Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mama Bean may never look at her boobs the same way again

When Bean was very small, he honked during breastfeeding. With every inhalation, something about his airways being narrow, or less developed, or congested would cause this honking noise, so we called him our little goose. It was a little worrisome, until the midwives told us it was nothing of concern, which didn't stop everyone else from continuing to fret. Thank goodness he stopped doing it shortly after six weeks of age.

I made notes in my excessively detailed breastfeeding chart of other noises he made when nursing. In the delirium of those Early Days, his fast breathing sounded like him whispering, "oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah" or "right on right on right on" and "mine mine mine" over and over for twenty minutes on the boob. I thought it was adorable and hilarious. Wondered if he'd always be a "boob man."

The truth is, I do kind of think of my boobs as his, right now. He occupies them for six to ten feedings a day, and they spend the time in between filling up for the next one. When we were learning how to breastfeed, I said the craziest things to encourage his feeding, mostly in regards to how good it felt when he'd get a good solid suck going. From these earliest moments, I ceased thinking of my breasts as sexual objects, because my head could not wrap itself around urging my son to suck, and suck harder, on a body part with any trace of erogenous connotation. Well, and this is as it should be. But I laugh about it. Who says those kinds of things but a crazy, sleep-deprived new mom?

So I'm left wondering if this effect ever wears off. When do I get my breasts back? Now that they've served this life-giving function, can I ever look at them as anything other than milk factories? Can my husband? I mean, I haven't even really reclaimed my abdomen as my own after pregnancy, which ended five months ago. By the time I wean Bean, if it takes as long to readjust, I may just be pregnant again, and start the whole process all over. It could be years before my chest is my own again!

This is where moms get the crazy guilt trip ammunition, isn't it? The declarations of carrying them for nine months, and labouring for hours (or not so much, in Bean's case), and feeding them from our very own bodies (let alone the sleepless nights, or permanent poop stains); this is the reasoning behind the histrionics Even for those who don't end up breastfeeding, I think there is a sense that our bodies are never fully our own after bearing a child.

"Is it boob time? Tell me it's boob time! I'm ready for boob time,
hurry up, feed me feed me feeeeeeeeeed me!"

But then.
It's all worth it.
I'd give him my right arm...
But my boobs will probably suffice.

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