Joel gently suggested that perhaps I should lay off posting about breastfeeding after my last couple of thrush posts, and I know. I know. So that's what I've been doing. By not posting at all. But now I'm back! To talk about... breastfeeding.
I had half-written several posts in my head that were going to detail our long battle against thrush. These posts all ended happily with the One Thing That Finally Worked, sort of like a Modern Girl's Guide to Beating Candida. I got myself through the really terrible days by imagining myself in the future, happily nursing my baby without a palace of pillows arranged carefully around me and a headache from gritting my teeth the whole time.
That won't be happening, because I quit breastfeeding yesterday.
Remember when I was complaining about how long breastfeeding took, and I said I hated it? That statement has been haunting me. That was when I was pain-free and everything was going fabulously. I want to go back in time and punch myself in the face. When my OB told me that I had to quit breastfeeding as soon as possible yesterday, I burst into tears. Why? Why is it such an emotional thing? As I held Hannah in my arms today and gave her a bottle, I asked myself how this was so different than nursing. (Besides, of course, the ten minutes of fighting I had to go through to get her to take the bottle. THAT'S FUN.) There's nothing but a thin t-shirt between us. She's still getting fed, and I'm not in pain. Oh, but it's so different.
SERIOUS BABY KNOWS UR NOT TAKIN BOOBS AWAY
I don't feel like this was my fault and I know for sure that I did everything (EVERYTHING) to beat it, but... I'm just heartbroken. And if my OB hadn't told me point blank that I needed to stop immediately and then called a surgery consult because she thought I needed stitches (in my nipples. Just in case that wasn't clear. Do you want me to say nipples a few more times, just to make sure my poor brother gets the mental picture?) (NIPPLES.) I'd still be trucking along, telling myself that the next thing was going to be It. The thing that finally cured me.
(I didn't get stitches. Thank you Jesus.)
In fact, I haven't quite stopped yet. I nursed Hannah yesterday because she refused the first formula I tried to give her and I had to feed her before I went to the store to get more. And then I nursed her this morning to take the edge off my rock hard boobs. And I will do so again tonight, just because I don't want to get a plugged duct or mastitis or something. And because I am possibly addicted to breastfeeding and I just cannot let go. (But I'm going to. Tomorrow!) Every time now I think "this is probably the last time." And then I cry, because, oh, I just wish things could have been different.
We tried EVERYTHING. Oral nystatin for Hannah, oral diflucan for me, diflucan for both Hannah and me, over 30 days of gentian violet, grapefruit seed extract, vinegar rinse, probiotics, yogurt, low sugar diet, sunshine, excessive laundering of everything in the house, boiling everything in the house, bleaching everything in the house. I had pretty much gotten used to washing every blanket and bib and burp cloth and outfit and towel after a single use and boiling pacifiers every day. And I could even deal with the pain, which came and went. But then, over the course of one weekend, the yeast somehow managed to eat away most of the skin on my nipples. It is easily the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life. But even that I could take, because it convinced my OB to refill my prescription and I got a matching one for Hannah and I was sure that we were finally on the right track! And so I kept going! For five more weeks.
And five weeks later, not much had changed. Instead, air moving over my boobs had become excruciating (and a key to keeping thrush at bay? Air drying after every feeding). In the meantime, the pain and stress and my constant trying to push feedings back just a few more minutes because I really just wasn't ready to go through that again caused my supply to fall way off, to the point where at Hannah's most recent checkup she'd fallen from the 5th percentile for weight right off the chart. Still, I thought we'd be OK. I started taking a shitload of fenugreek to boost my supply back up and I started feeding her every two hours on the dot. I figured we'd supplement with formula if we needed to, and I made another appointment with my OB, hoping she would increase my dose of diflucan or put me on something else or do... something.
She did do something. She took one look at my boobs and told me that I needed to stop.
When people asked me if I planned to breastfeed (and let me tell you, a LOT of people ask a pregnant lady if she's going to breastfeed, from doctors who are doing their job to strangers on the street who don't know how to mind their own damn business), I always said I was planning to try. I knew that a lot of people tried and couldn't (my own mother being one of them), and I thought that was totally understandable and OK. I always intended to try my best and accept it if things didn't work out. But apparently I am not very good at that last part. "It's OK, maybe we can try again in a few months," Joel comforted me yesterday. Noooot exactly, I explained. I think it's that finality, the knowledge that once I wean her for real that is it, no going back and trying one last thing, that is really getting to me.
I know we'll be OK. This is not the end of the world. I have a happy, healthy baby and everything is going to be fine. But you'll pardon me if I just have one more little cry about it, and then I have to go try to convince Joel that we should have another baby right now so I can have a breastfeeding do-over.