I can really trust her. But when we first met, I never thought we could be friends at all. I guess we’ve been through a lot together, and it’s brought us closer. In summary form:
Week 1: bleeding blisters, increasing alarm, regular weeping
Week 2: bloody fissures, constant weeping
Week 3: religious application of my ointment, healing blisters and fissures, regular weeping
Week 4: religious application of my ointment, healing blisters and fissures, sprained wrists, occasional weeping
Week 5: the same
Week 6: the same, certainty that nothing would ever change.
Week 7: nothing changes, and yet, somehow it does. I feed Bun Bun STANDING UP. IN A BATHROOM STALL. That was quite a feat of coordination.
Week 8: I run out of ointment (see Figure 1) and am certain that I will instantly get thrush and mastitis.
Week 9: I don’t. I master the side lying (or the I’m a giant sow with one little piglet) position.
|I assure you, I squeezed until I could squeeze no more.|
It’s week 10, and it’s still not perfect, but I no longer dread feedings. For whatever reason, things are great with Left Breast, but not so much with poor Right Breast. With Left Breast, I can enjoy the cuddling, watch Bun Bun’s sweet little face, hold her fat little hand…With Right Breast, it’s all about gritting my teeth and bearing it until the pain mysteriously subsides (after a minute or so). But still, a million times better than my starting point. And as many of you suggested, nothing identifiable really changed. It just got better.
Well, I suppose one thing that helped was being told that if I still have pain during the initial latch, it’s okay. That allowed me to stop feeling like a failure, to stop panicking that I’d rip open my old wounds, to stop feeling like I had to take her off and try again a hundred times. And also being told that if the nipple comes out flattened, it’s totally fine, provided it’s not painful. That was a great relief, as nothing I could do would prevent the nipple from coming out flat, and the internet says it’s an indication of a bad latch and a bad mother and a sure sign that your child will never learn how to read and will be one of those kids that bites other kids constantly. Otherwise…I suppose she learned a bit, and the crazy milk fountains subsided (around week 7), and once I was healed enough I could stop using the football hold which was hell on my wrists…but it’s still a bit of a mystery to me how things went from pretty rough to pretty much fine.
I have a feeling that my experience is normal. I suspect women who have no challenges at all are in the minority. (And if they assume it’s because they’re just smarter or better mothers, may I suggest they kiss my ass. You know, in the friendliest way possible.) And I HOPE that women who have terrible problems with supply or infection or vasospasms or can never get the latch to work are also (on the sadder side of) atypical, but I could be wrong. I was never anywhere near giving up, and I think it’s because I was spared those experiences. So far. I absolutely expect to have at least a few episodes of something yucky (Please let it not be thrush!), but now that the latch problems are under control, I feel like I can face whatever develops next like a man.
POINT IS: I think there’s often a very rough initial period. And reading over my experiences (and particularly the comments on those posts–I was so deeply grateful for those) may be encouraging to anyone in the thick of it.