Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mother's Milk

Just today, I was expecting a shipment of frozen breast milk from the Denver Milk Bank when I learned they are not planning on sending any more. No notice. No gentle weaning process. Just stopped. Done. Final. Period. I look in the freezer and count the bottles. Olivia is now taking about 24 ounces a day. I have enough for 3 more days.

I make a bunch of phone calls. "But she has a prescription." I say, "Her doctor wants her on breast milk for one year." I am given the run-around. I call the numbers and wait on hold while the soothing music on the line taunts me. I talk to our insurance company. I speak with our pediatrician. It feels like a fight. My voice sounds increasingly defensive and angry to my ears. Deep inside me, I feel the seeds of panic stirring.

I take a break. I take a breath. I understand there is only so much donated breast milk in the world and we have to share it. We have to prioritize. There may not be enough for every baby. I understand this...

...but I am a mother. The deep need to protect my baby, to feed her, to love her is encoded into every single cell of my being. There is no switch. It can't be denied. With terrifying intensity, it draws a line in the sand. Mothers are a profound force in this world possessing a rare willingness to risk everything, to even sacrifice themselves... for a child.

I leave messages that probably sound like a crazed woman left them. I recount the bottles. I kiss the forehead of my sleeping Olivia. Amore takes a break from her post next to the baby- drawn to whoever needs her the most- and she trots along behind me like a shadow. I stop to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. There are tears in my eyes. I look defeated. Like so many others, my eyes drop to my chest. "Damn boobs!" I yell at them. They just sit there pretending not to hear me at all.

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