Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breast abscess - my own true account


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The ultimate test came when I found out my mom’s fridge broke down. My frozen milk stash amounted to around 50 bags at the time. I suddenly discovered that they had all thawed to liquid form. I checked on the fish and chicken, they were also soft and wet. My dad had a repairman to check on the fridge, and indeed the 17-year-old fridge had broken down. I was devastated! Luckily I had some fresh, unfrozen milk that I kept in my mini bar fridge, but like I mentioned earlier, my supply was not that much since I was still leaking milk from the incision. I cried my heart out as I dumped them all in the trash. I was praying hard that my current milk supply would be sufficient for my boy. Nevertheless, my husband bought one small can of baby formula, just in case. Oh, and my parents bought a new fridge immediately so I started the all new journey building up my stock all over again.

Another heart breaking discovery – the doctor suggested that I take an injection to stop the milk flow, as my incision seemed unable to heal completely as the leaking milk created blisters in the incision. Furthermore, I had rashes on the area where the plasters met my skin, it became irritated and itchy. I simply couldn’t bring myself to stop and take the injection – my baby was barely two months old. I had been so determined to breastfeed him until he turns two. I was struggling not to drown in self-pity, trying to provide enough food for my baby, take care of my daughter (with lots of help from my parents) and trying to take care of myself. I called up my good friend for moral support and comfort, she even offered her milk stash to me (she was also a breastfeeding mom; thanks so much Ckin, you’re so sweet!) just in case mine was not enough. But above all, I missed my husband, my pillar of strength, the most during this difficult time. He was especially sweet, even though he couldn’t be with me all the time.

Miraculously, after a week and two dressing changes and perseverance with the strength of steel on my part, the doctor told me that the incision had closed and the milk had stopped leaking. There was a long scar, of course, but the blisters were gone. I had no idea how and what happened, but it was a tremendous relief. The doctor even said that I can try to breastfeed again, I just need to be a little careful not to strain the incision too much, as the flesh inside would take longer to heal properly.

After the last dressing change, I finally took a look at the scar. I never looked at it before, because I was too scared to see a gaping hole in my breast and thought that it might traumatize me some more. There it was, the long, dark line widening in the middle where the drainage was done. Mixed emotions washed over me; a little sad that I now had an ugly scar, but proud of myself that I didn’t give up breastfeeding. Sure, it had been a tough journey but I had survived it. I am proud to say that despite the breast abscess, my baby is 100% exclusively breastfed, until now. (Oh, the baby formula still sits unused in the kitchen. I should give it to someone else.)

I did rebuild my milk stash; take a look.

My breast milk is so abundant; it would have been enough if my daughter also feeds on my breast milk. After all, she was also a breastfed baby previously. But she seemed to have grasped the concept that breast milk is for her little brother, so she wouldn’t take it. So I’ve had to throw out a LOT of milk. I can actually get by without using the frozen stash because I’m producing way more than my baby consumes. I’m not showing off here; I guess it’s just a reward for my perseverance. I am so grateful, so thankful that I was able to continue breastfeeding my little boy. So I guess the saying is right – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

To moms out there, if I’ve had breast abscess and still managed to breastfeed, you absolutely CAN do it. Sure, it’s not easy. Pumping, washing a LOT of bottles (I have about 40 bottles for my two kids, most of them for storing breast milk), storing and freezing and labeling milk, sorting the milk by the first-in-first-out basis – it’s a lot of tedious work. And the breastfeeding issues such as engorgement, latch on, painful/cracked/bleeding nipple, nipple preference, sore nipples – they can be solved, if you’re willing to work on it and have a little patience. Breast milk is the best gift you can give to your baby, better than a new stroller, new baby cot, new clothes, new toys. I don’t need to tell you the benefits of breast milk, I’m pretty sure you know already them. And best of all, it’s free! Think how much you can save on baby formula, which in turn you can spend on yourself. Ha. Gotcha there.

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