I worked some minimum wage jobs back in the day, but never at a Hooters restaurant.
Didn’t have the chest for it.
For years me and my small breasts endured ridicule and felt inadequate. Lingerie shops were happy to hook me up with push-up bras. Then I got pregnant and thought, maybe now at least my breasts will be useful! I took a breast-feeding class and learned how to help a baby latch on, how often to nurse, how to care for my lactation stations. The teacher assured me that even my small breasts would produce enough milk for a baby.
Then my son was born in dramatic fashion. His heart stopped during labor, and my obstetrician performed the World’s Fastest C-Section. CPR saved David’s life, but he was on a respirator for several hours and in ICU for ten days. My nurse introduced me to an electronic breast pump because it was difficult to coordinate nursing times with the ICU care schedule.
If you start a baby on a bottle, sometimes he will refuse to take the breast. My son was that baby – he liked his bottles, thank you very much, and would not cooperate with breastfeeding. I sought the advice of a lactation consultant. To her credit, she said, “There is no guarantee David will breastfeed successfully, and I will not push you. I will travel this road with you as far as you want to go.”
I tried her recommendations, but David resisted. When he wouldn’t nurse I dragged out the pump, screwed collection bottles onto the tubing and switched on the machine. When I measured my milk output, it was too low, probably due to the stress of David’s birth. I dumped my milk into bottles and added formula so he’d have enough.
For eight weeks I used the rented breast pump. Six times a day I hooked suction cups to my breasts and turned on the power. Six times a day I washed the little plastic attachments by hand. That’s 336 beautiful, intimate episodes with a milking machine.
I was a miserable cow.
One evening I unscrewed the bottles from the tubing and set them on the kitchen counter, searching for the screw-on lids. My husband, Chip, was washing his hands at my right elbow. My left elbow knocked over one of the bottles, and the milk spilled all over the counter. I burst into tears. I was working so hard to give David my milk, and there it was, wasted.
“Don’t say it!” I yelled.
Chip looked alarmed. “Don’t say what?”
“’Don’t cry over spilled milk,’” I cried. “I know that’s what you were thinking, and this is not funny. I want to nurse this baby, and I don’t want a drop wasted. I’m not making enough milk as it is.”
“Wendy, you said it, not me,” Chip said. “And you’re killing yourself trying to make this work. David needs a sane mother more than he needs your milk,” Chip countered. “Whether this works or not, the pump is going back at the end of the month.”
The man knew me well. I needed a deadline. Two weeks later I took the pump back.
I was glad to hand the ball and chain back to the consultant, but I really had wanted to nurse David. All my life I’d been ridiculed because my breasts were not big enough. If only I could have said, “Well, they’re not big, but they can feed a baby.”
Now even that was lost. . .
Has making peace with your breasts been difficult for you, too?
Maybe, for you, it’s a different challenge. You stumble across magazines showing strong female athletes in their prime–photographs of women in action–but you’re disabled. A wheelchair is as close as you’ll get to sports equipment. The body that’s supposed to be strong and beautiful is broken, crippled, bent.
Or maybe you struggle to maintain a healthy weight while the culture tells you that it’s not healthy that matters but thin. Yet you don’t have high cheekbones, big beautiful eyes, straight teeth . . . you fill in the blank.
Here’s what matters. Your value is not in having a certain look or breasts that work. You have eternal value because you are made in the image of God.
There’s another body with a role to play. Jesus’ body was broken for you. You were worth it. Not because of anything you contribute but because you have intrinsic value.
Jesus paid a high ransom. Would you pay a ransom for something of no value? Let’s say someone steals your toaster oven. You get a note written with letters cut out of magazines: LEavE A SUITCAse with $1 MILLion in it OR U will NEVer see UR toaster Oven AgaiN.
Unlikely. You only pay a ransom to rescue something of great value. That’s you.
God bought you back – redeemed you. Complete redemption will happen in the Promised Land of the next life. It will be a good place – a land flowing with milk and honey.
As long as getting the milk doesn’t require a breast pump, I’m good. Otherwise, just pass me the honey and hand me a spoon.
Wendy Herrmann Smith lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and two kids – a son she got after seventeen hours of labor and a C-section and a daughter adopted from China after a fourteen-hour flight and a lot of paperwork. She writes adult Bible study material for her denomination and blogs at www.beautybattlefield.blogspot.com.