Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Knockers! My History of Breastfeeding

So I’ve just hit a huge, MAJOR milestone in my life as a mother, and my life period. I’ve put the boobies away for good and weaned my last child. Oh it was not easy. Not easy at all. My 3 year old daughter was not giving up the mommy milk (mimmies in her words) without a vicious fight. A scratching clawing fight. More on that later.

This end to an era is bittersweet no doubt. On the one hand, I have longed for my freedom at home. It’s been years since I’ve been able to sit on the couch without a babe climbing into my lap to catch a comforting sip. On the other hand, I will never do this again. I feel I am letting go of my baby and pushing her to grow up. I mean she really is just a baby. 3 year olds have the maturity level of 3 year olds. Which is still quite baby-ish.

During my early twenties, when my breasts were far more popular than I was, I only saw them as a source of attention from men and a source of income from men who liked to tip bartenders with comely young bouncy flesh orbs.  I never met a tight fitting low cut t-shirt I didn’t like. Well wait. I take that back. Yes I have. It was white and inside a dark bar with bar lighting, and my white bra glowed in the dark. Talk about getting the hell out of Dodge fast! But for the most part, if it was cotton, tight and wide open at the neck, I was a fan.Which is one of the reasons I threw a colossal fit when one of the bars where I worked changed the dress code so that all employees had to wear ugly, unflattering, beige and green baggy ass, man cut t-shirts with crew neck collars. I put in my two weeks notice in record time.

My next move was to a bar where the dress code was “no jeans”. Well hell I could deal with that. A year and a half into that gig, I mistook a Kiwi for an Aussie and ended up married 9 months later. You have to fast forward 3 years to get to the breastfeeding. So 3 years later, I was 40 weeks pregnant, larger than Kevin Federline post Britney and thinking, “When this baby comes out, I’m actually going to give breastfeeding a shot. Why not?” You could not have told me that pre-pregnancy. I mean breastfeeding was for groovy hippies without a care or worry in the world…right? I didn’t mind bouncing the boobs in a form fitting top, but unleashing them on the world to feed a baby? Just couldn’t see that for myself.

But some little mommy voice kept knocking on my conscience’s door saying, “How can it hurt to try? If it doesn’t work, you have back up. If it does work, then presto! Cheap food.” So I got over my inhibitions and fears about it and gave it a try.

My firstborn latched on like one of those creepy leach-lipped fish you see suctioned on the side of a fish tank. Once he got a hold of it he wasn’t letting go. What the hell? It took me awhile to figure out how to unlatch the baby jaws of death. Just poke a little finger in their mouth and wiggle it around until they let go. I guess at least he liked it but damn little man. I’m not going to lie, it was ridiculously uncomfortable at first and I was not convinced anything was coming out.

By day 3 I was sore, had a cracked nipple and wanted to drop kick, bitch slap, and karate chop every member of La Leche League who ever said, “If it hurts, you’re not doing it right.” Bullshit. My tender nipples that have rarely seen the light of day are now the sole life source for a hungry infant with twice the suction of a fucking Dyson. That’s why it hurts! Here’s a sentence you can add to your Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “Kiss my ass!”

Now before my crunchy friends disown me, please know those thoughts came from me when I was sleep deprived and pissed off at nature for making the natural seem impossible. But I kept giving it a good fight because Boss Hog took a shine to it.

Through all of this I was getting antsy to see some real milk because all I had produced at that point was colostrum and I kept thinking my son was not really getting enough to eat. I wanted to see some real evidence dammit! This is the part where my conscience spoke up again, but this time she said, “Be careful what you wish for because girlfriend, you’ve got no idea what’s about to happen here.”

Man was my conscience ever correct. The books sure don’t prepare you for the milk invasion. It’s like nothing I ever imagined. Men, I’d like you just to envision how your testicles feel on an average day. Now, pretend some nature fairy replaced the testicles you have come to know and love with a couple of medicine balls filled with liquid. After you stop crying, you eventually have to get up and walk. You would need a special apparatus to hold those monsters in place so that you could resume what’s left of your life. Enter exhibit A – The Nursing Bra!

Gotta have a nursing bra when your milk arrives. And it’s absolutely pointless to buy one during your pregnancy. Your boobs double and triple in size…so wait til the babe comes out and the milk comes in! My fitting was a real trip. Oh they had some cute bras with leopard prints but they were in size G…too small for me. Yeah that’s right. I skipped right over G and went straight to J. 36 J. I was like, “Come again?” What the hell does J stand for Jupiter? Jugs? Jeez O’ Pete?

This was the ugliest piece of undergarment clothing I had ever laid my eyes on and I was about to pay fifty bucks for it. Ugh! But I did because I had no choice. Looking at my post partum body with that thing on was depressing. I looked like all the before photos from weight loss supplement ads. And I felt like I belonged on the Benny Hill show as one of the body doubles for the melons! All for the good of the babe…right?

2 weeks into my new role as provider of everything to my baby, I was starting to get the hang of it.  A little shocked the first time my baby quickly unlatched and I realized my breasts were actually garden hoses with 3 sprinkler settings to them. The quick unlatch brought out the jet stream for sure. A nodding off baby, more of a light spray. All of the things I didn’t know about breastfeeding but had to learn on the fly was mesmerizing to me. The whole process was pretty awesome, but the most amazing thing was watching my baby grow strictly from food produced from my body. I was beginning to like Mother Nature again.   

One of the down sides to all of this breastfeeding was a lack of alone time and sleep. Who better to get up in the middle of the night to feed fussy hungry baby than the parent with the food? Oh sure I could pump and let daddy feed, (and I did) but who wants to pump when they don’t have to? Pumping is the biggest, most boring, time consuming pain in the ass. And my breast pump (lovely enduring thing that it was) always spoke to me during pumping sessions. Sometimes it would say, “Aflac! Aflac!” Other times it would say, “RedRum” “RedRum”. As annoying as it is to hear your breast pump do its best Insurance Goose (or is it a duck?) impression, it was much preferable to its creepy kid from The Shining impression.

Sleep deprivation, obnoxious breast pump and ugly bra aside, the breastfeeding children thing became something I was really good at. So I kept doing it. I made a goal of 1 year with my firstborn and exceeded it by 2 months. When my second son was born, breastfeeding was a piece of cake. No cracked nipples thank goodness, but I was still sleep deprived and being stalked by the little boy in the Shining kid’s mouth thanks to my Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.

Boy number 2 got the same 14 months of momma’s milk as Boy number 1. Then I took a 4 year break while we decided if we’d have any more children, and while I lent my jabber jaws of a breast pump to my sister-in-law.

When baby number 3 came along, I was practically schooling the lactation consultant the hospital sent to my room. The one who came the second day of my stay took one look at me and said, “Yeah, you’re good. Do you need anything?” Yes, a spare set of nipples would be nice. (I mean, I was experienced but the nipples still get sore when attacked by ravenous newborns.)

This time around I thought I’d let my baby nurse a little longer. I’d just play it by ear but definitely be done by age 2. Over the age of 2 would be beyond my comfort level. At her 18 month check up, I still fed the little thing on demand and asked her pediatrician if she’d ever let up. The doctor explained to me that breastfeeding to her was her lovey. Some babies and toddlers had blankets or Teddy Bears or pacifiers. My daughter’s lovey just happened to be attached to my body. And she told me not to be surprised if she wanted to nurse until she was 2 ½ to 3. Oh Hell no. I was missing my autonomy desperately; there was no way I was getting near the 2 ½ mark let alone 3. That’s just crazy talk!

But 2 came around and sweet baby had zero interest in letting up.  Occasionally I’d say no, and it would turn into a fight to the death. (The death of my freedom.) I just couldn’t say no to her. She’d bawl and cry and I felt horrible. I’d say to my husband, “Okay…she’s clearly not ready, we can continue for a bit longer and I’ll wean her by the time she is 2 ½.” Yeah, dream on sucker. This one ain’t weaning until she is good and ready, and I had the claw marks on my upper chest to prove it.

I always had an excuse why I couldn’t wean. Work stress, baby not feeling well, too tired, etc. But the main reason was it felt cruel to me to wean her when she was still not ready. I personally was ready but stuck it out a bit longer for her. When she turned 3 last month and I still couldn’t see an end in sight, I knew I’d need to make that end come. (I am having a surgical procedure next month and cannot have a big ass 3 year old all over the mimmies!)

So I prepped her verbally one day. Just talked about it all day long. When night came, she didn’t even ask for them. Just went straight to sleep. She has fussed a few times since then and is still asking on occasion, but I’m not going back now.

In the words of all those useless Bachelors and Bachlorettes, “It’s been a long journey but very rewarding.” Only I really mean it. Much easier for me to say that now that I’m done. A few weeks ago you would have gotten the stink eye from me if you made even one innocent little remark about my breastfeeding…I was so over it. I spent 5 ½ years of the last 10 breastfeeding. That’s a lot of work for a 40 year old set of cans. But I gotta say, I’m impressed with their durability. They are not too shabby for all they’ve been through. What knockers indeed!


  1. Funny, Meredith. You are a trooper but I get it. We're still weaning the 'dummie'...