The person who first described breastfeeding as a marvelous bonding experience has a strange mind to my way of thinking. Through the experience I’ve had over the last 5 weeks I’d say it’s more akin to shock treatment!
For the first couple of weeks I handled it just fine, yes there was some discomfort but the midwife, 2 health visitors and the breast feeding clinic lass said she was latching on just fine and since she was gaining weight (my god is the child gaining weight!) I figured it was just over sensitiveness on my part.
..then at week 3 the growth spurt hit.
Nothing can prepare you for that, she was crying to be fed 30 minutes after her last feed, each feed was taking between 1-2 hours at time as she alternately mutilated my tender bits and dozed – I felt like she was literally sucking my life away it was so draining, I had no energy to speak let alone come online or think about college.
It actually got to the stage where she’d finish feeding and I’d pass her to the nearest person and run for bed, bathroom or kitchen depending on which need felt greatest at that particular moment – then I’d avoid being near her in the hope she’d give me some respite – I approached those feeds with dread as the longer it went on the more painful it was becoming.
She developed the habit of latching on then clamping down – trust me, having no teeth was not a deterrent for the little madam in causing her mama pain, there’s strength in them there jaws of hers – and when coming off the breast or if troubled by wind (constantly) she’d screw up her face, pull her head back and worry my poor abused teat from side to side like a terrier with a rat. I actually had a nightmare about her becoming a milk vampire – in this dream I’d turned my back on her for a second to ready my nursing station and she flew from the cot and attacked me from behind, burrowing through my back to get at my breast.
That was NOT a pleasant dream.
I managed to grit my teeth and bear this for 5 days then I broke. At around 1am whilst she was once more mutilating me in her desperation for food, with tears streaming down my face I begged Stef to go get some formula and bottles from the 24hr Tesco.
While he and and the devil spawn shopped I cried myself to sleep. The next day I managed my first pain free feed – it was amazing, I managed to look down at that contented little face and feel love instead of pain, resentment and guilt (over the resentment) and instead of handing her straight to Stef afterwards so I could run and hide from her I enjoyed a real cuddle – the first in weeks!
The downside to this feed skipping was that I still needed milking; so we bought a pump.
I thought I had it all figured out, the occasional breast feed to keep up my supply, express the rest and alternate formula and breast milk feeds.
..Of course it couldn’t be that simple.
After 2 uses of the pump I developed blocked ducts and engorged breasts (ow ow ow ow ow ow OWWWW!) Which is when I discovered it’s possible to cook chilled cabbage leaves using breast heat alone (but they are effective in reducing swelling and easing the discomfort for anyone who needs to know..) So instead of expressing a full feed each time I started just taking an ounce when I felt full and intermittently feeding her straight from the breast – at least the break meant I could bear the discomfort.
I’m beginning to dread hearing the phrase “it will get better” because every time someone tells me that I get something worse.
This week it’s been mastitis – poor Stef spent 3 days looking after Izzy alone as well as cleaning away my bile filled buckets and attempting to make food I could keep down so I could take my antibiotics. They finally kicked in and the fever broke so I could at least keep down water, but the pain was unbelievable – and it triggered the menieres too so I literally couldn’t get out of bed due to the dizziness and nausea and ear pain.
..oh and my caesarian scar decided to start bleeding too, it’s all fun and games!
I was lying there in my sick bed, too dizzy to get up but dying for a shower; my 3 day fever sweat stench mingling with the smell of sour milk, cooking cabbage and old blood was knocking me sick again – when to add insult to injury this delightful cocktail of smells started attracting flies through the open window – seriously, I felt like a corpse lol all I needed was to hear a ringing bell and the monty python lot outside the window screeching “Bring out your dead”
When Stef brought her in to see me after the fever broke I wanted to cry, in the space of a day or two she’dd already changed so much, her skins clearer, she’d filled out and was even more alert – and i missed it happening, she laughs and smiles at you and it amazes me that we have such a perfect little thing in our lives.
I now know if I continue to persevere with this I’ll never make it into college and in the long term I need to have completed this course with flying colours if I expect to get a decent enough job to afford the life for our little love that I want – I just have to accept that while breast may be best, the child has had 5 weeks of my milky goodness and selfish as it may seem, I’ve suffered enough! By the time she’s weaned away from the breast and my milk supply has dried up (please let it be soon!) It’ll be over 6 weeks and I’m supposed to be back in class full time then.
Now, lets just hope these last 2 days of antibiotics do their job – I’m really sick of being ill.