Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mixed Messages from Lactoland

So I gave birth again a week ago.  (Yay! More on that later...)  And breastfeeding has been as much of a challenge and a pain as last time, only this time I was expecting it and I know more about it.  I thought it might be too early for thrush, but my hubby brought it up to the hospital LC who agreed - because of my history, because of Parker's recent yeasty rash, we have yeast all over our house, in our family and well-established in my system.  So she got me some APNO, the OB got me a one dose Fluconazole pill, she suggested vinegar rinses, lots of out in the air time for the girls, and various other things that we're working on and seem to be working how they are supposed to be working for yeast, so feeling confident that is what it is, its just slow going.  In all likelihood, I've had massive amounts of yeast in my system for years and have just gotten used to it.  Maybe its even causing other problems I've just come to accept...  I want to get rid of this stuff.  I want it gone and I want to heal and I would like to be able to know what breastfeeding is really supposed to feel like.  I've never known breastfeeding without thrush.  That makes me feel all kinds of sorry for myself.

I never rated my post-op pain higher than about a 5 or a 6.  Breastfeeding for me is an 8 or a 9.  This is what I'm dealing with.

My intactivist/lactivist friends wish me congrats on my perfect, whole son and I give them a little update.  And ask for any of their wisdom on thrush.  Any odd tips or tricks I may not have heard of.  They mention APNO and various other things I'm already doing, but some pretty stark mixed messages come into play that are very frustrating for me, as a mom struggling to breastfeed.  I wish they'd get their story straight.

Horrible mixed message #1 - PAIN.  You'll read everywhere that breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt, its not supposed to hurt, its not supposed to hurt.  I suppose they want the naive first time mom to not be scared to breastfeed because of pain.  But the second you breastfeed and find it very painful, it seems every lactivist in the world comes out of the woodwork and tells you its normal.  She'll tell you how very very painful it was for her at first, or when she got mastitis or a clogged duct and whatnot and you just have to feed through the pain, clench on to something, say some choice four letter words and trust it will get better.  It did for them in a week/two weeks/one month.

So breastfeeding does not hurt.  Except when it does.  Then its totally normal.  I see.

Horrible mixed message #2  - Breastfeeding is free!  But once you have a problem, you're advised to see a lactation consultant, maybe another doctor for second opinions, more lactation consultants "It took 8 different lactation consultants to find my son's obscure kind of tongue-tie"  That sort of thing.  I don't think these ladies understand the going rates for lactation consultants in my area.  And they want me to see 8 or more of them till someone maybe tells me something different?  That's a far cry from free.

So breastfeeding is free.  Unless you encounter any booby traps.  Then you can't put a price on achieving a healthy breastfeeding relationship.  Priceless quickly starts to sound like bottomless money pit to my ears.

Horrible mixed message #3 - We're here to support you.  That's nice, but I was also told to surround myself with boob people who successfully breastfed.  And not to listen to or associate with those that have "failed to breastfeed"  Really?  Such an ugly word.  Fail.  Fail.  Fail to breastfeed.  That really really disconcerted me.  So if my best efforts to do this do not result in the dreamy wonderful normal breastfeeding relationship that *I* so desperately want, you will be telling other moms not to associate with me?  You will refer to me and my ilk as a failure and you will shun me.

This is why I could never be a lactivist.  I just couldn't look at someone like me, crying for the umpteenth time on her couch in horrible desperate pain, wiping her blood off the cheek of her newborn and think of her like that.  I don't know how anyone with human decency and compassion could.

When I ask for help, I don't need you to cheerlead.  I need practical tips and advice.  I need down and dirty details that relate to my condition.  I don't need re-diagnosis when I've consulted with professionals in person and agree with their assessment.  I don't need people to tell me not to feed my baby one way when I can't feed him any other for now.

This is ultimately about the baby.  My boobs are a detail, a supporting player.  The baby is the star of the show here and I took home a baby that was gaining weight, peaceful and content, not a sign of a health problem on him.  Yes, I gave him formula from day 1.  I did.  Because from day 1 the pain was right back where it was the last day I put my first son to the breast.

I didn't cut my baby because I see no point in needless suffering for him.  I'm supplementing formula when I can't handle the pain of breastfeeding because I see no point in needless suffering for me.  Why can't some people see the parallels?

Baby and I are both happy and healthy.  Nothing should interfere with that.  Not even breastfeeding.  Once I exhaust every reasonable avenue for a solution to my thrush issues, if all I'm left with is formula... So be it.

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