I struggle with content for this blog trying to follow all of the six hundred and thirty thousand tips I’ve read on the makeup of a good blog, writing personally, and writing on topics I enjoy and hope others find interesting. So, I’ve been steering away from the story telling “here’s what we did this weekend” type posts, but this incident was so full of drama, the majority of which was self-induced, that I just feel compelled to write about it. Also, my mom has been egging me on. She thinks I was slightly ridiculous, and she wants to read my account of it. However, I’m sure some of y’all can relate, particularly if you’ve ever breastfed.
I am excellent at having babies and breastfeeding, and despite my above average production of milk (I pump out approximately 100 ounces a week in addition to nursing, which I’ve recorded on my Sprout app) I am perpetually concerned that my supply could suddenly dwindle. My son asks about my “milkers,” a term he came up with all on his own which not only accurately describe this particular part of my body also cements the fact that he’s brilliant. My husband sings the Wiggles song “I eat grass and I moo all day, I’m a cow” each time he sees me at the pump. And I am thankful to God every day for this gift, and I am very proud of it. I secretly admire my supply of frozen breast milk, which is organized by date in bins in our freezer.
So the day I noticed I wasn’t making enough, I went on a frenzy to alleviate the problem.
I happened to be far, far away from my abundantly stocked freezer.
The Quest for the Breast Pump.
I was visiting my family in WV, and brought all of the parts of my breast pump except what my husband calls the “boob horns” – which, after an extensive search of local retailers, I discovered are unavailable for purchase on their own, so I had to get a brand new breast pump, and opted for a travel one.
Then I noticed I wasn’t making as much as usual, panicked, and decided that the pump was the problem. Without boring you with the details, I’ll wrap this up in a sentence: I took several trips to Walmart, K mart, Target and GNC to get the combination of breastmilk supplies that I had at home to try to fix the problem – the exact breast pump and The Honest Company Lactation Boost vitamins.
The Onset of Panic.
Have you ever been around a friend that won’t stop talking about a breakup, and at first you were sympathetic but then the analytics of the downfall of their relationship get to be so tedious, you just can’t stand to listen a minute longer? I was that girl, analyzing the reasons my milk production could be low.
I googled and googled – what could be the cause of this sudden decrease?
How can I fix it? HELP ME, DR. GOOGLE.
The pump was not the problem.
Then, I started feeling a little off. “Off” quickly turned into freezing cold, shivering, falling asleep, and the rapid onset of flu-like symptoms. Since I did not have enough stored breastmilk to let someone else take care of my baby completely, I had to remain somewhat coherent.
My daughter is not a dainty little eater. She does not say, “oh I had a big side salad for lunch, I think I will just enjoy a snack for dinner.” No, my girl prefers an all-you-can-eat buffet for every meal of the day, which is currently every 3-4 hours.
I thought I had the flu or mastitis, but I could not be sure, because I was too weak to google my symptoms and diagnose myself. So, I went to bed hoping I would miraculously wake up symptom-free.
I woke up feeling worse. I went to an urgent care clinic with my mother and was confronted with the most hostile health care worker in the state of West Virginia, who announced that I had Strep Throat as she walked into the room in an accusatory tone that indicated she was bothered by the fact that I had contracted this bacterial infection and had the audacity to bother her during office hours. She offered no useful information and answered my questions in the most unhelpful way possible. For example, “How do I prevent my children from getting this? I am breastfeeding.” She replies, without looking up from her keyboard, “Minimal contact.” I wanted to throw all of the cheap doctor’s office pens at her like darts at this point, but I kept my composure and asked her to explain how I was to minimize contact with an infant who is nursing.
I thought strep throat was like a normal sore throat that’s uncomfortable but tolerable.
It feels like there is a fire ant colony in your throat, and they’ve put one fire ant in charge as lookout, and as soon as he sees that you’re about to swallow, he yells down to the other fire ants: “3-2-1 FIRE!” And they all sting your pharynx at the same time.
I assumed this pain would subside with a miraculous 21st century antibiotic used to treat the common bacterial infection of strep, but the fire ants were in charge for approximately three and a half days. The crescendo of the pain was probably Day 2, and I started googling and read a bunch of forums that confirmed strep is painful for 3-4 days. My main concern, of course, was producing milk, and I read that illness impacts production but it comes back. Even though this was not an accredited medical resource, it did make me feel much better. I chugged Mothers Milk tea three times daily.
When I started feeling better, my milk supply returned and all was right in my world that currently revolves around breastfeeding.
Now I have three breast pumps.