When we were young, one phrase our mom definitely did not want to hear coming from myself or my brother was, yes, “This sucks!” I would offer apologies to her at this point, but I think it is safe to say she’s outgrown the concern just we outgrew the hype/shock value of wanting to use it as kids.
Rather, my use of the phrase here is part whine (oh, yes – there’s going to be some whining in this post, not to mention a whole lot of body part discussion, so consider yourself warned), part pun (I never can help myself when pun potential arises), and part throwback to those semi-subversive t-shirts from middle school (remember? the ones with mosquitos and vacuums on them, and big, bold letters declaring THIS SUCKS across the top?).
So the actual point of this post, and the pun, is this: breastfeeding. So yes, actually. This – this adorable and yet oh-so-freaking-tiny mouth that is the source of so much Blergh and Argh in my life with a newborn, does actually suck. Without suction, no breastfeeding. Get it? Punny indeed.
But now that we are darn near six weeks in, it is safe to say that not only does this little mouth suck when feeding, it is also causing some sucky moments aside from nursing.
Yeppers. 99.9% positive that the dreaded thrush has landed.
It takes 3-4 weeks for thrush to really begin to flourish, so I spent the first few weeks of Life with Truman doing my best to focus on latch and waiting desperately for my nipples to, as they say in mama circles, “desensitize.” Latch was tricky with TJ for the first week. For some reason, he thought it was a great idea to CLAMP on instead of latch on, so every blessed time we sat down to nurse, I would have to endure the clamp, then get my finger in his mouth to get him off so we could try again which is when he would actually latch on rather well. Why the double latch? I have no idea, other than perhaps he was trying to speed up said desensitization?
And actually, that last statement about him latching on “rather well” might be a bit of a lie because my children, with their notorious little mouths, are also notorious for having a shallow latch. There’s just not much boob that can go in a mouth that small, especially when you have as much milk as I do (the first two weeks, as the milk comes in and then, eventually, sort-of calms down a bit always amaze me. how do they feed at all when the breast is 2-3x bigger than their head? seriously.). When white showed up on his tongue early on, one of my local lactation consultants hoped it was from the shallow latch and was just a milk stain, but as it persisted, the cause seemed to indicate thrush more and more.
So did the pain.
If you’ve been reading here long enough, you know that thrush is something I am most familiar with, as all of my babies have had it. You also know that the best description I can give of it is that it makes your nipples sting, but not just sting like the aforementioned mosquito. That “low level” discomfort is the standard MO with thrush (as in, they can hurt like that around the clock, depending on the day, and, IMHO, amount of sleep you got the night before). The higher level, for me, is usually during let down, and in that case, the pain is more like needles or glass being shoved through the nipples, to the point that I’d rather lop them off than deal with it.
Too much with the Truth Bomb? Trust me. I wish it wasn’t accurate either.
The one symptom of thrush that my poor sleep-deprived and addled mommy brain forgot was the floating, random stabbing pain that occurs inside the breast tissue. It started showing up at the end of last week and Monday night I about lost my mind when I suddenly came down with a fever and chills to boot, because I thought I had managed to get mastitis on top of everything else.
Thankfully some wise mama friends were able to point out that if there were no lumps or hot, red streaks, my problem was probably not mastitis, which made even more sense later, post fever-breaking (which came as a warning sign to my body, I think, in response to some heavy exhaustion), when I remembered the random shooting bit from past nursing adventures. So cheers for no mastitis, but man, can thrush suck it.
So why do I do this? Well, at this point, nursing through thrush has become, to me, a lot like continuing to have natural labors. I did it before, so I can do it again. That’s not to go all mommy martyr or anything – it’s just the understanding that I have managed to outlast this three other times, so chances are I can endure the current state of pain because I believe in and want to continue breastfeeding my sweet babe as long as possible.
Or maybe I should ride the whole sympathy card here and make a push for a really awesome You Did It! reward/present from the hubs or the universe or something because, crap, this is hard.
For now I’ll take my sweet, thriving babe as incentive enough, because even though I am struggling a wee bit, he is gaining and growing like a champ. And not every moment of nursing is bad. Once we get past the GGiH(good God in heaven)-ness of the let down debacle, nursing sessions are pretty swift and sweet. Truman is a noisy eater and makes a ton of sounds both when he’s sucking (to the point that the Bigs have made comments on it) and when he’s had his fill (it’s a high-pitched squeal of rejection, I’d say). He’ll also let me know when he’s had enough by making this “I am terribly offended” gag face when I try to offer him the boob and he no longer wants it; if it weren’t so funny, I’d probably find it offensive, but hey – at least he is communicating.
There is the knowledge of “this too shall pass” that keeps me going, as well. And unlike some other phases of infant/baby/toddler hood that people say I’ll someday miss, I know this won’t be one of them.