Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 37...It Happened to Liimu

So, I didn't even think this could happen, but it happened to me. And I just thought I should share my story in case it may happen to anyone else. I had mastitis with my third daughter while breastfeeding. It's basically a fancy term for a breast infection, which is usually transmitted from the baby's mouth to the mom's breast. As a result, getting mastitis when you're not lactating is extremely unlikely. As a result, it wasn't even on my radar as something that might happen to me in these final weeks of pregnancy.

Sunday night, I started having pain in my left breast that radiated out to my armpit and arm, but I didn't think much of it. Who doesn't have breast pain during pregnancy? (If you don't, well hmph. Keep that to yourself so the rest of us don't feel bad.) Anyway, the next morning, I felt like a truck had run over me, but again, thought I was just tired after a bad night's sleep. I tried to go about my day, which included an all-day meeting in New York, but when I started feeling clammy and feverish while driving on the turnpike, it became evident I was going to have to slow down and put my plans on hold. I kept feeling worse and worse, and when I finally took my temp found that it was 101.5. I went back to bed and started having chills and headaches. I thought I had the flu and seriously hadn't made the connection.

It wasn't until I got up later and took a shower and saw the trademark red splotch on my boob. When I went in the shower, I could feel a tender hard spot that radiated heat, and knew from my own experience that I had mastitis. I went online and saw that although rare, it's not unheard of to get it while still pregnant. I called my midwife and she'd never heard of it, nor had anyone in her network of midwives, so she felt it was probably just a clogged milk duct, not anything requiring antibiotics. We both hoped it would resolve on its own.

Although the fever lifted, the pain didn't go away entirely and I still felt that hard spot. To be honest, I started to freak out (my mom is a 30-year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 50 years old and required a double mastectomy as part of her treatment). Perhaps because of this, or simply because it wasn't resolving entirely on its own, my midwife referred me to a breast specialist (the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are often similar to mastitis).

They diagnosed me yesterday with not only mastitis, but a full-blown abscess, that required a huge needle to be drained. I am also on antibiotics for the next 10 days. Joy. So, if you guys have breast pain or any unusual symptoms, don't ignore them! Breast infection isn't only something that happens during breastfeeding. Less than three weeks to go, and believe me, I am really looking forward to saying goodbye to the painful side of pregnancy and hello to our newborn son.

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