Have I ever told you about the time I accidentally sprayed breast milk all over my dentist?
Oh honey. Pull up a chair—this is a juicy one… so to speak.
Honestly, I would have rather been at home cradling my newborn son’s sweet little blue face to my beach-ball-sized bosoms, but I just couldn’t wait another day—I had to get to the dentist. It was an emergency.
I’m a “woman of a certain age.” Oh fine, I’ll tell you. I’m 43. And like most of my friends born in the ’60s and ’70s, my teeth are falling apart. I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t have the same preventative dental care back then or because I didn’t do a very good job brushing the Razzles and Now and Laters off my teeth, but by the time I was a senior in high school, every single one of my back molars was more filling than tooth. (Sorry, Mom.)
And the metal fillings from back then? They had a shelf life. By the time I was 30, every single one of those fillings had needed to be replaced.
All that drilling and refilling takes a toll on the old chompers.
I got my first crown when I was 35.
And then when I was pregnant with Bucket Head, it was obvious that I was going to need another crown.
But I was pregnant! And going to the dentist is the only time I get the good drugs! It would have to wait.
I bided my time for the rest of my pregnancy, chewing only on one side of my mouth and avoiding anything too hot, cold, sweet, or crunchy. It sucked. And then apparently while I was giving birth and biting on that leather strap out in the woods (not really, but that’s what it felt like) I cracked that compromised molar somethin’ fierce. I would need to get to the dentist as soon as I could remove the ice-pack from my nethers.
My husband had to work that day, so I called my neighbor and BFF, Tammie, and asked if she would be so kind as to drive me and newborn Bucket Head to the dentist and hold Bucket Head in the waiting room while I got my new temporary crown. “It will take two hours, tops.”
She agreed, God love her.
We timed it perfectly, or so we thought.
We got there a little early, and I nursed baby Bucket Head in the waiting room. Then he fell asleep in Tammie’s arms as I waited to be called into the back.
I was really scared. I hate having dental work done. It riles every single one of my freakishly heightened senses and I usually get prescribed valium for the night before and the morning of my procedure.
But I didn’t want to do that since I was nursing. I was drug-free and more nervous than a virgin at a prison rodeo.
As luck would have it, the dentist was running behind, and our perfectly timed breast feeding was for naught.
I’ll never forget it as long as I live. There I was, fully reclined in the dentist chair—mouth wide open, eyes tightly shut against the bright light, suction tube slurping away while the dentist drilled… and drilled… and drilled. I had my iPod rocking in my ears so I wouldn’t hear any of it. But the song ended, and in that 3 second lull between songs, I heard my baby cry.
The tingling started. Then I felt the slightest bit of wetness in my ginormous nursing bra. I squeezed my eyes shut harder and prayed my breast pads would soak up the run-off.
The drilling persisted. My dentist, also a mother, kept stopping every few seconds to ask if I was okay, “Do you need me to stop?”
“No, keep going! He’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure? Do you want to go see him?”
“NO. The Novocain! It might wear off. Just do it. But hurry. I’m starting to leak.”
Suddenly, Bucket Head’s cries were the only thing I could hear, even over the drilling and the music on my headphones. My sweet little baby needed me, and my milk bags were responding to his hungry pleas.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I glanced down and my shirt was soaked. Actually, it was my husband’s shirt, since I had just had a baby and all I could fit in was one of his old button downs.
Behold, a dramatic reenactment:
The milk flow was so strong and steady, it soaked clear through the paper bib resting on my chest.
Y’all, there was milk everywhere. It was dripping down my back onto the chair!
I could smell it.
I was absolutely mortified.
Everyone worked at lightening speed to get me up and out of there. (And not just because of the milky mess I was making in their dentist chair.) The microsecond that temporary crown clicked into place, I was on my way back to the waiting room, unbuttoning my shirt like Clark Kent on his way to the phone booth. I could not get that baby onto my boob fast enough. Poor Tammie—I practically ripped her arms off taking that wailing baby from her.
Thankfully, everyone in the dentist’s office was so sweet and understanding. “Bless your heart!” they clucked repeatedly, and not in the stereotypical Southern “Oh you pitiful idiot” kind of way. It was more like, Solidarity, sister! We salute you and your overactive milk ducts! They were women helping one of their own, and I would be forever grateful.
Talk about the milk of human kindness.
This post, and my 13-year-old son’s future therapy bills for having to take that reenacted photo of my leaking fun-bags, were both made possible by the International Breast Milk Project. Their vision is that every infant in the world have access to donor human milk as a first choice when a mother’s own milk is not available, and they aim to create awareness for the need for donor human milk, mobilize donors, and provide donor milk to infants in need.