I strutted around the house with a little-girl-grin, oranges stuffed in my shirt and teetering on my mother’s high heels. Even at four years old, I wanted breasts of my own. I’m not going to lie and say life didn’t bust open the moment mine appeared junior year of high school. It most definitely did. Life buzzed and adventures ensued. I look back at pictures from college and think “I look so young and look at those boobs.” My nipples actually pointed the same direction. I owned my curves and enjoyed my body before it was trendy but that’s not to say I didn’t face normal insecurities from time to time.
Today, as I look down at one breast (with my baby firmly latched) I’m grateful I waited to be a mom. I relished my twenties and maxed out on selfishness—making it possible to deliver the selflessness now required of me. Mothering often hurts. It felt like trying to pass a kidney stone on my chest the very first time my milk let down. Other times it felt like getting tattooed by several needles directly onto a nipple. It’s always a hundred degrees (especially under a chic nursing cover). Feeding a hungry infant twelve times a day, for an hour at a time, is a big [bleeping] commitment. It gets easier. Right now it feels like getting my thumb sucked. No pain, no trouble just a happy little habit. Hopefully, my daughter won’t open her eyes and bite. Then I won’t be happy.
I nursed my son for over a year. My daughter just turned one and I know our time is almost over. (Weaning is a whole different story.) I’m enjoying the snuggles. Breastfeeding is so deeply personal. Women feel pressured to do “what’s best.” Or feel inadequate if they can’t breastfeed. Or can feel shamed if they feed in public. It felt a thousand different ways to me (sometimes in the same day). Personally, I’ve never felt ashamed to breastfeed in public (although, people do get judgy when the baby can walk) and thankfully no one ever shamed me for feeding my babies. (And I’ve nursed just about everywhere restaurants, airplanes, parks, the zoo, Target…) My nursing experience started off a little rocky. I wasn’t sure if my son was getting enough milk. I went to a lactation center and had my baby weighed after a feeding. This put me at ease and everything improved from there. It was also free because I birthed at the affiliated hospital (you might want to ask your hospital staff what’s available for you). If you’re on the fence or struggling with the process here are a few reasons to motivate you.
1.) My choice to breastfeed saved my family a ton of money (an estimated $5,000 dollars if I bought one can of formula each week for 1.5 years for each child.)
2.) Breastfeeding helped me lose weight. I’m almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight for the second time. Plus, here’s a fun fact: In the beginning, every time I nursed my body released oxytocin which not only helped me bond with baby but also caused contractions in my uterus which helped it return to its original size.
3.) I never fussed with bottles. I can thank my husband for this. Our choice to live on a single income made this feasible. Even when I went back to work part-time between babies I was able to keep nursing. If you plan to work full-time, I know lots of friends who stockpiled milk. I bow down to these amazing women. I hated pumping.
4.) Nursing calms fussy babies. I nursed on demand with both kids. This meant I held my kids almost constantly, through naps and we co-sleep (I know, I know it’s a big [bleeping] commitment). Attachment parenting feels right to me. But do what feels right to you. I’m also happy to know the immunities found in breastmilk, along with the comfort of on-demand nursing prevented my babies from getting sick. (This also saves money.)
You know, as I write this I’m thinking all this money saved should probably go towards a surgical lift. Maybe one day. For now, I can still scoop my breasts into a frilly bra and impress my husband. More importantly, I value my breasts like two deployed parachutes. They’ve done their jobs marvelously (even if the actual job wasn’t) and the rest is up to gravity. I will probably look back at pictures from today and miss these days. I always wanted a pair of my own. I’ve certainly got em’ and they’re beautiful and broken in like my favorite heels—still ready to strut, still pretty fantastic.