After Allison and I both took a nap, I managed to summon a fresh outlook on the breastfeeding situation and decided it wasn't going to stop me from enjoying my day and my daughter.
We were going shopping, boob issues be damned.
I packed a cooler with a bottle and decided she'd drink it cold if need be, and I'd wait to pump until we got home. In the meantime, my lactation consultant e-mailed me back saying she'd call later that afternoon. Things were looking up.
I also noticed that two days of exclusive pumping had done wonders for my right boob. It was almost entirely healed -- which gave me hope for the mangled mess that is my left boob.
On the way, my friend Courtney called to check in on me.
"Would it really be all that horrible to switch to formula?" she asked.
Coming from someone who is eight months pregnant and weighing the options of how to feed her son, I knew she was the perfect person to talk to about it because she sees both sides.
"It's not that I'm against formula. I mean, I was formula-fed. But I really enjoy breastfeeding -- it's so convenient," I said. "Besides, I've worked so hard at it. And I know there's a solution that I'm just missing at the moment."
I went on to tell her that one of the most frustrating parts about the setback is that I can't find any mention of it online. I've Googled every combination of "teething" and "breastfeeding" and "I want to die" possible, and all I get are links with experts and other mothers saying what a breeze it is. That your baby sprouting teeth and the urge to bite is such a natural, pain-free transition.
"So I guess I'm the only one out there with this problem," I said, even though I know it can't possibly be the case.
Allison was wonderful in the store. She had fallen asleep in the car and woke up while I was perusing handbags. She got this hilarious look on her face as she tried to figure out where in the hell she was. I'll laugh about that moment as long as the memory sticks with me.
The trip was mostly a success. Alli is being baptised this weekend and I didn't have an appropriate dress to wear. Somehow black just didn't seem right. And when the leather on the bottom of my purse gave out, I knew it was time for a new one. As much as I love accessories, I hold onto purses like they're an endangered species. Once I find one I love, I become insanely attached. And parting with it is always painful.
Even though I bought what I needed, I pushed my luck and stopped at a second store, where Allison immediately reminded me that I was testing her patience. Once we were in the dressing room, I pulled her out of her stroller and placed her on the couch-sized ottoman with a few toys.
Then she started shrieking at the top of her lungs.
"Allison!" I said. "Yikes! I think everyone in this ZIP code heard you."
And as much fun as she was having stuffing her toys between the ottoman and the wall, she couldn't seem to keep her thoughts to herself. The shrieks kept getting louder and more frequent.
And the bottle was in the car. And I was in my skivvies in between dresses. And the sales lady kept asking if I was alright, which I translated to mean, "Are you killing your child in there?"
So I stuck Alli on my good boob out of desperation and this amazing thing happened.
It didn't hurt.
Apparently now that her teeth have poked through, she no longer feels the need to chomp.
My lactation consultant called later in the day and talked me through a bunch of things to help. Besides pumping exclusively until I heal, she advised me to soak my breast beforehand to loosen the wound so it won't rip open. She also mentioned a few creams to reduce swelling.
"Babies' teeth are like little razor blades to allow them to cut through the gums," she said. "And when your nipple starts rubbing against that spot, it stimulates a natural response to bite that's very hard to resist -- much like a sneeze."
She said as the next teeth start to come through, I can override that response by rubbing my fingers on her gums before a feeding. And we talked about how this is my first opportunity as a parent to teach the word "No."
By the end of the day, I felt much more confident that I'm going to get through this.
And I have a new purse to fall in love with, too.