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Weaning

Ms 1 and I are reaching the end of our nursing relationship after 15 months.  She’s down to about once a day, and that once is largely about comfort and not nutrition.  My supply is clearly dropping.  While I may be in some discomfort after about 24 hours, I no longer have the excruciating agony of a too full breast.  I have not accidentally wet my shirt in a few months.  The end is nigh.

Screen Shot 2011-12-09 at 2.24.05 AMMs 1 when she was less than a month old.

I always pictured myself struggling to hit six months.  That if I did make it to one year, I’d be done.  That I would “want my body back.”

The thing is that, contrary to what people told me to expect, I never felt like I didn’t own my body.  I never felt that my breasts “belonged” to the baby.  The only real difference between a breastfeeding baby and a non breastfeeding baby is that I’ll be free to wear bras (I’m lazy and found skipping a bra to make the whole thing easier-remember I live in an equatorial climate, so skip the bra, wear a tank top and just pull the neckline down-as in the photo above-has worked well for me).

At a year, Ms 1 was nursing, but not terribly frequently.  I’m still at home with the girls, so it wasn’t a huge imposition to keep nursing.  So we did.

Ms 1 is my last baby.  I’m in my mid-30’s and I have had a miscarriage and two very difficult pregnancies.  Ms 1 was a month premature for both our health.  I’m at a high risk of another premature birth, possibly a dangerously premature birth.  I’d likely be on bedrest in or in a hospital for most of a pregnancy.  It’s just not worth it.  My family feels complete at the moment, but if we were to decide to add to it, we would choose another route.

Ms 1 is also the only baby I’ve nursed successfully.  We’ve had a relatively easy relationship. A few latch/position issues in the first few days.  One (maybe 2) case(s) of thrush.  But other than that, it’s been smooth sailing.  Nursing has been very pleasurable (when you nurse, you get a rush of oxytocin-the love hormone-which for me makes me very relaxed and zen).  Now that she’s a running climbing active toddler, nursing is also one of the few times that she is happy to snuggle/cuddle close with me.

Knowing she’s my last baby and knowing that I’ll never get another chance to nurse has also been a reason I’ve yet to let go.  I’m not in a rush to have this all end.  I know my baby, and I know she’ll decide to end the relationship soon enough.  When that day comes, I’ll be sad, but proud that nursing worked out for us.

On the plus side, her slowing down to once a day has meant that we have moved her (although not her crib) out of our bedroom as of a few days ago.  If the new sleeping arrangement continues to work out, we’ll move the crib in a week or so (she’s in a pack n play at the moment-moving the crib was too big a project to do before we knew if it would work).  While I’m ambivalent about weaning, I’m thrilled to pieces at the idea of a bedroom without a crib in it.

My evolving relationship with my breasts

My breasts have generally been a disappointment to me.

I remember feeling like the last girl to develop in middle school.  As a plus sized woman, shirts are cut to accommodate a certain figure, and my barely C cup breasts never quite filled out a top correctly, to my eternal shopping frustration.    When the LM was born, breastfeeding just never worked out for a variety of reasons and I was angry with them, feeling as though they had failed me.

Having a successful breastfeeding relationship with the BG has made me re-evaluate my relationship with my breasts.  They are successfully doing the job they are engineered to do.  They are fuller than they have ever been (in which I have to admit I take some amount of shallow joy).

However, this is not to say that all is well and now I love my breast and it’s all rainbows and unicorns and Disney songs over at the DN household.

My breasts now straddle the line between sexual and functional and I’m often filled with ambivalence over this.  On one hand, I enjoy their sexy fullness.  On the other, I’m embarrassed when I’m walking in the mall and look down to find my shirt soaked from leaking (although not embarrassed enough to wear a bra).  They make me feel sexy, but I’m not always comfortable with having my partner or myself sexualize them. I’ve fought for my right to breastfeed publicly and then felt uncomfortable doing so.

Madison Young explored all the controversy and ambivalence over the whole breastfeeding is sexual/isn’t sexual….and was called out for it by another woman.

There’s been plenty said about this dust-up (the Jezebel article is a good place to start if you missed it), and I don’t know that I have much to say that hasn’t been said already (other than I think Young did nothing wrong, I think the concept is brilliant and I wish I’d been able to attend).

However, I’ve been thinking about this controversy a lot lately because I’ve been at war…with myself.  Ironically I had none of this ambivalence or conflict when I was a pumping mom…maybe because my breasts were one step removed from the actual feeding of my baby.  Now that they are directly involved in the relationship (in fact, the basis of the relationship), I find that I’m struggling with my own perceptions of where the line between sexy and functionality is at any given moment and when the line can and should blur.

Touched Out

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  The husband had to work late, and I was home with the girls.  The baby, at 4 months, is hardly a handful…but the 3 year old can be another story entirely.

I rigged a game of Candyland to ensure a speedy end once I’d announced that bedtime was imminent, after the game was over.  I had barely settled her and gone out to the living room when my husband got home.

I was surprised that instead of feeling happy that he was home….I felt a frisson of disappointment.  Part of me had been gearing up for an hour or two of alone time before ending the evening with my partner.  While I was happy to see him, and had been missing him…I felt a little cheated of “me time.”

I recognized this feeling from my last go-round with the newborn period.  The sensation of being “touched out.”  I love that the LM is affectionate and loves to climb in my lap and give me hugs and beg for “Mommy ups” (to be picked up and hugged tightly) and so forth.  I love that I’ve managed a successful breastfeeding relationship with BG.  I love that my husband is still attracted to me physically after almost 7 years together and 2 children.  But there are days when I all I want is NOT to be touched, hugged, pulled on, climbed on, breastfed from, and so forth.

Yesterday I took that “me time” by making my husband dinner.  Yes, it’s a total cliche…but I love to cook, and the kitchen is my domain.  Making food for my loved ones makes me happy (most days…) and as I prefer to cook alone, it also serves as a place where I get that touch-free time.  By the time dinner was ready, I was more than happy to hang out with him and watch the Daily Show online.

Feeling touched out is normal.  It’s hard not to read too much into it, especially if you’re a first time mom.  One of the perks of second time parenthood is that it’s easier to identify those transient feelings, and to acknowledge them, and to deal with them constructively (most of the time).

 

In other news…the book is out!  Go buy it!  Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples!  (And, yes I do see the irony of pimping my story about sex after kids in a post about feeling touched out…)

Supporting slutwalk and what it has to do with breastfeeding

It wasn’t until today that I realized the reason I’m so nervous about breastfeeding in public is that I’m scared of being slutshamed.

Slut shaming is when a woman is made to feel as though she’s been inappropriately sexual when she hasn’t been (among other definitions, but when discussing breastfeeding, this is the right definition to use).

If you want to see negative comments about breastfeeding in public, you only need read any article about it or a board that mentions it.  Someone will inevitably accuse the mom of wanting to flaunt her breasts, of her finding sexual enjoyment from “exhibitionism”, misunderstandings about how much breast is actually exposed, and so forth.  Asking a woman to cover up implies that she’s doing something wrong, that she needs to hide her breasts from the licentious eyes of the men around her, lest she inflame their lust…it is slut shaming.

As a mom who supports the rights of women to breastfeed publicly, and without a cover if that is their or their baby’s preference, I support slutwalk.

I attended slutwalk in Singapore with BG and the LM.  They were the only children there, and sure, both were too young to know what the day was about, but they were there.  As they grow older I’ll have to explain the knife’s edge dance all women do when it comes to sexuality…walking the line between frigid and slutty, madonna and whore…but at least when I do, I can also tell them that they’ve been fighting against that since the inception of slutwalk, and their mother even before that.

This?

Is not sexual.  Is not pornographic.  Is not dirty.  Is not shameful.

I’m not covering up, and you can’t slut shame me into doing it.