Their absence makes me feel sad,
I look around at my peers, envious and curious,
Obsessing over when they will show up.
When they do, they never seem to live up to expectations,
Too small, too uneven, but what’s sure is it’s a sign I’m no longer a child.
It adds to my wardrobe in a hushed way,
I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed that they’re finally here.
I look at magazines; should I display them more?
Or will my whole essence be reduced to how big they appear under my shirt.
I’m confused but feel alone with no one to talk to about these new guests.
My baby arrives, my breasts so full of life-giving milk,
Painful, yes, but a connection to the new life in my hands.
She drinks so comforted nuzzled against me.
I finally feel proud of my chest.
But then that pride quickly fades as I’m told to cover up.
Doesn’t matter that my child depends on this milk,
My breasts are not welcome though magazines displayed say otherwise.
I’m confused and stuck in a feeling of shame.
It just doesn’t make sense.
My child finally says farewell to my breasts.
A bittersweet journey it’s been.
They finally rest not at the beck and call of another.
How long this rest will last, I do not know.
Those very breasts which gave life to another being,
Are now a threat as they fill with cancer against my permission.
There is no other body part that has filled me with such a roller coaster of emotion:
Sadness, love, pride, shame, and now fear.
As they get tired and slow down, gravity starts to win,
Yes, they’ve been a source of all sorts of emotion,
But they’ve been by my heart through it all.
Just because society didn’t get it right, doesn’t mean I have to do the same.
Alas, my acceptance has brought love.
Gratitude, oh so much gratitude for just being you.
Poonam Merai is an internal medicine physician.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com