Damn You Breasts

So, I had my mammogram last Tuesday. This is only the second one in my life. I’m only 41 and when I got my PAP smear in January the nurse practitioner recommended that I get another one. Why? I’m only 41. Just turned 41. I do my own breast exams. I don’t need to do another one do I? Plus, my insurance plan covers it once every two years because there is no family history of breast cancer.

She said, “Nope, you should still do it.” I sighed. I huffed and puffed and said “Okay”. Now, before you start tripping and saying what’s the issue T? Let me explain. The dang thing hurts. Mammograms feel like thousands of angry midgets pushing, pulling and smashing your dang breasts in all different directions. It’s painful as hell.

Well, I’ve been having a heck of a year and putting off the second mammogram that I finally had enough. I got my baby situated and decided that I needed to handle that mammogram this month. So, I went to the radiology clinic last week to get it done. The representative said, “Can I get your orders?” I laughed. “You’ve had them since January.” She looked in the system and then gave me the forms to fill out.

I sat down and filled out the forms and waited. Ten minutes later they were taking me back to go through the process again. I cringed when I had to put on that half robe and it was cold as heck in the office. I walked into the room and thought “There’s the torture machine.” The technician was awesome and tried to get me to relax as she kneaded my breasts to lay flat on the dang screen and instructed me not to breathe.

“I’m about to pass out from the damn pain” I thought. She took her four pictures and said that they looked good that the radiologist will call me if there is anything. “Okay” I replied as I skipped my happy tale out the dang office. I proceeded down the beltway to pick up my Munch from school early because he had a doctor’s appointment too.

My breasts were still hurting last Thursday as I told my co-workers that mammograms hurt like heck. They laughed. They had all been through it. So, as I’m sitting at my desk working on this financial file for retiree data I get a call on my cell phone. I didn’t recognize the number, but I’m always thinking it’s the school so I answered. It’s the lab.

The nurse on the phone says that the radiologist wants me to come back in and do a repeat of both breasts because he saw a change from my last films and is also ordering a breast ultrasound. I sat there looking at the dang computer screen with tears streaming down my face. “What?” “When can you come in next week sweetie?” “I need a morning appointment” I stuttered. “Okay, how about Thursday at 10 am?” she said. “Sure, that will work” I replied.

I sat there with tears streaming down my face and cursing my damn breasts. What the heck is wrong with you? I’ve been good with you. I do my monthly breast exams. I’m always checking for lumps. Shouldn’t I have felt something? I started to freak out.

I called Mr. C and he calmly said “Okay, so what’s the worry?” I sat there looking at the phone like “Dude, didn’t you just hear me?” He said, “There’s no reason to worry. You don’t know anything.” I told him that I needed to call a woman he didn’t have breasts. He didn’t know what I was feeling. I called my best friend. She answered and said, “I have to call you back. I’m in a meeting.” What the hell is going on?

I called my momma. She said “What’s the deal? Don’t worry. It’s normal. I’ve had fluid removed from my breasts. There’s a lot of stuff between normal and cancer that could be wrong with your breasts.” “For real” I asked. “Yep.”

I sighed. I’m waiting. Not patiently. My mind is playing tricks on me. I’m trying not to think the worse. I’m trying. I told my mom at dinner on Sunday night that if I should die I need her to raise my son. She’s not my first choice. Not that she’s not a great grandmother. I just think that it’s too much for a 60 year old to raise an 8 year old.

Ugh!

My appointment is in two days. Damn the beautiful small breasts that are no longer perky because of age. The breasts that served as nourishment for my Munch. I’m screaming at you…Your next exam better be perfect or I’m going to have a dang hissy fit.

The Beauty of My Breasts

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my breasts. They were always too small. I remember going through puberty and my breasts starting to grow and my aunt looking at my chest and replying, “Girl, your breasts are too small, I don’t think you will ever need a bra.” I was crushed. Embarrassed to say the least. I felt body shamed. I didn’t know how to put it in words, but I made sure to tell my mother how I felt.

My mom was sweet in her reply. She said, “Tell them, that when God was giving out breasts, I thought he said, brains so I got more than enough.” Sweet and to the point, but that didn’t stop me from realizing one fundamental fact…I was somehow flawed. I never thought about it until someone pointed it out. My body was not perfect. Something was wrong with me. I was abnormal. Over the years, I was ridiculed about the size of my breasts. I learned to ignore a lot of it, but it became difficult to deny that I was simply not bountiful in the breast category.

unnamed1

My breasts grew as I aged and gained weight. Not much though. But, I learned to make peace with my imperfect breasts because they became perfect to me. They are a part of me. These same breasts that caused people to call me “flat chested” or say that “my chest looked like a 9 year old boy” underwent their first mammogram a couple of weeks ago. In that changing room, I came to an agreement with my breasts: I promise to love and accept you for the size you are and never try to change you as long as you keep me healthy. No cancer.

It may have seemed stupid, but it was the only thing that I felt I could do in light of my fear of cancer. Cancer had already claimed two of my first cousins and I didn’t want any bad news so I did the only thing I could think of: smile and barter. It was in that bartering moment that I realized one fundamental fact: No matter the size, the health of my breasts was important. So, I stood in the changing room snapping selfies to remind myself that my breast health was important but that I loved my “girls”. I learned that my breasts are not flawed. They may be imperfect to some, but they are perfect to me because they allowed me to do the most important job in the world. They allowed me the opportunity to nurse my son.

They served their purpose.

My first mammogram
My first mammogram

Get a Grip: My Breasts are Not for Your Enjoyment

I was outraged last month when I read the story of Karlesha Thurman, a 25 year old mother, who
decided to breastfeed her daughter during her college graduation ceremony.  The Internet went crazy with all kinds of negative comments about her choice to nurse her baby during the ceremony (in public). Sidebar:  If you have ever been at your college graduation, sat through one or viewed one on TV you will know that they are freaking too long and boring and you wish that you had snacks during them.  That being said, what is the problem?  Isn’t she doing what our country and many other countries encourage mothers to do? Breastfeed.  Is there anything inappropriate about this picture?


Breastfeeding is one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make when I was pregnant with my son.  I wanted too, but was unsure of whether or not I could do it.  I had heard all the horror stories about the extreme pain, sore breasts and nipples and the bleeding that could occur. So, I asked my husband did he want me to breastfeed.  His response was simply, “I would like you to try.” His response had a profound impact on me because he recognized the importance of breastfeeding our baby. He had done his research and he understood the benefits of breast milk and thought that the breast was best.  

A high risk pregnancy with complications made my delivery easy, but the outcome was that I was too weak and too sick to nurse my son.  I was told that I could pump when I got situated back in the high risk ward.  They said that they didn’t want me to nurse him because they were afraid that I would have a seizure while nursing and recommended pumping instead.  So, my baby received his first bottle by a nurse who said he needed to eat.  I was devastated.  I wanted to feed him naturally, not from a bottle.  So, I sat in my hospital room trying to force my milk to come in and pump enough just to give my son some “liquid gold” aka colostrum.  I wanted him to enjoy the taste of his mother’s milk not formula.

But, he was a fickle baby. He would go hours without eating because he refused to nurse. He would suck a bottle, but not a breast, but I was determined.  It was at his three week check-up that his pediatrician said that we needed to supplement formula into his feeding schedule. He had lost too much weight.  They were concerned.  I literally broke down in the pediatrician’s office crying.  His doctor was wonderful.  She said, “Mom, don’t let society tell you that breast feeding is all or nothing.  We want you to breast feed, but if you can’t you’re still fine.” I felt like a failure.  The only thing I had to do was give him my breast milk and nothing more and I couldn’t do that.  (I was really overreacting during this emotional postpartum filled time).  So, I decided to pump since Brennan didn’t want to latch on. I pumped all the time, but I could never produce enough to satisfy him.  

I never got the chance to really nurse my son like I wanted, but I highly support breastfeeding.  It is natural, normal and healthy for you to nurse your baby.  So, my question is if your baby has to eat, should you be limited in feeding him or her?  Should you wait until it is convenient, sit in your car or nurse on a stall in a dirty women’s room?  No, you should be allowed to feed your baby whenever and wherever you choose.  Your baby has to eat and you shouldn’t be forced to leave a place in order to make folks feel more comfortable with your decision to breastfeed. Heck, the federal government along with many states support women’s decision to breastfeed in public.  Why can’t we?

Breastfeeding is normal.  Women should not be made to feel uncomfortable by feeding their baby in public.  That is the attitude that my nephew Cam’s mother has taken.  She is absolutely all about the breast and my nephew is growing and giggling and loving every minute of his mommy’s milk.  I support it.  I encourage it and I’m happy she understands and appreciates normalized feeding even in public places.