Last night, I noticed that Aerin’s tongue was green.
Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. She has always had a white patch on her tongue, which is common in many babies due to their milk/forumla-only diet. But last night, when she happily stuck her tongue out at me during her bath, I noticed that the white patch had taken on a green tinge.
It didn’t seem to be bothering her so I did not feel it warranted a visit to the ER. But I did take her to the doctor first thing this morning to have it checked out, and my suspicions were confirmed: Aerin has thrush.
If you can remember, Claire had a stubborn case of thrush when she was young. In fact, recurring thrush and mastitis infections is the reason I quit breastfeeding her, because it physically became too painful to a point where I was not able to properly take care of her.
For once, I was extremely happy that I am no longer breastfeeding Aerin. Thrush, which is essentially a yeast infection, can be passed from mouth to boob — back and forth — which is what kept happening with me and Claire. And while the pain level from a breast thrush infection varies with each woman, it is extremely painful for most, and in my case, it literally felt like razor blades ripping through my breasts for up to 2 hours after each feeding session.
At its worst, I could not do anything aside from being curled up in a ball of agony with tears streaming down my face. It had also made my holding Claire practically impossible, because every time that anything brushed against my breasts, the pain would start up again.
And that’s when I had decided to quit breastfeeding — because personally, my being able to hold my own child and tend to her needs is more important than any added benefit of breastmilk over formula.
These painful memories all came rushing back to me as the doctor gave us the diagnosis. He said that the infection wasn’t bad, especially since it was localized only to the tongue (thrush tends to spread to the inside of the cheeks, gums, and even the diaper area) and didn’t seem to be bothering Aerin at all.
As for the green color? He told me, “Fungus comes in all colors.”
The first line of attack against oral thrush is nystatin, which we will administer to Aerin three times a day for 2-3 weeks. The problem with nystatin is that it is only effective in about half of all thrush cases. We had been in the unlucky half with Claire, so we had tried yogurt and grapefruit seed extract before finally turning to gentian violet. (Remember Claire’s purple lips and my purple breastmilk?)
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that nystatin will work for Aerin. If not, we will go straight to gentian violet.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about thrush — aside from the pain for the mom — is that we need to disinfect everything that comes in contact with the baby’s mouth during the course of treatment. So, as we have done in the past, we will be boiling everything after each use, and then discarding them and getting new items once the infection is gone.
It’s been a tiring morning. Let’s hope that we can beat this infection quickly and effectively.