is that a diagnosable disorder? elephantitis of the boob. i have elephant breasts.
the breast is a wondrous thing. one of the first symptoms after becoming pregnant is enlargement and soreness of the breast tissue. even when the tiny embryo is just a couple cells big, the female mammalian body is already preparing itself to feed its offspring once it is born, nine months later. after the birth, a cascade of hormones occurs and viola. the breasts fill with milk. often there can be a painful period where the breasts become engorged, until the feedback loop is stabilized. you see, the human breast is like walmart. as soon as something is taken out, it is logged in the computer and automatically re-ordered and shipped to the store. that way, supply is able to perfectly meet demand. unless it is thrown off by something. unless you’ve tricked your boobs. the way that i have.
you see, ever since joel was six weeks old, i’ve been pumping milk every day. partly because we had some misguided notion that he was going to be more bottle-fed than ruth so that greg could bond with him, yadda, yadda. but mostly so that i could donate my milk.
ruth peeked into the styrofoam box as i stuffed the extra space with paper so the milk wouldn’t thaw as it was shipping. “ruth, all this milk (we call it ‘mama moot’) is going to sick babies in a different city. isn’t that weird?” she looked at me like i was crazy. after collecting milk for around two months, labeling and storing it in the freezer, after meticulously cleaning my pump parts day after day, boiling the shit out of them on the stove every third day, after getting blood work done, and filling out paper work, not to mention getting up early every day to pump, i finally had reached the donation amount. two hundred ounces. and i could finally dust my hands of the whole thing.
don’t get me wrong. i wanted to do it. mostly because i thought it was a cool thing to do, but also partly out of guilt because i had tried to do it after i had ruth, but i waited too long and could never quite get my milk supply up. this time, i was determined.
i’m not above feeling a little lofty, having gone through all of this out of the goodness of my heart. “do you get paid for this?” the phlebotomist asked as she stuck her hollow needle into my vein. “no,” i said, trying not to freak myself out so bad that i made myself pass out, “it’s a donation.” “hhhmph,” she said as my red velvet blood filled her tube, “my son and i give plasma, but we get paid. i put it all in a separate account and use it for spending money on vacation.” “that’s nice,” i said, feeling like i was definitely going to pass out if i didn’t calm down. i started to blather on about controversial issues i had read about online regarding who exactly was making money off of all of this donated breast milk to try and distract myself. the lady looked at me like i was looney, the way i was carrying on.
“you need to call and get some answers about the financial situation with this milk,” greg said to me, after i had shipped the box, “you don’t want someone else making money off of your milk.” that’s true, but it was already done.
i got a call the other day from the milk bank. i’m not going to lie. i picked up, expecting a little dose of verbal validation, a little ego boost. something along the lines of, “thank you so much for your generous gift of life. such and such many tiny sick babies are going to be greatly helped if not saved by your donation and hard work…” instead, “hi, theresa? i was just calling from the milk bank to see if you were going to be an ongoing or just a one time donor?” just????? “um….” i said. this wasn’t going the way i planned. i tried to make my voice chipper and confident as i said, “nope. i’m just going to make the single donation.” thinking that the thank you so much spiel must come after the obligatory questions. “alright, then. i’ll put that down on your paper work. thanks for your donation. have a good day. and tell others about us. spread the word.” click.
i hung up the phone ironically, feeling like i was failing somehow or letting the tiny babies down instead of helping them. that place needs a new phone answerer/call-maker. that lady sucks. “she’s probably just a seven-dollar-an-hour part time employee,” said greg later. probably so. but still. how do they expect people to be willing to put in so much work if they can’t even beef them up over the phone a bit for what we’re going through to make these donations? what, simply out of the goodness of our hearts? psche.
in any case, i have tricked my boobies. they think i have a much hungrier baby than i actually do. or twins. and they hurt. owie. just another thing that phone lady should understand when she’s calling milk donors. look at what we go through.
so, my boobs are back in training. to make less milk. in the meantime, stand clear of my breasts. they outta control.