I first suspected something was wrong on Sunday evening. Breastfeeding has hardly been all fun and games, but that night I noticed my right side seemed a bit tender. During the day on Monday the soreness persisted, and some lumpiness made me think perhaps I had a plugged milk duct. I tried some of the tips to remedy the painful situation, but nothing seemed to help. As Monday evening wore on, I began to feel like absolute crap all over. I got chills despite our house being comfortably heated, my temperature was a slightly elevated at 99.6, and I had developed a raging headache. After pumping at 4:00am, I was feeling so horrible that I was unable to fall back asleep. I checked my temp again and this time it showed I had a fever of 102, which confirmed that this had indeed escalated to a breast infection. The infection is actually in the duct, not the milk itself, so not only is it ok to continue to nurse, it is recommended to do so frequently to try and clear out the plug. Trust me when I say that having an infection in a lactating breast HURTS, and it is extra painful when the baby nurses.
I called Tracy in Botswana to give her the low down, and she echoed what I had read online which was that although there was nothing a doctor could do to help unplug the ducts, I did need to get antibiotics for the infection. The next 24 hours were a blur - nursing or pumping every 2 hours during the daytime, and getting up every 3 hours during the night. (For those who have not had babies yet, feeding sessions are always timed from start to start, not from finish to start, so "every 3 hours during the night" means I was only sleeping 2 - 2 1/2 hours at a stretch.) By Wednesday afternoon the pain was still present, and to make me feel even worse, it had now become obvious that the blockage had significantly affected my production. By the end of the night the inevitable came to fruition as we had to supplement young Spencer's diet with a little formula, because there simply was no more milk. On Thursday I was able to get ahead of him in the morning as I pumped extra during his long sleeps, but he caught up during his afternoon and evening clusterfeeding sessions and again we needed to give him a few ounces of formula before he went to sleep for the night. On Friday things took a small turn for the better as one of the plugs finally dislodged. But production has not returned to where it was before, and Spencer again needed an ounce or so of formula to top him off for the night.
I'm not sure at all where that leaves things now. I'm still trusting that this setback will soon be behind us. But so far it's been a slow and painful road to recovery with a lot of frustration and tears mixed in as well.
I should definitely mention the couple of bright spots this week. Before things turned to absolute crap, Spencer & I went out to lunch with Carol & Brian and Kim & Chloe. It was quite enjoyable to socialize with other mommies and babies, and we hope to do more of those before I return to work. Carol said she had seen that the Pottery Barn Kids menorah (like the one Hunter brought over when we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah here) had gone on sale, but when we tried to order them, they were actually sold out. We called all over, but struck out finding any left in stock anywhere. Somehow my mom managed to locate a few in an outlet store in Alabama - so now Spencer, Brian and Gail's grandson Zack will get to enjoy them later this year. And finally, after hanging out in the house and feeling crummy for days, last night the three of us went out to dinner at Cafe Red Onion. I spotted Rebecca who recently moved back to Houston. We last saw each other before she left in 1997 (?) and have really only kept in touch through holiday cards. Since that time, we've both gone from single to married with kids - two boys for her, one for me. I brought her over to our table to say hi to the boys, but Spencer had just woken up and was crying for food, so we couldn't hang out and chat but we did agree to make plans to get together soon!