Since becoming a mom I've learned a lot about myself...
For example, I can be a fully functioning and mostly-pleasant individual on only two hours of sleep.
I can also change a diaper in under ten seconds.
I make up great songs about mundane tasks and I am pretty much an expert at putting a onesie on over a squiggly baby who hates wearing clothes.
One thing i didn't know (nor had any way of knowing) was that I am full-on, obsessively passionate about breastfeeding.
Seriously, I'm really, really into it.
Breastfeeding was something that used to freak me out. I wasn't raised in a breastfeeding culture, it just wasn't something that happened in my family. But I am a researcher and every time something new happens in my life I hop online and skip over to the bookstore and I read as much as I can about it. This was true when I got pregnant, i became obsessed with learning what was going on in there and how my baby was developing. And then when it came time to figure out how I would care for that little life in my tummy, i researched the heck out of that as well.
And my research showed me inconclusively that breastfeeding was, for me, the ONLY option.
Now, let's be clear, I'm not writing this to start any debates. I know that this can be a fairly hot-button issue with some people. People get super-duper defensive about the subject and feel very attacked if they choose not to/couldn't breastfeed their child. I'm not even going to discuss that here though, that's not what I'm writing this about. I'm just writing to say: breastfeeding, for me, was the only choice.
The unexpected thing was that it turns out that making that choice has been pretty much one of the top five best things to ever happen to me.
I love it. I love it so much that I consider myself passionate about it. I read about it, i discuss it with people, i breastfeed anytime, any place and i don't feel embarrassed or apologetic at all. It's just not something I think i SHOULD feel weird about.
But again, I don't want to get all political here. I'm sure i'll save that for a different post.
The thing i DO want to write about is how weird our culture (and by that i mean mainstream American suburban/urban) is towards breastfeeding. It's weird that in our culture breasts are these giant (no pun intended) sexualized beings and that it's perfectly acceptable for women to flaunt them around in skimpy attire but that a sweet and loving mother can't feel comfortable nourishing her little baby while sitting on a park bench or in the mall. That's WEIRD, guys, it's weird.
Not only that but then i go on to think about other things associated with breastfeeding and I guess with women's issues in general.
Freud said that women have "Penis Envy" and it's one of our fundamental issues that we need to overcome or something like that. Not to go too far on a tangent but I've never once thought to myself, "oh man, i wish i had something dangling around down there, making most of my decisions for me."
If anything, I've reached the conclusion that if anyone should have any envy (which is a belief i don't ascribe to), that men should (and verywell probably DO) have breast envy.
Seriously. Breasts are awesome.
I was aware of the awesomeness of my breasts a long time ago. In fact, they've been something that I have been fond of and knew how to utilize since I got them at an early age. I've always known that breasts = fabulous.
But it wasn't until becoming a mother that I found out just HOW amazing they really are. I mean, sure, can boobs be exploited and allow you certain advantages in our weird-o society? Yes, they definitely can. Can they make you feel lovely and feminine and attractive? Yup, they can do that to.
That was where my previous knowledge of the greatness of boobs stopped. Usher in motherhood though and it's like a whole new door has been opened up to me about the fantasticness of the female body and specifically of breasts.
Boobs are amazing. Do you realize that my son has been alive for 133 days and the ONLY thing he has ever eaten is milk that has been produced for him by my breasts? That's SO incredible. He has been kept alive exclusively by my body. How phenomenal is that?
and not only that but he LOVES when I nurse him. He loves it. My breasts are able to soothe and comfort, to put him to sleep, heck they even provide a pillow for him to rest his little head on when he falls asleep.
It just astonishes me that my body is such a miracle. Not only was it able to grow and sustain his life while he was developing during my pregnancy but it is continuing to grow and sustain his life well after he has left my womb. How amazing is that?
How amazing are women?
It's easy as women to get down on ourselves for our physical appearance if we aren't stick thin with beachballs glued on top of our chests (again, thanks weird culture) but now whenever I am lamenting the fact that it's taking me much longer than i expected to lose the last 15 pounds of pregnancy weight, all i have to do is think about the fact that my body is a miracle. My body takes care of and nourishes my son. It soothes him, it comforts him, it keeps him alive.
and that is pretty freakin' fantastic if you ask me.
Which puts a whole new spin to Elaine's "They're real and they're fantastic" quote, dont you think?