Do you think it’s possible for a Mom to get postpartum shingles? Here’s my shingles experience and how to know if you have shingles too.
If you asked me how being a stay-at-home-mom feels, I would tell you that it’s wonderful and amazing to be able to work from home with my daughters. If you asked me what it’s like to have both an infant and a toddler, I’d tell you it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. However, based on my current mental and physical state (pointedly the rash I just found), I was lying about how life is going.
Being a stay at home mom with an infant and a toddler is causing me to lose my mind. On most days I think I have it together but then I go and do something like leave the gas burner on all day and realize I’m wrong. I don’t have it together. Not even a little bit.
You know that saying, “I’ve lost my marbles,” is a real life thing. Except in my case, I’ve lost two different sets of brand new hair bows.
This is my surprisingly scary experience with shingles.
My short term memory has become useless. On more than one occasion, I have to feel the towel for wetness that’s hanging in the bathroom to make sure that I actually showered that morning and didn’t imagine it. I go to the store and forget what I’m supposed to buy. Then I buy things and lose them. Perhaps the inability to function is from sheer exhaustion, or maybe it’s part postpartum hormonal stuff I got going on. Either way, even though I post photos of myself looking put together, I am far from it.
Apparently when you’re stressed, exhausted, and guilty of losing your marbles, your immune system takes a beating. Starting almost a week ago, I thought I developed a skin allergy towards my breastfeeding disposable pads. Both of my breasts felt prickly, itchy, and irritated. However, after I stopped using the pads, I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable sensation that something was poking my boobs. By Wednesday, I noticed a weird array of bumps, a lovely little rash, on the bottom of my left breast towards my chest bone. It looked like poison ivy and even though I’ve not been outside without a shirt on rolling in the woods, I thought maybe, somehow, I contracted the rash.
When I brought Ailey to the doctors on Thursday on suspicion of an ear infection, I showed the pediatrician my rash. I figured she would be able to shed some light on my random poison ivy looking splotch. She didn’t know what it was, but suggested I use Hydrocortisone Cream until the rash cleared up. She, however, warned me that if it looked like the bumps were bubbles or the rash started oozing, I call my doctor immediately. She didn’t say why though…
By Thursday night my whole body hurt. I felt bruised and sore from the top of my head down to the tips of my toes. My left ear hurt terribly and I figured I was now getting the virus both Annabelle and Ailey have been passing back and forth between each other over the last month. “Maybe I have an ear infection too,” I thought. I called the doctor Friday morning in hopes I would have an antibiotic for the weekend.
Well, I got myself an antibiotic all right. I got myself THREE prescriptions because apparently that poison ivy rash was never a rash.
I have SHINGLES.
Now how in the hell does a young person get shingles you may ask. Well, it’s not just for old people (like I thought). Anyone who has had the chicken pox virus can get shingles when they’ve worn themselves out. And that’s just what I’ve done. I’ve not only lost my mind, but I’ve worn myself out so bad that I’m now a leper.
As of now my “shingle” is contained to one area. The first thing I asked my doctor was, “Can I touch my baby if I have shingles?” I can touch my baby, but I have to be extremely careful she doesn’t come in contact with the blisters from the infection. Currently I have the shingles blisters covered with gauze. If my baby comes in contact with the blisters, her doctor says she may contract chicken pox. She hasn’t had her chicken pox vaccination yet at 2 months old.
Can you breastfeed your baby when you have shingles? As long as the baby isn’t coming in direct contact with a shingles blister – then yes. My blisters are too close to my left breast so I cannot nurse her on the left side. My doctor told me to pump to avoid clogged milk ducts and mastitis. I’m happy to report that the pediatrician said my breastmilk is building up her immunity, but it won’t protect her from the virus. So I have to be VERY careful!
How do you feel while having postpartum shingles?
If you google SHINGLES, you’ll read it is a very painful virus. To be honest – I am blessed with just one infected area, so even though my whole body aches, I only have one spot that hurts. The pain on my chest is not debilitating, but it sucks. Whenever something accidentally touches the gauzed over patch, it hurts deep inside. The doctor says the virus hits upon your nerves, so you can only imagine how it feels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pain is usually the first symptom of Shingles. Shingles symptoms usually affect only a small section on one side of your body. These symptoms may include:
- Pain, burning or tingling
- Sensitivity to touch
- A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
Some people also experience:
- Sensitivity to light
How long does it take to heal from shingles?
I don’t know how long I will be avoiding newborns, old people, and unvaccinated kids. They say shingles lasts for a couple of weeks, but I’m hoping since I caught it so early, maybe it’ll go away sooner? It’s so interesting to discover that although shingles may occur postpartum, there is likely no increased risk for most Moms, and it’s not a common experience. (source)
I don’t know though. I don’t for see my stress level going down what with the holidays approaching and my toddler’s attempts at acting like a teenager escalating. I just hope now that the shit hit the fan, I can begin cleaning it all up. And maybe I’ll just find the sets of hair bows I bought for Ailey.
UPDATE: My shingles pain subsided within a week and the rash was gone soon after. Apparently it is not common to catch shingles twice, but I did! The second time I was diagnosed with shingles was while I had the Coronavirus in 2020. My experience with shingles wasn’t as extreme and my rash was only on my shoulder. However, it was still painful!