Tuesday morning, he went to work and I stayed home with baby. The pain was still there and I had a headache from failing to sleep well, so I canceled a day-trip I had scheduled for later that day, telling my would-be-companion that I thought I should take it easy just in case but didn't feel too bad. When I called the midwives, they thought it might be clogged duct and gave me some techniques to loosen it up. They asked me how I was feeling and I said I was just tired but didn't really feel sick. This was at 10:30 a.m.. The nurses told me that if it was a case of mastitis, an infection of the breast, that I would feel like I'd been hit by a truck. I told them that I didn't feel that way and hung up the phone. Two hours later, I called them back in tears because I was feeling so awful, telling them that I needed an antibiotic because I most certainly had mastitis and I was not dragging myself and my baby in to get them. I then called my husband and made him pick up my antibiotic and come take care of Ellie because I could barely take care of myself.
I haven't felt that sick in a long time. Within the hour and a half between my first and second calls to the midwives, my fever spiked to 100, my headache became debilitating, and my muscles were so sore that I could barely stand up. I didn't even need to look to know that I had the trademark red sploches that indicate a case of mastitis. Everything I ate made me nauseous and I had the chills, I still didn't feel warm wrapped up in a sweat suit under our down comforter. I was shocked at how bad things got and how quickly it escalated.
I was put on a 10 day round of antibiotics that I take 4 times a day. The nurses admonished me to be very careful about watching my symptoms and to go in if they hadn't gotten better within 48 hours because I would be at risk for developing an abscess which would require surgery.
Thankfully the antibiotics did their work and I've been feeling nearly normal for days now, and I was able to continue nursing throughout. If I hadn't known what mastitis was and looked like, I would have probably just thought I was sick and things could have been much worse.
This whole incident has reminded me what a privilege it is to be able to breastfeed my baby and that I need to take care of myself in order to take care of her. It's very easy for mothers, especially first time ones, to get entirely consumed by taking care of their little ones.
It also gave me the opportunity to step back and appreciate all the hard work I have had to put into maintaining a breastfeeding routine with my daughter. Some dyads are lucky enough to just pick up breastfeeding from the first latch without issue. This has not been the case with little Ellie and me
. We've had to work for the relationship we have, and it continues to ebb and flow. I know that without solid breastfeeding role models in my life (Vanessa! Maggie!) and a serious commitment to the process, I wouldn't be exclusively breastfeeding. It so true that what new moms need to be successful is lots of support and a committed family. I feel very lucky that my husband is extremely supportive and has done anything and everything to keep us breastfeeding, including informing himself (when I told him I forgot my pump once he said "Well, how good are you at hand expressing?) and taking care of me in any way so I can continue to feed her (I can't count the number of glasses of water he has brought to me, some at 4 a.m., just so I'm more comfortable when feeding her).
Breastfeeding is just as much a cultural/social issue as it is physical. This is why I'm choosing to write about my journey with it here, in the hopes that other mothers can see that while it's the most natural thing in the world, it requires constant commitment and dedication.
But boy, does it pay off. I have an excuse every 2-3 hours each day to sit down, snuggle my baby, and stare into her eyes. She has discovered her hands, so when she feeds she plays with my shirt or softly strokes my chest, fiddling with my necklace. It is the perfect bonding experience. Also thanks to breastfeeding, I managed to lose all of my pregnancy weight within the first two months. My body isn't the same as it used to be, but I'm off to a good start. Breastfeeding also reduces maternal rates of breast and cervical cancer. And plus, she's grown these cheeks:
Since I posted here last, I've also done a ton of cooking and a little documentation of it. For Christmas, I baked a loaf of clementine cranberry bread. Winter is citrus season and clementines are everywhere. I just love them because they are tiny (cute) easy to peel, nearly seedless, fragrant, and delicious. Two years ago I used them with cranberries to make a deliciously tart marmalade. This year I had the idea to make a sweet quick bread with them, and it turns out chef Anne Burrell had the same idea but with oranges instead of clementines. I slightly modified her recipe and brought it to my husband's family Christmas where it was welcomed and quickly consumed.
I snapped Ellie into the Boba and got cookin'.
modified from this recipe by Anne Burrell
- 2 cups a.p. flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick cold butter, diced
- the zest of 2 clementines
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup fresh juice from the clementines
- 2 clementines, peeled, segmented, and chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Dice the cold butter into small pieces.
Juice the clementines with a reamer. Rolling your citrus on the counter first will get you more juice. I got 3/4 c. out of four clementines.
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
All in all, we had a fantastic holiday in spite of the illness and some major fussiness from Ellie. (It turns out that she is very easily overstimulated and needs as much quiet as possible, or she'll scream for hours being unable to calm herself down. The only thing that we've found to consistently break her crying spurts is a bath, so I got to test out two foreign bathtubs this week.)
We're gearing up for a quiet new years and our second annual new year's brunch. I will certainly be making the cinnamon rolls again, and I can't wait to see what else my friends come up with this year.
I hope your holiday went well and you were surrounded by love and good food.