answer // i had a serious infection.
i had developed a cyst in my left breast called a galactocele…but i didn’t find out it was a galactocele until several weeks later.
a galactocele is a milk duct that has filled up with milk, but does not have an outlet to the nipple. this duct will just fill up and fill up and eventually create a lump large enough to feel.
after six weeks i could definitely feel the lump. it felt like it was the size of a golfball.
i immediately called the doctor’s office and explained what i was experiencing. i was prescribed medicine to fight mastitis and told to rub the lump with lotion. rub the lump in the shower. rub the lump when i breastfed and all was assured this would clear it right up…but it didn’t.
the lump was getting bigger and i was getting more anxious.
the worst part of it all? i HATED breastfeeding kaye during this process.
i resented breastfeeding.
but i knew i wanted to breastfeed kaye because you cannot deny the benefits.
breastfeeding was the right thing for us to do. so i continued.
the lump was getting bigger despite my efforts so i called the doctor again with no resolve. and called again. and called again. i was getting nowhere.
finally, i demanded to be seen and saw a different doctor in the same practice who took one look and one feel and said, that’s a galactocele.
you see, they are so rare that a lot of doctor’s have never seen or diagnosed one. luckily, this doctor had.
here were my options //
- stop breastfeeding.
- have surgery resulting in the duct being cut out with no promise of the problem being solved.
- drain the duct with a long needle every two weeks for the remainder of my breastfeeding journey.
i was advised to drain the duct.
i received exactly 20 minutes of relief until my milk let down. the duct was filling up again and i was in pain again. what i didn’t know was it was about to get much, much worse.
a few days had passed and the location where the needle had entered was very red and very warm to the touch. i called the doctor. i was told to apply a topical antibiotic and that should take care of this minor infection. except it didn’t.
a few days later, the same area was turning a grey-green color and continued to be red and warm to the touch. to top it all off…i was still breastfeeding kaye at least 12 times a day. i had an abscess.
the general surgeon ended up cutting into my breast two inches deep and a half an inch wide to allow for the infection to be cleaned out. this wound would then need to heal from the inside out meaning i couldn’t just cover it with a bandage. it would need to be packed with a 10 inch long, thin strip of medicated gauze, then covered with a sterol bandage. the dressing was changed twice a day for over three weeks. all this time, i continued to breastfeed full-time.
my message // if breastfeeding is the right choice for you, you absolutely can do it. you just have to resolve to do it no matter what. full-time breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart.
my gal is now 14 months old. i stopped breastfeeding at 13 months, and i don’t believe she misses it at all. she’s a lover of food. an avid water-drinker…and could care less about her organic, whole milk.
now that we are 100% finished i do feel a weird sense of guilt about not breastfeeding longer. but in the same breath i can say i’m so happy we’re finished.
breastfeeding wasn’t a beautiful experience for us between the galactocele at the start and the constant biting the final three months, but it was right.
she is incredibly healthy. incredibly perfect. and again, you just can’t deny the health benefits.
every time i wanted to quit i would look up the studies and i knew i had to keep going.
“just one more month,” i would tell myself.
that month would pass and i would silently encourage myself again, “just one more,” all the way to 13 months.
thank you so much for letting me share my story. if you have any questions regarding my experience or galactoceles or would like to read the full galactocele story, you can find that here or e-mail me here.