December 2007

I asked him “Do you want me to breastfeed?” It really wasn’t his choice. It was mine. Nursing was a personal choice. He responded “I would like you to try.” I thought about it. I could try.

April 2008

I was exhausted. The delivery was an emergency c-section. I was sick. The baby had to come out because I couldn’t take anymore. But, I wanted to nurse. In post-op I wanted to nurse him. I asked to nurse him. I didn’t want them to give him a bottle. I wanted him to nurse from his mother. I was too weak. I was told that they had to give him something. Sugar water I think. I was hazy. “Rest mama” is what they kept saying.

May 2008

With many of the tubes removed from me I’m now settled in the maternity wing. No more high risk wing. My blood pressure is still high. Pills to reduce it. “I want to nurse him” I say. “You’re too weak mama. We’ll give him formula. You can pump.” I cried. All I wanted to do was to nurse him. I slept. I was exhausted.

Day 3 after my delivery, the lactation consultant came to show me how to nurse him. I told her that I had been sick and they wanted me to pump. That I pumped and my mom fed him from the bottles but I wanted to nurse him. She told me that nursing was best. She turned over the bottle and the milk just flowed out. She explained that babies don’t have to work for it in the bottle. They have to work for it on the boob. The next twenty minutes were about her showing me how to nurse my son. He was 3 days old and I finally got to nurse him. It was weird. It didn’t hurt. It just was a weird experience.

I sighed.

I’m a mom.

I’m nursing.

I did it.



This post was part of the A2Z challenge and the letter “N” is for Nursing. My posts will be written as a journal style for the challenge and will be on the theme: Mothering While Black. I hope you enjoyed it.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page


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.


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.


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

Depression and Loss

Depression is no laughing matter. Hearing of the suicide of one of my favorite comedians, Robin Williams reminded me of how I suffered with depression when I had my son. It was private and painful. Very few people knew. I was embarrassed.

Most people who are suffering from some form of depression don’t tell. It’s a big secret unless something like suicide occurs. Suicide takes over 30,000 Americans each year and over half of those occur in adult men between the ages of 25-65. The strongest rate factor for suicide is depression. Depression is serious folks. It is a mood disorder. states that “Basically, here’s how it works: the nerves in our brain don’t touch each other, but rather pass messages from one to the next through chemicals called neurotransmitters. We need just the right amount of this chemical between the nerves to pass the exact same message to the next nerve. If there isn’t enough of that chemical, the message doesn’t get passed along correctly and in this case, depression or a depressive illness can result. When it comes to depressive disorders the chemicals most frequently out of balance are serotonin and norepinephrine.”

Worldwide, it is estimated that some 121 million people suffer from some form of depression. It’s serious, not only because of Robin Williams, but for all the men and women who are suffering. Did you know that African-Americans are more likely than any other race to suffer depression? How about the fact that women have higher depression rates than men? I was shocked when I read those statistics.

Why? Because it was a reminder that no one is immune to depression. When I delivered my son, six years ago, I had no idea what post partum was or why I would be experiencing it. Why me? I had done everything in my power to keep my baby inside my womb until they had to take him early. I did everything the doctor’s said, but it was a couple of days later when the reality of his birth hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt sad, tearful, despairing, discouraged, overwhelmed, and alone. I didn’t know why. I wanted my munch, but I felt helpless. I had a lot of anxiety on whether or not he would love me or if I could do it. I was embarrassed.

It was my doctor who noticed what I was going through and explained it to me in the simplest form: When we removed the placenta, your hormones plummeted. Your body is trying to re-adjust. I couldn’t stop crying. He gave me a prescription for Zoloft to help with the transition. That depressed me even more. I sat in the hospital afraid of being released. My munch didn’t like latching on to me as I breastfed and it was overwhelming. Why didn’t he want my milk? What was wrong with me? Nothing, I just didn’t know the level of this depression.

It took me a few months to get back to my “normal self” or whatever that was. I was embarrassed for many years after that. Embarrassed because I had never known any black woman to have suffered from postpartum depression. You know the “strong black woman” mantra that young black women are taught limited my ability to understand that I needed help. But, I never took for granted the fact that I had a great doctor who was proactive in helping me. He helped stabilize my moods.

My story isn’t the same as Robin’s but depression links us all. I will mourn the loss of an incredible actor that manifested brilliance in every scene. I will watch the replays of Robin’s films and I will laugh. I will cry. I will remember. Remember a man who said in one of my favorite movies, “Good Will Hunting”:

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

RIP - Robin Williams
RIP – Robin Williams

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.