spoke too soon

I haven't had a lot of energy to blog lately, and more than a lack of time, it's really been trying to avoid talking endlessly about breastfeeding on my blog. I mean, I do realize that most people are not sitting around waiting to read a story about nursing, much less wanting to hear about things like engorgement or proper latching or leakage. Trouble is, this is leaving me very little to blog about. Because somehow, in the last two weeks, it seems to be the only thing I am doing or thinking about. I am tethered to the sofa by a very hungry newborn, and it is endless and mindless and OH MY GOSH HOW MUCH CAN ONE BABY EAT. And yes, breastfeeding is good for the baby and natural and all that. It's a great bonding experience. For like 10 minutes. And then 45 minutes in, I start feeling just a wee bit trapped, and like I might just out of my skin if I can't get up at that very moment and detach this parasitic being from my boob.

(A parasitic being that I love very much).

Well, since I seem to be indulging the breastfeeding stories, (Dad, if you haven't stopped reading yet, here is your cue) I supposed I will share that yesterday I woke up with a screaming case of mastitis. It was awful. It started out with just a painful boob, but by noon I was having the full-on chills, body aches, and a fever, and could barely walk around from fatigue. I did something I have never done before - I called Mark in a panic and asked him to cancel all of his clients and come home. I knew I needed to get in to see the doctor (even though, of course, I had already diagnosed myself thanks to the wonders of Google).

I was horrified to read that the cure for mastitis is basically EVEN MORE BREASTFEEDING. Awesome. Kind of like being told that you have a broken toe and the cure is to balance your entire body weight on said toe for several hours a day.

Remember when Bella got bit in the arm by James, the evil tracker vampire in the ballet studio, and she describes the pain as being the most intense, burning, terrifying pain that she had ever felt? Yeah, that's pretty much what breastfeeding with mastitis feels like.

(And stop pretending like you didn't read Twilight.)

So yeah, all that talk two days ago about the wonders of living pain-free and the beauty of not being pregnant anymore? Spoke too soon.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about "white people problems". It was mostly in fun, but I've actually been using it as a sort of mantra lately. It's been pretty useful as I've entered into the newborn phase, and transitioned into a mom of three young kids. This may come as a shock (hold your laughter) but I am a bit prone to panic, overexaggeration, and fatalism. I may have a tendency to blow things out of proportion from time to time. It's something I am working on. So in order to keep myself in check, I've been asking myself every time I feel myself going into panic mode:

Is this a white person problem?

(And of course I realize that many minority groups lead a similiar life of relative priviledge here in America. If it offends, we can call it "middle-class American problems".)

So when I start complaining about not getting any sleep with a newborn, I remind myself that millions of women have been through the same thing. When I start getting testy about my husband's work demands, I remind myself that my husband has an amazing and secure job with great flexibility. When I begin to whine about having two small children sharing a room, I remind myself that we have a beautiful home by most standards of the world, and that many children grow up sleeping in a home with only one room, period.


Yesterday, however, my mantra was failing me as we headed to the doctor with my fever spiking. It started to further slip as, on the way to the doctor, our car started breaking down due to a fender-bender that happened two weeks ago, that we failed to report to our insurance because we didn't want to turn in a sweet couple with no legal documentation to be driving, much less living, in this country. Turns out the damage was much worse than we thought, and we had to turn around and drive on side-streets to get our lurching car home. I tried saying the mantra to myself. "This is a white-person problem. We are fortunate that we have two cars at all. Even if they are crappy".

And then Mark informed me that he had tried, and there was no way to fit all three kids into our Honda Civic.

Mantra losing effectiveness.

The mantra sort of floated away like a balloon when, after my appointment, we were presented with the bill from my delivery.

The mantra was all but gone when we learned that afternoon that a persistent leak in our bathroom was unfixable, and would require a basic home remodel to fix.

Still haven't heard from the mechanic about our car, but I'm guessing it isn't good.

All that to say, I'm in severe pain, I have a family of five with a car that holds four, and we have some big bills to pay this month. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, these are not insurmountable obstacles to my life.

But today . . .

Today I'm a wee bit overwhelmed.

P.S. Oh yes. And to top it all off, Mark decided that in an effort to protect my privacy, he would just elusively let people know that I had an infection. Rather than saying mastitis. So that everyone can think I have some sort of an infection (dun dun DUN) and come to their own conclusions about what kind of nasty afflictions a woman who recently gave birth might be dealing with. Thanks, babe. Way to spare me any embarrassment.


  1. With my second, I had a continuous battle a very sluggish duct.

    I feel your pain. I do, and there is just nothing like it. You can't even explain how it makes your whole body feel (not to mention, every time your baby cries or breathes heavy, your body makes MORE MILK which just BACKS IT UP EVEN MORE - DEAR GOD!).

    And the thought of putting that kid back on there - DEAR GOD!

    And THEN they say to try to point their little nose directly at the clog, which in my case meant one of us standing on our head - DEAR GOD!

    Yup. Feel your pain.

  2. Kristin, I feel ya. On so many fronts. Ben and I had some serious issues at the beginning of our nursing relationship, mastitis just one, and since I didn't want to overwhelm the world with TMI, I found I had pretty much nothing to talk about with anyone. So I'm in awe of you for blogging about your boobs...I never could.

    Hang in there...Remember that this part doesn't last forever.

    Not that this will solve anything, but I got these hot/cold bra insert things in the bottle/nursing section at Target that really helped with engorgement and mastitis. It's like an ice pack for your boobs, and it feels good.

  3. I have no rah rah speech. Just an LOL to Mark telling people you "have an infection" ---- that is wonderful!

  4. yes - I hear you and boy do I feel your pain - I had days that I called Keith to come home from work because I was shaking from pain so badly I couldn't hold the baby nevermind feed him, plus there were 2 other kids to take care of.

    6 weeks with a breast pump, around the clock nursing and HEAVY doses of Grapefruit seed extract (for the infection) and acidophilus (for the thrush I got after taking the dr's antibiotics for said infection)
    It is hard. Feels like hell. BUT - we just hit 2 years of nursing - so we made it. But easy? natural? not for me - not at first.

  5. Oh, I hear you! I am not sure how I came across your blog. I enjoy it. Mastitis hurts like..well, you know! And your body hurts with it! The first time I experienced this I thought I was in for it. And like you, I heard I had to feed him MORE! I even cried! I told my husband it was his fault! I was a mess! Hang in there! I feel for you!

  6. Oh honey, brings back some 'great' memories.
    What I did was massage the crap out that boobie in a hot, hot shower. Several times a day.
    Just make sure to put some cream on the girlie so she won't dry out.
    This really helped.
    You poor thing, you are dealing with a LOT and it's absolutely OK to feel overwhelmed. Post partum anyone??
    Take it hour by hour if you have to :) and REST.
    Don't worry about the house 'stuff' it'll all be there waiting - trust me.

  7. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Don't under-estimate "White People Problems". They are real, and we are real people, afterall, even if we are White, Priviledged, etc...And,I am sure you are going crazy right now....I hated newborn days...not my thing. When you don't allow yourself to feel your own pain for the sake of feeling selfish for having problems just because you are white, is like shaking a bottle of soda and keeping the cap on til the bottle eventually explodes. I know you are a therapist, so you know all this already, but first and foremost, you are a human being. Feeling your problems makes you relate-able to the rest of us.

  8. Oh my gosh, Kristen, I am so sorry. I just am so empathizing and sympathizing and wishing it all away for you! I literally just said a prayer for you, your boobs and your car. I agree with the previous post that, yes, in the BIG picture, you can be grateful that these insane, stressful, mind-numbingly painful challenges are stemming from your BLESSINGS, BUT that doesn't make them any less insane, stressful or mind-numbingly painful. Don't minimize it! Let us feel a little sorry for you (and think that our stories of similar situations help?). You are supermom--YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS! Then in a year, you can comment on someone else's blog who is going through something similar.

  9. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Oh Kristen!! I am praying for you and your family! I am sorry about your house and car as well. Sometimes, regardless of what kind of problems they are, they are still problems. So yeah, they may not be the same, but you have them, so deal with them and thank God the whole time anyway. Which, clearly, you are good at. Keep it up, I am so thankful to be your friend.

    In the meantime, do you need help with that bathroom? Cy has some free time I think and I know he would be more than happy to help! Love you!


  10. problems are problems, and starting a nursing relationship is tough even without toddlers and excruciating mastistis. do take care of yourself--it will get better!

    as for leaking, what worked best for me were luxe baby wool nursing pads. breathable, not itchy, and no leaks--you just need 2-3 pairs and they're a million times better than disposables or cotton.

  11. oh yeah, and since they keep your boobs dry, i think they do a great job of preventing "infections"--i can't believe he said that!!

  12. I laughed so much with this post! Probably since I'm experiencing similar stuff with nursing right now (I think Liberty is 2 days older than Karis). I showed Chad and now he refers to her as a parasite when she's eating! I keep telling myself it won't feel like sandpaper forever...But one side is cracked so deep I think I could see my ribs if I looked close enough, and I swear just as she goes to latch on, I pull away knowing what pain I'll go through for a couple of minutes!! She doesn't appreciate that too much. And you have to love those marathon feedings every 5 days when she wants to eat every hour or 2 throughout for 24 hours.

    I do remember when I had mastitis with my son--I was so engorged I was the size of cantaloupes. I turned on the bathroom sink, filled it with hot water, and lifted both into the sink and just rested my arms on the counter! Felt soooo good.

    Anyways. I'll be praying it gets better for you and your pain goes away quickly.

  13. Oh I definitely use twilight references daily - today to describe my heartburn (much like I imagine bella's thirst as a newborn) and I love your blog.
    Thanks for writing:)


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