I Hate Your Boobs
~By M. Giguere
If you’re a lucky mom who gets to say YES when people ask you, “Are you breastfeeding?” I have something to tell you. How do I say this in the nicest way possible? Hmmmm. Well, here goes. I hate your boobs. Now before you get all upset, please know that I hate my own boobs too.
At one of my more recent new mom support groups, the initial “Hey, nice to meet you” was followed up with “How chapped are your nipples?” Boobs, boobs, milk, and yes, boobs – that seemed to be all anyone talked about. By the end of the eight weeks I wanted to scream, “Please, moms, just please stop talking about breasts! I don’t care how engorged or leaky they are. I sure don’t want to hear about how victorious you feel for never having had to rely on (horror of horrors) formula.” If you’re moaning about your oversupply to a group of new mothers, you are most likely hurting another woman. And that woman could quite possibly be me.
I know breastfeeding is tough. Trust me, I KNOW! You want to talk about your issues. That’s fine. That’s exactly why there are breastfeeding support groups. Give La Leche a buzz. There are thousands of women just dying to talk about your boobs. Sometimes I feel like I’ve met them all.
Where do moms go when we feel so guilty and crushed about not being able to do what should be natural, what we so desperately want to do but our bodies won’t, no matter how hard we try? Where do we put these feelings? Since the answers to these questions continue to elude me, I’ve decided to simply hate any boobs that are able to do what mine couldn’t.
You don’t hear much from us boob-haters during support groups. We rarely talk about the hours we spend in rocking chairs trying to latch. How we’re pumping our brains out, drinking beer, eating herbs, and doing whatever else humanly and not humanly possible to increase our milk supply. Each and every day, we’re trying not to feel like failures as we mix another bottle of formula and post yet again on the ‘exclusively pumping’ message boards.
I struggled so much to give my baby breast milk. Even when I finally realized my body was simply not going to cooperate, I could not let go of the “if only” feeling. If only I’d only tried harder, if only I’d pumped more, if only I’d stayed with her every hour of every day while she was in the NICU, if only I’d been able to relax, lower my blood pressure, or eat more. Not being able to breastfeed my baby has felt like my single biggest personal failure.
Three weeks after my beautiful baby girl was born, my husband looked at me and said the most perfect thing. “She needs you more than she needs your milk.” He saw that I was slipping away, spiraling into a pit of guilt and shame. I was consumed and obsessed with why my body wasn’t working. We’d visited with no fewer than five lactation consultants. I’d used three different breast pumps with small, medium, and large flanges. I consumed so much fenugreek I smelled like an Indian restaurant.
One day in the NICU my baby didn’t wake to eat. On that day I produced 63ml of breast milk. It took nine, 20-minute pumping sessions to collect just a hair over two ounces. She didn’t wake up all day, so we saved it. The next morning a feeding tube was inserted to keep her from losing more weight and they pushed my day’s work into her body with a syringe. No mother should ever have to watch her child eat through a tube. 63ml was my high water mark. The next day, I pumped only 42ml and decided it was time to stop keeping track.
Here are some things you can say to a mom who is struggling (and you don’t even have to believe them):
1. It doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.
2. Thousands upon thousands of amazing women bond seamlessly with their babies without breastfeeding.
3. It gets easier. In six months it will be easier, in 10 months easier still, and eventually it will not matter a spec.
I’m forever indebted to the people who told me:
1. Formula is not poison.
2. You might decide to keep pumping, but you might find more enjoyable things to do with your time.
3. Your baby needs YOU more than your milk.
If you’re successfully breastfeeding, I’m happy for you, even if I do hate your boobs. Remember, I certainly don’t hate you – just your boobs.
Nurse your baby wherever you want, whenever you want. But please, just be grateful, enjoy it, and kindly shut the hell up. I don’t walk up to blind people and tell them how much there is to see in the world and how much I love seeing it. Be careful about what you ask a new mom. You don’t always know who might be sobbing along with the “wish-wash” of the breast pump every morning, noon, and night.