There is really never a good time to get mastitis. I mean, let’s be honest here. An infected breast? That is never, ever fun.
I had mastitis about a week or so after Beckett was born. It started with chills. I couldn’t get warm, though it was not cold in the house. I put on a sweatshirt, snuggled in closer to David, who was in the bed with me, and desperately tried to go back to sleep. Eventually, it was time to get Maggie up for school. I got up to try to help get her ready, but I was so cold and so chilled that my hands were shaking. I couldn’t lift her. I could barely stand up. Now, I realize that this was a week after giving birth, but I had never experienced anything quite like that. I took my temperature at one point, but the thermometer told me that my temperature was normal. Okay, I thought. Maybe it was some mild anemia or something.
That afternoon, my midwife was stopping by for a home visit and to take some blood for the newborn screening. (My midwives did home visits after Beckett was born at home! It was great!) I told her about my symptoms, and she immediately took my pulse, which was high. Then she had me take my temperature again. Surprise! I had a fever.
Now, since I was in those early, newborn days of nursing, both of my breasts were sore. There was really no clear distinction between “sore breast” and “regular, overly-full, engorged breast.” So we just had to guess that this was mastitis. The midwife held Beckett while I took a shower and tried to hand-express some milk. Then when I had put on some clean clothes, she shooed me back to bed, brought me some orange juice and other Vitamin C-rich foods. She gave me a prescription of Vitamin C, hot compresses on the infected breast (or both, since we didn’t know which was infected), lots of sleep, and LOTS of nursing. If the fever wasn’t going down after 24 hours, I would need to get an antibiotic.
So I slept. I drank orange juice, and I stuffed a heating pad in my shirt while I napped. And that night, about 24-hours after my symptoms started, my fever broke. I was sweating and tired, but my fever was going down and I had stopped shaking. I thought, “well, I guess that’s my nursing complication this time around.”
Yesterday was a very good day. I’ve been busy lately, in the good way. I have some new clients coming online, and some new and interesting projects that are taking my focus away from the interwebs (consequently, I have failed to write much on the blog lately.) I had a productive meeting in the morning, answered some emails, and the writing came easily and fluidly. In the afternoon, after Maggie came home from school, we decided to take a walk. So I strapped Beckett into the Ergo, and we set out.
It was in the high 80s in Memphis yesterday, which means that by the time we got back from our walk, I was covered in sweat. I walked into the house and felt the chill of the air conditioning. Then I went about getting the kids dinner, getting the kids into bed, and making dinner for David and me. By the time we sat down to eat, though, I had started to feel “off.” My skin was prickly and overly sensitive. My left breast felt sore and engorged. I felt tired, but it was the evening, and I always feel tired at the end of the day. As the evening wore on, I became cold. I put on socks to keep my feet warm. I put a sweatshirt on over a long-sleeved shirt and then huddled under two (2!) blankets, though the thermostat told us it was 77 degrees in the house.
This started feeling familiar. But I was in denial. At one point I took my temperature. 99.6. A half hour later it was 100.6. I made my way to bed after washing down a Vitamin C supplement with a glass of orange juice. In bed, I stuffed a heating pad on the inside of my shirt and tried to sleep. After about an hour, I woke up, feeling terrible. I roused Beckett, who was sleeping like a champ, and nursed him for a while while he slept.
At some point during the night, I woke up, drenched in sweat. I had to get out of bed to change all of my clothes. Rather than change my pillow cases, I just turned the pillows over. When I woke up this morning, my fever was back down to 99.2 degrees. It looks like maybe I have had my nursing complication for the quarter.
David is going out of town this weekend. He left this morning, in fact. We loaded the kids into the car at 6:30am and drove to the airport. I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, but it’s clear that I’m on the mend. So I’ll survive to take care of the kids for the next couple of days until David gets back.