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How Breastfeeding Almost Killed Me

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Chasing my toddler around the house has become part of my daily routine. While I love the independent person she’s becoming, I do occasionally long for the days that she was a tiny infant resting peacefully in my arms. I know those memories also came with sleepless nights, lots of diapers and tears, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The one thing I would not do over? Breastfeeding.

The first two months of my daughter’s life were the absolute worst of mine. It started in the hospital when I looked at the nurse, horrified, as she asked if I minded her giving my baby formula. Of course I minded! I wanted to breastfeed. I knew all the statistics; I had talked with the doctors; I knew that breast milk was liquid gold for babies and I wasn’t about to let mine drink from a bottle. I tried to breastfeed every two hours while we were in the hospital, which was exhausting for everyone.

When we got home, it was the same. I even pumped religiously to really establish my supply. I attended a breastfeeding class and read an entire book on the subject while I was pregnant. I knew this was going to be a tough journey, but I also knew it was best for my baby. 

After a month of calling lactation specialists and talking with doctors about my daughter’s latching on issues, I finally decided that maybe bottle was best. So I switched to pumping exclusively and, although I was disappointed, I was still proud that my baby was getting breast milk.

Then, one day as I sat in the chair pumping, I noticed that I had a large lump in my breast. It was tender and warm, but I assumed it was just a milk duct and decided to pump more on that side.

Days went by and the lump felt the same, so I called the lactation nurse again. She assured me that it was a duct and to use warm packs and pump. More days went by and the lump remained unchanged, so I called the doctor. After an exam, he also said he thought it was a duct but sent me to a specialist to be sure.

The following day, I showed up to the specialist with baby in tow. She decided that no amount of pumping was going to fix this and did an office procedure to drain it, assuring me that I’d feel much better. Later that evening, the pain was unbearable. I started running a fever and my entire chest was bright red. The next morning I could take no more. I called the specialist and went in right away, again with baby in tow. By the time I made it to her office, the redness was moving down my arms and spreading up over my face. She took one look and admitted me to the hospital. A transporter loaded me up with a baby in my arms and wheeled us back to the exact room we had been on her birthday. My husband met us there and before I knew it, I was being taken in to surgery, some of the scariest moments of my life.

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