Mother’s Guilt

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My boobs have been quite the topic of conversation lately. My husband talks about them to his brothers, his work colleagues, his parents. I talk about them to my friends, my parents, Johns parents, the list goes on. Ever since I got this dreaded lump which turned into mastitis our world has revolved around my boobs. Specifically the dodgy left one.

As I sit here, nearly 10pm and type this I want to scream I’m done. I’m in agony. Sophie has fed just about non stop for 7 hours. She hasn’t slept when she wasn’t feeding. I can’t even begin to describe the pain I’m in. At the moment childbirth seems like a breeze.

Basically I want to give up. I want my milk to bugger off to wherever it came from. I want to be able to sleep on my side without pains in my breasts. I want to get back into bed after a feed & not have to pack my bra with ice packs. I want to pick my baby up and hold her & not wince at the pain. But I feel an immense amount of guilt. I’ve got milk so I should be using it. I should breastfeed for at least 6 months. Why? Because that’s just what I feel I ‘have’ to do. I’ve never & will never judge a mum for not breastfeeding. But I just can’t seem to take the failure to breastfeed judgement off myself.

I wake on Saturday and after a crappy night feel no better, and neither does my boob. I called the Lactation Consultant who came over and gave me news I didn’t want to hear. “I’m pretty sure you’ve got an abscess”. To cut a long story short it turned out my Obstertrician was on duty that weekend at the hospital so after some phone calls we got a hold of him and he agreed to see me in the birthing suites.

After an ultrasound it was confirmed that indeed I did have a breast abscess. 2.5 inches wide and 1.1cm deep. After telling me he’d never drained a breast asbcess before my obstertrician did just that, and drained it. 2 needles and a near heart attack later I was relieved that the lump should be well on its way to buggering off.

Then after a check up visit to the doctor this morning I was upset but not surprised to learn that the bloody abscess had filled up again. It seems my left boob is a cool place to hang out. Thankfully the doctor was straight on the phone to a Breast Surgeon, and there I was off to another doctor. As I sat in the Breast Surgeon’s office thinking I’d have to go in for surgery, Sophie started to get restless. Yep, it was coming up for her feed time. I just wanted to cry. I’d realised I’d forgotten to pack wipes as I sat there and listened to Sophie’s bottom play the drums. The lady sitting next to me began to giggle, and I figured I may as well laugh too!

Thankfully I wasn’t whisked off for surgery, the surgeon drained it again, confident he had got it all. And I tell you what, I bloody hope he got it all. 4 needles stuck in my boob in 3 days is just about all I can handle.

So even after all this I’m still breastfeeding. They in fact recommend that you keep feeding. A part of me wants to give up, but a bigger part of me wants to keep going. If I have to go through all this again though I’m not sure I’ll feel the same. If this has taught me anything, it’s that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. And with my gorgeous baby girl as motivation, I know we’ll be fine.

  • Megan @ Writing Out Loud
    November 8, 2010

    Oh no :(

    I had a breast abscess when I was 15. I have no idea why or how, but I did, and I left it so long (in denial) I had to be operated on.

    I then had mastitis when I was breastfeeding. And cried and cried when everyone told me I had to ‘feed through it’.

    Two horrible occurrences, years apart. Together, they would be the worst thing ever.

    You CAN get through this. It can only get better.

  • Cate
    November 8, 2010

    :( Hang in there. I always laugh at people who say breast feeding doesn’t hurt if you do it right – but in the start – IT DOES! Especially with mastitis. I can tell you though, as someone whose boobs have sustained enough kids to fill a small kindy class over nearly 20 years, IT DOES GET BETTER!

    Will always be available to cheer you on should you need it and chat about your boobs at will!

  • Melbourne Mumma
    November 8, 2010

    I had terrible mastitis too but not an absess…well I don’t think so, but I ended up with a 40 degree temp and on antibiotics. Totally agree the pain is worse than childbirth! They never tell you these things, do they?

    Please try not to be too hard on yourself, though. I felt the guilt with my first – had so much trouble breastfeeding I expressed every feed for 6 months to meet the World Health Org’s ‘standard’.

    With my second, the breastfeeding was OK but encountered acute recurrent mastitis…and he was on formula from 2 months of age.

    In the end, both my boys are healthy, smart little cookies. Ironically, my second boy has been ill much less than my first was, who was breastfed! Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Best of luck with it all! xx

  • life in a pink fibro
    November 9, 2010

    You are doing brilliantly! All that and you’re still hanging in there? Cate is right. It does get better. And then it’s the world’s easiest take-anywhere meal. Do your best – it’s all anyone can do. And if you are completely overwhelmed by it all, give yourself a break. You have to look after yourself so you can look after Sophie.

  • Shelley
    November 9, 2010

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a rough time of it. I persevered at the other end of the scale for four months when I didn’t have enough milk for Missy. Breastfeeding is like a box of chocolate – you never know what you’re going to get! x

  • Naomi
    November 9, 2010

    Don’t you love how after a baby, boobs become something altogether different, and an acceptable topic of endless conversations!

    You are doing brilliantly! And you even managed to laugh a little. Hang in there if you can, it is the most convenient meal on tap. Breast feeding is bloody hard work for a while, and you have done it harder than I ever had to.
    It’s a roller coaster of lack of sleep, sore boobs, and mother guilt… a combination no one can describe unless they have been there. You are doing the best you can and then some, but this is why formula is there – if it’s needed it nourishes your baby. So listen to your body and yourself.

    And I am always around on twitter if you need to chat about boobs! :)

  • Mel
    November 9, 2010

    You really think breastfeeding is going to be easy when you go to your classes when your pregnant and they show you how to breastfeed! It turns out its the complete opposite!!!

    I breastfed only for a month with my little boy as i could no longer take the cracked, bleeding half sucked off nipples! I like you had so much guilt over not being able to breastfeed like I thought I should be able to. In the end i had to weigh up what I thought was best for me and my child and i decided that the anxiety I constantly had about breastfeeding was not healthy for me or my baby.

    The constant worrying about when the next time he was going to need a feed was stopping me from truly enjoying my beautiful precious bundle of joy. I had so much guilt about stopping and people were constantly telling me to hang in there it will get better but it felt never ending and I felt like people were constantly judging me for wanting to stop.

    In the end I felt so much relief when I stopped breastfeeding and believe for me it was the best choice for me to make.

    If you can push through it then good on you but if it all becomes too much and you choose to stop there is nothing wrong with that either! Just remember you know whats best for you and your daughter!!!

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