I'm going to record the details of today's experience in case I have opportunity to help someone else in this situation sometime! And for my own reference should this happen again...but Lord willing, I hope that will not be the case!
Yesterday all 6 kids and I went to Bethany's house to try to give her some help. Bethany has been on strict bed rest for a good portion of her pregnancy. She is nearing the end, and we are trying to be sure she cooks her little guy as long as possible! Things went about as well as could be expected: older kids helped with cleaning floors and raking and entertaining/picking up after the little ones, and I finished cleaning floors (i.e. got all the areas they missed, LOL) and did some kitchen work. Anyway, knowing I would be working, I put on my sports nursing bra for the day. Zaden didn't nap well all day, and I ended up nursing him about every 2 1/2 hours, even after we returned home.
By the time we finished our movie night (Chicken Run...Lucan was in bed after not napping at all), I was pooped and just left my sports bra on instead of changing to the nursing bra I typically wear at night. I last nursed Zaden around 9:15. At 3:38 a.m. I woke, having been lying on my right side, feeling VERY uncomfortable. After nursing Zaden so frequently during the day, plus having him wake in the middle of the night the past few nights (so no long stretches of sleep for either of us), I figured my body was just going haywire with the milk production. I went to the kitchen and pumped about 3 ounces, feeling somewhat more comfortable as I went to lie back down. I never did get back to sleep, so I was ready to feed him when he woke at 4:15. By the time he was finished, it was apparent that something was not right. I put him back to bed and got into a hot shower, massaging my sore breast (the right side, of course! always problems with the right side!). When I got out and looked in the mirror, it was so obvious something was wrong--lumps in weird places and a general misshapen appearance. I felt I had done as much as I could at that point, so I took some Ibuprofin and went back to bed, thinking we'd be up in another hour or so to nurse again.
Wrong! You might know, the night I need Zaden to nurse more frequently he sleeps longer! It was 8 a.m. when we both awoke, and I was even more sore, to the point of being in tears while nursing him. Of course I was starting him on the affected side and trying to let him go for a long time, but it hurt so badly. And when he finished, it didn't seem to be any better. I spent most of the morning putting hot washcloths on, massaging the area as much I could stand it, pumping (or trying to--wasn't getting much from that side at this point), applying a hot rice pack, and doing it all over again.
Thankfully it's Saturday, so I let the kids watch Loony Toons DVDs all morning so I could doctor myself and take care of Zaden. By time the 10:30 am feeding came around, I was Skyping with Ted and crying because nursing hurt so much. But I also noticed a white head on the nipple that, after Zaden finished nursing, was definitely blister-like. In my reading about plugged ducts vs. mastitis, I had seen that plugged ducts could end in a white blister. Several sites said to use a sterile needle to gently pop the blister. The very thought made me queasy, so I set things up so I could get back into a hot shower.
After following directions for the blister, plus about 20 minutes of massaging the area in the hot shower, the hard lumps were definitely improving, though things still looked off, and I was still very tender. When I rejoined the rest of the family, Charis informed me that while I was showering, one of her directors had called wondering why she wasn't at rehearsal. ACK!! I double-checked the schedule and realized that somehow I had missed the fact that she was supposed to be there today. I don't know why or how I missed it--it was clearly marked that her page numbers were scheduled for today. So, a few tears (on my part) and a quick phone call later, we were on our way to the theater with my neighbor Chris here at home with the kids.
I got home and used the warm rice pack again, then nursed Zaden on the sore side for a little bit before having to go pick up Charis. (Thankfully Chris was able to hang out here at the house, so I just left all the kids here, which made it easier to run in and sign Charis out.) I was feeling SO much better by this point, and after finishing our feeding once I returned, I was pleased to find that the lumps were completely gone. Also, it seemed that Zaden was able to nurse better--I'm not sure what was going on earlier, perhaps he wasn't getting as much milk as he was used to, but his latch/suck seemed off, and my nipple was getting sore again from it. But this time around, everything seemed to be working well.
Praise the Lord...it is now nearly 6 p.m., and the only tenderness I have seems to be the result of all the aggressive massaging from earlier today. We finished another successful feeding that didn't involve pain--woohoo! I am so thankful that the whole ordeal didn't last long! Now I am praying that I don't get any infections from pricking the skin of the blister. :-/ Zaden is certainly none the worse for the wear, as he's been giving good smiles all day! Here's one of them!