Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Unlucky


Fiction under 250 words.


“So, what do you think yours says?”

Mary glanced over at the woman sitting on her right. She was pretty, long black hair, light brown eyes but she was very, very pale. Mary shrugged and issued a long-suffering sigh. “I’m not sure. I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family so I’m hopeful.” And she wasn’t really worried. She had always been lucky, with her health, her career – life was good.

The woman visibly swallowed and nodded once. “Unfortunately, I do. In fact, my grandmother and my aunt both died just a few years ago. Months from each other in fact.” She shot a bitter smile at Mary. “Our family hasn’t had the best of luck.”

“I’m so sorry.” Mary resisted the urge to pat her hand. She had never been very good at offering comfort; at least, that’s what her husband always told her. “I’m sure your test results will come back negative.” Mary tried to instill a note of confidence in her voice but deep down, she wondered if the woman was doomed, like the other females in her family.

“Mary Brown?” asked a heavyset nurse with bad teeth.

“Well, that’s me. Good luck.”

“Yeah, you too.”

Doctor Evans walked into his office and sat down behind his desk.

Mary smiled at him.

He did not return her smile.

“I went over your test results,” he said in low, serious tones. “And I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

Mary’s luck had run out.


Breast Was Not Best – For Me

I’ve been wanting to write about this for quite some time. And I’ve been wanting to write about it for me, to record it in my journal, to pass on to my boys (though being boys, they probably won’t care one way or another, but their future wives, on the other hand, may find this interesting, who knows), and because if I can help other women out there that feel the same way as I do, they may find some comfort in the fact that they’re not alone.

Are you ready?

It’s about breastfeeding.

*waits for the collective gasp of horrors to die down and braces herself for the immediate Judy-judge-judgeries out there.*

I didn’t breastfeed either of my boys.

*waits for another gasp of horror to subside and hopes they’re still reading*

It’s wasn’t that I wasn’t able to, though I don’t know, I might not have been able to, but rather, it was just that I didn’t want to fool with it.

I know that sounds horrible, but please, let me state my case before you pass judgement.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I think I might be missing a vital maternal gene – breast feeding sort of freaks me out. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea. Even though I KNOW that that is the purpose of breasts, to provide food for offspring, I just could never resolve myself to that fact. I knew, even before I had kids, that I probably wasn’t going to try it, though I was keeping my options open.

I could sugar coat this and tell you all that I tried and it didn’t work out, or that I was okay with the idea and had every intention of breastfeeding but somehow couldn’t, but that would be a lie – I didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t even entertain the thought.

Dude (my first born) was a preemie. My water broke at 32 weeks and I had a vaginal birth. Other than the fact that his lungs hadn’t fully developed, he was perfectly fine. There was no explanation for why he came early, he just did.

Dude was in the NICU for six weeks while his lungs developed. A few days after giving birth, my milk came in. I was so preoccupied and worried about my newborn son that I had little room to think of anything else. Since I hadn’t mentally prepared myself to breastfeed, I walked around with a towel safety pinned to my chest for two days and waited for the boulders that were my breasts (seriously – those puppies were ROCK HARD and HUGE) to absorb the milk and go back to normal. It was uncomfortable, but at least I wasn’t having to deal with all the physical difficulties I had read comes with breastfeeding and between the normal hormones of post birth and my constant worry and fear for my son, I was already a wreck to begin with – I simply didn’t have the desire, or the energy, to deal with the added stress of dealing with pumping, leaking breasts, storing milk, etc.

In short, I had enough on my plate to deal with, I was simply unwilling to deal with more at that point.

I never gave it a second thought, to be perfectly honest. I dried it up and I moved on.

And when I went back to work after my six weeks of maternity leave (yes, just in time to bring my son home from the hospital – talk about HARD), I was never so glad of my decision as I was at that moment. Again. Between juggling marriage, baby and work, I didn’t want another thing to deal with.

Yes. Perhaps I was selfish in thinking this way. And yes, you’re probably right, I must be missing a maternal piece of me to feel that way, but I figured bottle feeding would be so much easier and I willingly and eagerly took the easy road.

I guess we can throw lazy in there with the mix, too.

There are no excuses, this is how I felt. I had educated myself on breastfeeding, I had been given options to breastfeed while in the hospital, I knew “experts” claimed it was best for my baby (though I’m not totally convinced of that fact, personally) – I blame no one for my decision to bottle feed.

It was all me.

I never once felt guilty for my decision. The nurses didn’t give me a hard time about it, no one in my family turned this noses up at my decision – I don’t recall receiving any flak whatsoever. Granted, breastfeeding wasn’t as widely accepted, or so publicly talked about in the early 90’s but still, it was a popular option even back then. Now, it’s just taken for granted that a woman will breastfeed and if she doesn’t, then she’s a terrible mother and how COULD she even THINK of depriving her baby of the very best?

In fact, some breastfeeding advocates nowadays sort of scare me, they’re so passionate about the issue that they’re almost fanatical, but I’m a firm believer of “whatever works for your family is the best decision for your family” kind of person. I try not to judge women for their choices. It’s really none of my business which path they choose for their family. If it works, then cool.

For me, bottle was best. It took a lot of personal stress off of me and I had the mental stamina to focus entirely on my baby and not on whether my body was performing correctly, or even to capacity. (Not implying that women who breastfeed don’t have mental stamina – please don’t split hairs, you know what I mean).

When my second son came along, (he was born two days early, healthy and ready to go home the next day because our insurance wouldn’t cover longer than 24 hours after birth), again, I dried up my milk and went straight to bottle. Again, it was never an issue for me. I didn’t have the whole preemie issue to deal with my second son, I simply went back to what worked out so well the first time – the bottle.

I figured if it wasn’t broke, why fix it?

Again. This was my experience, this was how I felt. Both of my boys were bottle fed and were hardly sick a day in their lives. Though I’m not trying to imply they were healthy BECAUSE I didn’t breastfeed, I’m saying that just because I bottle fed they weren’t lacking for nutrients and didn’t grow up with any physical problems because I had. (Granted, some of that good health was likely attributed to genes, as well as to their upbringing – again, I’m not entirely convinced that breast milk is the best alternative. I’ve read how sometimes milk can lack essential nutrients and the baby is virtually starving because of that deficiency. I’m not dissing breastfeeding, I’m simply trying to point out that just because it comes from the breast doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely nutritionally adequate for the baby).

I hope this admission doesn’t shock or repel you. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’re probably not even that surprised, but I try to be as honest as I can be in my journal and this experience is no exception.

It was just one of the decisions I made in my life. I feel comfortable with that decision and I feel like it worked out for the best for me.

If you’re still reading (you ROCK, by the way), then I’ll turn my attention to what sort of bottles worked best for me for those moms out there that are bottle feeding their babies. Again, this was my experience and it was what worked for me.

We started out using standard bottles. But I soon learned, after many sleepless nights burping and comforting a gassy baby, going through countless spit cloths and the joys of projectile vomiting, (which completely freaked me out the first time it happened and even though I was repulsed, I was sort of impressed, too), that the standard bottle was simply not working. The baby was swallowing too much air and it was causing all sort of problems.

Because I’m simply not smart enough to think of these things on my own, I know I must have either read about this, or my pediatrician suggested I try it, I can’t really remember, (it was 16 years ago, after all), but I went to Playtex bottles.

For those that don’t know, Playtex bottles come with liners. And you can squeeze as much of the air out as you can with these liners, thereby keeping more air out of your baby’s belly. In addition, the nipples are shaped more like a breast nipple, so the baby instinctively latches on a little better than with the longer nipples.

These bottles SAVED my sanity. Seriously. I could tell an immediate difference when I switched over. I also felt it was a bit more sanitary than scrubbing the inside of a standard bottle as the liners were sterile to begin with and afterward, you just threw them away.

So, bottled-feeding moms out there, if you’re having a hard time, try the Playtex bottles and see if they work better. (And no, Playtex is not compensating me for writing this in any way).

Like I mentioned, I’ve been wanting to write about my breastfeeding (or lack thereof) experience for quite some time, but if you’ve been around the blog-o-sphere for any length of time, then you know that there are some topics you just don’t cover – not unless you’re willing to be bombarded with all sorts of nasty.

But I decided, a long time ago, that I want to write what I want to in my own journal and if people don’t like it, then they don’t like it. I can’t apologize for being me. That’s why comments are closed because even though I APPRECIATE your time in reading what I have to say, I simply don’t care to spend hours defending the choices I’ve made, or my thoughts about sensitive issues. Like I said, this is me, my journal, my life.

I actually crossed the breastfeeding taboo line largely due to some of the posts that Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil wrote about the issue. I admired her honesty and her courage for talking about an otherwise taboo subject: bottle feeding.

I Hated Breastfeeding. Deal With It.

Sharks vs. Jets Breast vs. Bottle

At any rate, this is my story. And I’m not afraid to tell it.