Shocking, I know. Me? Talk about my boobs? Never!
Step back with me to avoid the lightning strike as a result of my lying.
Lotus asked us to talk about our experiences in feeding our children with our boobies or with bottles while our children still mauled our boobies anyway, cuz that what babies tend to do it seems. (At least it explains why Alex continues to grab at Scout’s chest like it’s gonna yield anything but hair in his teeth.)
(Once upon a time we were all mad at Facebook. This was before I was even on Facebook but I jumped on that train.)
(You may have noticed the new little “Facebook Sucks” icon over to the right. Click the button and see what you think for yourself. This latest campaign is what prompts this post.)
I have one SIL (Mrs. Deacon) who will nurse anywhere, without covering up. She’s also tiny and so subtle about it that I’ve been in the room with her and didn’t realize she was doing it. My other SIL (Mrs. Forbes) will nurse in public, but only under her Hooter Hider. My third SIL (Mrs. Prof) is still on the fence about if she wants to use formula or nurse. And there’s me – riding the Ameda/Medela Express 7 times a day.
I’ve been working through my shame/embarrassment of the insane size of my girls since puberty. (As I’ve mentioned). I’ve passed up going swimming many times over the years because there was no swimsuit that would fit. I’ve been the butt of uncomfortable comments and jokes. I’ve contemplated surgery, but it doesn’t feel like a good decision for me. I know that my modesty about all things chestal interfered with my nursing and is just as much a contributor to why I’m on the pump as anything else that was going on in my life while I was learning how to nurse.
I didn’t want to be messed with. I certainly didn’t want any strange women up in my boobs checking out Alex’s latch. I already felt raw and exposed after labor and delivery, all I wanted to do was go HOME with Scout and Alex. I had one nurse who forced the issue and she’s the one nurse who I have bad feelings about from being in the hospital. The home health nurse was clearly a lactivist of the nth degree and I wanted her OUT of the house as quickly as possible.
In the middle of the night at home, exhausted, I nursed Alex. I was horrified at the size of my gigantic breast sitting on his tiny little chest. I lived in fear through each time he nursed that I was going to fall asleep and the headlines would read, “Tiny innocent suffocated by enormous gross boob. News at 11.”
Scout supported me in whatever I did. He also advocated me actually getting some sleep, and could have cared less if Alex drank from a boob, a bottle or a beer bong as long as I was getting sleep and recovering, and Alex was being fed.
Then the umbilical incident happened. Then we bottle fed pumped milk. Then he got a cold and decided to nurse again. Then I went back to work for a week and went 8 hours without pumping because I didn’t want to deal with it at school. Meanwhile my MIL was in the house, and I’d be damned if I was whipping a tit out in front of her and try to figure out what I was doing with an audience.
Then we moved cross country when Alex was 8 weeks old. My goal had been to really focus on nursing once we got moved. I underestimated how freaking alone our little family was going to be. I underestimated how hard nursing was in the first place – because it’s so NATURAL. Whatever. I underestimated how much I would HATE making my child scream for milk, while trying to force him to nurse, with a bottle of mammaraid on standby. I underestimated how much it hurt to be clamped on by little gums attached to angry, hungry baby.
I underestimated how shattered, how worthless, I would feel each time my tiny baby rejected my breasts – rejected me. I felt so stupid each time I broke into sobs when I would stop trying and give him the bottle of breast milk. How stupid I feel crying over it now as I sit and try to coherently write this as I struggle to get to my point.
I try to remember this as the last time we nursed. It’s the last time we successfully nursed in any case. (ed. I’ll have to elaborate on this more tomorrow.)
Regardless of if it’s natural/not obscene/necessary/legal to have my exposed breast out to feed my child in public – I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it. All of my pent up, two decades worth of issues with my breasts did not go away just because I acquired the “superpower” of creating food for my son.
Let me say that again. My body issues did not go away just because I’m capable of creating food for my son.
If anything, it’s worse now. It’s worse because when I see a mom nursing, when I see the photos, when I read the stories, it reminds me of how I failed again. How I let my feelings about my body get in the way. How I could not find it in myself to think I was beautiful enough, good enough to be comfortable nursing my own baby.
Since being pregnant, my concept of what I think is brave and beautiful in other women has changed. I think all of you who nurse in public are so brave. I don’t care if you do it under cover or out in the open. I think you are all so brave and beautiful for making it work, for not shutting yourselves away. For loving yourself enough to be comfortable doing it.
And yes, I think it needs to be legal to do it wherever and by whatever means necessary. I have this fear that the women who choose to cover up are going to somehow be looked down on for wanting to be move covered or more private. I just hope in the furor over the whole deal that we all stick together and don’t get hung up on whether or not we should or should not want to cover up/be in private and focus on making sure we have the CHOICE to feed our babies in the best way for each of us.
I come from a long line of non breast feeders. (I’d love it if you’d check out that link and post a response – I’m still curious if my theory is right) Before November 2006 I had no intention of breastfeeding Alex. I was completely skeeved out by the idea of a baby sucking on my boobs. I had two friends who had felt the same way and they’d pumped for their boys. I was open to the idea of pumping for him, and that was my plan. I wasn’t big on letting a bunch of people invade my privacy and my boobs. It all seemed very invasive to me – the LLL, the Lactation Consultants, it was all more drama than I really wanted to get into. Then Sara framed it for me in a simple way.
Dawn, she said, babies are geared to nurse. A friend told me that you put the naked baby on your naked stomach, you let it root around and find your boob and it will nurse. It’s probably worth giving it a shot to see if it works for you, if not, hit the pump.
This simple statement totally changed my point of view.
Alex was born at 2:47 am, after everyone was done with us, I just had them take my gown and leave the clean one by the bed. I wrapped my naked self in the sheet with an unwrapped Alex and just waited to see what would happen.
There in the middle of the night, he nursed. Scout slept beside us, and I fed our boy.
Obviously, things went to hell after that, but I’m so grateful for Sara’s words. I’m so glad I gave it a shot. I feel like, for me, it bonded me to Alex to let him cross that boundary. I temporarily set aside all my hang ups, and I let my little boy be close to me in a way that no other person has ever been.
There’s been such an uproar over Applebee’s, Facebook and Bill Maher. I’ve read so many posts from so many women who show their passion and their heart and their bravery. I’d start linking, but that would be never ending – but please feel free to link in the comments, I can’t seem to get enough of these stories.
Reading about your experiences has given me the courage to try nursing again. (This one was the last one I read before feeling brave enough to try again.)
And he’s done it. He’s nursed. Just a little bit. But just enough. Just enough to help me soothe some of that hurt of all the beating myself up I’ve done. (Yes, he’s caused some hurt when he decides my boobs are chew toys.)
I never would have tried it if it weren’t for all of you. So thank you from the bottom of my boobs. And believe me, that’s coming from a long way down.
The weekend before Thanksgiving I decided to give nursing all day a try. Alex had apparently been nursing in the mornings before we got up, because there wasn’t any milk to pump. I think the combination of him being sleepy and not starving hungry set the stage for us to succeed. I also think that since all I was really looking for was a few more minutes of sleep before he was up for the day that having no expectations of actual nursing taking place was also a bonus.
Four months later, we’ve made it through teeth, trips home, hospitals, relatives, funerals, strangers, friends … it’s all good. I do strive for privacy, but I’m not hiding under a blanket. But I’ll block your boobs from view of others if you want me to. I’ve got your backs sisterfriends.