To catch up, last week I nearly had to stab myself in the nipple with a needle to unclog things, but managed to avoid that by using tweezers. Lucky me.
As you might imagine, I was hopeful to avoid that fate again, to say the least. When I realized I had a clog in the same spot this past Tuesday, only one week after the incident, my blood pressure started rising.
I managed to keep the clog at a manageable level with frequent nursing and, everyone's favorite phrase, hand expression (or is it just me who hates that?). The pump was not helping at all. Problem was, I have other things to do in my day than just milk myself.
I could tell things were getting worse, so I went out to Babies R Us and bought a hand pump, since mothers I know have had better luck with those. It didn't help.
It was getting worse and Wednesday morning I was starting to panic again. I thought that I had the solution (tweezers, nipple), however unpleasant. But even though I did try, I just couldn't spot a visible blister to attack like the previous week, so I was SOL. Pumping wasn't helping, nursing wasn't helping, there was no way out.
I called the lactation consultants back. This time they said I needed to buy a cabbage, put it in the freezer, then pound it with a meat tenderizer, place it all around my breast, and cover the whole thing with saran wrap, and lay down for at least an hour to use my breast to "cook" the cabbage. More than one person was convinced they were completely screwing with me. But, you know, desperate times and all.
|Now my bed is full of cabbage.|
|Mr. On the Move|
The breast specialist got me in that day at the request of my doctor, which was great. Making the appointment, I was SO relieved that finally I was going to see a medical professional who could help me.
I arrived at the appointment, filled out 25 minutes of paperwork, and finally the doctor came in. One of the first questions he asked me was what my breastfeeding goal was, which I felt like was a good sign. I know this is going to sound terrible, but when I made the appointment, and found out it was a man, I wasn't thrilled. It's a huge generalization, and I have an awesome male dentist, but in general, I prefer to see women. And come on, the title is breast specialist. I'm not trying to say he's not good at what he does, but get real. I could study hard, become a penis specialist, use as much compassion as possible towards my patients, but the bottom line is, I'm never going to properly empathize with how it feels to get kicked in the balls.
I started to feel like maybe I was just being sexist, and this guy gets it. But then he asked me what I wanted him to do for me. I kind of stammered "well, uh, you're the one who went to medical school, so...?". Then he told me he didn't really know much about lactation.
I was pretty thrown by the fact that he had introduced himself as the specialist of a body part and practically in the same breath stated that he didn't know much about the only function of that body part. Ok then, what, are you an expert in? Helping me use them to get free drinks? That's ALL THEY ARE FOR. It would never fly to be like oh hey I'm a lung specialist but breathing? Can't help you there, I don't know anything about that.
He emphasized that he was pretty sure he couldn't help me and told me to wean. He said ten months was "more than most women". That comment really rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not trying to win some contest here, and I really don't give one teeny tiny crap about how other women feed their kids. My goal is a year because that's what I decided was best for me and my son, so I just felt that was completely irrelevant and pointless.
Obviously I stayed mute because I was trying not to cry, and he said he would do an ultrasound just to make sure I wasn't about to die. He did the ultrasound himself, and told me that there wasn't any milk clogging anything up.
I was pretty surprised to hear that my engorged breast was milk free. He said production had stopped or slowed in the ducts on top (the problematic ones) and that the fact that it felt solid was just dueto swollen breast tissue, and again recommended weaning to get rid of it (but agreed I could still nurse when I told him I wasn't weaning).
Despite the rocky start, this was a huge relief, because if it was just swollen tissue, it wouldn't continue to blow up and get worse and worse like last time, I just could wait it out with Advil and ice packs and cabbage.
|When someone wasn't stealing my cabbage|
|He actually eats more than the average adult HLB.|
The night is dark and full of terrors, and when it hit, I was suddenly like "this diagnosis is sketchy as hell". I really respect doctors, they have a ton of education and experience, so I'm not one to play internet MD and second guess things. That said, it made no sense to me how there could be absolutely no milk in a rock hard boob. That's not what boobs are supposed to feel like.
I woke up at 2am, crazy engorged and in too much pain to sleep. I used the hand pump and got almost two oz, and then Dalton woke up and nursed a little on that side (and trust me he lets me know when things are not to his liking). Clearly something was in there, but I was still super engorged after nursing and pumping.
I went to work, called every doctor back saying my boob was twice the size it was yesterday, of course I got no responses to my messages. I had stretches of solid, lumpy skin reaching up almost to my neck. It was exploding out of my shirt. It seriously felt like a metal plate was under my skin. I made all my coworkers touch it and the general response was "go to the ER", and I would have, but what would they do that a breast specialist couldn't?
Facebook saved me. I posted a message in a local Facebook group (Baltimore's Badass Breastfeeders, FYI) and a wonderful LC gave me a link to a physical therapist that specializes in women's health. By some miracle it was in my insurance network. I had no idea physical therapy had anything to do with anything, but I called them, and they got me in within 30 minutes.
The PT, a breastfeeding mom herself, said she would treat me like it was a clog despite what the ultrasound said and I totally agreed. She explained they often help women with clogs and was telling me how she had recently seen the worst clog she'd ever encountered. I asked her to see how mine stacked up. The moment she touched it, she was like, nope, this is the worst. She then went to tell the secretary to call everyone with appointments the following day to figure out when they could fit me in because it was pretty much HOLY SHIT level and I really don't swear much on this blog but I need you all to understand how close my boob was to exploding.
She used heat ultrasound, then massaged it super hard. I'm guessing it's similar to a sports massage because it's the kind of thing where the more it hurts, the better it's working. After about ten minutes, milk started spraying out. She did more heat, then let me massage, then I was getting plenty of milk out.
As a final measure (until the next day), she taped me using Kinesio tape, the stuff runners use on their injuries. Apparently some moms have luck with it keeping the ducts in line with the nipples. I was super skeptical.
|And here's what I got from the side that "had no milk". Imma need you to double check that ultrasound, doc.|
I managed to massage it enough that the clog finally broke up and my boob is squishy again and doesn't feel like a suit of armor! That tape AND the PT are miracle workers. Next up: figuring out how to go a week without this ordeal (without weaning). Ideas?
Now I've spent the whole week milking myself or having others do so and this place is a hot mess and we have a housewarming party in less than 48 hours.
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you trust doctors? I was a 10. Now I'm down to maybe a 6 or 7.
But for real, breastfeeding is awesome (see above re: refusing to wean) and I stumped all the doctors so don't worry, it won't happen to you.