This week has been a difficult week for breastfeeding Cutler. He’s 14 months now and I have no desire to wean him, although will our recent difficulties I would be lying if I said I haven’t considered it. I have. Teeth hurt.
My troubles began this past Sunday. Cutler and I co sleep, so I nurse him laying down. When he falls asleep one of two things can happen. Either he “passes out” and his mouth opens up wide allowing me to slip out, or he clamps down. The latter is what seems to be happening lately. He falls asleep, clamps down and I let out an instinctive yell “OW!”. That startles him and causes him to actually bite down pretty hard. I see this pattern happen and yet I’m helpless to stop it. When I try and pull out before he’s “passed out” he starts sucking vigorously again and we start all over again.
A few minutes after the bite I try to pull out again. Most of the time I’m successful, but not without a bit of damage. I’ve noticed little teeth marks on the top side of my breasts, just where I expected to see them. By Monday and Tuesday I was experiencing quite a bit of pain. Especially when he pulls back as he nurses. Hurts like hell! Felt like my skin was tearing. Upon further inspection, I was right. I have small slit-like tears at the base of my nipples. The right side is worse than the left. Can’t really explain that one. The mind boggler is that they are on the underside of my breasts. Which really doesn’t make sense, because when he nurses his tongue is thrust forward and covers his bottom teeth. At least, that’s what should be happening. I don’t know.
So anyways. I have open wounds that hurt crazy bad when he nurses. I’m talking toe curling, brings tears to your eyes pain. Then, I noticed a white spot on his bottom lip. Hmmm. My first thought was thrush. I checked in his mouth and didn’t see any signs. Only on the inner bit of his bottom lip. The spot changed too. At first it was big, then got smaller. Next to it was a red spot that almost looked like a blood blister, but a few hours later they both disappeared. Strange. I know thrush isn’t supposed to disappear that quickly, especially without treatment. So I call his doctor and she calls in some thrush medicine just to be on the safe side until I can get him in for an appointment. My doctor can’t see me until Thursday, 2 days from where we are in this story.
My lactation consultant advises me to pump off the side that is too painful to nurse on. That way I don’t lose my supple. She was right that it did hurt, but not nearly as much as nursing. I was able to nurse him off my left side then pump the right side and get 2 oz. The next time I pumped I got 2.5 oz. That made me feel better. I was terrified of losing my supply on my right side completely! He’s currently drinking it out of a sippy cup and nursing off the left side only, for now.
Tonight while I was taking a bath with Cutler he leaned over and wanted to nurse. Yelling out his “UH UH” sound, which translates “WANT NINNY”. We often nurse in the tub, I didn’t so much with my other two boys. I thought it was something that shouldn’t be done. Don’t really know why I thought that, just did. Now I realize what’s normal and acceptable is what works for me. I don’t have a problem with it, so why not let him. You know what I discovered? Nursing in the tub forces him to sit up. This means that the position of his teeth was different, and nursing didn’t hurt so much this time. His teeth didn’t dig in to the existing cuts that he created. Talk about a huge sigh of relief. Phew!
Want to see what I’m talking about? Look at these baby chompers. Now you know what all the fuss is about. It’s more than fuss, it’s like two sharp tiny little daggers. That’s what I’m talking about. Just look what he did to this apple today.
Now imagine that being your nipple. No, don’t. It’s not fair to do that to all of you. No joke, it hurts. So…where was I going with all of this? I know I had a point, oh yeah. The result from all this biting.
Well, let’s just say that I have cracks where cracks shouldn’t be. So one more day until my appointment and I need some relief! The Lanolin I’m using is nice, but it’s like keeping a cut wet, feels better, but it’s not healing. I asked around on twitter and some of the great ladies that meet up for #bfcafe suggested I try some Gentian Violet. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a deep violet liquid that you paint on your nipples. It’s anti-infective for treating minor cuts, scrapes and fungus infections, and thrush is a yeast infection. So I purchased some at a local pharmacy and hurry home to check it out. I dip in a q-tip and start painting it on. I thought it would absorb into my skin quickly, but it kinda lingers around the surface. Cutler wants to nurse before it has a chance to really soak in and I’m shocked by what I see! His mouth, tongue, lips and part of his chin are BRIGHT PURPLE! I mean, it looks like the boy got a hold of the inside part of a marker. Crazy purple. Here’s what my breast pads looked like.
That was after a brief moment of wearing them after putting the Gentian Violet on. They were covered after I had worn them for a while. This stuff doesn’t come out at all! I was able to get the purple off of Cutler’s chin with a bit of hand sanitizer.
Finally the day arrives when I see my doctor. I was convinced that it was thrush, but now the small white and red spots on Cutler’s lip have completely disappeared. I get examined, then he moves on to Cutler. Who is not his patient, but I’m grateful that he checks him out so we can be sure of the diagnosis. Then it comes, it’s not thrush. WHAT?!? So what’s wrong with me? Why are my nipples peeling and cracked? Why is weaning on the horizon when I dearly want it to be in the distance?
Apparently it’s more common than I had thought. I was surprised, but relieved to know that there is an end in sight to my pain. I found this great article that talks all about thrush and infections. It was very helpful. So I trek on on the road to recovery. Me and my purple nipples.