Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lactation Tsunami

It used to be I couldn't see my feet because of my belly. Now I can't see them because of my boobs.

This whole breastfeeding thing? It apparently doesn't come naturally to me. Why this should be a surprise when I could neither get pregnant nor give birth without modern medicine, I don't know. But there it is. That's my big struggle right now.

It's not the milk production. Trust me, that is not the problem. It takes one look at all the milk stains all over whatever shirt I'm wearing these past two weeks to put that theory to rest. Gah, no one ever tells you in all this Breast is Best madness what an absolute mess you're going to make. Maybe not everyone. Maybe just me. But dude, just, everywhere. I can't hold my son without, say, Rightie saying, "Now? We're doing this now????" very clearly and wetly--through whatever kind of nursing pads, layers of tank tops, and maybe a jacket. And then Leftie joins in--such a follower. Wannabe. And there I am, with a sleeping son that I half pray sleeps longer and half pray wakes up soon so my poor rock hard boobs can finally get some relief, and two giant wet rorsarch tests blooming down the front of my shirt that smell faintly of sour milk.

I'm hot like that.

I'm told this is a blessing, and really, I'm sure it is, this over-abundance of milk. And I'll believe it, as soon as I can channel these powers for good. In the meantime, I can only leave the house in short fifteen minute bursts but only if I bring a spare shirt in case I suddenly need to put on an extra (dry) layer while in the middle of Target.

Hypothetically speaking.

So, yeah, it's not the production. It's more the pain. I don't know if I have an extremely low pain tolerance (possible) or Howie has the power to suck dimples of a golf ball (possible) or both or something else entirely. All I know is that I don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of anyone because the grimaces I make and the whimpering that comes out of my throat while trying to line the whole thing up are mildly embarassing.

It's interesting, how breastfeeding is treated. Portland is a rough town for those who don't come to it like ducks to water. It's the town with the highest percentage of breast feeders, and it also hold the record for the longest average length of breastfeeding. There's a huge unspoken--and sometimes spoken--pressure to be part of the majority here. Don't get me wrong, I agree that breast milk is the best for my son, and I want him to have the best, but how many lactation consultants do I need to see before I am allowed to say the pain is too much? What if things don't get better after a month, as everyone has promised me (well, hoped for me)?

Things have started getting better on the pain front. Today was a good day. Yesterday, though--not so much. So we'll take it as it comes, and see what happens. I'd like to start not leaking through my breast pads, for a start--leaving the house for extended periods might help my sanity.


Katrina said...

Shove some incontinence pads down your bras, put on thick dark shirt and coat over top and get outside in fresh air to help your sanity. Relax is what they all say to help with the pain, yeah, bloody yeah as if I could do that. I found some music that helped with that. Having someone rub my shoulders while feeding also helped. Then again my laugh for the day was always standing in the shower (sometime while asleep as 2nd child didn't know how to sleep) watching milk hit the side of shower from several feet away quite amusing - did I mention I went totally insane while feeding???

kimberly said...

hugs... but don't get breast milk all over me!

Leah said...

It does get better, it really does. I remember toe-curling pain from those first few weeks of nursing. But it does get better. In the meantime, can you pump and freeze the overabundance?

kari said...

Oh, I'm pumping and freezing all right. I can get 5 ounces in about 10 minutes. AFTER feeding. In the evening.

Let's not even talk about pumping after feeding at 6 a.m.

Our pediatrician--god I love her--recommended a glass of wine before feeding. Somehow I suspect she doesn't mean EVERY feeding, however. Something about a glass of wine before the 9 a.m. feeding feels... I dunno... wrong.

Lee Ann said...

Lol rorsarch tests.

Hang in there. I hope it gets better soon and you can go outside.

Also, for what it's worth, I never felt that I smelled "faintly" of sour milk. Just straight up stank of it is more like it.

I am glad yesterday was a good day.

ETA: The word verification for this comment was "oogyny" which, for some reason, seems almost fitting. Would have been better if it were "ooboobie" but still.

Tamarine said...

Yeah, you know when something is described as "initial discomfort" that you're in for a peck of pain. It does get a lot better, though, and it's obviously the way to go. Stella is still nursing at two and a half years old.

Taamarin said...

Also, I had these -- I can't remember what they were called -- nipple guards for lack of a better word. Basically a piece of plastic that fit over your nipple. I've heard mixed reviews on them but they helped me.

kari said...

Oh, yeah, I have those. I knew I was in trouble when I shrieked with pain even WITH the nipple shield. The nurses said that Howie's a biter.

Em said...

And if he's a biter NOW imagine what he could do with teeth. Yikes!

sarah said...

i don't have much in the way of advice, but for the going crazy in the house...i'd love to come over, or have you come over, sour breast milk-stained shirts and all :)