“Anyone need a little milk in their coffee?”
If I hadn’t been naked from the waist up, cold, wet and considering what might be more painful – carving the two mountains off my chest or manually downsizing them – I would have gone straight through the canvas wall separating me from my jocular husband and his motley audience as they gathered around the drowsy morning camp fire and the lonely, charred coffee pot.
The mercury had barely hovered above single digits overnight and the camper we had borrowed was powerless, which meant no heat and no light, and we were perched on the top of a mountain six hours from home. Our son was not yet three months old and I was a new mother struggling to make peace with an unfamiliar body and fighting the little fears and panic that each new mother experiences. Three days earlier the little being that changed my very existence went on a dine-around.
And then he decided he had spent enough time bellying up to the bar.
Feeding my son was not the magical experience I had expected it would be. Not at first. We struggled together, an exhausted blur of syringe feedings and painful sessions with lactation consultants that left us both in tears and my husband helpless. And suddenly with one clip, we were both freed and his hunger quickly outpaced the food supply long before he had a vested interest in what was on the grocery list. Just like that my perky Bs exploded into obnoxious Ds.
I could have fed Africa. The entire continent.
Our freezer was filled with individual servings. Two fridge shelves of fresh meals. After my son had his half hour, the pump had me for another 15. I was trapped in a chair for 45 minutes, every two hours. And if I showed up late for an appointment, my bounty was less beautiful than it was ballistic. That my tiny little body was the eternal well was a source of endless amusement for my husband, a source of endless joy, pain and frustration for me.
Standing there, tears of frustration and pain running down my face and milk streaming down my body, the expensive machine that I couldn’t stand the sight or sound of was suddenly the only thing I wanted. But we were camping, which means drip drying and fire-smoked meals, ball caps and blackened tea kettles, sharpened twigs for roasting and mounds of blankets.
Seven years later, I am standing in my bedroom sorting through shoes and shampoos, sweaters and stuffed animals, preparing for three of us to escape into the mountains again. Without him but with other women and children who do not know each other yet all share a common bond.