It wasn’t until my son was almost 3 months old that I truly appreciated the need for others in my journey as a mother. I spent much of my son’s first 2 months hiding in my home. My son was born healthy and strong and nearly perfect. I say nearly because I knew from the day he was born that he had a tongue tie. I told the pediatricians and lactation consultants, and they told me it wasn’t “too bad.” Fast forward to his 8-week appointment and I had already had suffered from mastitis nine times. NINE.
If you have never experienced mastitis, just imagine having the worst flu (fever, chills, body aches) while your breast (or breasts, if you’re really lucky) becomes rock hard and feels like it is being put through a deli meat slicer. All this while you’re taking care of a newborn. And suffering from the post-labor pain down where the sun don’t shine. And getting zero sleep. I often told my husband that I’d gladly relive my 37-hour unmedicated labor rather than get mastitis again. It’s. That. Bad. If you think I’m exaggerating, then I am positive you have never had mastitis.
In order to get rid of mastitis you need to keep nursing, which happens to be excruciatingly painful when you have said mastitis. I needed to focus on getting better so that I could take care of my son better. I shut out a lot of people by turning down visits, canceling plans and even deactivating my facebook account (first world problems, much?). I saw a lactation consultant weekly to work on latch techniques and positioning. I tried every remedy my midwife suggested. My husband was beyond supportive and caring. My mom helped by watching my son when I needed to rest. My small village had come to my aid.
At my son’s 8-week appointment, I insisted that he be seen by an ENT (the pediatrician had ignored my concerns because my son was gaining weight just fine). Two days later, his frenulum was snipped, and I never experienced mastitis again.
I finally felt like I was getting back to being myself, and over the next few weeks I started reconnecting with friends, old and new, that I hadn’t had the energy to talk to for months. It was true… the first 12 weeks - the third trimester - had been the most challenging. And I had made it through with my small village.
But when I allowed my village to grow and I openly accepted help and support from other moms I realized the beauty of it all. My mama friends have blessed me with advice and unforgettable girls’ nights. We’ve compared the color of our baby’s poop and shared our marital challenges (hey, this parent stuff isn’t easy for anyone). Because of them I am a happier, more confident and more balanced mother for my son.
There is no denying that it takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a village to support a mom. And I am so very thankful for my mama tribe.
About the Author
Jac Baxendale is a Speech Language Pathologist, avid yogi and home renovator. She lives with her husband and their 1-year-old son on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.