The Day I Took My Boobs Back
I celebrate breastfeeding mothers everywhere.
On October 11, 2014, after many years of faithful service, I finally gave my boobs the gold watch they've worked so tirelessly to earn. If my boobs were not desperate to retire, I certainly was.
I suppose my original plan for breastfeeding was to make it to 12 months but somehow that time seemed to come and go very quickly with all three of my kids. Anyone who has had a 12-month-old will know they are still a baby in so many ways, so it seemed very natural to keep going each time.
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None of my babies showed even the vaguest hint of wanting to self-wean, and given that I had no cycle for pretty much the entire time I breastfed, it became necessary to force the weaning issue just so I could get knocked up again.
Yes, I know, you can get pregnant when you're breastfeeding, but if you don't have a cycle there are no fertile dates to circle on a calendar, which would mean you'd have to be shagging every day in the hopes that you might get one past the keeper. No thanks. My vagina likes to do other things -- like watch Netflix and sleep.
So I didn't feel especially nostalgic at the time of weaning each of my babes -- it was more a case of finally mustering the strength to snatch my boobs back and say: "They're mine and you can't have them!" to a mightily pissed off toddler.
When I look back now, knowing that I will never breastfeed again, I feel deeply nostalgic.
It was at the heart of my becoming a mother and one of the reasons I think I found my feet so quickly after my firstborn, Luca, came into the world.
Breastfeeding was such a revelation to me. Having been adopted, I had no experience with it and obviously Mum was unable to offer any advice. Reading online pregnancy resources played a huge part in solidifying my commitment to at least try it. The evidence of its benefits was overwhelming, but I worried that I would hate the feeling.
Since puberty, I had seen my breasts purely as ornamental. And society made sure I knew they were what made me sexy. So the idea of a tiny human sucking on them was initially a weird one.
Breastfeeding Luca for the first time, an hour or so after he was delivered, was a weird sensation, but I felt exhilarated to have made a start. We weren't immediately great at it, but in terms of difficult starts, I consider my grazed, misshapen nipples an excellent result.
A breastfeeding relationship is not a static thing but always evolving.
Around the 8-month mark, breastfeeding begins to feel like a contact sport.
There's nothing quite like being slapped in the face and having your nose picked for you as you feed a child from your own body.
But then that settles down again and another adventure begins. All the while though, I was reminded that I was feeding my baby from my own body. All that gorgeous baby chub was courtesy of me and me alone. That felt -- and still feels -- like an incredible privilege. My tits kept three humans alive. And I thought their best moment was when I was 25 and they sat about 1cm below my chin. Little did I know how much more they were capable of than just being perky.
I breastfed three babies for a total of 72 months. That's six years! And it was a journey like any other -- filled with highs and lows. There were times I felt so touched out, times I desperately wanted my body to myself for just a moment. But I pushed through.
I'm not going to be a sanctimonious f**k and tell you I believed the sacrifices were worthy and that I did it because I wanted the very best for my child.
Sure, those things are kind of true, but that's not what consciously kept me going. I kept going because that was all I knew how to do. Breastfeeding my babies just made sense. And along the way, I collected some of the most precious mothering memories.
For every slap in the face, there was the softest little baby hand caress. For every distracted feed, there was one where we gazed endlessly at one another. And the majority of my breastfeeding moments were an opportunity for stillness in an otherwise frantic life. This was particularly important with my second and third babies where the days just collapsed into one another in a blur of busyness. I will always be grateful for those quiet moments of just being with my babies.
I celebrate breastfeeding mothers everywhere. It's a tough and beautiful gig. I also celebrate those mothers who gave it a go and then made another choice -- because nothing is "best" for a baby if the mother is suffering.
My breastfeeding days are behind me and my tits are well below me, but I wouldn't change a thing.