More than you ever wanted to know about my breasts

Alternatively titled: I sure hope my boss doesn’t use the internet

Alternatively titled: Assuming my boss doesn’t live under a rock (which I know to be true because he lives down the street from Kelsea and she lives on a street with houses, not rocks), I sure hope he doesn’t read my blog

Alternatively titled: To all those ladies who tried breastfeeding and it didn’t work out – believe me, I understand

Sometime Wednesday I developed a plugged duct in my right breast. Sorry kids, no pictures. Not for the first time by any means.  In fact, I’ve had enough now that as soon as one shows up I get to business.

I spent most of Wednesday night unable to sleep because I was in so much pain.  I nursed, I massaged, I heated, I pumped and I showered.  And when none of that worked I sterilized a needle and, as described by my therapist, performed self-surgery.  The milk blister was visible on my nipple so I popped it.

This was effective in the sense that I was able to drain about 90% of the lump in my breast.  This was not effective in the sense that I also managed to crack my nipple.  The crack was tiny and it didn’t bleed so I thought nothing of it.

Then yesterday morning Ruby’s spit-up was brown. Which is to say there was blood in it.  I called the advice nurse, gave her the data and we both agreed it was most likely blood from my nipple (even though I had never seen any).  She mentioned a few things to look out for and that was that.  I handled it well.  I even commented to my mom that I felt like I had an appropriate amount of anxiety.  I was concerned enough to ask, but I was holding myself together.

One of the things the nurse said to watch for was black, sticky poop because that could indicate internal bleeding.  So of course, Ruby’s next poop of the day was black and sticky.  Great.  I traded in my afternoon run for an extra dose of anxiety and a series of phone calls and emails.

The second nurse I talked to sounded like she had been smoking for the last 50 years.  She seemed unconcerned, but then again, she wasn’t overly concerned about smoking for 50 years.  So I asked her to talk to the pediatrician.

The pediatrician is of the opinion that it’s all the result of my bleeding nipple.  Yes, even though I have never seen a drop of blood come out of it or in any expressed milk.  Apparently there could be enough invisible blood getting through to cause all this.  I was instructed to pump and dump until my nipple heals so we can rule out anything more serious.

This, of course, means that Ruby’s milk supply was all of a sudden cut in half.  And poor, little Seborg* is now being subjected to the mother of all growth spurts.  All of us are hoping that Seborg can pick up the slack.  Sooner rather than later.  If he can’t, I suppose we will supplement with formula and hope the extra iron doesn’t color Ruby’s poop black.

The plugged duct meant that I had to skip yoga this week, and if we’re still on the singular boob program I will have to skip it again next week.  The pump is rubbing me raw, and I’m subjecting myself to water torture in order to support my milk supply.

But what I’m really looking forward to is re-introducing my crippled breast back into the picture after Seborg doubles his milk production. After all, we wouldn’t want him to miss out on the plugged duct party.

*For those of you that don’t know, Seborg is the name of my left breast.  Named, of course, after Dale Seborg, co-author of Process Dynamics and Control.  Don’t ask.

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15 thoughts on “More than you ever wanted to know about my breasts

  1. Oh, my. Your poor boobs! I had a few blockages, but nothing that required self-surgery – yikes! I certainly hope Miss Ruby’s poop turns back to a normal color soon so Seborg and whatever your right breast is named can get on with the program. 🙂

    • Yeah, the self-surgery wasn’t so bad, but all the aftermath is somewhat unpleasant… I don’t think I’ll try it again.

      Also – Mellichamp – that’s the right boob. 😉

  2. I love that your boobs have names but those poor things sure are having a tough time! OUCH is all I can think and I’m pretty sure I just read this whole blog with a cringing expression. I only ever had one plugged duct and it definitely hurt but nothing like what you’re going through! I hope it all gets better really soon and WAY TO GO for sticking it out!

    • Yes…this is really pretty awful for everyone involved. Ruby is not enjoying the lack of boob and that makes me sad. 😦

      One plugged duct – oh you’re so lucky! My mom had a ton of infections when she was breastfeeding. Thankfully I haven’t had an infection yet. Must be something in the genes.

      • Dang, that’s too bad that you’re having some of the same issues as your mom. Hopefully no mastitis but if that ever happens get on antibiotics ASAP! Poor Ruby, but POOR YOU! 😦

  3. That sucks, breastfeeding is really hard when it is ‘easy’! I totally get the whole supply regulation anxiety when one of the boobs is out of order, I have so been there. I had recurrent infections and plugged ducts the first year with Nora. I think I had 7 or 8 infections in a year. it was horrible. I had tons of cracked nipples too, so awful. The good news is it was only the first year (well, that might sound like bad news… but we did have 6 months of pain free, good nursing), all the issues did go away and i have so far not had any with Kendra… Not sure you want to know the biggest reason(s) i credit for the change in boob healthy though…

    • OMG that sounds awful! Thankfully this is my first crack and no infection yet, just tons of plugged ducts.

      Of course you’ve peaked my interest. What do you think made the difference for you?

      • For me the two biggest components I think have been no dairy and lots of cardio. Obviously everyone is different, so i do not think dairy would have the same effect for everyone. With Leah I could not have dairy because she was really sensitive to it and i did not have any of these issues, with Nora I had a lot more dairy and with Kendra I have been pretty good at avoiding it. As far as the cardio goes I think increasing my circulation was a huge key to keeping my nipples healthy and therefore avoiding plugged ducts and infections. It was actually with Kendra that I ran across a few friends who were having similar issues who’s doctors suggested they had Raynaud’s syndrome (I was diagnosed YEARS and years ago, I had not had symptoms for a long time). it is really hard to find any info connecting Raynoud’s and breastfeeding, but it does sort of make sense. Running is my answer to everything! It flushed out the body! Of course finding time to run with kids is not easy so workout videos are the next best thing. The bummer is no two people are the same so the answer for one is not always the answer for another, but the good news is that just because you face this once does not necessarily mean you will have the same issue with another baby or that you will never get past it this time either. And, if ultimately breastfeeding does not work out you can be proud of the battle you fought. You are one strong Mama!

        • That’s interesting about dairy. I’ve heard people say that’s helped with fussiness, but hadn’t heard anything about plugged ducts.

          It would be nice if it was cardio/running because I already do that! Unfortunately I guess that means it’s not my silver bullet…

          As much as this has sucked it was been an interesting science experiment. I learned that I’m producing 18 oz of milk a day out of the one boob. Ruby also went from spitting up huge volumes regularly to spitting up almost nothing at all. All this leads me to the conclusion that I’m probably producing more milk than she actually needs. I’m wondering if the plugged ducts show up when Ruby decides not to binge drink and I don’t completely drain my breasts.

          Fortunately this showed up now and not a couple months ago. I might have given up then. Now (aside from this whole fiasco) I feel like we have the hang of breastfeeding, and I’ve actually come to enjoy it. So it’s just a matter of sticking this mess out.

          • yeah, I had over supply with Leah. I wound up donating a ton of milk because it just kept coming. That and the dairy caused her to spit up a ton.

  4. You named your boob after one of the Process Dynamics and Control authors. That is just so like you.

    This all really sounds like it sucks. I’ve had a couple plugged ducts (throughout all my nursing- none with Daniel) but I’ve always been able to nurse/pump enough to clear them up. I hope things get cleared up soon!

    • You didn’t remember Seborg and Mellichamp? I named them in college…

      Yes, this has sucked. Ha. But I think we’re approaching the finish line. The duct is cleared, the lump is drained, Ruby’s poop is normal and I’ve decided that the crack is healed enough to go back to work tomorrow. Now the only thing remain to be seen is how Seborg fares when he returns to his normal schedule.

  5. Catching up on your posts but if it makes you feel any better…

    I was a perfect size 7 1/2 before having Kylie, now I am a size 8 to 8 1/2. Yes, pregnancy can make your feet bigger!

    Also, one thing to remember is that even if you don’t see any blood yourself Ruby is sucking so she maybe drawing it out of you. Same if you’re using expressed milk and actually a little worse since the pump sucks harder. It’s hard not to worry I know, but hang in there!

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