I am at the vet.  I have two dogs on leashes and my baby attached to my chest via baby bjorn.  He’s only five months old, but he looks ridiculously big in it already.  I’ve given the warning that “well, my dog tried to bite a gentleman this morning,” to which the vet nods attentively and casually steps back.  The dogs are receiving their kennel cough vaccines (late, as usual) because, as it turns out, our vet stopped sending notifications a few months back when he DIED unexpectedly after being stepped on by an elephant.  

I’m told that the new Bordetella vaccine is through the nose. Wonderful. Easy, pain free, in-and-out in no time.  But as it turns out, Ollie (the biter) will be receiving the shot version because “well, he bit someone this morning, so I wasn’t feeling great about getting in his face” the vet says.  That makes sense to me.  I assure him he’s never bitten a vet, but that seems to make no difference.  Meanwhile the baby has begun to cry, so I unconsciously settle into a sway and bounce accompanied by silly sounds and gentle “it’s okay honey”s.    We’re a bit of a three-ring circus I note, sort of to myself, but still out loud because I’ve lost the ability to think quietly lately. “Yes, I can see that,” says the vet.  I smile.  I’m, of course, very pleased to receive his secondary confirmation.

The other issue we’re dealing with at the vet is Kelsey (the non-biter)’s ears.  She keeps scratching and shaking them.   The vet has a high tech little camera that he puts down into the canal and we all get a good look at the canine inner ear.  It’s hairy in there.  And waxy.  And overall just gross, but the vet seems unscathed.  I’m mildly embarrassed by the waxiness, as if it somehow reflects poor mothering skills, but if the vet is feeling judgy about that, he doesn’t let on.

 

“I’m mildly embarrassed by the waxiness, as if it somehow reflects poor mothering skills, but if the vet is feeling judgy about that, he doesn’t let on. ” 

“It feels like my milk is made up of tiny shards of glass.  It hurts to nurse, it hurts to wear clothes, it hurts to sit motionless, and I’m afraid nursing will always feel this way.”

A quick little observation in the lab shows that Kelsey has a yeast infection in her ear.  The vet prescribes her an enzyme that he says “works wonders” on yeast infections, and should clear her up in no time at all.

My brain starts ticking.  This is where my story diverges from being one about dogs to being one about a nursing mama.  The thing is, I have thrush.  I’ve had thrush since the baby was born as a result of being overloaded with antibiotics during labor.  The way it has manifested itself is though extremely painful breasts and nipples, with a major sensation of burning.  It feels like my milk is made up of tiny shards of glass.  It hurts to nurse, it hurts to wear clothes, it hurts to sit motionless, and I’m afraid nursing will always feel this way.  And if that’s the case, even though I hoped to nurse for a year, I’m afraid I will give up.

For those of you unfamiliar, thrush is a yeast infection.  There are a few types of prescriptions that can be taken to knock it out, and a handful of herbal options also, but as it turns out, none have worked for me up to this point and I’m becoming increasingly nervous that I’ll never be rid of it.  Believe me, it’s not for a lack of trying either.  I have done all of the weird suggestions that have been offered to me: vinegar on the nipples, teabags on the nipples, probiotics orally and on the nipples, grapefruit seed extract on the nipples, coconut oil on the nipples, oil of oregano NOT ON THE NIPPLES (it will burn according to my sister, “like burn burn, like hole in your skin burn! Seriously Ellen, don’t do that”), gentian violet everywhere (Everywhere.  Good Lord it’s everywhere), and so on and so forth.

This is how I found myself reading scientific papers by nightlight at 9pm (yes, that’s the new mama’s 2am, it felt horribly late) researching the effects of canine ear medication on yeast suppression. The question was, of course, a very reasonable “yes, but can I rub THIS on my nipples? And will it work?”  And before anyone balks at the suggestion, I know I know, it needs to be washed off before the baby nurses!!! In the end, I didn’t take it for fear that it would somehow hurt the baby.  And I kept nursing as well, because I knew I would feel like a failure if I didn’t keep at it.  But for anyone curious, I did finally rid myself of thrush by going on a completely sugar free diet, which bored my taste buds to tears, but it worked.  At long last it worked.

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