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The Breast Pump

Story ID:7037
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:2011
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The Breast Pump
Chuck Dishno

On November 22, 1956, I married Marge Branum in Fresno, California. We were both attending Fresno City College when we started our life together. I was 22 and Marge was just barley 19 years old. Needles to say we didnít know too much about married life or children.

Things changed on May 10th, 1957 when I was drafted into the Army for a two-year hitch.

I took my basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington and then was sent to photography school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. After much deliberation, Marge decided to go with me. This seemed to be a hard decision for her but it turned out to be a good one.

After photography school I was sent to my permanent duty assignment at Fort Lee, Virginia.

On arrival at Fort Lee, we rented an apartment in the town of Petersburg, a short distance away.

We soon settled into a comfortable life, with Marge getting a job and me working in the post theater running the projectors for $2.00 per night. Money was always a problem especially when emergencies came up. We had no one to turn to and we were 3000 miles away from home. Life wasnít too bad though and somehow we survived without too much trouble.

One emergency came when Margeís mother died and she had to fly to Fresno for the funeral. I managed to borrow $100.00 from the Army Emergency Relief Fund and she borrowed another $100.00 to pay for her return flight. Soon all was paid back and we were back to a normal life.

On December 25th 1958, Marge gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who we named Lura after my Mother. We were very happy to be parents but soon found out that we didnít know much about babies and had no one to ask for help.

Fortunately, the price of having a baby in the army wasnít much but we didnít have much either. The cost was $1.75 a day and we had to take Lura home after 4 days, as we didnít have another $1.75. The total cost for the 4 days was $7.00 or about dollar a pound for Lura. What a bargain compared to the cost of having a baby today.

Marge and I got along just fine with the new addition to our life and except for getting her days and nights mixed up Lura was delightful.

Our landlord, Charlie, who had raised several children, told us to force her to stay awake all day and she would soon get her days and nights turned around.

After a couple of days she started sleeping most of the night, only waking up to breast-feed.

Breast-feeding was another problem that we had to face. After a couple of weeks on breast milk, she began to throw up after each feeding. Here again we were two dumb kids who didnít know what to do.

In desperation, I stopped by the Army hospital and told the nurse what was happening. She said to take her off milk for a few days and give her just a saline solution in a bottle.

After a couple of days the vomiting problem was improved but a worse one was cropping up. Those breasts were used to being drained on an hourly basis and they began to swell up like over-ripe watermelons.

Here again, not knowing what to do, I stopped by the Army hospital and explained the situation to the understanding nurse. She said she didnít realize that Lura was being breast-fed and I would have to buy a breast pump. I left there feeling very down.

I had grown up around milk cows and seen how they were milked with milking machines. I envisioned a large stainless steel milking machine and could only imagine what something like that would cost.

In exploring all the options in my mind the first thing that came to me was the Army Emergency Relief Fund that had bailed me out earlier. I knew I could get $100.00 from them if it was a real emergency and I could not imagine a bigger emergency than a couple of exploding breasts.

My other option was a small drugstore near where we lived where I would occasionally buy a few items as needed.

The owner was Cotton Whelan, the father of Joseph Cotton and a very nice man who loved the G.I.ís at Fort Lee.

I thought if I talked to them, they might let me put one on some sort of time payment.

I drove over the drugstore and when I got up nerve, I went in and the lady behind the counter asked me what I wanted. I told her that I needed to buy a breast pump but didnít know how I could pay for it as I didnít have much money.. She laughed and pointed to them in the showcase. She must have seen the worried look on my face and said that they werenít that expensive. They were only 29 cents each. I was so relieved; I think I said, ďGreat, Iíll take two.Ē

The breast pumps solved the problem and we were soon old hands at raising a baby.

About 3 months later, I got word that my Dad was dying in Fresno and the Army gave me an emergency transfer to Fort Ord near Monterey, California.

We were soon back home with lots of aunts to guide us thru the trials and tribulations of raising a baby.

I received my discharge from the Army on May 9th, 1959 much the wiser than I was two years earlier.