It's been a long, steady run for us both, my friends. With almost two full years successfully sustaining my daughter, barely catching a break during a second pregnancy, and finally another 21 months of breastfeeding my son, you did good. So. Good. Thanking our bodies for breastfeeding is something every woman should do and, well, today I'm the woman to do it.
First of all, you're amazing. I still kind of can't believe that all those tiny milk ducts have been inside of you this whole time, not doing anything, and then bam: hormones happen and a baby happens and, then, milk happens. Sure, there were times when you needed a little coaxing to get going, in the form of herbal supplements, teas, cookies, oatmeal and some good old fashioned quiet time, but you came through. Even on the days when you seemed empty and flat, you did your part and nourished my babies. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to successfully thank you for something as incredible as that.
I will admit, I did get a little freaked out when my milk first came in. You grew to a somewhat scary and intimidating size, and put new meaning behind the words "firm" and "perky". I'm glad you settled back in to a regular size, as you're far more comfortable for me, now.
I want you to know that I forgive you for developing mastitis not just once, but three times during the period that I breastfed both children. It wasn't fun, but I can imagine that it's pretty hard to stay healthy when you're constantly being used and overworked.
I also want you to know that your considerable problems with clogged ducts and nipple blisters were challenging for us both, but we made it through together and we managed to keep the milk flowing when it was needed most. I won't lie to you though, and I know you already know: those times were exhausting and difficult and filled me with so much self-doubt. I wasn't sure we'd be able to do what needed to be done for my children. I wasn't sure you were going to come through for me, or I was going to come through for you. And while those moments were nothing short of challenging, they also left me with lessons that have made me a better mother.
So, thank you for teaching me patience and instilling me with an unwavering faith in my body. Thank you for responding well when you needed to be "helped along" with supplements to increase my supply, and handling it well when I went off those supplements after they were no longer needed. Thank you for being a source of not only food for my children, but comfort and safety and security. It was you that quietly calmed my son when the hospital nurses couldn't get blood from him for his bilirubin test the day after he was born. He screamed inconsolably until I used you to assist me in comforting him, and sure enough, just like a flipped switch, he settled down and let the nurses do what they needed to.
Which is why it might not be fair, but I'm going to ask a few more things of you. Now that my breastfeeding days are behind me, I'm kind of hoping that we can reach an agreement for the future, because things have changed and with those changes have come some unforeseen challenges. Will you hear me out?
First of all, I'd like to propose that you allow me to start thinking of you as a sexual part of my body again, rather than just milk machines that I have zero interest in anyone else touching. You used to be a source of pleasure, and then you were a source of nutrients and, unfortunately, you were also a source of pain. The only time teeth have been used on you (in recent, memorable years) has been when one of my children accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) chomped down on a nipple. I'd like to enjoy you guys again.
Secondly, I'd like to ask if it's at all possible for you to return to a somewhat similar shape that we started with. I mean, I'm not asking for any miracles here and I completely understand that pregnancy and motherhood and breastfeeding have altered my body (I'd say, for the better). But can you promise not to go flat as pancakes somewhere down the line? I keep hearing that this happens, and since I'm only a few weeks into the weaning process, I haven't seen it or experienced it yet. Please, please don't do it. I will do whatever needs to be done. Massage, pushups, I have no idea what else, but I will do it. I will help you, if you help me.
Just remember, I appreciate you for all your hard work and constant effort and helping my babies grow stronger and bigger every day, for almost four full years. You are amazing body parts, and I kind of think it takes becoming a mom to realize just how incredible you are. I'm so thankful that I know now what I should have known years ago. I'm so thankful for you.