Harvey has some sharp teeth these days. In the past two weeks he's delivered some mighty bites to the nips that feed him. He's mostly over his biting-for-fun phase that I complained about a few months ago, but now the problem isn't the pain of the bite but the lasting damage it inflicts. It's a whole new animal when there are top and bottom teeth that come together in staple-remover fashion.
Now when he bites me, which I'll admit isn't often, there appears a neat puncture wound in my nipple; a tiny crater for a tiny little space man. On any other part of my body this wouldn't be a big deal. On your arm a pin-sized prick will go away after a few days, and you won't notice it. But on a nipple that's consistently submerged in baby saliva, the wound lingers. It pusses and scabs, only to have the scab ripped off three hours later. Then it pusses again.
Festering is a word that comes to mind.
I've had some challenges with breast feeding over the past nine months, what with persistent clogs and two bouts of mastitis. But these tiny festering pin-prick sized craters, these are the worst. It's absolutely amazing how much they hurt. Constantly. Sitting here typing I'm aware of the pain neurons firing. And you can't even imagine how it feels to nurse him. I draw in my breath. I grit my teeth. I clench and unclench my fists. Sometimes I pray and curse alternatively. "Oh-God-Oh-God-Oh-God, STOP making this hurt so GODDAMN FUCKING MUCH!"
I share these unsavory images not to gross you out (although, mission accomplished!) but rather to get encouragement around my unshakable conviction to nurse Harvey until he's 12 months old. There's the pain. There's the pain-in-the-ass of pumping. But on the other side there's the anxiety-industrial-complex, pushing all sorts of normal foods farther and farther out of the reach of my 9-month old. Hold off on cows milk, and cheese, and eggs, and peanut butter. If I stop milking then what will he eat? The boy can't live on rice-cakes alone!
No matter how much he loves them...