[Easily grossed out people please do not read this]
I feel the need to inform you all, dear readers, that the skin of the lower half of my right nipple is now absent. i.e. – it has been ripped off and is bloody and possibly pus-sy. If anyone else had done this to me, I would have considered it extreme violence but unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of righteous anger as I did it to myself as part of the routine we call motherhood.
Not that I specifically skinned my nipple. I have just been pumping milk as normal but suddenly my nipple decided to shed its outer layer, in phases. Well, first it started to crack, which is painful but perfectly normal (well, common, breastfeeding enthusiasts will tell you). I even showed it to a doctor and he gave me some cream which I thought was silly because it was a regular moisturising cream which would have to be washed off every time I pumped which I don’t have the luxury of doing seeing as I pump in a toilet cubicle. Besides, I already had a cream specifically for the purpose which doesn’t need to be washed off. But since my cream wasn’t working, I tried his and it did some good. Not enough though.
It also seems to me that one day my boob seemed largely ok and then suddenly it was all bloody. But I could be mistaken because I could have just been so inured to having sore nipples (one of the amazing consequences of motherhood) that I didn’t pay it enough attention. Alarm bells rang when a bottle of pumped milk I removed seemed to have a brownish residue which I realised must be blood. Eek. Not sure of the wisdom of feeding that to Mimi – since bleeding nipples is common, what do women who breastfeed directly do? – but decided to throw it away.
Any woman who pumps will tell you how wrenching throwing away milk is. Luckily, I am in the process of weaning off pumping so I didn’t do more than the momentary twitch.
You’d think that having a bloody nipple (and a husband who says “do you have to do this?” when the whirring interrupts his TV bliss) would be enough to push me to stop pumping. But no, I had had the magical 6-month dream in mind and had resigned myself to about 5 months of at least some breastmilk for Mimi. My diminishing supply meant that I was getting only about two feeds a day out of 4 or more pumping sessions. But peservere I did, pain in the boob or not.
What helped me say ‘ouff enough’ was not my bloody boob but this article forwarded to me by MinCat which came right in time. Please ignore the opening paragraphs which deal with the Time cover controversy which I intend to share my thoughts on if I could ever get hold of a copy of the magazine (without paying for it, because I’m a cheapo). Read the parts about how many of the studies claiming the wonders of breastmilk are actually questionable but somebody forgot to tell us and now it’s become taboo to even discuss it. More and more I’ve been finding breastfeeding has become like a religion, where no questioning of the original thesis is permissible.
I was telling V about the article and the research and he said, they should stop doing research on this. His point being that enough money has gone into this entire topic and people should just make their decision based on common sense. Not sure I agree though. Breastfeeding is hard and a big reason women (like me) continue to push ourselves is because we believe the benefits touted by the research. If many of these are not so firmly established, I would like to know. Or have known. And if it all turns out to be something science rethinks 10 years down the line, like it did with margarine and butter, then me and my bloody boob are going to be very pissed off.