Either my boobs are exceptionally sensitive or I just haven't been breastfeeding right for the past six months.
At the advice of my lactation consultant, I returned to feeding on one side when it healed a few days ago. Sure, it made it harder -- warming up half a bottle, feeding the bottle, breastfeeding on one side, pumping the other side and washing all the parts -- but it seemed like the right move at the time.
Now, a mere six to eight feedings later, I have developed an open gash on that side again and it feels like someone took a razor to my nipple. The other side is healing. Sort of. It's a deep wound that I'm sure will end up looking like a permanent dent in my skin once the scab falls off, but at least it's sort of numb at this point. Or maybe I'm just desensitized to it.
For the first time through all of this, I'm considering the idea of switching to formula. Once I've healed on both sides, which now could be another two weeks, I plan on contacting my consultant again and asking to visit with her so she can watch what we're doing.
It's requiring all of my patience and effort to stay optimistic at this point, but there's a small part of me that still thinks it's going to pay off.