Mikey had a long break in the last two weeks of July, so we decided to go to one of our favorite places in the world: Baguio! Before Squish, we used to love going up there. Mikey and Lola own a small hotel, and he proposed there almost three years ago while it was being built. So we have a soft spot for Baguio.
We’ve been wanting to go up for a while, but I was scared in the beginning. And when I gained confidence, Mikey began to have a hectic work schedule. So when this break came up, we knew that we were going to spend some of it up in the cold mountains! ❤ I was so excited!
One of the pros of doing a road trip is that you can pack more liberally because there’s no weight allowance. So we brought as much of Squishy’s stuff that we thought we might need (including his nebulizer, a box of toys, his inflatable bath tub, and a large play mat). Everything was packed! Squish was on the tail end of a bout of allergies (cough and runny nose), but he was much better after a series of nebulizing sessions. I was kind of paranoid because during our last vacation, Max had diarrhea and we barely made it to the airport the next day. But Max was doing great the night before the trip, and it looked like all systems go!
And it was … until about 3 AM in the morning.
After Max unlatched from his early morning feeding, my left boob felt empty, but lumpy and extra tender. My half-awake self thought that something was seriously wrong. When I attempted to hand express, it really hurt. I tried to shrug it off and go to sleep, but at around 4 AM, it still felt strangely stingy even when nothing was touching it. For a few moments, I thought that we would have to cancel our trip so that I could go to the doctor. Before I went into full panic mode, I got up and I googled the symptoms and got bunch of articles on plugged ducts and mastitis.
Gah! Perfect timing! I wasn’t feverish yet, so I concluded that it was just plugged ducts. Most of the online sources said the same thing, you treat plugged ducts with:
- hot compress before you nurse/pump,
- olive oil or lanolin cream to help moisturize cracked nipples,
- cold compress for the pain, and
- keep on nursing/pumping (stopping will make it worse)
When I read all of this, Squish was fast asleep next to me and the pain was enough to keep me awake. Mikey woke up because I started shuffling around to find my pump and helped me by heating up the Precious Pillow before passing out again. I used the hot compress and I tried pumping. It was a little stingy while pumping—it reminded me of the first week of breastfeeding. At this point, my left boob seemed engorged. After pumping for 30 minutes and only getting about 2 oz. from the left boob (and using the Haakaa pump on the other one), it still seemed engorged and it was getting more painful. It was like there was a bruise on the side of my boob (where the lumpiness was) and my nipples were very sore.
Squish woke up during the tail end of my pumping session and wanted to nurse to go back to sleep. I was still hooked up to everything so I asked Mikey to give him the milk I just pumped in a bottled. Squish refused to drink it and kept crying for me (I wonder if this is a foreshadowing of our upcoming weaning). So after I unhooked myself from everything and I nursed Squish on the left boob because it still seemed so full after the pumping session. Oh my goodness the pain made me swear like a sailor. And I don’t swear! It was so painful! I felt like he was biting really hard with every suck, but when I checked, he was latched on properly and his tooth wasn’t engaged. It was so painful that I Squeezed Mikey’s hand while Squish nursed. I was tearing up and praying that he would fall asleep soon. Eventually, I couldn’t take the pain anymore—as soon as he was fast asleep, I transferred him to the other boob for the rest of the feed.
While Squishy nursed from the right boob and I was recovering from the pain (and still shaking), I thought to myself: if I had known that this would be a possibility, I would have thought twice about breastfeeding! Ironically, the thing about plugged ducts is that you have to keep nursing/pumping to clear up the duct and get better! So stopping isn’t an option.
When we woke up again at around 8:30 AM, I took a hot bath, combed my boob (I’m not kidding, one of the websites said to get a large toothed comb and comb your boob outwards while taking a hot bath), and soaked it in a tabo full of hot water.
When Lola heard that we were heading to Baguio, she wanted to join so we were supposed to meet them at a pit stop in NLEX. We were already running late by Char standards. Even if we were all packed, I had to do some last minute adjustments because I had to pack all of my pumping things and bring a newly heated Precious Pillow with us. We also had to drive-thru for breakfast (so that Mikey could function as a human being) and stop at a drug store so I could buy an old-fashioned hot/cold compress bag (to use if we didn’t have access to a microwave to re-heat the precious pillow).
Squishy was super cooperative during our morning ride. He sat in his car seat while I hot compressed my left boob (it was still engorged). He played with his toys and looked out the window. I barely had to tend to him at all. When we got to the restaurant pit stop where we had to wait for Lola and co., I had the waiters bring me hot water to fill the bag. I used the hot compress while we ate our brunch. I had them refill it with new hot water before we left. I also took two Advils after eating. I was a little depressed because I thought I would be in pain for the entire trip.
When we left the pit stop and started the long drive (about 3.5 hours), Max was initially with his Lola Myrna (Mikey’s longtime house help who volunteered to help us take care of Max) at the back seat. I was in front with Mikey with the hot compress tucked in my bra. There’s something about Lolas and car seats that don’t really mix, so she was just holding him. We didn’t get too far before Max started crying and demanding to go to me, so we made a quick stop to trade places. I was still in pain, but I think the Advils started working. I was desperate to get better, so I nursed Squish on the left boob again. It was really painful, but I just kept thinking that it was making it better. Thankfully, Squish fell asleep quickly and unlatched soon after. He slept on my lap for most of the trip. I was so lucky that I didn’t have to worry about a fussy baby and my painful boob at the same time!
Before we hit the zig-zaggy road (aka Marcos Highway, the final stretch of the road trip where you drive up the mountains for about 45 minutes), Mikey made a stop so that he could use the bathroom. As soon as the car stopped, Squishy woke up. Lola took him from me when she saw he was awake.
Having both hands free for the first time in three hours, I decided to examine my boob. I notice that there was this white spot on my left nipple. It looked like a ripe pimple. When I looked closer, it looked like there was a thin string on the tip. I pulled the string and I suddenly started squirting milk like nobody’s business! It’s a good thing I decided to wear breast pads (after not wearing one for months)! I guess it’s kind of like removing hardened tooth paste from the tip so that you can squeeze more out. I was squirting out so much milk that I would’ve felt bad about wasting it if I wasn’t busy rejoicing over the dissipating pain. It stopped squirting after two soaked disposable breast pads. I smelled like milk for the rest of the day. The pain was gone, but I could still feel a little lumpiness. I suppose a nursing session with Squish would have fixed that, but I was anxious to be as well as I could be, so I found a milk storage bag and I started hand expressing.
By the time we hit the zig zaggy road (Lola Myrna and I switched again), my left boob was empty and my spirits were high! I was so grateful that it didn’t carry on. A few minutes into the zig zaggy road, Max started crying for me, but there was no stopping at that point. So I climbed to the back seat to be with him (not the best idea, but we were in a pinch). At some point he nursed (maybe to relieve the pressure from popping ears) and it wasn’t so bad. For the rest of the trip, my left boob was still kind of stingy whenever Squish would begin to nurse. Otherwise, it felt normal again. And I got to enjoy Baguio with my two favorite people in the world! ❤
The all-day pain kind of came back a few days after our trip, I used the hot compress again and tried nursing, but I didn’t feel any lumps this time. The pain was the same though. I even took a Tylenol for the pain. When I examined my boob, I realized that the white spot on my nipple never went away. When I googled that, I found out that it was a milk blister/milk bleb. The treatment is basically the same, except, you can actually try to exfoiliate in the shower or peel the bleb/blister off with sterilized tweezers. I don’t know if I did the right thing. I just kind of poked around and I saw that it was peel-able, so I peeled it. And then after a while, the pain went away and the next day, everything was back to normal.
Being the sick one is infinitely better than Squish or Mikey being sick. Hopefully next time we go on vacation, we’ll all be in tip top shape. I’m beginning to understand why all my elderly Titas used to always say ‘health is wealth’.