The Breastfeeding Diaries: Karli from Farmer and the Bell

December 18, 2013

hi friends. my name is karli and i blog over at farmer & the bell.

when i saw the breastfeeding diaries series here on julie's blog i just knew i wanted to participate.

you see…breastfeeding was TEXTBOOK for me. would you like to know why it was textbook?

answer // everything went exactly as was NOT expected.

seriously, the majority of the breastfeeding stories i hear are all about how this went wrong or that or this or that and all have one of two possible outcomes: they continued to breastfeed, or they didn't.

i chose to continue.

the underlying commonality is that these moms are happy with their decisions…and that is one of the most important things to raising a happy child…at least in this mama's book.

my breastfeeding story//

i wish i could say breastfeeding was this natural, beautiful experience that was second-nature. unfortunately it wasn't.

when my kaye was born i was pretty positive that she should be eating every three hours on the mark…so why did she want to eat every 40 minutes?

i was pretty positive that if i was breastfeeding correctly my nipples wouldn't feel like they were going to fall off. so why did i need to bite a leather strap for those first two weeks?

i was certain that my body would get the hang of this whole "produce milk around the clock," my hormones would regulate, and i would start to feel normal again.

so why, after six weeks, did i still feel like total garbage?

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.


Be sure to catch up with the rest of The Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar. And the series will be taking a two week break for Christmas and New Years, but be sure to check back on January 8th!

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9 Comments »

9 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Karli from Farmer and the Bell”

  1. What a great story Karli! I love hearing about everyone's stories because I plan on breastfeeding my children when that time comes and your story is definitely one to remember since what happened your first dr didn't know about since it was uncommon.

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  2. Wow, what dedication and persistence. Good for you, an inspiration for all.

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  3. My son and I did not have an easy start to our breastfeeding journey at all...With two bouts of mastitis and a serious infection, I thought my story was pretty bad. But good Lord! What you went through is incredible! I am completely awestruck by your perseverance. Way to go on keeping on with breastfeeding despite such challenges! Your daughter is so cute:)

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  4. all I have to say is kudos to you for sticking it out through all of that! your little lady is so lucky to have such a brave mama!

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  5. Dang girl!! You deserve a standing ovation and a giant pat on the back. Way to go, Mama. Seriously. Giant, enormous, kudos.

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  6. Oh my goodness! I have to admit that I have never heard of that, but it sounds SO painful! Good for you for sticking with it through all of that!! I'm headed over to your blog to read more about it all!!

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  7. Wow, I'm so glad that everything worked out.

    I'm really not trying to rock the boat, but I just have to say this: I think that this 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" is an irresponsible message. And this story certainly isn't the first to have that theme.

    Sometimes women should NOT breastfeed "no matter what." And this idea that you can't give up could have serious consequences in certain situations.

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  8. look at what you quoted more closely…"if breastfeeding is the right choice for you…" it is very specific to the person. it's not right for everyone…and i hope i conveyed that message. it was the right choice for me, and so i resolved to continue month by month. thank you for reading my story, and i hope that it inspires.

    -karli

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  9. Wow! I thought that we had it rough over here (I'm sure many a mama would have given up by now!)but your story definitely takes the cake you poor thing. ..that's incredible. Well done! I understand what you mean about just keeping on going though - it's like knowing that something inside you just tells you to keep pushing through! Many a moment I've thought that a sane person would have given in but for some reason, in spite of all our troubles, not breastfeeding my daughter hasn't been an option. We're three months in and I hope I can keep pushing each month to get as far as you. Well done!

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