Sometimes, my 1-year-old will rush toward me with his hands outstretched, and my heart swells. There is nothing better than a toddler’s unexpected embrace. Yet as soon as I grab him and pull him into a hug, he pushes back against me and instead pulls at my shirt, loudly yelling, “boob.” This is particularly unpleasant in public, because when I deny him said boob (since I am trying to wean him during the day) he will throw himself to the floor, screaming, “I need a boob.”
The truth is, sometimes it seems like my baby only wants me for my boobs, and I hate it. If he were a little older and had more language skills, I would likely be tempted to yell back, “I’m not just a big walking boob," but that’s the thing, right? He’s still a breastfeeding baby, and he doesn’t really get that yelling, "I need a boob" in public is a rude and unacceptable thing to do. Still, come on, dude, get it together. There’s more to life (and more to me) than my boobs.
It’s not that I don’t love breastfeeding, or the bond that I get to share with him while I nurse him. Breastfeeding has been one of the greatest joys I've ever experienced during the parenting process. But when I say “no boob” and he decides he’d rather go play with his dad instead, it pretty much feels like a slap in the face. If I don’t have any milk for him, it feels like I’m worthless in his eyes. I’m not the one he goes to for fun or for love and affection. I’m the one he goes to for one thing only: boobs.
My son looks at me the same way I look at pizza. I love it, yes, but I love it for one very specific purpose: to nourish my body.
My son looks at me the same way I look at pizza. I love it, yes, but I love it for one very specific purpose: to nourish my body with melty, cheesy, tomato-y stuff. If I’m not hungry or if I’ve just eaten my way through a Round Table buffet, chances are that pizza is going to lose my love. I don’t just want to hang around pizza for the hell of it, and I certainly don't want to give pizza kisses and hugs. (Well, OK, sometimes I do.)
Sometimes, my son does want to hang around me, without my boobs factoring into the equation. But honestly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m nothing more than a food source to my baby. I am constantly bending over backwards trying to keep him alive in many different, non-boob related ways, such as feeding him, loving him unconditionally, and bathing and clothing him. Yet the things I do for him do not appear to him fill him with a sense of love for me. Sometimes, it feels like I could just show up for feeding time, and he wouldn’t miss me a darn bit.
The truth is, I know that my feelings about my son aren't just about breastfeeding. I've been breastfeeding my son for over a year, and if I had the chance to do it again I would in a heartbeat. Part of the reason why he seems less excited to see me than his dad probably has to do with the fact that he's around me all the time, which makes it a lot more exciting when he gets to see his father. But when I'm putting so much love out there and not getting the same in return, it’s definitely a hard pill to swallow.
I’m ready to feel like a person again, and not just a big walking boob.
I don’t want to feel resentful about breastfeeding my son, but it is hard to want to continue this process much longer. Between having my shirt pulled down in public and this weird feeling that I’m basically a low-producing dairy cow, it's just not that much fun anymore. Going this far into our breastfeeding journey is something I certainly will never regret, but it’s also turning into something I don't love, and that makes me really sad.
I want to remember my breastfeeding journey with my son as something happy, something that I was always thrilled to be a part of. For the most part, it has been: I feel closer to my babies than I would have had I not breastfed for so long, and I'm so grateful for that bond. But to be totally honest, I’m getting to the point where I’m ready for it to be over. Even though I know I’ll be sad to see this chapter of parenting come to a close, I am ready for my boobs to be mine again. I’m ready to know my son is coming to give me a hug and not to pull down my shirt. I’m ready to feel like a person again, and not just a big walking boob.