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Deflated

During my hiatus, quite a few developmental milestones went and happened. Bunlet started walking. (Oh my, it’s such a miracle!) He sprouted a number of teeth. He said his first word (book. Isn’t that brilliant?) And he went on a nursing strike that led to weaning.

It’s not the way I hoped it would go. I didn’t have much choice about weaning Bun Bun. I hoped I’d have some magic, perfect, romantic weaning experience with Bunlet, whatever the hell that would have looked like. Not so. He got sick and started teething and bit me and I yelped and he cried and that was about it. I couldn’t get him to nurse again. It was a bit heartbreaking. I was not ready. I felt like a failure, and guilty, etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand, if I’d never heard of nuring strikes, and if I hadn’t read those La Leche League websites that told me I was a useless piece of shit if I didn’t preserve through the strike, I might have just assumed he was ready. He’d already stopped taking his bottles during the day when I was at work. He seemed perfectly happy not nursing…

The Lady Professors talked about it over lunch. One of them is still nursing at 2 years and a few months but wants to stop soon, the other had to do formula due to insufficient supply, and then there’s me. We concluded that whatever choices you make, there will be a little bit of grieving in there somewhere. And whatever choices you make, you will feel judged by somebody.

Anyway, within a few days my breasts deflated like leaky water balloons.

I think I managed to have a reasonable body image pre-pregnancy, for an American woman. Obviously there were things I disliked about my body, but I’d managed to be okay with being small-breasted, which isn’t easy in this titcentric culture. Then my breasts went through a radical transformation, and for a while they looked like the fashion magazines tell me they should. I think I some part of me felt a new confidence because of it, that teenager who got shit for looking too boyish part.

Then…pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft. Size-wise, things are about the same as they used to be pre-babies. Texture-wise, not so much. They’re all…EMPTY. There’s nothing IN there. Droopy. The nipples are a bit cock-eyed, too.

It’s also hard to imagine that I could ever have FED BABIES from this body. Really? How did that work? It’s only been a few months but it seems incredibly distant and implausible.

On one level, of course I don’t care what my body looks like, post-pregnancy or post nursing. I got to have BABIES! I got to nurse them! I’m so grateful for that I’d take any old carcass nature wanted to hand out.

On another level, it’s hard enough to like your body when you’re constantly being told it’s not thin enough or strong enough or sexy enough, and when it changes in ways society tells you make you uglier, it’s hard not to feel…uglier.

I guess it’s the time of year for feeling bad about ourselves, huh? I’m not ___enough, I need to be more ____!

But it’s also the time of year for hunkering down and waiting until enough snow melts that we can even bear to think of going outside. Spring will come, I will come to terms with my new carcass. In the meantime, fuck it, Imma have a drink.

 

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Book! Maybe the very best first word possible, says the mother of another boy who entered speech that way (and then got a cold and didn’t say another word for two months, just so I would lose me damn mind).

    Regarding weaning sadness, I found I felt much better about everything after getting my first post-nursing period. (I’d been getting my period for ~17 months of nursing, so this wasn’t a first pp period.) I’ve compared notes with several people who were less happy about stopping than I was — I expect I am well to one side of the happiness bell curve wrt to nursing, and not the happy side — and heard similar reports. Maybe there’s something to this whole hormone thing, after all.

    The only time I really like my body is when it is pregnant. I’m glad I’ve gotten to be pregnant, but still. Feeling right only during these temporary periods is for the birds.

    January 5, 2014
    • Monkey said his first word, and was then promptly diagnosed with cancer! And didn’t say anything else for a couple of months. I had started to think I imagined that first word. I wonder if the illness does it to them, or if they are just taking the opportunity to be contrary?

      January 6, 2014
  2. Yup. My body is like exactly the same size it used to be but barely resembles its old self, precisely in the ways you mention, and general flabby belly that I don’t see ever leaving.

    Trying to enjoy the having my body BACK part of the weaning. The not being sucked on all night is quite a nice thing… enjoy that drink.

    January 5, 2014
  3. HA, Stevie’s first word was also book! He is fascinated by books, although did ruin some, but he is usually sitting somewhere reading a book to himself, pointing and playing with intonation, in a few words, a completely opposite experience from what George was at his age.
    I have no idea if I am ready to wean, but it is irrelevant, since Stevie is definitely not. I know now how it feels to have a child assaulting your chest for milk, and I don’t feel any richer. I could have done without this, though.
    As for the ‘not enough campaign’, fuck it and its pervasiveness! Living under a rock, and still I would get the feeling I am not enough. Gah.
    How you’ve been otherwise? Missed ya!

    January 5, 2014
  4. Yes, I remember this from when I weaned S. I had never given much thought to my small boobs either, but deflated is exactly the right description of their appearance. Now, of course, they are huge (for me). So it goes. Cheers to the reasonable body image, and to the drink, and to waiting out the mountains of snow.

    January 6, 2014
  5. Yep. Still nursing Monkey at close to 2 1/2. Nobody says anything and he doesn’t like to nurse in public, but I still feel (imagine?) the judgement. I’m sure from previous statements that my mother thinks he’s way too old to be nursing.

    I’d like him to wean on his own time (average is between 3-4 I think?), but he’s showing no signs of that yet. If anything, he’s ramped it up a notch recently. But I don’t have the heart to forcibly wean.

    There’s no way to win the judgement wars is there?

    January 6, 2014
  6. The saggy deflated, empty breasts seemed almost to be insult added to injury. We didn’t even managed three weeks breastfeeding, and yet I have a permanent physical reminder of what didn’t work out. It was a long time — nearly two years — after Gwen’s birth that I got over the feeling that they had let me down, even though we (Gwen and I) both gave it our best shot in terms of nursing and it just didn’t work out.

    It’s one thing I’m still disappointed about, and one of the things that is coloring my ability to make a rational decision on whether or not she’ll ever have a sibling.

    January 6, 2014
  7. Ana #

    I weaned L during a nursing strike,too, and still have remnants of guilt about it (should’ve struggled through…we’d probably still be nursing if I had though…not sure I’d want that…). God the guilt re: BF is too much. I can’t wait til I’m over it completely but not sure it’ll ever happen.
    Oh yeah, the changing carcass. Its such a LITTLE thing, really, but yet…it bothers me still. Cheers to being back (please be back…I still want to hear about your time management magic!) and to drinking until the snow melts for good!

    January 6, 2014
  8. A friend of mine is considering a boob job due to the deflated boob situation. And I distinctly remember my empty “socks” after Jack stopped nursing. It is hard being women in our society…I’d love to look amazing naked, but I also calculated that for less than a boob job I can buy some of those chicken cutlet thingies, some sexy push-up bras, and lots of booze for when that doesn’t work. For now I will just appreciate these monstrosities for as long as I have them.

    January 7, 2014
  9. SRB #

    “…whatever choices you make, there will be a little bit of grieving in there somewhere. And whatever choices you make, you will feel judged by somebody.”

    YES. THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY.

    Um…anyway. Other than the newborn phase, I’ve never been engorged. Like, ever. I also don’t feel letdown. I had a breast reduction (I KNOW) when I was twenty, so maybe this is why I don’t mind that I’m basically flat like a boy now? I don’t know. I can relate on the deflation though… namely the stomach area. THAT deflated once it was fetus-free and doesn’t look like it might take a shape, any shape, every again. BOO.

    January 7, 2014
  10. He said book. I love him.

    I too find it difficult to keep a sense of stability in one’s relationship to one’s body when going through so many changes. I think the societal messages suck and contribute largely to our body dissatisfaction (with mountains of research supporting that claim). But I’ve lately also been wondering if it’s the drastic changes of pregnancy (and lactation, in your case) that also make it harder. It’s like being in a relationship with someone who goes through momentous personal changes: you just don’t know how to tango with them anymore. So, sometimes, I feel like it’s a bit the same with my own post-partum body: where are we at today? Oh, right, extra belly fat and flat boobs. Got it.

    Also, I would like to add: It’s always easier to see other women as beautiful, perfectly breasted, sexy creatures than to see yourself that way. So let me say, as someone who has seen you, YOU ARE ONE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, Bunny.

    January 7, 2014
  11. Ironic. I went to a plastic surgeon on Friday to see about getting mine deflated and reshaped if you will. My body spazed out because I didn’t nurse new baby and it’s fighting back with avengence showing up in the form of breasts that would feel welcome in a senior center. Really really bad.

    January 8, 2014
  12. Book is an awesome first word!
    And I loved your “for an American woman” qualifier. It’d be so much easier if we could have reasonable, non-photoshop’d expectations of our bodies. I think what Augusta said is very true – it is easier to see others as beautiful, while we may be overly critical with ourselves. I know I am.

    January 10, 2014

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