the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Where am I?

Surprisingly, only a few dozen people have written to chastise me about the state of my masthead, most of them quick to say hey you, blogger who blogs on her Internet blog, don’t you know what month it is? Let’s just for a moment consider that I haven’t once had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in the last three weeks. Dude, I have no idea what year it is. I’m lucky to remember my name most days and have more than once said, “Yes, dear?” when Jon called out for Chuck.

I’m aiming to have something new up in the next few days, I promise, if only because there was this one guy who was REALLY SERIOUS about what a bad example I’m setting for the kids by having that unlit cigarette hanging out of my mouth, especially SINCE I WAS PREGNANT AND ALL, and was I aware of the potentially awful things that cigarette smoke could do to an unborn baby? Hmmm… I’m pretty sure the angels in heaven forgot to turn on the portion of his brain that recognizes sarcasm, or maybe this guy just needs a quick one up the pooper.

Things got even more complicated around here at about 4AM Saturday morning when I woke up to feed Marlo and my left breast felt like someone had sliced it open and shoved in a handful of broken glass. I thought I’d try to ignore it, and oh, moan in silence? Bite my lip until I was drowning in a puddle of blood? What was I thinking, YOU CANNOT IGNORE THAT KIND OF PAIN. So I tapped a sleeping Jon on the shoulder and whispered, “Honey, can you take the baby, I think I’m dying.”

I immediately headed for the kitchen where we keep the Advil, and I don’t even remember how I made it the fifty or so feet from the bed to the medicine cabinet, but there I am taking a couple of pills and next thing you know I can barely stand up. And I guess while reaching for the countertop to steady myself I knocked over the glass of water I used to take the pills and it went crashing into a thousand pieces on the floor. Somehow I make it back to the bedroom when suddenly I’m overcome with the need to puke, and Jon is all, what was that crash? And I’m all, what crash? And he’s all, THE CRASH THAT SOUNDED LIKE A CAR FLEW THROUGH OUR FRONT DOOR. And I’m all, why are you moving your mouth and talking to me, can’t you see I need to vomit?

Several Google searches later and I realize I have mastitis. If you want to know more about this condition just go click that link, but if you’re looking for the condensed definition it’s basically inflammation and infection of the breast tissue that can be caused by a clogged milk duct or bacteria that has somehow made its way in through the nipple. Sounds fun, I know, it’s been nothing but giggles, balloons, and pony rides over here, except for the twelve hours I spent in bed yesterday with chills, aches, and a 102 degree fever. My doc called in a prescription for antibiotics, and they finally kicked in last night, and the relief I felt was not unlike what I imagine Marlo feels when she wakes up from a nap, sees the outline of my boob and is all SHUT UP, ANOTHER BUFFET?!

So I’m eating yogurt with probiotics to try and avoid the possibility of thrush, and I’m continuing to rest to make sure my body can adequately fight the infection. That last part is proving to be the most frustrating aspect of this because all I want to do is get up and organize my now completely disheveled life, starting with maybe, you know, updating the bad example that is my current masthead. For the kids. Who read this website after playing Barbies and singing along to the High School Musical soundtrack. Hi, guys! I think Zac Efron is totally doable, too!! LOLZ!!

  • Lissa Lander

    2009/07/06 at 1:28 pm

    I made my husband drive my sorry crying ass to the ER when I got a taste of the Mastitis. I walked into St. Marks at 11:37 pm with my hand up my shirt so it couldn’t even graze the left boob. I greeted the horrified children and parents alike with a grimace of pain worse than that time I went into labor, and promptly asked the nurse if she thought I was going to die.

  • Amo

    2009/07/06 at 1:28 pm

    And donuts will make you fat, so maybe stick a broccoli spear in there or something.

  • Amy

    2009/07/06 at 1:28 pm

    Reading about people who criticize what has to be my favorite masthead to date only serves to really piss me off. Every day it stays up is a blessing.

    Not only do they need a quick kick to the pooper, they seriously need to poop.

  • Kari S.

    2009/07/06 at 1:28 pm

    I hope you feel better! Thrush is not fun and my son got it when he was 4 weeks old. Breast feeding was a nightmare and I had to put jock itch cream on the ol’ nipples. Oye! But I hope you are feeling better and heal quickly. And strange enough.. Im having sympathy boob pain as well! Werid! lol

  • Jen

    2009/07/06 at 1:28 pm

    Here is one I bet you have never heard. I am a breeder. After I had my second baby my sister-in-law decided to breastfeed my baby. Yuck and WTF. Turns out she and her baby had thrush and passed it on to me and my offspring. Guess what? My sister-in-law lost part of her nipple from not treating the thrush. Yes, that is what I said. I stopped nursing immediately. I tell all of my nieces that breastfeeding is more painful for the first couple of weeks than the condition of my birth canal after the baby destroys it. Scabs, bleeding, thrush, oh my. The best is when a scab comes off in the babies mouth and it looks like they are drinking blood.

    Also, everytime I have a kid my husband tells the doctor to give me an extra stitch. How awesome is that. My vagina is too big. I am a little lady with a big vagina. That is AWESOME!!

  • Rosie

    2009/07/06 at 1:30 pm

    The best thing to help clear out the blocked ducts is to feed on all fours above Marlo, while gently massaging. This helps gravity to kick in and drain the infected quadrant – and after a couple of feeds from that breast you should feel it all empty all of a sudden. Worth knowing for the next time you start feeling any lumps and twinges. The best advice I was ever given on breast-feeding – inelegant, true, but it works so so well.

  • LindzML

    2009/07/06 at 1:30 pm

    Ouch. That sucks, and I sincerely hope your boobs stop feeling like glass is inside them. Maybe pillows next time. Or clouds.

  • Cat

    2009/07/06 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Dooce,
    Ick! and Ouch! and Yikes! and Well that explains where you’ve been! all rolled into one uber-sympathetic and well-wishing comment.

    A reader who is enjoying the sarcastic masthead, past its expiration date though it may be, and also is grateful she does not have mastitis.

  • Chris W

    2009/07/06 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve been reading for years, and never commented.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better,

    When I take antibiotics, I usually take Jarro Dophilus or some acidophilus capsules so I don’t have to eat yogurt multiple times per day. It’s much easier, and works well for me. Just be sure to take it a few hours after a dose of the antibiotics – taken too close, the antibiotics will just kill the good bacteria in the Jarro Dophilus.

    Feel Better!

  • Kristi

    2009/07/06 at 1:31 pm

    Since you mentioned it, I’m the neighbor from down the street. After the masthead, could you scurry up on the roof and take care of your gutters too? I’ve been meaning to mention it since you have so much free time.

    Best of luck with the mastitis. My husband gave me the disbelieving look when I told him how much it hurt. After I gave him the titty twisty of the universe he got my point. Unfortunately, his pain was over in about ten minutes. I have felt your pain and will eat large amounts of chocolate to help.

  • AnEmily

    2009/07/06 at 1:31 pm

    I know you are probably inundated with tips for thrush, but as a major thrush victim during a particularly hot summer while breastfeeding my son, I would be remiss if I didn’t pass on the one tip that saved my boobs and my sanity. Make a jar of a vinegar and water solution and use a cotton ball to apply it after every feeding. And keep on keepin’ on those probiotics!

  • HeatherNC

    2009/07/06 at 1:31 pm

    Can antibiotics cure mastheads too?

  • Susie

    2009/07/06 at 1:32 pm

    Be very careful with the cabbage leaves unless you are looking to wean and dry up quickly. They may provide the cooling relief, but unfortunately they have the unexplainable phenomena of drying up your milk as well. They are in fact used to quickly do that when someone chooses to stop breastfeeding abruptly…

    Rest, rest, rest, plenty of fluids and nurse as often as Marlo will. That will get you back on track quickly since you are already on antibiotics.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  • JIll Put Up A Blog

    2009/07/06 at 1:32 pm

    Ugh! Feel better!!

  • Stephy K

    2009/07/06 at 1:32 pm

    Raw Cabbage leaves right inside your nursing bra.

    TODAY start wiping Marlo’s heiny (yes this part is weird but it WORKS)with liquid antacid (generic is fine) with a cotton ball every diaper change until you are done with the infection. Any infection she gets from your antibiotics won’t hurt or burn her.

    Acidophiles (sp?) you can find by the vitamins (it is the good bacteria in yogurt)

    Hope you feel better soon.

    Oh and I think the masthead is hilarious

  • Music for Mother and Child

    2009/07/06 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Heather,

    I do remember those first weeks and months with almost no sleep…. As if the World is turned upside down…

    I hope you will soon get some rest and sleep!

    Take care! 😀

    Music for Mother and Child

  • Christine

    2009/07/06 at 1:34 pm

    Just reading the word mastitis makes me wince. I hope you feel better soon!

  • Barb

    2009/07/06 at 1:34 pm

    Screw the idiot with the idiotic comments!! Obviously this a-hole is not married and probably is living in his mother’s basement or else he would know what it’s like living in a house with a newborn, a toddler, a husband (who actually knows what you’re dealing with) and two dogs!! (Did I miss anyone??)

    Get better soon and don’t worry about the masthead.

    Oh, by the way, Marlo is a cutie!! Good job!

  • AidoElleMom

    2009/07/06 at 1:34 pm

    Ok, so I am finally delurking (do you blog people even use that word anymore?) to let you know that I feel your pain in a major way!! I had mastitis 4 times in the 18 months I was giving my daughter her daily buffet. I had the throwing up, the passing out, the pain, the chills, I was right there with you. I did not however ever get thrush from the drugs, so I do hope that you too get lucky. Good luck! I have loved your writing for many years and really am glad that all is well, except for the mastitis, in the Blurbodoocery!

  • Sheelah

    2009/07/06 at 1:35 pm

    Starting like a week and a half ago, I secretly started counting down the days until July 1, so we could read your hilarious commentary on the morons who tell you your masthead was late. Even though I’ve never had a child, I (SHOCKER) assumed you would not be changing it come July 1, so thank you for answering my prayers and posting about the crazies!

  • Amy in Ohio

    2009/07/06 at 1:35 pm

    Do you have any idea what potential health threat’s June’s unlit cigarette masthead will pose on your newborn in July??? She will never keep her months straight when she gets to school without the aid of a cigarette to use as a pointer. Mark my words!

  • Anonymous

    2009/07/06 at 1:35 pm

    OUCH. Had that with my last baby, no fun. I know a few people above said cabbaage leaves…stick those bad boys in the freezer and then inside your bra. Helped me a ton. Good luck!

  • Tracy

    2009/07/06 at 1:36 pm

    Your lack of an updated masthead just proves you’re like ever other mom with a newborn – exhausted and has no time! The fact that you find time during this stage to write at all makes you my heroine.

    I, too, have had mastitis. I still feel the pain when I think about it. Feel better soon!

  • Hsin

    2009/07/06 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a long time, and I love the June 2009 masthead. As for whoever complained about it setting a bad example — has that person actually looked at the masthead? It’s just fun and funny, and as a side effect an obviously fantastic smoking deterrant — just like the old public service ads that cracked and fried an egg while saying, “This is your brain on drugs.”
    I had mastitis once with my first, and again after my twins were born. I didn’t have a smart doctor like yours, so I was unable to crawl out of bed for a day and a half each time. But I did find that moist heat helped the pain, and then taking a lecithin supplement every day after that prevented clogged ducts and thus any further episodes of mastitis.

  • Anonymous

    2009/07/06 at 1:37 pm

    you should take probiotics and not just eat yogurt. there’s not much in there…i take renew life brand…you get them at whole foods…they have to be refrigerated…

  • Lauren

    2009/07/06 at 1:37 pm

    I actually LOL’d at the buffet comment.

    I think you should use a massive cock on your next masthead, and tell the whinger that is what he needs in his mouth to shut him up.

  • Jamie

    2009/07/06 at 1:38 pm

    Consider this official permission from the internets to tell that guy to SUCK IT. You blog for a living and everyone deserves some time off work after having a baby. GO REST. …not that we don’t miss you or anything.

  • Anonymous

    2009/07/06 at 1:38 pm

    i just read these comments while eating my lunch. gross.

  • erika

    2009/07/06 at 1:38 pm

    I second the call for probiotic supplements. And try Kefir (essentially, drinkable yogurt), change of pace. Good luck and rest up! you’re gonna need it

  • the niffer

    2009/07/06 at 1:39 pm

    You poor thing. I’ve heard about it but never experienced it. By what my friends have described, they’d rather go through labour again and again and AGAIN than go through another round of mastitis.

    Hope you avoid thrush and feel better soon. :*

  • Antje

    2009/07/06 at 1:39 pm

    “June” Masthead: Just add “exp.” before and “2075” after?

  • Barb - WillThink4Wine

    2009/07/06 at 1:40 pm

    This too shall pass. Feel better.

    I do not even know who Zac Efron is. How sad is that? Now I really feel old. older. oldish.

    Never Mind.

    PS. My word verification is $50million. As if.

  • Allison

    2009/07/06 at 1:41 pm

    **Shutter** I got mastitis with my son and I don’t think I will ever be able to breastfeed again!!! It was horrible!

    I hope you feel better soon!

  • Anonymous

    2009/07/06 at 1:41 pm

    Never heard of cabbage leaves, but when I got it the sure cure was expressing milk and soaking my boob in a bowl of hot water and epsom salts. Of course you have to wash that off before feeing Marlo, but a couple times a day of that and keeping the milk moving through is the key. Good luck-it is not fun AT ALL

  • sohobutterfly

    2009/07/06 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve heard of cabbage leaves. Mastitis sucks, anyway you slice it. Hope the antibiotics do the trick.

  • Erica

    2009/07/06 at 1:43 pm

    I thought you were on maternity leave.
    Shouldn’t you take maternity leave?
    I got maternity leave … I think you should too.
    Tell Jon to post a picture of the baby every once in a while and freakin’ get well, eh? Take some maternity leave. YOU JUST GAVE BIRTH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

    I did too. 16 months ago. And I’m still recovering.

  • Kirsten

    2009/07/06 at 1:43 pm

    You SO need to keep that masthead for July.

    The only thing you need to do different to it is photoshop Marlo slung over your shoulder while you’re dangling the cig.

    Hah – Take that, Internet!

  • fat mum slim

    2009/07/06 at 1:45 pm

    Oh! I had been meaning to email you and give you a hard time about the masthead.

    I knew that you were sitting back at home, sucking back some cigarettes… doing nothing.

    Isn’t that what all newborn mothers do?

    So obviously I’m being sarcastic. I would forgive you if it rolled around to Christmas and you hadn’t even blogged. Life ain’t easy… especially with a nice serve of mastitis thrown in. x

  • Kay

    2009/07/06 at 1:45 pm

    Oh Poor thing! My Mom had that once and rest is the best thing. I didn’t have that problem because I didn’t get to nurse my baby because my nipples are completely defective! They are called Inverted Nipples – meaning they don’t elongate enough for the baby to latch on so I pumped and almost tore my nipples completely off! When I saw that there was blood in the milk I was pumping I stopped which is probably good since my nipples were almost falling off! Anyway I shared that only to let you know that I can totally relate to your pain and I hope it ends soon and that you don’t ever have to feel that again!

  • Suze

    2009/07/06 at 1:46 pm

    I just followed the mastitis link, and I’m totally NEVER getting that crap. I’m glad you’re getting better, and good luck on the sleep front.

    Note to the sarcastically challenged guy: you may be reading the wrong website. Just sayin…

  • SarahW

    2009/07/06 at 1:47 pm

    Really?! You just had a baby and people are bitching about your masthead? Frankly I’m surprised you’ve posted as much as you have. I’d be all like, “I just shot out a watermelon, cut me some slack.” Take your time girl!

  • talkwithnothought

    2009/07/06 at 1:48 pm


  • MJBUtah

    2009/07/06 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, mastitis sucks..and let me tell you how much fun it was to have it last year and my youngest child is 14 years old. Seriously! I was seriously WTF when I woke up and one boob was WAY bigger than the other and on fire. Ah, good times!

    Get better babe.

  • ZDub

    2009/07/06 at 1:50 pm

    Do NOT get Thrush. It feels like someone lit your boob on fire with gasoline.

    And you should have a new masthead. Leta is old enough to use the computer.

    Feel better, Dooce’s boobs!

  • Michelle

    2009/07/06 at 1:52 pm

    Cabbage in the bra? I heard somewhere that it helps 🙂
    But seriously, OUCH! hope you get feeling better. And about the masthead… seriously? People need a life. Take care of you first, the masthead can wait.

  • Denise

    2009/07/06 at 1:53 pm

    I’m sorry about the mastitis. I had it too, and it sucks ass! My LLL leader suggested taking grapefruit seed extract pills to keep it at bay, and I haven’t gotten it again, so don’t know if they are working or if it is just good luck.

    Love the site, keep it up!

  • Anonymous

    2009/07/06 at 1:54 pm

    Thank god for the assholes, lest you might not have any comic relief between the crying and the glass-in-your-boob. I too had at least 5-6 bouts with mastitis with my second daughter (also five years after the first because the first scared the living daylights out of us). Would never bother you with a post except two things brought me incredible comfort vis-a-vis mastitis:
    1) Empty 2-3 cups dry rice into a long athletic sock and tie the end in a knot. Microwave for 90 seconds. Wrap it around boob with glass in it. Once boob is warm, massage from glass toward nipple. Repeat.
    2) Do not wear halter tops. This is what really threw me because WTF, why can’t I wear a halter top? For god’s sake, I was already cutting out dairy (kid was allergic) and had just finished 9 months of no sushi. And halter tops as far as I could tell had absolutely nothing to do with boobs. Except for the fact that they do have something to do with boobs. There are apparently key veins all around the neck and shoulders that when blocked will cause glass to form in boobs. Hence, no halter tops. Even if tied loosely (I tried that, which is how I arrived at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds of mastitis).

    Chocolate ice cream for breakfast also helps. Enjoy and remember that one of the most compelling reasons to continue breastfeeding is that it is an endless source of suffering and thus, material.

  • Lorna

    2009/07/06 at 1:55 pm

    I nursed many years and mastitis showed up everyone once in a while. The cabbage leaves (cold please, in the nursing bra felt good, but didn’t make a huge difference). Nursing relieved the pressure that felt like your boob would explode any minute, but, nursing also stimulated more milk production, and in the case of a clogged duct…ouch. What helped most was the antibiotics and massaging the ducts, especially while nursing. I like the upside down idea (picturing a sloth). All the best.

  • Terri

    2009/07/06 at 1:55 pm

    OUCH. Ow.

    Men….Can you imagine what they’d be like if this happened to their penis?

    First a baby pushes through your vagina with a pain that is so severe it made me wonder how much pain a person has to be in before they just pass out and die from pain (and yes, for the men I hear muttering, I’ve had a kidney stone, a 2.5″ one as a matter of fact that had to be surgically removed causing a 8″ scar on my “left flank” – as the Dr. so sensitively put it!)

    Then we have to twist and rub our nipples to prepare for the pain of a new suckling and then this!??! It’s too much I tell you!!!!

  • Claire

    2009/07/06 at 1:57 pm

    ouch, ouch, ouch!
    Take good care of yourself! Be well! It lifts my spirits to know that you are tending to yourself and your family. and I think it’s remarkable that all these people who are commenting are kind people who also wish you the best.

    if the person that complained about the masthead knew what mastitis was, or what birth was, or what kids were, he would not have said such stupid things. whoever heard of a kid being sent down a degenerative, self destructive path because of a masthead? that’s just plain silly.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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