Warning: This post is about my breasts.
(While we schemed yesterday, I said to my mother, Can I write a blog post about this? My husband piped in: Kristen, your blog is public, you write about this titty project, you’re never going to get a job…
To which I replied, I’m a nurse! I dare any nurse manager, any Google-searching healthcare professional who I might hope will hire me in the not-too-distant future, to turn me down based on my sharing this little project. It would be illogical. So…)
Elinor is a week old, and she’s lovely. I’ll tell you all about that another time. In the hospital, breast feeding was difficult because it was very painful, an experience I never had with Ruby. I told myself that it was just a matter of getting used to it, but I was upset, grimacing and feeling my entire body seize up each time she nursed, worrying about how I’d be able to keep going. The lactation consultant said Elinor is moderately tongue-tied: her frenulum, the membrane that attaches her tongue to the bottom of her mouth, is quite tight and close, so while she was nursing she was mostly not covering her gums with her tongue. Hence all the biting and chewing…
The lactation consultant advised that we see an ENT and possibly get Elinor a frenotomy — the tongue-tie wasn’t extreme, but it might be necessary in order to successfully breastfeed, and meanwhile I should work on her latch, pump and give her a bottle if necessary, and use a nipple shield. While I did anxiously rent a pump right away, I haven’t used it, and I didn’t use the nipple shield because it didn’t help. But I worked diligently on her latch, and got quite strict with her, and this seemed to help, so after a couple more days, seeing the ENT for a frenotomy was clearly unnecessary (being discharged on Saturday, which at first stressed me out, proved to be beneficial).
However, my nipples were seriously sore (and, sob, “damaged,” said the LC) and in need of intensive care. Which largely meant keeping them open to air rather than covered up — because any touch at all, be it Elinor’s mouth or her scratchy little fingernails or a bra or the softest cotton — still really hurt. So, I’ve been spending most of the time completely bare-breasted, usually in the company of both my husband and Ruby and also my doting mother. Which is actually only a bit awkward, but also cold and not quite comfortable, plus problematic for a variety of visitors. I kept saying I wish I had some sort of tent, or a small curtained theater, that hung off of my chest and stuck out past my breasts so that clothing could drape down over it without touching them.
So yesterday my mom showed up with a size 36G bra with big foam cups, (have you met me? Even in my maternal state, G is a long way away…) thinking the humongous cups would stand away from my nipples and keep my shirt from touching them. This actually would work, but the bra didn’t fit well anyway, so it was still uncomfortable, and wearing a regular cup bra while breastfeeding around the clock is less than convenient. So, next time, she showed up with something more interesting. Something innovative. Something that deeply satisfies her near-obsessive urge to recycle. She showed up with two styrofoam bowls and two yogurt cups.
Is that nifty or what? The rim of the bowls fit into my nursing bra, the yogurt cups extend the depth of the bowl to fit over the nipples, the bottom of the yogurt cup is cut out so the nipples remain open to air. It does look ridiculous (a baggier shirt would be a little less absurd) but in those days when physical comfort and healing is a priority, this is pretty handy.
In all honesty, we came up with this contraption a bit too late for me to really put it to use — a week in, happily, the nipple situation is pretty much resolved. Today for the first time I’m actually dressed (not pajamas!) and aiming to pretty much keep my tits to myself and Elinor. So, while I believe this (yet unnamed!) device could really rescue a new mom in need, for now I’ll consider it an example of grandmothering at its best, recycling at its finest.