Be ye warned- this is one of those TMI posts. If you’ve ever walked by a group of women talking frankly about anything (yea, you know we do) and thought ‘Damn, I cant believe they’re talking about that,’ then this is not for you. Thar be talk of boobies ahead.
No, not like that, creepy teenaged boy. I’m talking about Nourishing-a-baby-boobies, not Spring-Break-at-the-beach boobies. Go back to your internet search…this isn’t the place for you. Also, where are your parents?
Where to start?
Eastern schools of thought encourage you to regard your body as a temple. So do most skin care/cosmetics lines, but I suspect their motives are different ($49 for eye cream?!?). Your body is a temple, a sacred place to be cared for and worshiped and blahblahblah. Sounds great in theory. I even agree with it as a overall view of the body. After all, you’re living in it for the rest of this life…why not take care of it?
My body is, if you’ll pardon my language, fucking amazing. Call it boasting or hubris or whatever you want- I grew a human. She has ten fingers and ten toes and can laugh and wriggle and grow. I. Am. The. Shiznit. Before, I worried about how my body looked as an ornament. I now stand up and applaud my body, in awe of what it can do. It can make babies and it can make milk. In that order.
In the midst of reveling in this glorious paradigm shift, however, I’ve come face to chest with the reality of having a part that has always been ornamental sudden become primarily functional. Suddenly my bewbs are not just to been seen. They are to be utilized. Frequently. And I have to be up to the challenge of maintaining them as a tool, not just a pretty, pretty picture.
Any new mom will tell you- the anxiety over your milk production is pretty high, at least in the beginning. You birth a baby, and then YOU are supposed to convert your gorgeous temple into a milk-production factory for months. Yes, MONTHS. If you’ve never done it, imagine being constantly thirsty and hungry and attached with a semi-unbreakable chain to a voracious, fast growing animal. Cause that’s exactly what it is like. You’ve got a little animal, a bundle of soft, insistent needs that operates totally on instinct (much like a teenage boy or an especially loud cat) and wants a piece of you. Literally and constantly. And there is no mercy if you are not producing enough milk to satisfy…no, your adorable little Ol’ Faithful will let you and the world know that there is not enough, leaving you scrambling to supplement and wonder what you’re doing wrong.
My daughter is roughly 3.5 months old. She apparently identifies her Daddy with sleeping and me with eating. (Side note: we’ve decided our Indian names are Walking Bed and Leaky Cow with the Tired Eyes.) Every time I hold her, she dives face first towards my chest. No caution. No matter that we’re in aisle 7 of Publix. There they are, and she wants to eat. At first, I was so overwhelmed with the task of making breastfeeding work, and so used to my body being primarily the tool to sustain the life of my offspring, that I only focused on making sure she was eating.
A week or two ago, my higher level brain functions temporarily kicked online and assessed the reality of the situation. My body is no longer a temple. It has become my daughter’s personal soda fountain. She owns and operates the machine, as it were. Eventually she will lose the lease, but I’ve not had the heart to tell her this yet. She seems so happy to have a walking meal machine with her everywhere she goes. But for me, it’s a total shift in how I regard myself. I’m no longer keeping the temple clean…I’m maximizing production. My schedule, my activities, my everything is now sublimated to keeping my body at peak milk-producing efficiency. It’s exhausting, and if you run into me and I look like an Atlanta panhandler who just came off a hard bender and hasn’t showered in three days, well- I’m not, I didn’t, and I probably haven’t.
It’s going to take me a while to get used to this whole “Mom” thing. I’ve never doubted that. But finding that the purpose of pieces of me has completely changed is a bit much to take in right now when combined with the sleep deprivation and near-crippling isolation. It’s a strange place to find yourself in, and I don’t mind saying that I don’t always like it. It’s weird. It’s nice in a way and very intimate, and I have enjoyed parts of it. But the soda fountain is very much looking forward to closing down sometime in early 2013, assuming I can make it that long. By then, from what I’ve been told, all she’ll eat is mashed potatoes, rice and french fries anyway (Some weird childhood thing where they only eat certain foods. I’m sure I never did that!), so she won’t be needing me then anyway.