On June 9th, 2021 I became a Mama to our beautiful baby girl, Amalia Hope.
Released 24 hours after birth, I was learning to navigate stairs, motherhood and my healing cesarean incision. Simultaneously, I began navigating through the milk saga. Navigating through the pain of breast engorgement, the tingling sensation of milk filling my breasts, the milk droplets that marked my floor, and a foreign lump that loomed over my breast throughout my pregnancy.
I entered into the peak of my milk saga about a week into my postpartum journey (milk streaming out of both boobs, choking Amalia with my fast let down, streams bursting as soon as the pads came off).
I’m so grateful my milk was coming in faster than it could come out, however it was the perfect concoction for mastitis. I was aware of the signs and starting to notice them early on. Thankfully I didn’t get full fledged mastitis (prayer hands to cabbage and vitamin c!) – however my mother-in-law who is an ICU nurse asked to check me out. She noticed the heat and redness was subsiding, but the lump that developed in my pregnancy – the one I had come to ignore as my doctor said it was fine, raised red flags for her. She requested I inquire about it with my new doctor.
My doctor wasn’t too happy with the feel of it either and sent me for a biopsy.
By the time I was admitted to the Breast Cancer Unit I was 2 months PP and thankfully routine checkups had resumed in Ontario (as they were previously on hold due to COVID).
The Breast Cancer Unit performed an ultrasound first and due to my mom’s recent breast cancer experience the technician didn’t want to take any chances. Especially with my newborn at home. So the following week I was scheduled for a biopsy in my left breast.
This was a tough chapter. Not only mentally – but physically too. The pain of a biopsy while having breast engorgement is something I’d wish on no one.
I remember laying on the biopsy table, covering my eyes with the back of my hand, thinking “could this get any more humiliating”
As I looked down, my breast started to leak like a copper pipe with a hairline hole in it. Just a thin steady stream of milk flying out.
Thankfully the technicians were female and held gauze over my nipple until it stopped.
Yeah – I could write a book on awkward experiences.
Finally my let down lessened and the doctor prepared the biopsy probe, taking 4 samples from the tissue.
Once the procedure was complete, they listed the side effects:
- leakage from the biopsy site
- infection from biopsy site
I asked questions regarding the side effects because I thought to myself- with the state of my breasts now – going through engorgement, pumping, sucking, repeat, plus a biopsy. I don’t know how one of these could not happen!
During our midnight feed, I felt milk leaking from my left boob. This was odd because I had the Hakka attached to catch my milk.
Once I put Amalia down I went and looked in the bathroom.
My milk was leaking out of the biopsy site.
When I woke up the next morning the area around the site was hot to the touch and red. I immediately called my doctor & she told me to go to emergency.
The doctor in the ER listened to why I was there and looked up from his form and said,
“shit eh? That fucking sucks.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, doc. LOL
He prescribed antibiotics for mastitis, and urged me to go back to the centre to have the doctor review his shotty work.
To shorten a very long story – I played cat and mouse between the hospital, doctor’s office and cancer centre over the course of 2 weeks. It was difficult to find answers, find help and stay sane and happy, especially while the pandemic was ongoing in the background.
I not only developed mastitis but an infection at the site of the biopsy.
Over this time I had to exclusively pump and dump from my left breast – incredibly uncomfortable as the pump rubbed on the 4 biopsy sites every time I pumped. And the doctor who performed the biopsy wouldn’t return my calls – or calls from the hospital! Wild eh?
Some would question “why not stop breast feeding?” And it’s so valid. It was a thought that crossed my mind multiple times.
But I didn’t want the error of a doctor to be the reason I stopped breastfeeding my baby.
We kept pumping and pushing through. The infection only became incredibly worse before it got better *if you have a sensitive stomach skip to the next part* at one point shot glasses of blood were draining from the biopsy site. Thankfully us women are equipped with two boobs! My right boob pulled off the feedings of both.
Throughout the pain – I was also mentally preparing for the difficult news that could come my way. Pushing Andrew and I to have those really difficult and truthful conversations you never really think about having.
I steadfastly locked onto the moments that made my soul sing.
I wrote to Amalia rabidly.
Spewing my thoughts, wishes and hopes for her. Journaling in detail, the experiences we’ve danced through in our few short months together.
All in the greater fear that I wouldn’t be able to tell her all that I have to share in her future years.
It put life into perspective.
After almost 2 months of pain and heartache I got the news that it was benign!
It took a while for my breast to heal, but thankfully it healed. And four months later, baby girl is still eating well.
If you’re going through this incredibly rare experience as well – reach out to me if you have any questions at all. I wish I had someone to guide me though this, because it was hard to find the light in the depth of the trenches.
But thankfully there was lots of light shed on me.
My baby is healthy, I am healthy, and I’m grateful I still get to sit at night and feed her. Just her and I.