A week later I was discharged from hospital. The pain had not gotten better. In fact as my milk came in properly the pain was constant, and all consuming. I had been put on a breast pump before I left Hospital to give my nipples a break (as the LC was convinced I was latching on incorrectly) but even this was sheer torture. My nipples burnt under my bra and I tried to smile through it all, all my friends were without children but sort of at an age where it seems like a good idea and I didn’t want to scare any of them off.
Determined to not give up on breastfeeding, and increasingly sure that the LC was no better informed than I was at why my boobs hurt SO FUCKING MUCH I decided I would try my first at home feed the way nature intended. I sat in the gorgeous replica Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair I had so lovingly chosen to be my breastfeeding chair, breathed in a deep reassuring, nerve steeling breath, latched my little guy on … and screamed. Literally screamed so loud, so shrill and so ear piercing that Hunter started the scream in shock at the noise. So with him screaming and me screaming we got through our first at home feed together.
I continued on in that fashion for every feed that night. I was home alone as my partner had broken his leg and was in emergency doped up on Ketamine until they could get him in to see a specialist surgeon. By daybreak I was vomiting in fear of feeding, gagging on each breath and still screaming in agony and shame of my extreme failure as a human at every latch. It was terrible, surreal and yet so real- made worse by the fact that my screams startled my baby, and each time he startled he would un-latch, and so we would have to start over again, multiple times. I realised enough was enough and it wasn’t just me being weak willed when Hunter started spitting up breast milk that was crimson with my blood.
That day we went to the doctor for his first routine checkup, and I was so sore and tired I couldn’t think straight. I was also in so much boob pain I couldn’t pick my son up to my chest. The GP looked at the red hot rash escaping out of my blouse and asked to see my boobs- I hadn't even lifted my shirt over my head when he said what my LC's should have known, and what I was too feverish to figure out on my own. I had Mastitis. Bad. I should also note that Hunter was dehydrated, and the GP said I had to supplement his feeds with water and formula or he would get very sick, very quickly.
The pain was unreal. Sublime, beautiful and clear- so perfect in its throbbing, aching, heat that I can't liken it to any thing else I have ever experienced- except perhaps that moment when the steam you were using to iron the collar on a shirt escapes over your fingers, or you fall on your shins onto the serrated edge of the escalator step or you slash your arm on a sharp branch while being extremely sunburnt to the point of blistering… except unlike these things it was constant - a choir singing a tuneless legato of unceasing agony.
I was given some painkillers and a prescription for antibiotics. I thought I would getter in a day or so.