Monday, June 20, 2016

Don't give up

I'm not a sprinter. I'm just not fast enough to get across that finish line in a hurry. In 8th grade I was assigned to the middle distance running, and I took to it fair enough. I was reasonably ok at the 1/2 mile and even went to district finals, where I came in 5th and I was pretty proud of that. I pushed myself hard on that last straight away, I remember, passing two girls at the very end. My coach gave me the title of athlete of the week that week, which for the most part was 100% undeserved. But I think about that race sometimes, because I was up against my toughest competition and I didn't give up. I didn't. And I think that's what that coach saw.

Brooklyn was born after a rough labor and delivery. We were both sick, very sick, on multiple antibiotics that resulted in systemic thrush. You don't want systemic thrush, just know that. I really wanted to breastfeed that baby and I really didn't want to be one of those women who said, well, I tried, but....I really really wanted to make it.

So I started setting goals for myself. I would breastfeed today. I would nurse her one more time. I would nurse her tonight, this baby who would not sleep and would not be put down on her own. I would do it. I made it through 6 weeks this way, one nursing session at a time with my nipples on fire, I mean, when I say "on fire" I mean it felt like someone had lit a match and held it to my skin. I did not give up, even though everyone around me told me I could. I nursed that baby until she was old enough to negotiate her own weaning. Seriously. And I nursed two more.

Breastfeeding gave me the gift of perseverance.  I was a typical gifted child--if it wasn't easy, it wasn't worth doing because, frankly, lots of things were very easy. Might as well do one of those instead. Here I finally was, with something I really wanted to accomplish, with the odds against me, and I did it. I fucking did it. When I think back to those early weeks of motherhood and what I survived and accomplished, I just want to shake my fist in the air at everyone who thought I wouldn't, who thought I would give up.

I am often wrong. I am often blundering and do cockamamie things. I laugh too loud and am soft-hearted to those with no defenses, be them children, stray cats, or young semi-homeless acquaintances. I can be strident, I can be boring, I can let my tongue get me in plenty of trouble. But if you need a cut man in your corner, if you need someone to fight your cause, if you need a cheerleader on your sidelines, if you need someone to walk a hard path with you, I will. Because I don't give up.

I don't give up so hard I had a man with a needle and ink inscribe it on my skin. It's the hobo sign for don't give up.

Don't. I won't either.

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