I spent the first three months of my son’s life in pain every time I fed him. It’s something I still struggle to believe really happened because it seems so far away now and so awfully present at the same time. It’s only been since the 4 month mark that I’ve had days and feedings where I wasn’t in pain or discomfort.
I should start by saying, we’re currently finishing up another round of thrush medications. The Wee One is on liquid Diflucan (Fluconazole) and I’m on an oral Diflucan (Fluconazole) pill. When I begged our pediatrician for an answer on WHY we were still seeing white patches of yeast in The Wee One’s mouth he told me he didn’t know. He said most babies stop producing the extra amounts of yeast by now. Obviously, that didn’t make us feel any better. Mercifully, this time around the thrush has been a mere nuisance instead of a debilitating pain that threatened our entire breastfeeding relationship. Of all the problems an infant could have, thrush is not very extreme or scary and for that we are grateful.
But no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get rid of it, and we’re trying to do everything right.
Are you both taking a probiotic? (Yes, the good kinds that need to be refrigerated.)
Are you sterilizing his bottles, pacifiers, and other toys he sticks in his mouth? (Yes, every day.)
Are you washing your clothing with vinegar? (Yes, every load.)
Have you tried Gentian Violet? (Yes. Multiple times. It works, but clearly not well enough.)
Only time will tell if it comes back again after this round of meds. Since thrush has never seemed to bother The Wee One feeding-wise or comfort-wise, I feel like it has become my own personal mountain to defeat. This last time it took me over a week to admit to myself that the patches of white in his mouth were yeast and not milk residue. I tried so hard to will it away and pretend that the pain wasn’t creeping back into my body.
It makes sense that my current relationship with breastfeeding is heavily influenced by our battle with thrush. I am constantly aware of how his latch feels and how his mouth is positioned. I love watching him smile and laugh but I find myself distracted and searching for white patches on his cheeks.
The gratitude I feel for being able to nurse my son without tears is immense. I try not to take any moment for granted. Sometimes I close my eyes and relax into the closeness of nursing him. I relish holding him tight, smelling his sweet baby skin, stroking his adorable chubby cheeks.
His new favorite thing to do is play with my shirt or my bra straps while he eats. It’s so cute.
I feel so lucky to be in this place because in the beginning, I dreaded breastfeeding. And wasn’t only due to the pain. The first week or so after he was born felt suffocating to me. I could not imagine ever having time to myself again and I took it hard. Part of it can be attributed to baby blues but I do believe part of it was feeling like nothing but a milk machine. I didn’t like the weight of responsibility of ALL his needs and I felt alone.
It’s funny how caring for and meeting all his needs come so naturally to me now and I can’t imagine it any other way.
I’m not the only person to have had a rough start to breastfeeding and I won’t be the last. We need to be respectful of everyone’s decisions because we don’t know what they’ve been through. We don’t know their journey.
I’m finally starting to feel like this is a chapter I can close. There is room to breathe around my breastfeeding story, there is distant, and there is peace. The Wee One might be a yeast-maker but he’s happy and healthy, and the most painful days are far behind us.
We’ll do our best to get rid of thrush once and for all. And if not, we’ll attack it again. And again. But for now, enough.