The Mother of All Wounds

In another of the innumerable reasons why motherhood is not for the faint of heart, I offer this anecdote.


On a recent phone conversation, an old friend and new mother described to me a problem she was having breastfeeding her 8-week-old son. She had what seemed like a blocked milk duct, she explained, but one that was visible by a strange white dot on her nipple. A little scared by this development, she called a lactation hotline as soon as she could.

A very helpful lactation consultant said that, in fact, she did have a kind of blocked duct, but a special one that appeared externally, and might hurt internally. 

“D@*! right, it does,” my friend confirmed, citing the shooting pain she felt whenever her son latched on. “I can feel it all the way into my chest cavity,” she complained.

“Ouch,” I said, and asked what this thing was called.

“A bleb,” she said. “Really, that ‘s what it’s called: b-l-e-b.”

That’s right, ladies, the official name for this nasty and painful problem is bleb. 

Are you kidding me? I am offended by this name. I mean, really, bleb? That’s the best we can come up with to describe one of the many difficulties dedicated mothers face when trying to nurse their children? No disrespect to non-nursing mothers intended, by the way. In fact, I think if you’ve managed to get that little bugger to ingest any liquid at all — breastmilk or formula — you should consider yourself wildly successful.

But back to blebs. I am quite certain that were this a man’s problem, the medical establishment would have attached a sufficiently weighty and frightening name to it. Something like “internally-callused-externally-calcified-mammary-secretion-disorder.” 

But it’s not a man’s problem, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by how you treat blebs. Take a deep breath, Mommies, this is gonna hurt.

If warm compresses (the medical establishment’s panacea to all women’s problems) don’t work, you should lance it with a sterilized needle.  Yes, I said, lance it.

If having a small, gnashing creature constantly gnawing on your most delicate parts isn’t enough, why not try sticking yourself with a needle? My poor friend related how, after a week or so, she became so uncomfortable that she actually tried this method. She heated up the needle and sat, open-bloused, holding it an inch or so away from her chest.

“You can’t imagine what it felt like to be sitting with a small, hot sword pointed at yourself,” she said. “I told my husband I was ready to turn in my ‘Mommy Badge’ once and for all.”

Again, if this were a man’s problem, I’m sure there would be an emergency surgical procedure, complete with general anesthesia, to solve the problem. Or there would at least be a little blue pill for it. 

And I’m certain that health insurance would cover it.

Alas, my friend survived the hari-kari, and nurses her child happily once again. Her son is gaining weight like a fiend, thanks to the free-flowing milk, and his mother tries not to allow the bleb-letting to disturb her precious-little sleep. 

But anyone who says nursing mothers are softy-granola-types should think again. Or, better yet, they can just go lance themselves. 

Shearer is an Oak Cliff Mom with a doctorate in American Literature, but barely a pre-school education in Mommyhood.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.
Written By
More from Laura Baker

Hair Today Ugly Tomorrow

I was recently in a swanky baby store looking for items to...
Read More