A Tale of Two Titties

Once upon a time there lived a young woman who had a perky set of boobs. Due to weight fluctuation, she measured between a 34 B – 34 C, but she was never unhappy with the set that God gave her. She wore bras with pretty lace and uncomfortable underwire, but never thought anything of it.

Then she met a boy and they fell in love. And then she started feeling like death and googled her symptoms and thought she had cancer. She made a doctors appointment for bloodwork to be done and at the prodding of her mother, she bought a pregnancy test two days before her appointment and randomly took it on her lunch break at her apartment. When she saw two pink lines she had to re-read the instructions over and over again to make sure she saw it correctly. Thankfully, the boy was so in love with her that when she told him about the positive pregnancy test – amidst a hysterical sobbing tearful conversation – his response was “Is that all?”

And her body grew and morphed into a pregnant woman’s body that she didn’t quite recognize. Random women would tell her stories of labor tales and showed their battle scars of stretch marks and she would smile and nod and think they were all crazy bitches. Every single time someone would say “Enjoy your sleep now!” she would see red and become livid because how the hell do you “save up” your sleep?!

The one conversation she was most nervous about was the one her buddy from real estate licensing school had with her; where she blatantly told her to buy a loofah and scrub her nipples raw before she breastfed her new baby. “What in the actual hell” the young woman thought as she left the room.

Little did she know……

At 6:15 PM on a cold December evening, a baby girl was born at a sweet 7 lbs, 8 oz. She was placed on the full chest of the young woman and instantly nuzzled at her bust. The nurses were thrilled at the possibility of an easy “latch”. The young woman gazed lovingly at the tiny little person she just spent the last 41 weeks and 1 day carrying and the last 9 hours laboring to hold and cradled her close to her breast to nurse.

HOLY F(*&K-ing S@!*……

Yeah, the loofah thing wasn’t a bad piece of advice after all. First of all, I was that young woman (if you couldn’t tell) and I can honestly say that the first time my daughter latched onto my nipple felt like a Hoover vacuum powered at full blast was trying to extract something from my lower intestines. I had never expected something so tiny and toothless to continue hurting me after the last 9 months of kicking me in the ribs, causing me to have hemorrhoids, heartburn, insomnia, fire-crotch, lack of sleep, and a host of other glamorous pregnancy symptoms.

The first latch was traumatic for me, but my daughter took to nursing like a champ. She wanted the boob every two hours – or less. In fact, because I was a first time mom and phobic about bonding – I refused to let the nurses take her from me. I wanted her in my arms at all times. I was exhausted, hurting, stitched up, and barely able to walk – but I was going to figure this motherhood thing out STAT.

I was blessed to have my colostrum come in and fuel my daughters’ obsession to feed – constantly.

When we arrived home just a short 48 hours after checking into the hospital, I felt like I had been run over by a semi truck and then backed over it again by the same truck. Thankfully, I had an amazing – experienced- mother-in-law who demanded that I go straight to bed and I immediately started balling my eyes out because I was so tired I couldn’t see straight.

I think I slept for a solid three hours and when I woke up, my boobs were rock hard and huge. My child almost choked when she started to nurse and when she came off the breast, milk started spraying everywhere. I have never felt so one with nature as I did then. I literally was a mother cow – I just needed a bucket to spew in into.

I got my boobs under control by squeezing the snot out of my boob into the bathroom sink. I caught my reflection in the mirror and almost didn’t recognize myself. My boobs were huge and – GASP – veiny. (Now looking back I wish I had squirted that precious liquid into a jar and saved it….#inexperienced).

It was the beginning of a strange relationship with my breasts. I thought of them as another person. They were a comfort to my daughter as well as a source of food. They were constantly out. In fact, because she was a colicky infant, I felt like I nursed her all the time just to soothe her and because it was the only time I could ever really relax. I remember one time I was nursing her in the back of the truck before we were going inside a store and Bryan had to tell me to button up my dress because my boob was completely hanging out. I didn’t even notice it.

I had no idea there was so much involved with breastfeeding. All the different holds – cradle, football, laid-back (which isn’t laid back at all), cross-cradle, side lying – and what it would mean for me…AKA NO REST EVER. And then there was the EFFING BREAST PUMP.

This is a bit off topic – but I just want to say that every single woman who has ever EXCLUSIVELY pumped milk out of their breast using one of those BLASTED machines (hand held or electric) should be given a medal of honor. I highly doubt that men could stand the pain, boredom, sheer frustration of watching the drops of your child’s’ nutrition shuttle down plastic tunnels into tiny plastic baggies. I loathed the sound of it. I felt like it taunted me with it’s huffing “GOTTA PUMP-GOTTA PUMP-GOTTA PUMP.” I said a million dirty things to it in the three years that I used it and imagined hurling it off a mountainside cliff to explode into a million tiny pieces.

I tried to pump so I could let Bryan feed her, but I would burst into tears every single time he mentioned it because I felt like I was failing my daughter by giving her a bottle and I read somewhere about nipple confusion (stupid mom-guilt). Four months in, we were all confused about nipples.

Then came the CLUSTER FEEDing…..and I don’t know who in gods name invented that, but it is the WORST. No one slept for that week. Every twenty minutes she was crying for more. I was drinking an insane amount of water, I was starving all the time, I couldn’t sleep and when she was finally asleep I was crying my eyes out in the shower because my nipples were on fire.

At four months old, I finally gave in and let my husband give his daughter a bottle of breastmilk. I realized that I had been somewhat neurotic about it all and could use some sleep. That night, I slept four hours straight (which hadn’t happened in four months) and when I woke up, my right boob was the size of a bowling ball and my left boob was the size of an orange. It was the first time I recognized the #shittytitty. My daughter favored the right boob and I hadn’t even realized it until then. My right breast was the over producer and so she favored it and it was also the easiest one to feed her from.

This was about the same time that I experienced my first bout of mastitis. Again – after discovering that I could get another two hours of sleep by pumping a bit extra during the day, I woke up to giant knots in my boobs, a fever, and pain so intense that I thought I was going to pass out. I googled how to make it better. HOT SHOWER. Yeah, because that was so easy with a colicky infant at home. MASSAGE it out. I sobbed in pain. PUMP/NURSE. WHHHHYYYYY???? DANGLE FEED. Yep, I did it. Got on all fours with my infant below me and nursed her that way – the lowest of the low.

It was in these moments that I let my mind wander to the picturesque Instagram photo I saw of the stunning blonde in a soft, wispy white robe – looking tanned and lean, holding her chubby adorable infant effortlessly while only showing a hint of some cleavage and looking down at the baby with such fondness that it was almost like she was enjoying the experience.

You know what wasn’t on Instagram??? Me, dressed only in my maternity underwear, with 20 lbs + postpartum weight on my hips, with lopsided boobs on all fours hovering over a baby that could barely lift her head trying to get giant, painful knots out of my breasts that had come from me trying to get some sleep!

I did finally heal from the mastitis, with some antibiotics and continued home remedies. We also survived thrush. Talk about itchy nipples – geez, louiz! My poor baby girl. Not just my infant, my boob!

And let’s not even get started on the introduction to PUBLIC NURSING. We lived in a city that catered to millennial youths. The nursing movement hadn’t taken effect there. I remember us going to brunch on Sunday with friends and I took my baby to the restroom to feed her. On the toilet in a public restroom. As someone in the stall beside me started to have some serious toots, I realized that I was feeding my daughter as someone next to us was possibly going to take a poop. Again – so glamorous. I went to the car the next time and then, as I realized how much time I was missing from eating my own meal, I got MAD. Why did I have to leave the table to feed my daughter when it was just as important to eat myself? So, I bought a cover up. BEFORE the cool, stretchy, breathable, wear-around-your-neck-like-your’e-wearing-a-cute-scarf-things came out – there were these god-awful curtain- type contraptions that you had to prop up around you. I got so frustrated because I couldn’t see my baby to put her on my boob because the damn thing wouldn’t stay up that I remember just tearing it off me and with the fiercest eyes blazing daring anyone to say anything to me about it. After that I simply draped a lightweight muslim blanket over my shoulder and if someone saw skin – OH FUCKING WELL.

About six months into my motherhood journey, I was getting my groove on. We had mastered nursing together – my boobs, my daughter, and me. I was still not sleeping – actually no one in our house slept until month 7, but I felt comfortable enough to take my daughter to the grocery store by myself without feeling like the world would implode around us. And then, I experienced my first leak.

I had been warned about leaks. I had been given breast pads at the hospital, but because she was constantly on the boob, I never had to worry about it. We were out at Publix – a very nice grocery store chain we had in South Carolina and I felt good. I had my baby in the carrier – she was happy, giggly; I looked cute and put together in my still maternity jeans(that no one knew were maternity) and black and white striped tee shirt. I walked confidently down the aisles putting all the healthy ingredients I was going to cook for my little perfect family in the cart. I was a BADASS mom! Mackenzie started to fuss a bit and I shushed her with a pacifier. As I grazed the side of my shirt with my arm, I felt a bit of dampness. I looked down and my entire right side of my striped tee was soaked. I didn’t even feel it happening. It was so noticeable and I was so embarrassed that I collected the carrier and left my full cart in the middle of the aisle as I ran to the car and put her on my leaky boob. I didn’t go back for the cart that afternoon. Sorry, Irmo, SC Publix people.

I will halt the tale for another day…..because as most moms know we don’t usually stop with one kid – we go back for MORE with another. And with the second kid, a SECONDARY pair of boobs comes a-knockin.

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