When I trot out the idea of my dislike for my postpartum breasts to my close mom friends, I do so in that tentative way that a lot of women do, as if to say, "am I wrong here? Am I imagining things? Could it be that they're actually OK?" With my close female friends (and husband), I am in some ways seeking their opinion. But with anyone else, well, I could give a you-know-what. There are many reasons I don't care if you "still like" my postpartum boobs and most of them have to do with the fact that they were amazing, wondrous sources of nourishment for both of my children's first two years of life.
There's this weird thing that happens when a group of beautiful, loving, hard-working women get together and start talking about the more intimate things in life – especially if they're all moms. Each of us will be looking across the table, thinking about how all the other women are killing it in ways we just don't know how. Instead of focusing on how much we are kicking ass in this mothering thing, we start to roll out our defects – as mothers, as women – like we are in a confessional. One by one, each woman will easily admit to some aesthetic fault like she is a defective object, made even more so by the war wounds of motherhood. We slide easily from the topics of all the ways in which we feel guilty about failing our children to the ways in which our bodies are below grade. I know it is my own damn fault but when I'm in these situations I can't help but joke about my saggy, baggy boobs.
At the same time, I am grateful and in awe of my postpartum boobs. I guess we have a confusing relationship with each other. I love the idea of them, of the feat that they've performed. I like the way they look in a bra and in clothes. I'm not too thrilled when I look down at them naked, and see their deflated shape, and the nipples that seem to point downwards like they've lost some kind of argument. And, like a big sister defending the little sister who only she can call a brat (and no one else) I will remain fiercely protective of them if anyone else (besides me) says something mean about them or implies that there's anything wrong with them.
Because They Have Stood By Me Through Thick And Thin
From the early postpartum days when I was barely producing any milk at all and had to nurse my newborn firstborn son with the help of a Supplemental Nursing System (a tube that was attached to my nipple at one end, formula on the other) to the full-on overproduction days, my breasts assisted me in providing comfort, nourishment, or even just a pacifier to my babies. For most of my breastfeeding experience, I was an overproducer of milk, and for that I am grateful. My breasts always had what my children needed, which is such a lucky thing, as I know so many women who have to struggle.
Because They Went Beyond The Call Of Duty
I decided not to wean either of my children, and to just keep going with the nursing until my boys each decided they were done. My breasts went along with this plan, which was very kind of them. They didn't have to do that. In fact, with the decreased nursing that my kids did during each of these sort-of-weaning periods, they could have produced way less milk. But my breasts did not let me down. They stayed quite full of milk (probably with the help of my pumping, but still), and made the process of extended breastfeeding until about 18 or 19 months really easy for all of us. I couldn't have asked them for more. And it wasn't painful for me to stop weaning either. It was a very smooth transition, and again, my saggy, baggy breasts are to thank for that.
Because I Judge Them Enough On My Own, Thank You Very Much
Every time I spend more than two seconds in front of a mirror naked (which I try not to do anyway) I'm a little confused. Because I kind of like my small breasts better than my overflowing nursing breasts, but also kind of don't like the way they pucker now that they've become deflated after breastfeeding. I also am not so thrilled with the somewhat inverted nipple situation. Then again, they look just fine in a cute bra. You see, I don't need your judgement. I've got enough going on in my own head. Keep your comments to yourself, unless you are my physician doing a breast exam or you are my close friend or husband and I've truly asked for your opinion.
Because They Don't Exist For Your Judgement
Although sometimes I fantasize about what it may be like, I am not an Instagram celebrity and my breasts are not here on display for you to pick apart and comment on. I know that the simple fact of my existence on this Earth as a woman and a mom invites you to make comparisons to what I looked like before my babies and after my babies so you can judge how far I've fallen from grace. But please, maybe you can refrain from doing that. Just try?
Because They Helped Nourish Two Human Beings
People! My breasts are so much more than just two empty husks or deflated balloons, or whatever unpleasant analogy I like to ascribe to them. They nourished two human beings for a very long time. How could anyone just look and judge them based purely on aesthetics?
Because My Toddler Likes Them
I don't mean it in a "weird" way. My toddler still likes my boobs. He still find comfort in them sometimes, just putting his hands near them, or asking me about them. "Mommy, what are those?" even though he knows the answer, and touching them over my shirt. I think he knows he has a relationship, a history with them. That they were, at some point, his. My boobs hold meaning to him, and who am I to bash them to pieces or care what anyone else thinks?
Because They Endured A Lot Of Physical And Emotional Abuse
If people only knew what these two appendages endured. The pumping. Oh the pumping! I had two suction cups attached and sucking at them three times a day for 18 months for each of my children, plus the regular breastfeeding that my two children did for those 18 months. It was insane! I also hand expressed, when the time called for it.
No wonder my boobs have nothing left to give. We should all just leave my boobs alone to spend the rest of their days on some nice tropical island with bottomless frozen margaritas with tiny umbrellas in them and handsome pool boys feeding them grapes.