February 18, 2008

Got Milk?

“Yes, you must drink five to six glasses of milk every day,” said the doctor. His bushy eyebrows rolled together as he scribbled his signature on my file.


“If you don’t drink enough, your baby will draw calcium from your own bones and you’ll end up with a broken bone,” he said without looking up once.

“But I can’t stomach it.” I gagged and covered my mouth.

The doctor slapped my file closed. “See you in two weeks.” He swiveled around in his chair.

Fourteen days. Surely I would make peace with my childhood repulsion in that amount of time. A dry heave shook my head back and forth in a sloshy "No!"

The next morning I poured a half cup from the orange and white carton . Content cows grazed on the side. "Think happy thoughts" I reminded myself. "And you can fly". I did fly. Straight to the bathroom.

Next day I woke up determined to try again. After all, the baby, the size of a peanut, needed the white stuff. I had a new strategy. "If I plug my nose, maybe I won’t taste it." But my elbow got in the way and milk dribbled down my chin and onto my sweater.

Spilled milk stinks. I found out I could still fly. But only as far as the sink this time.

Day number three I became more wiley. I closed my eyes while drinking it from a dark to-go mug. If I can’t see it, I won’t realize what I’m drinking. But with my eyes closed the milk tasted all the stronger. Sour! I thought. And the way it coated the roof of my mouth! I sealed my mouth shut like an insolent child and tried to force it down. But it did no good. The milk rolled around in my throat like the tilt-a-whirl at the fair. This was one ride I got off early.

By the next morning I raised a white flag. White. Anything but white. I rolled off the bed holding my stomach. Okay, I surrender. I decided I could just bake with the stuff. You know, milk chocolate fudge, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies, with milk in the icing, of course.But the fudge stuck in my throat, just thinking about that secret milk lurking in there.

The days curdled by coated with guilt. How much milk did a baby pecan need anyways? Surely it could wait another month or two, I reasoned as I drove to the doctor's office. Perhaps he would agree to calcium pills.

The doctor pressed the cold stethoscope onto my flat tummy. “What’s he doing?” I wondered. “Listening for milk bubbles gurgling?”

“Sounds good.” he announced.


Now how to ask him about calcium pills.

“Wanna listen?” he asked, reaching for an antiseptic wipe.

"Suuuure, "I said, not relishing the idea of hearing sloshing noises. But I wondered what it was he had pronounced so good.

What I heard when he handed me one ear bud was ‘th-thump, th-thump, th-thump’.

“Can’t be.” I pressed it to my ear again. "That little nut has a heart beat already?”

“Strong and steady,” says the Doctor re-adjusting his scope.

I sat up and straightened the white paper on the examining table. White. Hmmm, its beautiful. White puffy clouds rolled by outside, against a baby-blue sky. White dollops of whipped-cream snowbanks graced the courtyard of the doctor's office. I smoothed the wrinkles out of my sweater and a ray of sun-shine warmed my hands.

“And how is your problem we discussed two weeks ago?” asked the Doctor, flipping through my chart on his desk.

I faced the window and squinted at the beautiful sunny day.

“Problem? Where did you ever get that idea?" I waited till he turned and looked at me. "I'm craving a tall glass of the white stuff right now. Got any milk?”

Pam Mytroen


  1. That's funny! Very cute. :) Not a problem I had - but I've heard that calcium and other supplements do work too. I love your descriptions.

  2. Great story. That little heartbeat changes everything!

    As for the milk thing, I relate. When we switched to skim milk, I thought it was just colored water, but now after years of drinking it (reluctantly), I have much the same reaction to drinking milk with any cream in it, even 1%. Ugh!

  3. Nicely told. You almost had me convinced I didn't like milk either!

  4. I love milk now, morning, noon and evening, but especially with gingersnaps!

  5. Here, in a country where finding milk is like finding teeth in the mouth of a hen, I related more to the poor baby's dilemma without the "white stuff." Great story—enjoyed it immensely.

  6. Great story about how thinking about others can change our perspective.


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