Made you look.
But actually, we are here to talk about boobs. Specifically mine (heeeeey). But mostly about the very unsexy function that is breastfeeding.
Owen and I are almost done. It’s been 412 days. We’ll likely hang on a bit longer, but… we’re almost done.
Now that I only nurse him before bedtime, I’m realizing how many of those 412 days were dedicated to using my boobs as a feeding tool, barely going more than 3 hours at a time without handing them over to a baby or a machine. It didn’t feel hard at the time, but now that those hours and that time belong to me again, I realize how much work it had been.
I was never entirely comfortable nursing in public (for no reason other than my own shyness) and Todd gave me quite a bit of flack for that, which I actually appreciate. I’m glad he supported the process and need and freedom women deserve to care for their babies — any time, anywhere. So I tucked myself away most times, and when I couldn’t, I hid under a blanket, Owen confused and flailing in our makeshift boob tent.
While I was pregnant, someone once told me that one day my phone would be full of photos I’ve taken of my breastfeeding baby. Of selfies I’d snap in the wee hours of night with my tiny baby latched onto my boob. So many photos, she said.
That, in fact, DID NOT HAPPEN.
I have exactly one intentional photo that I snapped of Owen breastfeeding. I took it just a few weeks ago when I realized I had none, and worried one day I may wish I did.
I don’t know why I never snapped photos, necessarily, other than I just didn’t want to. Maybe it’s been my bashfulness about the process or maybe it’s just a moment from motherhood that didn’t require photographic evidence.
Unlike ever other part of motherhood so far, per my Instagram feed. I am not sorry.
Although I’ve remained bashful about the act of breastfeeding, I developed a completely oblivious habit of grabbing my boobs one at a time to check their status. Doing so allowed me to know just how full they were and how urgent the need was to nurse — or pump. I did this so regularly, and with such nonchalance, my mom still jokes about it.
“You just grabbed your boob, didn’t you?” she’d ask over the phone if we mentioned nursing.
She was always right.
Even though I no longer have to check whether my boobs need to be emptied, I sometimes still need to stop myself from finding out.
Nursing also made me self-conscious about my body. Sure, I’ll still talk about my boobs on the internet, of course, but I’m certainly not walking around the house topless. Hell, I don’t even know the last time I slept without some sort of bra, though, that’s mostly for comfort and functional purposes.
I get dressed (or undressed) in private or with my back turned. Which, look, it hasn’t always been this way. I mean, I MADE A BABY. I’ve not always been as insecure about the state of my body. But these pieces of my body — once a source of vanity and appeal — have become, over time, a tool. They’ve lost some oomph, you know? They, like much of my body, aren’t the same.
So I’m having a hard time transitioning myself back into a woman with a body that is her own. I imagine Todd’s also having a hard time as he competes with a 1-year-old. But above all of that — above the need for the two men in my life to have access to the functional or sensual parts of my body — I would like it back. And although I’m at the very, absolute tail end of this long and successful breastfeeding journey, I’m just not there yet.
These boobs have served a purpose. A very functional and scientifically complex purpose, and I’m not yet sure how to feel sexy about them again. How to feel like a woman, not a mom.
Well, that’s not really the right word. I am a mom and moms aren’t unsexy, but I don’t know how to forget that for the last year my very own boobs made milk and were attached to a child 70 percent of the time.
Is this conversation how we normalize breastfeeding? Probably not. But our bodies are physically and mentally changed by this process, and a year out, so much of it remains in my head.
Go on and feed your babies however you need to, mamas. My boobs are here in solidarity, waiting to be free.