Denial

Fair Warning: discussing nursing and related bodily issues/parts here. Please skip it if you’re not into hearing about such details.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been worried about thrush pretty much since I found out I was pregnant with Baby No.3. It was awful with Harrison and somehow even worse with Raegan, so from the very beginning, I fully expected to get it again with this new kiddo.

I considered doing a sort-of cleanse at the end of my pregnancy to work out extra sugar from my diet, but Good God. You try being pregnant in summer in Hastings, Nebraska and avoiding things like ice cream and Eileen’s Cookies. Impossible!

OK, so I kid a bit. I really did try to cut back on living on sugar like my tendencies and preferences like to lean, but I’m also a realist and know that following a full-on Candida Diet really isn’t in the cards for me. Avoiding everything with sugar and yeast in it is SO hard. So I avoided a wee bit and crossed my fingers and flung up a prayer that maybe the third time really would be the charm and I’d avoid thrush.

Enter Lincoln, stage left, on the Fourth of July. I spent my time in the hospital working so patiently and so diligently to get his latch right. I kept telling myself that maybe if I could get him to latch really, really well, my nipples wouldn’t break down and crack or blister because I was pretty darn sure that wouldn’t help me with my No Thrush goal. And while we did manage to get into a pretty decent rhythm while we were at Mary Lanning, I knew it would be different when we got home and my milk came in.

I know mamas who have struggled with low milk supply issues and I know it is just as painful and heartbreaking as any other struggle a mama faces. For me, though, the challenge swings in the opposite direction with an overabundance of milk. That’s just the way it has always been for me from about Day Three with Baby No.1, so much so that latching really has been a challenge in the beginning with each babe because there’s not much to latch on to. And that happened again with Lincoln, especially because his little tummy would get full after nursing on just one side, leaving the other to wait for the next feeding. Somehow I managed to make it to Day Six before I had to pump to relieve some of the pressure, but in those four minutes I got seven ounces. If you’ve had low supply problems, please don’t throw things at me. There are less-than-great outcomes of too much milk, too.

For instance, I have once again turned into a bit of a milky, leaky mess. I require two to three burp rags at a feeding to keep everybody dry and I have a heck of a time keeping myself aired out and dry after and between sessions. Hence, I believe, the prevalence of thrush in my newborns’ lives.

I’ve been talking about it since Lincoln was born, with my nurses and my family and the local lactation consultants, and all of us have been hoping I could avoid it this time, but are you kidding me? It is July. In Nebraska. And the temps have been in the 90s and higher. And it is humid as hell. How could I possibly not get thrush after having it both times previously?!

For nine days I managed to tell myself that maybe I could do it. I could keep myself from getting all thrushy. I haven’t had any coffee (OK, one decaf iced mocha), tea, or soda since Lincoln was born, in part to keep my blood sugar from spiking. I’ve been avoiding tons of fresh fruit, again because of the sugar, and drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk with my cereal each morning. I’ve changed my nursing pads religiously and been using Newman’s cream and trying to air out after feedings and all that. I even started up again with a probiotic. But I haven’t been perfect. I’ve very much enjoyed some sweets in the last nine days and granola bars have been my go-to middle-of-the-night-nursing-snack which I’m sure is a no-no; and I’ll say it again, Hello, Eileen’s which I know is a big no-no! So while I tried to pretend that the white stuff on Lincoln’s mouth the last couple days was just milk like some breast feeding babies get, that changed today.

This afternoon, after I got out of the shower and took one look in the mirror, I knew something was wrong just by the color of my left nipple. Bright pink it should not be. Never mind the random throbbing pain I’ve been experiencing on that side all day, even when not nursing. *sigh* And so it begins.

While there are still plenty of home remedies and over-the-counter options, not to mention prescriptions for both myself and LT to try, my past experiences with this beast tell me that I just have to be patient. Nothing I’ve ever tried has worked. For me, thrush just has to run its course. Perhaps if I don’t spend weeks trying to fight it, it will get bored and move on, or perhaps that’s just another form of denial on my part.

What I’m not going to do is blame myself. In some reading that I came across while researching the Candida Diet for nursing moms, I learned that for some women, thrush is associated with hormones. If that is the case for me, then it is totally out of my control. It’s just something my body does and I have to deal with it, which is exactly what I’ve always done. It sucks and it hurts and some days it really drags me down, but my past experiences also tell me that I can get through it. What can I say? Yeast and stinging nipples are no match for this stubborn mama (who will definitely be enjoying the giant cookie at her four-year-old’s birthday party next week)!

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