The day that Wallace turned one, I started the weaning process and after six months, we are down to just once a day. My emotions about this decision are a mixed bag of guilt for taking the initiative, sadness about the end of our nursing journey and joy about the return of wine. I have bonded with many women over nursing stories, have watched my body evolve into an entirely new shape, have experienced the perks of being a busty babe and have sprung large lactation leaks. All of these experiences have made me a more compassionate mother and I am happy to share what I have learned.
I now have a greater appreciation for my breasts. They have never been a point of pride for me but now that I have used them for their purpose, I have so much respect for them. They have fed my son for over 18 months and for that, I will be forever grateful. So, I am working on not judging their new physical shape or lower position on my body and have promised that once things finally settle, I will reward them with pretty bras. After all, they have earned it.
While they were at their largest, I lived a few months in a buxom women's shoes. I went from a A (at my smallest) to a DD (at my largest) and facing sexual attention head-on is not something that I am familiar with. I have always had a large bottom so when I do get checked out, I have no idea it is happening. This is good for everyone because I get really awkward when receiving that type of attention. I do have this one shirt in particular which accentuated my boobs and once while wearing it at the farmer's market a few months ago, things got a little lurky. Instead of welcoming what should have been a huge confidence booster, I deflected the attention by laughing loudly and walking away. This is my favorite way to redirect sexual attention and is a sure fast way to make a guy lose interest. Trust me, I have ran a ton of dudes off with this exact process and was my best weapon when guys stared at my cleavage. I tried my best to enjoy having large boobs but I am happy to return to my old self. A lot of my friends ask me if it's depressing watching my breasts deflate and the answer is yes, a little. But I wouldn't trade the 18 months I have spent nursing my son for the perkiest tits in the world. I want everyone to know that. Yes, your body changes but it is so, so worth it.
Sometimes you grow apart and in my case it was not with my son, I am talking about my pump. While simultaneously being amazing by the technology, and grateful for the accessibility, around a year, I started to resent my pump. It simply stopped doing it for me, meaning it wouldn’t trigger let down, so I would sit for hours hoping, waiting and wishing for something to happen. Maybe the pump was getting older, maybe it no longer liked what I had to offer or maybe we just weren't connecting anymore. I have had relationships like this in the past and when one half stops putting in the effort, it’s time to move on. I was over the never-ending cycle of washing plastic pump parts, despised nursing pads and didn't want to wear milk-stained shirts anymore. I took it as a sign when my pump stopped working and at around 14 months, I put the pump away. The freedom I felt from simply taking the pump out of my life was incredible. I was no longer beholden to a little black box or a pile of plastic pieces. I have still continued to nurse Wallace but this was really the beginning of the end. My supply slowed way down, my boobs began mellowing out and we started relying more on solid food. It's funny how things work out. I thought I would breastfeed until Wallace wanted to stop and if that meant 4 years, that is what we would do. I guess there is a part of me that is still selfish instead of selfless. I might not get myself new clothes or find time to work out but I needed this part of myself back and I am happy about our timing.
Nursing has helped me release some judgements I had surrounding the choices other mothers made. I thought nursing was an act of strong will and if you want to do it, you will. After sharing many stories with moms and commiserating over nursing hardships including bloody nipples, leaks, mastitis, very uneven breasts (my left boob was the show pony and my poor right guy could barely keep up), I know that sometimes, it just doesn’t happen no matter how hard you try. Some women have to return to work right away, some women have babies that don’t want to nurse, some women just don't make milk but I believe all mothers are doing their best and I am happy to have gained that perspective. On the other end of the spectrum, some women nurse until their kids are in kindergarten and I have so much respect for that process now too. We are all doing our best with what we have and I needed this experience to find compassion for all the nursing paths taken. It's also important to note that many people gave me their opinions about nursing. Some of my family members don't see the benefit at all and loved sharing their input and judgements. Similar to religion, motherhood can bring people together and divide use apart unlike anything else on the planet so it's important to believe in the greater good. Whether you nurse for a day, a week, never or give years, I believe every mother is doing their best for their families and it is this belief that will build a stronger support for women and bring us together.
I think back fondly on the good times and the awkward times I have had nursing Wallace. I’ll always remember the first time Wallace said “Mama” clearly as he pulled his sweet face away from me and looked into my eyes. Then I sprayed him with milk and the love trance was broken. I’ll also never forget the time I leaked all the way down to my waist while I was introducing Wallace to many members of my extended family. You know, people you see just a few times a year. Well, no better way to cut through small talk than an obviously embarrassing body fluid accident. I know what you’re thinking, how did it get that far before anyone told you about it? Where was your husband or why didn’t a female family member tell you? Well my family is very polite and did’t want me to feel bad and strangely, I didn't even feel the leak until I went to the bathroom and it had spread down to my stomach. As I opened the door in horror, Bryan was there and explained that he was trying to signal that I was leaking. THANKS BRYAN!!!! Our communication has always been so solid, it's almost telepathic at times. And this is how I gave myself the nickname “leaky lee.”
So, my nursing days are coming to an end and my body is returning to it’s old shape. I no longer spontaneously combust when I hear a crying child or if something hits my nipple just right. I miss those happy oxytocin rushes, which were the closest thing I have had to drugs in years. I miss bonding with my son and having that special time alone. But most of all, I miss having an excuse to take my shirt off in public and the opportunity to tell someone to fuck off if they have a problem with it. Just kidding, I usually would just stare back meanly and strategically reposition my hand so my middle finger was erect. That usually gave me just enough satisfaction to ignore any negativity coming my way. I am going to finish by saying that flipping someone off just feels good sometimes and if you can do it in a way where you can deny all charges, well that’s even better. Cheers to all the mothers in the world and best of luck on your nursing journeys.