8.19.2009

Shit happens

The other morning, Biffle walked into the bedroom where I was getting ready for work.

"You know that bumper sticker they used to have, that said, 'Shit Happens'?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"You know why they had that bumper sticker?"

I hazarded a guess: "Because shit happens?"

"Yeah," he said.

I paused. "So, what happened?"

"You didn't close the freezer door all the way last night."

The deep freezer, in Biffle's wood studio. The freezer Biffle's parents bought for us for Christmas because I had so much frozen breast milk stashed away that it was filling our little refrigerator-freezer. And because I didn't close the freezer door all the way, all the breast milk was ruined.

All the breast milk

was

ruined.

I cried. I've talked here before about the significance of breast milk, the sort of irrational importance it can take on. The fact is that Maybelle refused to drink from a bottle, so she really didn't have the opportunity to drink all the milk I'd stashed away. It was going to get thrown away, eventually. But having it all melt over the course of one evening brought back to me the hours I spent hooked up to a godawful machine, wearing a hideous (but useful) hands-free pumping bra so that I could at least check my email while the pump motor whirred away. I spent $900 on a hospital-grade pump. For the longest time I got up at three in the morning to pump, every morning, just to make sure that I had enough milk stored up. I carefully poured tiny bottles of milk into tiny little freezer trays that measured the milk into little one ounce sticks. I bagged, I labeled. The hours, the money, the dignity I spent in trying to fill the freezer with milk. All for nothing.

And the timing of this "shit happens" moment was particularly bad, because we're in the midst of a mini-medical crisis with Maybelle, who is the same weight right now that she was at the beginning of the summer. Because of her reflux, she's not gaining weight, and for me, knowing that the breast milk was there was like a safety net. We'd occasionally mix a few ounces of it into her food, trying to boost her fat and protein intake as much as possible. Again, I know that she was never going to go through it all--some of it was going to get thrown away. And the milk wasn't going to cure her reflux. But it does feel a bit now like the safety net is gone.

I'm sure there's some life lesson here, but perhaps it's just that shit happens.

6 comments:

Erica said...

I am so sorry to hear about your thawed mess and loss. Before we moved, I cut open and dumped bags and bags of milk. That was hard, but not as hard, I imagine, as losing it all involuntarily.

The Mom said...

Oh, Alison...I'm so sorry. How sad! I have no more words.

nashvillemidwife said...

I've been there. Here was my solution:
http://chemistry.about.com/b/2008/07/19/jewelry-made-from-milk-polymer.htm

Biffle said...

i've unintentionally kept a "best of" list for moments in my life. For instance, i know the funniest thing i ever saw was when my buddy Kenneth wore a ghost costume to school on a random september day. One of the proudest moments was watching Alison pick up her diploma for her PhD. And one of the saddest was finding all of Alison's hard work--all that effort meant for so much good, all that love literally poured from her body--turned into such a mass of powerless zip lock bags.

she took it well, but i know it had to hurt so badly.

Cate Bush said...

Oh baby. I'm so sorry. Sigh. Big big hugs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alison. Oh.
I remember how freighted all things milk related were for me. I cried when I looked at the pump on the days it/I wouldn't produce & again, months after I finished using the rented one when I finally returned it. It comes to mean work & love & money all bound up in tiny little frozen pouches.

I can only imagine how sad this was for you. I'm sorry.

-littledj