We made it. I doubted that we would make it many times, but Miss Kate and I are still going strong breastfeeding at a year. It was a tough ride, but I’m so glad we stuck with it.
I had an easy time nursing Leopold. I always had enough milk, that hungry little man gained like a champ. I didn’t have a bout of mastitis, a clogged duct, a nursing strike, anything. With Kate, things started out great, but about three months in, I had a terrible clogged duct in my left breast and I couldn’t get a single drop of milk out for about 14 hours. Eventually I was able to unclog it with a hot shower, hot compress, massage, then a dangle feed (literally dangled my breast over while she was lying in bed) on Christmas eve last year. From then on I had horrible pain on and off on my left side that would be awful for a few days, then go away for a week. I would lie awake at night with a boob that ached horribly, so I would massage and compress, hand express, repeat. I had mastitis. Kate refused to nurse during the day for about a month around 5-6 months. I thought about chopping my left boob off. I wondered if you could nurse on one side exclusively.
Kate was diagnosed with a milk (dairy) allergy. I was instructed to remove dairy from my diet. I am mostly diary – free, though the occasional slip up doesn’t seem to affect her much, so I do have a cheat once a week or so. Usually a baked good (donut yesterday!). It’s been rough. sometimes I miss cheese so incredibly much, but for the most part it isn’t bad at home, when out and about at a party or a restaurant it can be a challenge for her and I.
We persevered. I finally contacted a LC, emailed a picture of my left nipple to her (as she requested. I’m fairly certain I can no longer run for public office.) about a month ago who verified I was dealing with a milk blister. Skin had grown over a milk pore and I had to remove that skin so that the clogged duct could clear up once and for all. I scrubbed the area vigorously with a washcloth. I took a sterilized needle to it. It was…painful. Clear liquid eventually came out of that milk pore, and it’s grown over again since, and I’ve cleared the skin away again.
Kate is still nursing around 3-4 times a day. There were many times I doubted we would make it to a year, but here we are. With Leopold, I started the weaning process around 13 months to start treatments, but with Kate’s dairy allergy and not needing to go back for fertility treatments on any timeline, I’m hoping that she nurses for a while longer and we have a much more calm transition. (Leopold chased me around crying and signing “milk.” I’m hoping it will be much less traumatic for both of us than that).
Here’s to nursing at a year …. being fish hooked, kicked, slapped, and hair pulled…and the rare sweet cuddle.