I find it somewhat amusing when people are grossed out by breastfeeding. Sorry to break it to you, folks, but breasts do not exist solely for you to ogle at and play with. I triumphantly nursed both of my babies in public, every time hoping just a little that someone would sneer a rude comment my direction so I could reply, “I don’t get offended when you eat.” Depending on the commentator, I might find it appropriate to also squirt them across the room with my milk. Sadly, I was never able to whip this comment, or my boob, out at someone.
But in all seriousness, how amazing is it that our bodies are capable of producing this nutritious and perfectly balanced substance that sustains another human life? When I was pregnant the first time, there was no question that I would breastfeed. Months leading up to Lily’s birth, I had visions of picturesque nursing scenes: a soft, Thomas Kinkade-esqe light glowing around us, angels voices softly piercing the air, my white, billowy nightgown flowing softly in the breeze. Suffice to say, that dream scene was thrown out the window after Lily arrived and I found breastfeeding to be a miserable and challenging experience. How could something “natural” be so difficult? I will never, ever forget the first thing the lactation consultant said to my tear streaked face when Lily was almost a week old and not gaining weight yet: “This is the first time you’ve ever tried to breastfeed someone, and this is the first time your baby has ever breastfed. You can’t expect to get something perfect the first time you’ve ever tried it!”
Lily did eventually catch on and ended up nursing for over two years. Being the new, neurotic parent I was, pushing her to take a bottle was something we tried only a handful of times. And lo and behold, at three months she absolutely refused any kind of nipple that wasn’t mine. Even worse, she was convinced at six months that “real” food was poisonous and I continued to be her sole source of nutrition for many, many months. Her demands were exhausting, but the emotional rewards from breastfeeding outweighed the negatives and I was grateful for the opportunity to connect with my baby in this way.
Needless to say, after the birth of Vivienne three years later, I was determined to introduce the bottle. I simply could not fathom the thought of having another baby who wouldn’t take a bottle – not only for logistical reasons, but for my own sake of sanity as well (Nighttime feedings? Any takers?). I wanted the best of both worlds – being able to nurse my baby when we were together and not have to worry about her eating habits when we were apart. It turns out that any worries I had about experiencing a repeat of her sister’s eating habits were a waste of time. Vivienne latched on moments after she was born and is a vivacious eater of anything in front of her to this day (cheerios, broccoli, cheese = good. Dust mites, tiny Polly Pocket shoes, coffee beans that fall on the floor = bad).
The purpose of boobs becomes evident after you become a parent. Of course, this purpose will not be the only purpose for the entirety of a lifetime (insert my husband’s cheer here). But for now, for these short months and possibly years, I wear this aspect of motherhood like a badge of honor.