Monday, August 17, 2009

Near miss

I spent most of Saturday feeling really tired, the sort that leaves you utterly unmotivated to move, let alone leave the house or fulfill your parental responsibilities. You would expect any parent of a seven week old to feel this way, even one so lucky as to have a spouse who let them go back to bed and sleep until noon that day. My right breast was hurting as well, but I didn't think much about that since I've been fighting thrush, which can cause shooting pains. Despite that, I hauled us to the park and back, and once we were home, took Alec into the bedroom with me to share a nap. When I woke up, I felt even more tired and I realized I was shivering, despite being under the covers and having a small heat extruder on top of me. So I took my temperature - 102. And then I looked at the breast that had been hurting and discovered it had a large red and blotchy spot. This was starting to look an awful lot like mastitis.

Argh. I debated calling the doctor, given the high likelihood that it would result in having to spend Saturday evening cooling my heels on the Group W bench in an inner-city ER. With that in mind, I decided that waiting 12 hours for antibiotics wouldn't kill me, and spent the rest of the evening alternating warm compresses and pumping. I'm just as glad I did, because while I still felt lousy when I woke up the next day, my fever was gone and the red spot was much smaller. I spent the day pumping frequently again, and today the redness is pretty much gone.

So apparently it was a mild infection that my body fought off on its own. Whew. But now there's the issue of what brought it on. The most likely cause is that I'm not pumping enough, which I'm not sure what to do about. I'm pumping just about as much as I can during the day. Occasionally I'll go too long when I probably could have fit a session in, but mostly I'm doing the best I can carving out pumping time while caring for a baby that won't be put down and a preschooler. The only real time to add a session is in the middle of the night, which everything I read on exclusive pumping says I should be doing but I haven't on account of it would kill me dead.

I'm not a good sleeper. It takes me a long time to go sleep and I wake up easily, but it takes me a long time to really be awake. And once I've been woken up and had to move around and be functional for too long, it takes me a long time to go back to sleep. It wasn't much of a problem when K was a baby because she nursed at night, so I just pulled her into bed and while I couldn't sleep through it, at least I was able to lie down and not be too awake. With Alec, I've mostly been able to give him a bottle lying down in bed, and while I occasionally lose my grip, it usually works fine and we're both back asleep within 45 minutes. If I have to get up and pump, the odds that I'm going to really wake up and have trouble going back to sleep are going to go way up. But if I don't do it and getting mastitis turns into a persistent problem, it's either going to be that or giving up pumping.

For the moment, I'm going to try to militant about not letting too much time go by during the day and making sure that I get up promptly in the early morning - I think part of a factor in the infection was that I was lazy and stayed in bed a lot longer than I should have both Friday and Saturday. Hopefully that will do.

What's clear is that bottlefeeding is definitely the right choice for now. When I switched Alec to a faster flow nipple, he went from drinking 20 ounces a day to 35. He's backed down to 30 now, since apparently he had some catching up to do for a while. But in three weeks he's gone from skinny little arms and legs to chubby, meaty limbs with deep creases at his wrists and a pleasing double chin. Instead of going and off the bottle and taking two hours of fussing and dozing to get a feeding down, he dispatches them in 20 minutes. Clearly he wasn't getting enough, and if he couldn't get enough food from a slow-flow nipple, he certainly wasn't going to do it through exclusive breastfeeding. I'd still like to try and get him breastfeeding part-time, but I've been reluctant to try when I'm trying to get rid of thrush. If that means our opportunity to get him back on the breast has passed, that makes me a bit sad but we'll survive. I'd rather have a chubby, happy little boy.

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