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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Milk machine temporarily out of order

Yesterday I got the dreaded plugged milk duct. Over the past couple of days, Mira had been fussing when nursing. Looking back, I think it might have been because she was having trouble pulling the milk down. So midday on Friday, my right breast was rock hard and throbbing with pain. I was desperately trying to get Mira to nurse on it, but she was already so frustrated. She was crying and I was hurting and this feeling of utter desperation just came over me. That is when I discovered that if you really want the baby to stop crying, you could try crying yourself. She had never seen me like that before and thought it was very interesting.

When I finally decided that I needed help, I called Brian at work and asked him to come home early. Such a great husband, he heard my voice and said, "I'm on my way right now." When he got home, he took Mira to the pool to get her good and hungry while I rested with the hot pad on my chest. Mira got back and was hungry, but couldn't seem to get anything from my plugged side. When she got too frustrated to try anymore, I let her have the other side.

After that I tried pumping, but I was so plugged up that I was getting nothing, even on the machine's highest setting. I wasn't sure if I should keep pumping even though no milk was coming because I wasn't sure if it was helping or if it was just going to further inflame the breast. So I started looking online to see if I could find an answer (by this time the doctor's office was closed, or I'd just have called my doc). I never found a conclusive answer, but I did come across this woman's blog post where she described her trials with one plugged duct right after another. Turns out that she was starving her baby and the doctors made her switch to formula when they found out that her baby was third percentile for body weight. I should not have read that blog, I think...

Friday night, Mira was up and hungry every two hours, which hasn't happened since she was a newborn. I didn't sleep well, but being up with her was not the main reason. That blog that I had read kept going through my head and I was laying there thinking, "My breast hurts, and I'm plugged on the right side, and my right side is my 'heavy hitter' when it comes to milk production, and she's waking up because she's hungry, and I'M STARVING MY BABY AND SHE'S GOING TO GET MALNOURISHED AND HER LITTLE LEGS AND BRAIN WILL STOP GROWING AND SHE'LL BE TWO FEET TALL FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE AND I'M TURNING MY DAUGHTER INTO A MENTALLY RETARDED MIDGIT!"

Sometimes I think I worry too much.

So in the morning, Brian got up to mow the lawn and Mira and I, still tired from our long night, laid in bed nursing on and off, sleeping on and off until noon. Toward the end of the morning in bed, I was half-dozing and Mira was half-nursing, and my breast felt cold. And then tingly. And I looked down at Mira and her eyes were wide and she was gulping as fast as her little mouth could gulp and looking at me like "The flood waters are rising! Start bailing!" And slowly the painful pressure let up. I don't think I've felt such pure physical relief since the day Mira was born.

When we finally got out of bed after noon, we were both in a great mood. We had slept all morning, Mira had a full tummy for the first time in 24 hours, and I was pain-free for the first time in 24 hours. It seems odd to me that just yesterday I was feeling so upset. It kind of feels like it must have been a bad dream or something because now that it's cleared up we're both in such a good mood.

It might be strange, but I feel this intense gratitude to Mira. I was hurting and the only one who could help me was her. And she never gave up on me. She kept trying and trying and eventually she was my salvation.


Laura said...

For reference, the lactation consultant that I had left a message for last night got back to me today. She says that pumping should not cause any inflammation problems, even if you're getting no milk. She also said that having one plugged duct on one side for one day will not starve your baby into midgethood. I may be paraphrasing.

Marcy said...

lol... It's so easy to get all worked up about these things that later seem almost silly.

Very glad to hear that everything worked out. Painful boobs are never fun, and neither are hungry babies.