By Rachel, on July 10, 2009

Nashville, Tennessee

I’ve been MIA for the past days and milk is the reason why. Never before have I so much considered my bovine mammilian sisters. I personally don’t have a taste for milk though I can’t say the same of cheese. (goat, sheep, yum)
Nonetheless, these days as I nurse my 8 month old son and step through the many hurdles that breastfeeding can present, my mind often thinks about cows. Dairy cows and their much used udders. Udders and the gallons of milk they bestow. Udders and the many physical problems that these poor udders can encounter. Such as my own.
Single male readers with squeamish genes who want to maintain the fantasy land of sexy creamy boobs encased in Victoria’s Secret bras may want to stop reading for today.
I continue.
The name is MASTITIS and it is awful. Medically, it is caused by a clogged milk duct, stress, and improper drainage of the breast in question. In my imagination it was an inauspicious sign of my health, a punishment for trying to stay up into the wee hours of the morning and savor my son’s nightly adieu to the world, perhaps a warning that it’s time to begin to wean him off of me. Images of Willy Wonka’s blueberry girl kept popping (no pun intended) up in my blind spot. See the body is its own entity very many times. And breastfeeding works basically thus: You feed, you make. You feed more. You make more. You feed less. You make less….in theory. The body needs a slight bit of time to process changes in supply and demand. This is how and why you are left with a screaming bundle of baby when said baby is going through a growth spurt. Your body still hasn’t gotten the memo demand is up. And in the case of an 8 month old….the body – my body – perhaps hasn’t gotten the memo that demand is down.
Suddenly my boobs become the 99 cent store. Encasing product that at one time was in hot demand and brought a high asking price but now fill one or two bins in the back – obviously surplus.
So the milk comes in or “lets down”, as those in know say, but there is no baby to take it out. And then hours later the milk lets down again and suddenly my B cup is crowded, swollen, and hard – feeling very much like what I envisioned implants to have felt like in the mid-eighties.
I suppose this could only go on for so long before that coupled with my stress and a clogged milk duct blossomed into MASTITIS.
I write it in capitals because that’s how I see it in my mind.
To make a long story short, after a thousand warm compresses, arnica rubs, warm baths, massages, pumping, and making poor Lazaro nurse off of one breast more than the other -relief was nowhere in sight. In fact the situation was worsening. I felt off, tired, and while not totally feverish, I certainly felt sick. The implant feeling had given way to a nasty, hardened mass underneath my boob. It felt awful to touch. It felt awful to massage. The hardness of the matter seemed abnormal and unhealthy in a persistent sort of way. Though it may sound strange the mass had a personality and it was malicious. Oh yes and did I mention it was painful?
Enter…the doctor.
Of course, I have no insurance so this trip to the doctor involved much calling and hunting and finger wringing and calculators. But I found one. And his 15 mintue diagnosis involved much face wrinkling and mouth screwing and bitten lip but in the end he wrote a script for antibiotics. One that is “safe” for taking while breastfeeding. Not that having a doctor who is probably your age or younger wrinkling his face or screwing up his mouth or biting his lip and then telling you he usually does not deal with PostNatal or OB/GYN made me feel any better….but at least he wrote me a script.
And there you have it. Though I wanted desperately to avoid taking anything -in the end I did and am now much better for it. The nasty lump is gone. We went to New Orleans. And Sir and I have fallen happily back to our routine.

1 Comment to “Got Milk?”

  1. dave says:

    This was fun, albeit painful at times, to read. Glad you're feeling better!

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