If it’s not one thing, it’s mastitis

That is how I felt on Saturday. And Sunday. Actually, that pretty much sums up my attitude for this week. As you recall, Dear Reader, last Tuesday, the docs recommended we supplement Baby Girl’s feeding with formula. That made me feel like a failure, but we did it and Baby Sweet Potato took to the bottle like no one’s business. That made me happy — it was one fewer thing to worry about. But then the breast pump seemed to fail. And we had just bought it (the Ameda Purely Yours $150 pump — I highly recommend it thus far, despite the previous sentence – stay tuned!). I tried and I tried and I couldn’t get it to suction properly. I troubleshot, using the manual, but it was useless. Or so my postpartum brain thought. Then Aaron took a look and asked me about a part the manual deemed ‘critical.’ Well, sure enough, this ‘critical’ part had a big chunk taken out of it. In fact, it looked like someone had snipped off a piece of the critical plastic with scissors. Part replaced — because the Ameda Purely Yours comes with more than one critical part — and holy suction! I thought I was going to lose a boob in that thing! Hooray for fixed breast pump on Saturday morning!

And then, sometime around noon, I said, “Hey, my left breast really hurts.” [Actually, I said this before the breast pump was fixed but allow me some poetic license here, would you?] Aaron said, “Maybe it’s mastitis.” I’m pretty sure I told him to shut up. About ten minutes later I said, “I feel really sick to my stomach.” Aaron said nothing. About ten minutes after that I said, “I’m freezing – I have serious chills,” and I curled up under the comforter. It was 80 degrees outside. I looked up mastitis symptoms on my phone. Pain in one breast. Nausea. Chills. Fever around 100.4. I took my temperature. 100 degrees. Ugh. Mastitis it is.

I called the nurse on call — it being Saturday — and after answering one billion questions, she said she would call the doc on call and ask him to call in a prescription for antibiotics. If he wouldn’t do that, though, she’d call me back. I started to get dressed because we were already late for the St Patrick’s Day lunch my gracious aunt and uncle were hosting so that my other wonderful aunt and cousins could meet Baby Girl. Before I could even find a top to wear (though, honestly, this can take some time), the nurse had called me back, telling me the doctor thought I should be seen in person. I was told to head to Urgent Care.

I started to cry. I was in pain, I felt like crap and I had to go to the west side to sit and wait for a doctor to write me a prescription for antibiotics. This meant Aaron and Baby Girl would have to stay home — Aaron had the good sense to recognize that Sweet Potato should not sit around in sickly Urgent Care just for the fun of it (I admit, I was about to bring her with me — I hadn’t really thought it through). I thought maybe I could get through Urgent Care quickly enough to get back home and pick up the rest of my nuclear family and race over to see my closest relations. That was not in the cards. Super boo.

When I got to Urgent Care, I was told it is an hour wait to see a doctor. The woman says this to me as if she is half-expecting me to say, “Well, then, never mind. I thought I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoon here, but if it’s an hour, I guess I’ll just go to the mall.” I look around. The place is packed and almost every single person is wearing a mask. With tears in my eyes, I find myself a mask, thinking I am going to go home with a prescription for antibiotics and a case of the flu that I am then going to transfer to Molly, which will cause all of us to return to Urgent Care this evening. This is just a brilliant plan. Thanks, doc on call. I wait and wait and wait. Finally, I am called into triage. A nurse takes my temperature and asks about my symptoms. I relay them all again. My temperature is now 100.6. She tells me she is going to move me up on the ‘list,’ but there will still be some people ahead of me. Oh, I see. I have just been seen to determine when I will be seen. I suppose that’s what triage is.

I wait. And I wait. And I wait. And sure enough, after just over an hour has passed, I am called in to another nurse. My temperature is now 101.4. I again relay my symptoms. My voice is hoarse and weak. I feel a little faint. Finally, the doctor comes in. Again, I am asked about my symptoms. She asks me if I have a fever. I go through all three temperatures that have been taken. She looks at my left breast for about 15 seconds, tells me I have a gigantic fissure in it (she may have said “good-sized”) and tells me she’s putting me on the best mastitis antibiotic around. And that is that. Actually, she’s a super nice doctor and we chatted a bit about her two year-old son and Molly and all that stuff. But still. I am not clear on why I needed to come in in the first place when, other than the multiple temperature readings, and the 15 second breast exam, nothing transpired that was different than what had been thoroughly gone over on that first telephone call to the nurse.

After I was released, I headed to Walgreens to pick up the prescription (usually I like to use Community Pharmacy, but I was not going to head downtown after all this). The doc had told me to pick up some probiotics, as well, so this meant I had to google ‘probiotic’ to make sure I knew what I was looking for in the supplement aisle (I thought maybe just yogurt would do the trick). I finally settled on one (I think there were two choices) and headed to pick up the prescription. Of course, it’s not ready because putting 40 pills in a bottle takes a lot of time. Finally, it is ready and the pharmacist hands it over to me saying, “Some birth control pills won’t be effective when using this.” I say, scoffing, and in an odd instance of revealing personal information, “I’m breast feeding.” I’m not totally clear on why I said this and I know, Dear Reader, that breast feeding is not an absolute barrier to conception and I feel lucky that the pharmacist didn’t school me on this right in the check out line. I think what I had meant to say was, “I had a baby two weeks ago and I have to supplement and my boobs are dripping milk as we speak and my other parts are dripping God knows what and I haven’t had more than two hours of sleep in a row for fifteen days and now I have mastitis. I’m using the very best birth control I know. And I’m pretty sure antibiotics will have absolutely no effect on it.” He wasn’t really listening to me, though; someone in the drive-through required his attention.

I returned home sometime after three o’clock and felt that I immediately needed to start pumping. Aaron tells me my aunt and cousins are going to swing by on their way out of town and want him to hold Molls out the window a la Michael Jackson and Blanket. I think, “But we live on the first floor,” and head to the pumping station. Aaron and my loving relatives have a nice, albeit brief, up-close visit with Baby Girl and AO soon returns with the sweetest little stuffed animal chick and fun animal book. So thoughtful, those relatives of mine. [Jane, Stacy, I’m looking at you.] Anyway, after having some waterworks over the failed visit, my breast pain and just general malaise, I realize the medication already seems to have started working. I no longer feel sick, though my boob is still too tender. On Sunday, things are even better. And late Sunday night, I even feed Baby Girl from the infirm boob – just in time for AO to start back to work on Monday.

I find myself wondering, frequently, how single parents do all of this. I am amazed by them. And frankly, a little freaked out.

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2 Responses to “If it’s not one thing, it’s mastitis”


  1. 1 Mary Lloyd March 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Wanted to be first in line on this post to say that you have been such a great Mom during all this. And yes, there will be sleep in your future. It really does happen.

  2. 2 kateandgracie March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks, Mom. This means a lot. I love you. Also, I love you for stopping by today to bring me a diet Coke and to use your baby whispering powers on Molls. We both loved it!


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