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Dear Mastitis,

I’m not sure why you chose today — the one day I was starting to feel like a human again after giving birth a few weeks ago — to rear your ugly head, but I have to say:

Your timing stinks. 

Like, really, really stinks. It’s not bad enough I spent weeks dreading going to the bathroom; I’ve been struggling to feed a human from my battered nipples (well, technically, just one nipple, because that’s how well breastfeeding is going, but you get the point); and I’m sleeping in 45-minute increments.

But now I have to deal with YOU? I mean, really, no one invited you to my postpartum party, so I’m really not sure why you insist on coming around all the time. 

When you’re around, I just can’t function, no matter how hard I try. I try to fight you off, but you, mastitis, well, you’re stronger than me in a lot of ways and, to be honest, I hate you for that. When you’re with me, I know to the outside world, it looks like I am simply a tad dramatic. 

“How can a person be so sick from a sore boob?” I am sure my husband is wondering. “How can my wife sleep so much when it’s just a little clogged milk?” he must question. “Why on earth did she ask me to come home early from work when she has nothing to do but hold a baby?” I imagine him thinking. 

But you, mastitis, oh, you are a devious master, aren’t you? 

You slither your way into my poor, battered body like the silent snake that you are, infiltrating my milk ducts with your evil mission. Waiting in stealth mode to release your minions out into my immune system until my joints ache and my limbs tremble with a fever, and every part of me feels too exhausted to even move. 

When I first feel your presence, that oh-so-slight twinge of soreness in my boob, the very one that is, you know, busy nourishing my baby with food, I am filled with horror. 

When I feel the slight chill in my body and find myself reaching for a blanket even though it’s 90°F out and the exhaustion that feels like much more than newborn parent exhaustion sets in, I begin to panic. 

That’s not … is it? No, it can’t be … can it? 

And then, when the chills begin, and the burning starts, and the pain at the slightest movement flares, I want to cry while also being filled with righteous indignation. 

How dare my boobs betray me like this?? Isn’t breastfeeding a baby hard enough without my milk ducts working against me? Aren’t we supposed to be some kind of a team here, huh? 

Maybe you didn’t realize this, mastitis, but my life gets about 10 million times harder when I’m too feverish to move, feeding the baby makes me grit my teeth and cry, and even holding her hurts me.

I mean, did you really think this one through before you decided to pounce on me? What have you got to gain from clogging up my ducts and spreading mass chaos through my cells, hmm?

Oh, but that’s not even the most evil part of your plan, is it, mastitis? Because if the fever, exhaustion so profound I can barely lift my eyelids, pain, throbbing, inflammation, and questioning of all life decisions weren’t enough, you added the cherry on the top with how I must defeat you. 

Because the one remedy that is necessary to banish you — feeding the baby through the pain — is the one thing that hurts the most! Oh yes, you really are a master at your craft, aren’t you?

You might think that based on the sheer amount of times we have been together, we have some sort of BFF situation going on, but let me tell you something, mastitis: 

We are not friends. And you are most definitely not welcome here.

I realize that you probably got the idea you are based on the ironic fact that once you have infiltrated your way into my body, it’s easy to come again.

So allow me to assure you, even though you have managed to bust your way into the door, I promise you I’m not rolling out the welcome mat for you. In fact, I’m doing everything I can to keep you out — the annoying neighbor that just can’t take the hint. 

So when the antibiotics kick in, and all the water I’ve been chugging comes crashing in on your party… when this hot compress starts breaking down your evil fortress, well mastitis, I hope you get the hint and hit the road. Because this mama? Has had enough of you, thanks very much. 

Sincerely,
Your Latest Victim

P.S. And don’t think we are ever getting back together. Like, ever.  


Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer and a newly minted mom of five. She writes about everything from finance to health to how to survive those early days of parenting when all you can do is think about all the sleep you aren’t getting. Follow her on Facebook