My son is about 5 1/2 months and as we begin to prepare to start him on “solid” food I have been thinking about how amazing my breasts are. I have had a complicated relationship with them, as most modern women have I think.
Before they arrived I envied my friend who developed early (although as I hear it now 5th grade is becoming the standard for girls to develop and is no longer considered early…) and watched another friend pretend to have them by stuffing balloons with pudding and putting them in a bra. Because it was so important apparently to have them. If only I knew then what I know now!
When they finally first “arrived” around age 15 trying to figure out how the heck I was supposed to snap in those hooks in the middle of my back. Trying to also understand why they weren’t DD’s immediately like all the women on TV, and feelings of inadequacy for years because they never made it past a small B until I got pregnant at 25. Feeling like they were ugly and imperfect for years because a male friend commented negatively about the size of my nipples. The up’s and downs of push-up bra’s, padding, and finally the acceptance of my size and subsequent flaunting that follows.
During my first pregnancy the nervousness and excitement as they got bigger and bigger (and consequently more sore and tender.) I knew I was going to breastfeed my daughter. I didn’t really know what that entailed other then insert nipple and baby will eat. Oh, so much left to learn! At the time I didn’t have any breastfeeding friends that I knew of, and the one mom who I was “close” with (close as in my brothers girlfriend) was adamant about all the reasons she didn’t breastfeed (saggy boobs, she wanted to start drinking again etc…) I hadn’t met the new friends we would make in our mommy group yet, so I was pretty nervous about it the first time.
Then after giving birth, the long ordeal I went thru with supply issues, post-partum depression, self image, a screaming hungry baby, an unsupportive pediatrician, a distant husband and in general frustration and disappointment with myself and my breasts. It was a struggle, but we did manage to breastfeed for 7 months, however we did start supplementing with formula around 1 1/2 – 2 months. They certainly were bigger (up to a C at this point) but they were always sore and sensitive, and someone was always wanting them for one reason or another yet they couldn’t supply enough for anybody to be happy!
I am GLAD we struggled though, because those quiet moments I got to have when breastfeeding my daughter still remain some of the most special moments of her infant days to me. Take away all the facts of how beneficial breastfeeding is to mom and baby, the happy hormones released and the antibodies and how its free. What it came down to was it made my daughter happy and when she would look into my eyes in those quiet spaces I never felt so amazing and close to her. The happy hormones work and bonding is achieved, but in the moment you arent thinking of that. You are falling in love with your child.
After we stopped breastfeeding fully they did shrink back down a little, but they finally felt “normal” again. I do feel like I lost a bit of that bonding time with her, when it was just us. But I feel our relationship is so close and special now because we both worked so hard together. I had a bit of a respite where I didn’t have to think about my breasts at ALL (imagine that for a moment ladies) and then I got out of the shower one day and they started leaking again… I knew I was pregnant again in that moment.
My second pregnancy was so full of everything else going on I barely had time to think about them. Of course, they grow and prepare for baby without conscious thought so again I broke out my pregnancy bra’s. They didn’t get sore this time really until the end of the pregnancy. I also knew much more about breastfeeding this time and felt excited for my baby to arrive so I could do it again.
At the beginning of course there was the usual waiting for my milk to come in, but I wasn’t as afraid this time since I now knew a newborn can go a few days without having a real meal and he was getting colostrum so he was OK. He latched well and almost immediately after birth. Getting my supply up was still difficult, but this time I knew to take feenugreek, and to keep taking my prenatal vitamins and about active nursing. I knew to take good care of myself and to drink LOTS of water, and I actually actively did it. It still took about 2 weeks for Mogwai and I to find out feeding groove, but this time I was confidant we would.
I love our pediatrician and she was so supportive. My wonderful husband is also amazing and has been so supportive and extra helpful as well. I cannot even stress how crucial the support of those two people has been. I also am part of a mommy group with members who breastfeed, so seeing them unafraid to do it in public has also given me support even when it’s just the two of us.
Also, although I am not a particularly religious person, I find a great deal of strength from the images of the “Maria lactans.” and the nursing Isis.
At this moment in time, my son has doubled his birth weight and is healthy and vibrant and I am so PROUD to say my breasts did that. He has not had a drop of anything other then breast milk and yet he is thriving. As his mother and as a women in general I feel so amazing. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I still need a “booby break” where nobody is allowed to be near them for awhile.
I finally feel like my breasts are more then just the sum of the size cups they can fill or how many men notice them or think they are attractive. They are not some separate entity that needs perfecting and needs work or approval. They are part of my body and they are amazing exactly as they are, “large” nipples and all! I <3 my breasts!
-Courtesy of Glimpse in Time Photography-
This post is NOT knocking other women who choose not to/are unable to breastfeed. I am simply recounting my own personal journey with my breasts. Relax. :)