Sunday, September 11, 2011

That's Not What Those are For...

Breasts are for breastfeeding, not for biopsies!

I have been breastfeeding for six weeks and four days. I have never thought about my breasts so much in my life. I am constantly thinking about them. Which one did Addison nurse from last? How many ounces do I need to pump today? Which one feels more firm? How many hours since our last nursing? Am I leaking (again!)? Do I have extra nursing pads? Am I running out of nursing pads? Can I easily nurse in this t-shirt? Did I leak on this shirt (... I'm not even out of the house yet!)? It's all about the breasts... Ten days after Addison was born, the boob-question of the day was, "Is this a plugged duct?" it certainly seemed as though overnight I acquired a large almond-shaped lump in the side of my left breast. I consulted my friend and LLL Leader, and made my husband palpate this lump roughly 5 dozen times over the weekend . With hot compresses I was more comfortable, but it was definitely the super hot shower and massaging showerhead that helped! It was nearly gone and I was relieved. Over the next few days it seemed smaller but was definitely still there... I could express milk in the shower and Addison was eating happily so in my sleepless, colicky stupor, I did what any new mom would do and ignored myself and focused on my baby. At my six-week postpartum follow-up I made sure to show my midwife. She said it felt like a plugged duct but the responsible thing to do would be to send me for an ultrasound to confirm. Ultrasound? Ack.  Ok... I can do that.

John and I left Addison with my sister the next day so he could take me for my ultrasound. Those of you who have had ultrasounds know it's a little awkward to have body parts exposed for a stranger to massage with a wand, but add lactating, leaky boobs to the mix and you have an awkward-convention! The tech only took images for a quick minute or two and then left me in the darkened room to get the radiologist to review what she had taken... for nearly half an hour. There are never clocks in these darkened rooms so you can't complain about how "she left me there for 30 minutes!" however I beat the system and had a view of the ultrasound screen timestamp in my peripheral vision... In this half-hour I wondered... did she only take a few images because it's small? because she knows what breast cancer looks like and didn't need anymore? because that's what they do? What was going on? Were they deciding who was to tell me I was sick? Was I not sick at all and they were taking their time because I wasn't urgent, I was just leaking precious milk into my silly little half-robe? What the heck was it?!

Finally the radiologist and technician came into the room... the radiologist said that it "doesn't look like cancer but." ALL YOU NEED IS A BUT to send a woman's mind spinning down a pessimistic dismal spiral of terrible possibilities. Her guess was it is a fibroid adenoma which is a fancy term for benign tumor, or a galactocele which is the snooty medical term for "plugged duct". But (there it is again!!) just to be sure, I should have a needle biopsy... soon. I guess they have to add the "soon" because who wouldn't put off a biopsy if given the chance... I'd love to schedule it for the Tuesday after never. Ugh!

This happened on Thursday and the "biopsy coordinator" (can we just say, secretary?!) was to call me Friday to schedule me for Monday... I called her because I need to get this nonsense over with. So there we have it, noon on Monday I am scheduled for a needle biopsy of my lump. I have a lump. It's not a lovely lady lump, it's an annoying female interrupting my breastfeeding lump. I haven't slept well even when Addison is quiet the past few days because my mind is absolutely racing... I can't counsel myself out of a million worries and I'm finding blogging to be cathartic so I'm going to unload a few of them onto my blogging world, irrational or not, here they are:

*I'm going to have cancer and I'm going to die. Addison will grow up with a single parent and I'll leave John to raise her. While he would do an AMAZING job, I get choked up at the thought of missing a day of her life. She is my world and I don't want to leave her, ever.

*I'll be okay but this biopsy (or the doctor) will damage something important and disrupt breastfeeding. Breastfeeding means so much to me and there is a risk that this biopsy will damage a duct therefore impacting my still-new supply.

*There is a risk that I will leak milk into my breast as a result of this biopsy- not only does that sound like gross sci-fi craziness, but that would REALLY disrupt things and be horrible if I had to have my breast sliced open to drain the milk from the biopsy gone wrong that's just floating around in my breast.

*I'll have to have this lump removed which would really disrupt Addison's breastfeeding... these are her leaky boobs. They're only big and leaky for her.

*The concept of a long hollow needle going into my breast is appalling, disgusting, scary, and gross all at the same time- eww, ouch, ick.

*Silly but: Addison will be upset tomorrow because she'll have to nurse on our less-coordinated side all night... I have to pump and toss my milk for 24-hours... those of you who breastfeed know how painful the thought of that is in itself. Ugh! All that lost milk that I don't get to give her now or save for later!

I don't know if it's growth spurt or just her sensing that I'm upset/distressed but Addison has been nursing every 30-45 minutes for the past several days... the thought of having to leave her for a few hours to have someone biopsy her milk makers makes me feel guilty. While I know the important thing is praying it isn't cancer, being a new mom who values breastfeeding as much as I do makes it that much worse.

So today, my blog readers, I selfishly ask for your prayers... and if God happens to be keeping up with the Crunchy Mama blog... Please Lord, let this procedure go well and let the results be benign. 


  1. First and foremost, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. The responsible thing is to do what you're doing, to take care of yourself, eliminate the buts, and you will be around to see all that you need to see with your beautiful girl. Breathe, distract yourself and this will be over. The Catharine I know is a positive girl, don't go changin' now. Hang in there.

  2. Prayers for you! Good Luck tomorrow! ((HUGS))

  3. Sending warm positive healing thoughts your way- and a good night's rest, too.

  4. I had a needle biopsy done on my throat (thyroid) and while I wouldn't choose to do it again, it wasn't too bad. My husband stood by my side and held my hand the entire time-- that really helped. Try to relax and take it one moment at a time. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow. -- Sue

  5. Oh my poor love, I am praying for you lots. Can't work out why they'd make you pump and dump your milk though? There's no drugs being put in there? So hope it goes ok, xxxx

  6. Thank you all for your positive thoughts and prayers! <3 I hope to have an excited, good news-filled post by Thursday night!

  7. I've read where those lumps--caused by a clogged duct--can become permanent, and remain benign. I pray that is the issue with your lump! Thanks for sharing, Catharine. I will be praying for you and your little Addison!