I know you are all desperate to hear about my boobs.
It has been almost a quarter of a year since Aodhan stopped nursing. The changes that I have experienced have been subtle, but they have been changes.
He has never asked to nurse since we stopped, but he did spend a good month being much more grope-ish than normal. This, more than any ‘touched out’ experience of actually nursing, drove me crazy and November was a tough month for me. Anytime I sat down or offered Aodhan a hug, it always ended up with him having his hands up or down my shirt. I acted less than stellar on more than one of those occasions, needing to walk away and take a break from the incessant touching. Things seemed to neutralize in December, as did bedtime.
For the first few weeks after weaning, it was taking close to an hour to get him to settle into a deep sleep. In the grand scheme, this wasn’t really a big deal. But, with it previously taking all of about 7 minutes for him to pass out, it wasn’t easy. I crave that time after he goes to bed. I need that time to just sit and not be touched, or looked at, or talked to, and have questions asked of me. I also need that time to do banal things like pay bills and scrub his pee off from around the toilet.
As January closes itself out, Aodhan doesn’t reach for my chest anymore when he is tired, and he manages a usual 20 minute fall-asleep time, which I am more than happy to accommodate.
I am pretty sure that my boobies have stopped being ‘boobies’ and have returned to being breasts (that’s my own personal distinction between my own milk-giving boobies and non-milk-giving breasts, thank you). There were weeks when I was still obviously making small amounts of milk, evidenced by any accidental squeeze here and there, but I was amazed at just how quickly I went from feeling like I did actually have jugs on my chest to once again being of the smaller breast persuasion. Now, almost four months later, my breasts are smaller than they were to start with, something I am not bothered by.
Only a couple of weeks after he stopped nursing I went out and spent a buttload on two new bras. Let me tell you – don’t try and look anywhere other than the Senior’s section of Sears for a bra that doesn’t have under-wire. Seriously, people. Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t want my breasts squished and squeezed and pushed up under my chin with extra padding? Of course the two that I bought haven’t even been washed yet because I have worn them all of TWICE, opting instead for any one of the sportbra-hoard that resides in my dresser. Since Christmas, I find I have been able to go back to my bra free ways. I mean, I can’t go and run 10km without a bra, but I can go to the shop or out for tea without having to put on one of these infernal, insufferable contraptions. I hate bras.
And my boobs. I don’t know. Media and overly verbose colleagues led me to believe that after the birth of my son my chest was going to morph into some version of women’s upstairs bits that I would never recognize as my own. But, um. Everything checks out. Nothing is really very different. I think I might have a little more skin around my armpits, but, that might just be age, being the antiquated years of almost 35. But, I don’t give a flying canoe. These mammaries and all their tubes and ducts are fantastic and have done a feat of human awesomeness and I salute them! Even if my nipples were on the floor or my boobs were ten times the size, I couldn’t care less, my boobs have helped make another person. They fed him for over a year exclusively, and did awesome things for our parent-child relationship until he was almost 3.5.
I have lost weight in my face and around where my kid lived for 9 months and went from a size 4 to a 2. I suppose that while nursing my body was holding onto some fat for that ‘just in case chance’ of hitting a North American famine. I’ve not weighed myself since 2006 (not kidding, did it when leaving for China), but I think I am under what I weighed when I got pregnant, yet also not feeling the unhealthy thinness of my mid-twenties. Weaning Aodhan has also given me an incredible amount of energy. Holy hell. I could work out at the gym for hours and hours and BONUS: I also stopped needing deodorant. Tell me I was not the only nursing mama out there that stank!?
And do you know what is also awesome? Coming to the end of this and realizing how thankful you are for the people who supported you? My mom! My dad! Holy shit. I am pretty sure that my dad is a secret lactivist. After hanging out in cafes and restaurants around Toronto while his daughter nursed, this guy would fight for any woman’s right to nurse her kid. This guy never flinched. I think he would have happily started a fight with anyone that had a problem with me nursing in public. Now, that! That, is awesome.
Aodhan’s dad is the Wonka ticket in all of this though. He supported all of my choices and never once made me feel like I was anything other than a super star for nursing Aodhan. He encouraged me in those early months when I thought I sucked (pun intended) and attended to every need and want that he possibly could. I can’t thank him enough for helping my boobs do their thang.
I am over feeling sad that Aodhan isn’t nursing anymore. It is an achievement for him and for me to have moved beyond the boobs. It was beautiful and fabulous, but it is done. I feel keenly for mamas who are going through the transition. It is hard. Hard. Hard. So hard. It messes with your brain and your body. My hormones have had a much harder time adjusting to weaning than they ever did to pregnancy.
Now that I am done, having worn the breastfeeding-mama badge for three years, I feel that I can pass on some advice:
1. Never judge another mom. Don’t judge her for using a bottle. Don’t judge her for supplemental feeding. Don’t judge her for wanting to exclusively nurse around the clock. Don’t judge her if she never wants to breastfeed her kid. Accept that everyone will make different choices. By becoming the breastfeeding police you are doing a disservice to everyone who is trying to do the very best for their baby.
2. Buy lots of oatmeal and feed yourself. Don’t think about losing weight or ignoring your hunger when you are nursing. Eat. Drink.
3. Let other people do shit for you. Don’t feel like you have to let them hold your kid, or feed them from a bottle if you don’t want them to. If they really want to help they will understand if all you really want is to have them fold some diapers, wash a floor or make you some toast.
4. Take lots of pictures. One day you will realize that you don’t have enough pictures of yourself nursing your sweet baby. Sure, like me, you might not want to put your photos on the wall. But maybe, like me, you will have them tucked away inside an old copy of Little Women that you go and take peeks at whenever you get a chance.
5. Offer help. If there is a mom who does need support and advice. Give it. Offer what you have. Talk about your experiences. Because there is sometimes nothing harder than wanting to breastfeed and feeling like you can’t.
6. Be gentle to yourself. Always.