Gold-ish liquid

Are you stupid?

Or are you dumb?

What in the hell would possess you to breastfeed a new, precious, innocent life?

Do you hate her or something?

Why break something that ain't broken?

You already know the drill:

Birth the baby.

Give the baby the little bottles they have waiting for you in the hospital.

Let ya boobs get hard.

Grab a cabbage.

Then cry and be depressed for a little while.

That's it.

Why you gotta do all this extra shit?

You act like it killed you the last time or something.

It really could be simple.

Easy, actually.

Formula.

Bam.

Baby eats.

Baby stays free of HIV.

You doing too much.

Why would you even want to expose a 2021 heartbeat to your 2008 virus?

For another time?

You already did that with Zion.

You was lucky when he came out your hole and was still negative.

Now, you just tripping.

Why would you even consider putting a baby on your breast?

You know that shit's toxic.

You gots ta be a selfish mf.

Why you can't just make a bottle and go on raising a second negative HIV child?

Publicly praise the medicine for making it possible.

Da da da da da.

And shut the hell up about some breast milk?

Alright.

Cool.

Fine.

Them people gone call the folks on you if you do it.

Yup.

Try em.

They gone pop up on you when you least expect it.

And they gone take your kids.

Now they gone be all traumatized.

You gone have to go to court and shit.

Cus what type of competent mother would disrespect medical advice?

This baby ain't did nothing to you.

And you gone do her like that?

You knew when you got diagnosed with HIV that these things were over for you.

I mean, you ain't have all the logistics or nothing.

But you knew life was going to be different.

And this is one of those different things.

I mean, I know it is possible to breastfeed and the baby could stay negative.

But that's gotta be some special shit they doing over there.

Cus people over here look at you crazy when you even bring it up.

It's true.

They try and talk you out of it.

They refer back to what the CDC recommends.

And who is tryna argue with the CDC?

Exactly.

My bad y'all. I be rambling in my head sometimes.

Imma start the blog now.

At the time that I am writing this, I have fed my baby for 137 days.

And not just fed her.

I've fed her, fed her.

From my two breasts.

Keeping babies alive and shit.

I have been able to exhale on a breath I've been holding for almost 14 years.

I feel complete.

I feel whole.

Something HIV had held captive for so long.

I was given the permission – the support – to break free from.

That acronym stings a little less now.

Mama I made it!

I got that liquid gold they be talking about.

I feed her like you fed me!

I'm a cry baby for real.

So you already know what's going down.

Tip: Get you a support system.

I would have gone crazy without mine.

(See lines 1-57 above).

I would have never been this far without my tribe.

Whether it was a support group, a provider, friend, family, or The Well Project ...

I leaned onto them all.

Everyone gave me the space to make whatever decision I wanted.

Us all learning along the way.

And to tell you the truth.

This liquid doesn't always feel gold.

Shit hurts sometimes.

Your body is y'all's body.

Shit happens way too often.

And sometimes I just wanna cuddle with her but all she wants to do is bob her head on my chest.

To keep it all the way a bean –

Formula don't be sounding too bad in the middle of the night.

What not to do: Do not try to do this by yourself.

You don't have to.

You are not alone.

If I can inspire just one woman to seek the support she needs –

And convince one provider to provide that support –

Then I have done my job.

Actually, I would have overachieved.

Cus, for real for real ...

All I wanted to do was feed my baby.

+Ci Ci+

This blog was originally posted on Healing is Voluntary.

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Comments

I heard you. I hear you. I felt you. I feel you.

Bethany M. Brown M.Ed.'s picture

It is as if everyone "forgot" all the RESEARCH that has been completed on what it means to create that bond between mother and child at the time of breastfeeding.

This is not an issue I have or am or will be experiencing regarding HIV. However, I was not able to breatfeed my child due to insufficient nutrients in my breastmilk. Thus, I hear you talking about ALL that transpires at the time of breastfeeding: mutual beating hearts, the shared rhythm of breathing, momma's scent filling baby's nostrils, the literal connection of mouth on breast. I feel you.

I share this not to offer suggestions nor to compete but to acknowledge your words. Women have been battling this war for quite some time for various reasons. Perhaps you might want to talk to someone at the La Leche League (or an equivalent)?

Love to you.

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Thank you so much!

ci.ciiiiii's picture

I appreciate how different everyone's experiences are. I always attribute everything to HIV. This is why I am going to stay in therapy. lol 

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I cried.

Red40something's picture

I do sometimes when I read your blogs. Not 'cause they make me sad.' Cause they make me proud to know you. Proud of your bravery and transparency. Proud to be in your tribe.
Love you. Pray for you. Believe in you.

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Awwwww!

ci.ciiiiii's picture

Bridgette! Thank you! You have always been such a pillar of support. I appreciate you. I love you. 

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#ReproductiveJustice

Marcya Gullatte's picture

This blog was Fire. I am a mother of two HIV negative children. I've been positive since 1994 and my children are 27 and 22 years old. All I ever wanted was to give my children that liquid gold, that gift of life. You are doing it and doing it proud, while keeping it real. You have expressed the right over ones own body to breast feed or not to breast feed. Thank you for sharing this in your blog. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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This just warms my heart.

ci.ciiiiii's picture

First of all, it was the "fire". Iol thank you for reading. thank you for sharing. all of our stories are why I am so loud. 

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Permission to re-post?

Dr.Christy's picture

Hi Ci Ci, congrats on your beautiful daughter and your breastfeeding success story! I'm a physician who takes care of infants and children who are HIV-exposed or living with HIV. I'm part of several groups that are working to modify policies on infant feeding among women living with HIV in the US to allow for more autonomy and choice. I stumbled upon a link to the Well Project this morning while reading through emails and found your blog post. It blew me away. I had to shut my office door while I wiped away tears. Your words are so powerful and touch on the whole spectrum of emotions surrounding this issue. I'm wondering if I might have your permission to re-post this on a Facebook group for breastfeeding female physicians, many of whom likely care for women living with HIV. Please private message me to discuss further! (I tried to message you directly, but can't quite figure out how....)

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Thank you for reading and

kmartel's picture

Thank you for reading and your  comment. We're still working out some of the functionality of the website on the messaging, but until then, please feel free to email me at kmartel@thewellproject.org, and I can help put you in touch with Ci Ci directly. Would also love to be connected around the work you are doing in thise area too! My best, Krista Martel

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I love you

Destiny Smith's picture

Yes ma'am talk your ish What you are doing is magical and will change so many lives just because You wanted to feed your beautiful baby girl

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Powerful!

JoDha's picture

OMG!!

This blog is surely gonna have an impact! Mark my word, this is so so powerful.

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