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.)
(originally posted in two parts here and here)
(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.
You rock, gurl. Keep on keepin’ on!
VDog’s last blog post..Weekly Winners, March 9
I’m having a very emotional morning…I was before I read this, but now it’s worse. *sigh* My nursing story is quite different, also quite frustrating. I tried and tried and tried…but I didn’t make enough milk and was actually starving my baby. Not good. I had to supplement with formula, and pump, and do all sorts of crazy things…but my milk was just gone after less than three months.
I guess I’m not cut out to have a superpower.
On the other hand, my son is healthy and happy, and in the grand scheme of things that’s all that matters, right?
I’m glad to hear that, in the end, you had a positive experience.
the dragonfly’s last blog post..my sweet boys
beautiful post(s), dawn. thank you for sharing this.
janet’s last blog post..Not ME, but still MINE
I’m so glad that you are able to provide milk for your son (from boob or bottle, doesn’t matter). My only real beef with formula (call me shallow) is that formula fed babies smell different than breast-fed babies. It’s not good or bad, it just is. I hope that one day I will be able to feed, in whatever manner God wills, my own baby. Cheers 🙂
I’m glad it’s worked for both of you. I’m glad you gave bfing a try. With that said, I know that it doesn’t work for everyone and some just choose not to bf, so I hope my comment doesn’t come across as judgmental.
Jennifer’s last blog post..Stars Fell On Alabama
You rang all kinds of bells for me with this post. I went and answered your questions on the other one.
Sleeping Mommy’s last blog post..35 years, yo.
Thanks for sharing your emotional story. I truly expected nursing to be easier than it ended up being…my son specifically was taking 10 – 15 minutes JUST TO LATCH. Man that was trying. Im so glad things are working out for you and your babe. Im very proud of you for facing your demons and working through them. Amazing how motherhood allows us to grow in ways we sometimes didnt even know needed work. Much love sister.
Thanks for sharing.
Nursing is not always easy for everyone and it when faced with a little difficulty I am glad to found your groove.
Blogversary’s last blog post..this is all theology
That story of you and Alex that first night made me all teary.
flutter’s last blog post..My archnemisis, the Altima
The story of you and Alex that first night made me teary too.
So did thoughts of failure surrounding nursing. To simplify the story, I had about 6 weeks of maternity leave. After that I pumped during the days and nursed at night. It was a struggle, but I had excellent role model moms who’d done it, and I never give up on a challenge. Well, at about 8 weeks with colic and all of that my daughter nearly rejected me. I have never felt so bad in my life, that she would prefer a bottle over me. (And besides, my MIL was giving her the bottles from her bouncy chair – not holding her while feeding her.) So, anyways, we got through it. And I am so excited to hear that you have too.
Talking about boobies is a good thing.
I hope you start feeling proud of yours.
Amy’s last blog post..Lessons in Falling
Aw, what an ordeal you have been through. I hope you are able to feel proud of yourself for powering through. I can’t imagine committing to pumping long term. I HATED it! I am in awe of you, I am not sure I would have kept trying the nursing if I had been you.
I do understand the reluctance to nurse around people. It took me 4 kids to get somewhat comfortable. I still feel weird around my in-laws or dad and tend to wait til they leave the room or go to my own room. I think it is so much harder with large breasts to feel comfy around others.
Kristen’s last blog post..Tidbits from Mama’s Day
very few women even attempt to nurse after failing. i amazed that you stuck with it. you are an inspiration to other women!
zoe’s last blog post..Duh….
You are such an amazing inspiration. I remember when I first starting reading you and these posts. Love at first bewbs.
Sarcastic Mom’s last blog post..(Breast)feeding Carnival
Well done for trying it again!! I couldn’t do it.
Jenty’s last blog post..(Bottle) Feeding Carnival
Wow! What a story. Mine wasn’t quite so dramatic although the first few weeks of nursing my son were hellish. My supply was slow coming in and inadequate at first. He gained only 4 oz. in 12 days and I was forced to supplement. It was a blessing, though, as we had been nursing some days for 6-8 hours STRAIGHT!
After several weeks of supplementing and 24/7 pumping, everything began working as it should and nursing was wonderful!
Last week, at 14 months to the day, he stopped. Cold turkey. We were all ill and I think that had something to do with it.
I think moms have to do what is right for them. We should be commended and support each other, as Lotus is trying to do, I think, instead of judging.
Toni’s last blog post..Karmic Revenge
You go, girl! Thanks for sharing your story…
Rebecca’s last blog post..Most inspiring breastfeeding story I know?
Anglophile Football Fanatic
I think I answered your little did your mom breastfeed you question.
But, I’m so in awe of you and the pump. I just couldn’t do it any longer than I did. It was killing me. So, that you are still pumping?! Right on, sister.
And, congrats at trying the boob again. I realize that is a powerful step.
Anglophile Football Fanatic’s last blog post..Tit for Tot
This was just as good second time round. Have I mentioned how pumping is SO much harder than nursing and that you are amazing for doing it?
Veronica’s last blog post..I?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢m Back!
Loved this then. Love it now.
So beautifully expressed. (oops. i swear, that was an unintentional choice of words!)
Arkie Mama’s last blog post..Hey, Daddy! Step it up…
A Whole Lot of Nothing
Very moving – thanks for sharing. You got me *tearing* while I read about Alex crawling up your tummy. It’s SO true and powerful.
the egel nest
All this boob talk around my friend’s blogs…it is just weird for me 🙂
The Egel Nest
Not Afraid To Use It
Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t even been aware of the Carnival today, but I just posted and joined all the other brave bloggers who added their stories.
Not Afraid To Use It’s last blog post..Boobs, Babies & Backseats
You drive well behind the keyboard- you have a wonderful way with words that makes me (Mom of 12 & 14yo) remember what I went through at that time (that seems -sometimes- like just last month).
nanci’s last blog post..Reality- Emotions- Tears, Mothers, LIFE
You’ve been doing a lot of “sharing” this month, and a good job of it too. Thanks for taking us on your emotional roller coaster.
Kara’s last blog post..The good and bad news
you are the brave one… thanks for sharing so honestly…
This is awesome. Loved reading it.
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