While I weaned my youngest (and last) child a year ago, I still very much feel like a breastfeeding mother. Part of reason why, I'm certain, has to do with the fact that once you've spent a significant amount of time and energy lactating, it just sort of stays with you. Plus, and even though I'm happy to be done at this point, I had a wonderful breastfeeding experience. I very clearly remember what breastfeeding my baby feels like, including the good, the bad, the ugly, and the laughably weird.
Breastfeeding is a funny thing. I sometimes think it's kind of like high school: people either love it or hate it, but there's really no middle ground. Those who loved it loved it for very similar reasons, and those who hated it mostly hated it for similar reasons, although there seems to be a bit more variety behind their motivations. Of course that's not to say that even for those of us who loved breastfeeding found it to always smooth sailing. In fact I dare you to find me a nursing mom out there who will not understand the trauma that is niplash (when a nursing child pulls away from your breast without releasing your nipple from their mouth).
So even at its best, breastfeeding is vast and contains a multitude of feelings, both physical and emotional. Physically, it can feel like a lot of different things, sometimes all at once. Here are just a few that come to mind:
Like A Looney Tunes Mouse Trap Gag
Chances are you're going to experience some sharp pain in your nipples at some point in your breastfeeding journey. (This usually happens in the early days of nursing, when you and your little one are still figuring things out.) Maybe it takes a while to get your baby's latch right. Maybe you get a milk blister (yes, that's a thing and it sucks). Maybe your baby just decides to be a jerk and chomps down for no good reason. My point is, you're going to know exactly how cartoon antagonists feel when their finger or nose or whatever gets snapped in a mouse trap.
Like An Angry Wolverine Attack
Wolverines are ferocious AF and they will stop at nothing until they get what they want, usually by wildly and powerfully battling their opponent.
Well, if your baby wants the boob and you're keeping it from them (not in a mean way, but, like, if you're in the middle of something or even if you aren't unsnapping your bra fast enough), then you, my unfortunate friend, are your tiny wolverine's opponent. Your baby will scream, thrash, gnash, and claw their way to that sweet, sweet milk and if you get hurt in the process, well, that's on you.
Like An Angry "Wolverine" Attack
The X-Men's Wolverine has a skeleton bonded with indestructible adamantium, including retractable claws that protrude through each of his fists. It's all tremendously badass. (So badass, in fact, that Hugh Jackman is able to regularly perform Broadway show tunes without losing any tough guy credit, because you don't mess with Wolverine even when he's tap dancing.)
Well, you know your tiny adorable baby's itty bitty baby nails? Those are sharper than Wolverine's adamantium claws. They're torturous, and your baby will use them to kneed the tender flesh of your sideboob.
Like An Adorable Baby Pig Nuzzling Your Boob
My son did this adorable thing when he was an infant: he would grunt. He honest-to-goodness sounded like a piglet, especially when he was hungry and looking for my breast. If he got hungry to the point of grunting, once he started suckling he wouldn't really stop grunting until he had a few good chugs of milk.
So I'd just have this grunting, happy little creature at my breast and it was so hilarious and adorable and also sort of made me want to adopt a teacup pig.
Like A Pillow That Came To Life And Started Cuddling You
This is particularly true when you're co-sleeping. You're all warm and cuddly and toasty when, all of a sudden, your baby gets hungry. Feeding them doesn't require too much shifting around, either. In fact, you just sort of pop your boob into their mouth. It's a mostly silent, easy exchange and it really does feel like the comfy pillow you've been half-hugging all night just decided to cozy up a little closer.
Like The World's Most Adorable, Least Erotic Motorboating
A hungry baby is a confused baby, so they can't always decide which breast they want or where your nipple is. As such, you wind up getting motorboated kind of a lot, actually. Not in a creepy way, mind you, but in an actually hilarious way because when a baby gets to that point they are such a hot mess it's just funny to watch.
When this is paired with the grunty little piglet move as detailed above, it's particularly chuckle-worthy. (Incidentally, your partner may look on in envy and swear the baby is taunting them with their 24/7 boob access.)
Like Being A Cow
I have a new appreciation of dairy cows now that I've nursed my own little calf. (By the way, that's three animals I've now compared my babies to and I'm not even a little sorry.)
When you're nursing, and especially when you're nursing an infant, so much of your day is structured around the fact that you are lactating. You basically become a walking, talking milk jug in some ways (at least that's what it feels like at times), and I don't think you can be so tremendously milky without thinking about or feeling like a cow.
Incidentally, we should all love and appreciate cows much more than we do, those poor girls. They do so much.
Like Being A Vending Machine
Babies eat all the time. It's constant, and this is coming from someone who is very much a constantly snacking grazer. This is mostly OK, but on a tough day you begin to feel your purpose in life is very singular. So it's like being a vending machine in a particularly bustling break room: someone is always coming up to you to get a bite to eat. (Of course, in the case of a breastfeeding baby, it's the same person over and over and over again. Two people if you have twins, I guess.) You just sit there, thoughtlessly, thanklessly, and your baby just lets you know when it's time to make with the milk.
Like Your Breasts Are Full Of Pop Rocks
Do you guys remember Pop Rocks? Is that a candy that survived the '90s? Do the kids today know about the Pop Rocks?
Anyway, they're these little shards of sugar that, when moistened, start to crackle and fizz. Eating them is a sensation unlike any other, except for letdown. This is the best way I can describe it, really. It's a funny, tickley, unpleasant but satisfying sensation, not unlike dumping a packet of Pop Rocks in your mouth.
Like A Hug
Not getting a hug or hugging but just, like, existing within the platonic ideal of a hug. Breastfeeding has its unfortunate moments, but for some of us those inconveniences pale in comparison to the bond and benefits shared between you and your baby while breastfeeding. It fills you with feelings of warmth, love, and appreciation to the point that you're like, "OK, little Wolverine. Do what you must. I'll just be over here, mooing, but that's OK. This is nice."