There Goes the Breast Milk!
By Lynne DeAmello-Rafferty
I have never breast fed. Since I have recently decided that having my own children will conflict with my selfish, on-the-go, sleep-loving lifestyle, I will never breastfeed. I am an advocate of it, however, as I know there are many health benefits and emotional bonds and connections formed as a result of this personal choice. I also think it is a beautiful choice. It’s a blessing to people who can do it. Personally, I see breastfeeding (for myself) as mixing business with pleasure. Therefore, if I were to have children, I would not do this. Maybe I would pump? I am getting ahead of myself here...
I have been thinking about the idea of breast milk and the commodity it has become in our society. I am even more intrigued that it is sold on the “black market.” After providing childcare for several infants who have been on varying spectra of the breast-feeding circuit, I have come to appreciate how precious breast milk is. This is ultimately why I mourn the following mishaps that I have fallen victim to:
- The “wrong-nipple” mishap: This is where I quickly grab the accoutrements for an outdoor adventure. I stuff the nipple into the top and then put the cover on it only to realize mid-trip that I stuffed the wrong nipple on and there is now breast milk all over the bottom of my bag.
- The “wrong pipe” mishap: This is when I am giving the baby the bottle and she suddenly coughs as if the milk has traveled down the wrong pipe. Yes. The milk is now all over, covering face, shirt, hair. Mine, not hers.
- The “loosen the bottle top” mishap: This occurs when I decide that I will combine two small bottles into one for easy transport. I accidentally loosen the top of one bottle before doing the “shake” to counteract the milk separation. Then I shake the 3/4 of the bottle onto myself, the floor, in the cat dishes, and once again, in my hair. This is one of the worst mishaps without a doubt.
- The “mistaken food” mishap: I use the same little bowls for our breakfast. I mix baby’s cereal with a bit of breast milk. Then I put my oatmeal (or other breakfast-y item) into my bowl. As I am waiting for the baby to finish “chewing” her spoonful, I absentmindedly grab the spoon, thinking it’s from my bowl, and am JUST about to shove it into my mouth when I notice at the last minute (with utter horror) what just went down. Phew, I think to myself, as I breathe out slowly.
- The “unsteady hand” mishap: This occurs because of my own shaky hands. Exhaustion or too much caffeine will do it. I begin to feed cereal with milk (or other meal mixed with breast milk) to the little pumpkin, only to spill it on me while it is en route from bowl to baby’s mouth. This always happens at the beginning of a day when I forgot to bring a change of clothes. This can also occur when the baby flails around excitedly or with aggravation, and the food (and milk) go everywhere.
…And there goes the break milk…commodity as it is. I cannot imagine what it feels like to have a pump suck the milk out of one’s breast. I appreciate how very sacred this milk is and how a spill cannot be bandaged by a quick trip to the market for another half-gallon.
I CAN however imagine how awkward it is to have someone’s breast milk on your body. I CAN vouch for what that is like on a hot day with no change of clothes (lesson learned, my friends). I CAN imagine the bond that you form with a parent after you have their breast milk stain on your shirt and tangled up in your naturally curly, dark hair. And ultimately, I CAN imagine that this may be a post that is not relative to many of you or that may have grossed out the squeamish readers. Let’s face it though, this stuff is on the black market for a reason!