AKA what a bloody ridiculous week and a half.
First off, my Internet dies and nobody seems to know who’s at fault. BT says it’s not them (phone line/exchange) and Plus.Net say it’s not them and everything is fine at their end. We change cables, test alternate router, etc. End up having to make several calls to Plus.Net who elevate the call and eventually find the problem.
Just as that’s mid-way, I start getting abdominal pains… and how am I supposed to diagnose myself with Dr Google without the interwebs? Anyway, cue call to Mum and have her advise me to go to A&E. They tell me I have gallbladder colic, fill me full of paracetamol (they wanted to use pethidine but I refused because I’m breastfeeding) and send me home.
Cue two days of gradually increasing pain, doctors appointments, pee and blood tests before I head back to A&E and get admitted – this was last Thursday (Feb 25th). They’re telling me they think I have gallstones floating about somewhere inside and that’s causing the problems. Not an issue in itself, but because I’m breastfeeding, they suddenly have lots of problems with finding a solution.
Now, bear in mind that we have big campaigns in the UK to encourage mums to breastfeed. Every NHS maternity ward/baby clinic is plastered in posters lecturing on the goodness of boobie juice, telling us we’re doing best by our babes etc… and yet a hospital, full of well-educated medical sorts, can’t seem to find their arses when it comes to treating a breastfeeding mum. I was told, point blank by some jobsworth bitch who obviously didn’t think I should have taken Isabel with me to A&E, that hospitals were dirty places, the medication too strong and that Izz would have to go on to formula.
I don’t particularly enjoy breastfeeding — it’s a means to an end — but I cried. How dare this woman, who didn’t know me, start making demands of my baby and our feeding. She wasn’t the last person though… all of the doctors/surgeons start lecturing me about how Izz would need to go on formula.
I had to fight to be treated with breastfeeding-friendly antibiotics. I had to fight to keep my baby on the ward with me. I had to fight to breastfeed her on demand, whilst nurses and doctors were prodding me every 5 minutes with needles, blood pressure checks, temperature checks, etc.
After x-rays and scans, piss tests, blood tests etc they came to the conclusion that I had a gallstone blocking the bile duct. It was causing the liver to dump bilirubin out into the urine and through my skin, turning me yellow. They wanted to remove the gallbladder and were pushing me to put Izz on formula so that I could have the operation because they insisted that I’d not be able to feed for 48 hours post-op (yet, caesarean mothers can feed straight away?) It was total bollocks.
In they end, they shipped me off to another hospital to have an endoscopy. After fighting with yet another childness staff nurse about how I should be feeding my child (“you must express now”) because she assumed the drugs would not be breastfeeding friendly (we had to hand her printed research, which she refused to give back; she ended up calling the pharmacy to confirm we were right) I had 2 gallstones removed. I soon returned to normal colour and, yesterday, I was able to come home.
Throughout this I’ve had nothing but sarcasm, bullshit and pessimism from a stream of predominantly male doctors/surgeons. I spent 4-5 days worrying about my daughter’s digestion, diet etc before we finally got in touch with the hospital maternity department and had our argument and theories backed up by one of the lactation consultants who came to my ward and kicked arse. I am so angry about my experience with a so-called pro-breastfeeding NHS that would have caused any less than stubborn mother to cave and change feeding method against her wishes.
And on that note… it’s time to change her nappy.
* edit 23rd May 2017: entry edited to remove insensitive wording re: formula feeding … we live and we learn