There was a moment as I stepped down this gutter and I realised that this was THE drain. I suddenly felt short of breath as sadness expanded from the pit of my stomach and an began aching for a time in the past.
When Master X was only a couple of weeks old, I came across an advertisement on my favourite online haunt Gumtree (like Craig’s List) for some large swaddle cloths. Master X is very long for his age, and even at birth was situated in the 85th percentile, so regular sized swaddle cloths did not fit him. Whilst I was hurriedly collecting the cloths from the woman- I recall that it was a very windy evening in the middle of winter- I shared with her my story of breastfeeding.
I recounted our stay in the hospital when Master X was ten days old after being transferred there via ambulance due to acute mastitis. We stayed in the hospital for four days. I lamented my ongoing issues with supply, and how we were reluctantly substituting with formula (I wish I had known about Human Milk for Human Babies back then) and I was pumping with a manual hand pump for ten minutes on each breast, after each feed. Now babies at two weeks old feed around the clock, so my time was spent either feeding, or manually expressing.
This lady gave me my first electric breast pump.
I did not care that it was second-hand as no moving parts come in contact with breastmilk, so it can all be cleaned and sterilised. I was just grateful that this mother had seen my pain, my dedication (or blind stupidity) to continue to breastfeed my baby.
On my way home, I stopped off at the shop to collect some needed items, and then dinner from the takeaway. I piled all the groceries into the front passenger seat, however I could not fit the pizza boxes on top. By this stage there was torrential rain. I hurriedly opened the back passenger door, only to have the breast pump and all its parts fall out and onto the wet ground. I realised too late that I was parked over this rainwater drain and that parts had fallen down it. Many parts, including some that were necessary for the operation of the pump.
This memory came flashing back to me as I witnessed, once again, the drain flowing with water today. All I did this time though was- almost without thought- step over it to make my way, through the rain, to the car. But the glance at my feet as I walked flashed the memory of the evening over five months ago and I suddenly realise that my milk has now dried up because I have not expressed for a couple of days. And in that moment I actually recall the final time that I expressed was quickly and mindlessly in the kitchen one morning. I probably only expressed about twenty millilitres.
The only reason I remember this is because I realised that even though the pumping was being reduced, I still felt sad EVERY TIME I had to throw my once precious milk, down the sink
(cue tears welling in my eyes, hot heat, churning stomach, a moment of grief).
So although I try to see the best in the changes that have happened, the memory still causes me pain. The suddenness, the lack of what felt like real choice.
and it still hurts, but hurting is normal and I am working on accepting it. It is part of the healing process.