I have truly learned a lot (mostly the hard way) since we moved to 29 Palms, CA. One of the biggest things I've learned is that you have to be your own health care advocate! When I say that it sounds like its going to get political, it could, but I'm not going there. You need to educate yourself, but most importantly stand up for yourself and your beliefs.
So about 3 months ago I had been having the WORST pain ever in both of my breasts. It hurt the whole time I nursed and even after. My poor nipples were cracked, and bleeding and just down right beat up. I can't blame it on Liam, because he has always latched perfectly. But I didn't know what to do. I was maxing out on my pain meds and they weren't helping. I had been told by a lactation consultant, "it's normal, it's your first time, it'll get better". I wanted to quit. I felt so ashamed. I just knew i couldnt go on like that for much longer. I would have rather pushed out another baby without an epidural than endure any more of that pain. I dreaded Liam getting hungry and would be in tears through out the entire feeding. So After weeks without improvement, I went to the doctor. Once again I got the same story. Of course two docs came and looked and oooh'd and awww'd at how cracked, weirdly whitish and swollen my nipples looked (which was kind of humiliating, "hey look at how horrible this chick's nipples are!") I told them I was sure there was some kind of infection. They said, "no. They're just cracked. You need a nipple shield" So we got a nipple shield. Oh how I hate and am thankful for that thing. The horrible pain cleared up and I began to think it WAS a me and Liam problem. But I began to read, and every book I read said nipple shields were a bad idea. It can mess up your baby's latch, and can even cause your baby to lose weight. We had been having weight problems and I knew immediately we needed to get off the shield. So after a month on the shield we weaned off of it. Which was amazing since I had read that some babies don't ever go back to the breast from a shield. And Li was already older in breastfed baby terms, 4 months (at the time). Oh how did I get in this mess? I thought I was taking medical advice!
Within a week the shield was gone an Liam was so happy. He wouldn't use the shield now if I tried. I'm so lucky. So we have an entire month of pure, simple, easy breastfeeding bliss. Maybe that's all it was, my boobs just weren't used to the abuse. And then 4 days ago it starts again. The pain! As soon as he latches the entire time he nurses and even when he's not. But! This time, I know something isn't right. My nipples AREN'T cracked, Li IS latching correctly, we've had MONTHS of pain free nursing, and it's only on ONE side! So I scour my med surg books and trusted breastfeeding websites. My only symptom is this awful pain. But I had noticed a week earlier that Liam had developed a fungal rash on his chest. I didn't worry about it too much, he's teething and drooling a lot, plus he had a well check up the next week. But as I'm reading the nursing student in me comes out and I put two and two together. Why would he have a fungal rash instead of just skin irritation? There's no lesions in his mouth. But then I read this, "often severe pain is the only symptom of thrush for the nursing mother". And it hits me, I have thrush. I feel relieved for a second. It's not me or Liam. I make an appointment. The doc doesn't seem real decisive on what's going on with my right breast. In the end I talk him into it. Sad huh? So he gives me the diflucan. By the time I come home the tell-tell white patches pop up on my nipple. It was like God saying, "see you're right!". Then I realize, oh my gosh, these white patches look like the discoloration I had months ago. How did those docs miss it?! There were two of them! They were sitting there staring at my boobs and wincing in sympathetic pain! How did they over look that! I became so angry at the Naval Hospital. This isn't the first time they've failed me. I thought about all those months of unnecessary pain, I was so upset that I couldn't get those months back. What if I had given up breastfeeding? What if the nipple shield is the root of all Liam's weight issues? This could've all been avoided if they would've seen what was staring them in the face. I begin to wonder how I suffered through 8 weeks of the worst pain I've ever felt. Then I wondered how could God let me suffer? And I realize he didn't let me or make me. He gave me William, who supported and encouraged me to continue breastfeeding and not give up. He also gave me strength, to feed my son even though it hurt. Then he took the infection away for awhile, He gave me time. Time to figure out how to take care of me. He waited until he knew Liam and I were secure in our breastfeeding relationship. And then he gave me olive oil (which contains lanoleic acid, a natural anti-fungal, and a moisturizer). He even sent my hubby to get it for me after a 22 hour work day at 6:30am with a smile on his face, He even threw in some flowers! Talk about service! This morning while I waited for my tired hubby to come back with the liquid gold I began to appreciate the sacrifices we make for our children. Yes, it hurts like hell to feed Liam on my right side, but I'll do it because its good for him. I'm sure it hurt more than I could ever imagine to watch your only son die, but He sacrificed him for us, His children. I know now I can do this. Its the least I can do.
I could be upset that the Naval Hospital screwed up. But they screw up all the time. Instead I've chosen to use this experience to help me next time. Next time I'll push harder when i know something is wrong. Maybe with my next baby, I'll know what to look for. Maybe if I go back to work in OB/Gyn I'll be able to help my breastfeeding patients better. Maybe I should get it together and become a lactation consultant.
Now for fall Liam pictures!