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express yourself

December 23, 2007

In my chest freezer downstairs there’s a Kirkland wipes box full of frozen expressed breast milk. I stored it in six-ounce bags, each labeled: May 16, 2006, 2:30 A.M, 6 ounces, like that. There used to be over a hundred of them, each of them marking the time I attached myself to a pump and watched the jets of milk squirt from myself into the plastic bottles. There used to be a over a hundred, but I gave most of them away when, after two months of trying, my baby and I finally figured nursing out. The Kirkland box full I didn’t give away; I kept it in case I needed to thaw it for bottles. But there was never a need for bottles, and my baby is long since weaned, and I still keep the frozen bags there. To say they are a part of me is melodramatic and not true. They used to be, I guess. But mostly they remind me of the hours I spent keeping up my milk and trying, over and over, to nurse this child. Something kept me going with him, when I gave up trying with my other kids. Something kept me going, and finally we made it, we nursed.

I mention the bags of milk because my freezer is getting full now, and I need to empty it. It’s full of frozen fruit for smoothies I never make, frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts for meals I don’t cook, frozen ham, frozen pork loin roast. All that food waiting there, for me to have will and energy to pull it out and make it into something.

But the breast milk is, I guess, evidence that at one point I did have will and energy. There’s drudgery and love involved in feeding children, working in tandem, with and against me.

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