I’m having a hard time today. I’m having a hard time coping with the grief that I feel for so many people I don’t know. I’m having a hard time building bridges instead of walls. I’m having a hard time focusing on being happy and present, when my mind wants to wander to a black hole filled with fear and anxiety. I want to go home from work. I want to pick up my child early. I want to eat something fluffy and cheesy for dinner. I want to put a lot of hard shit on pause for a while.
I know a lot of people are feeling that.
But I can’t. Not today. Because the grief has to be grieved. And the hard conversations have to be had. We have to get through this, not over this. All of this. Not just the acute stuff, but the big stuff. We have to keep talking and debating and saying honest things to one another so we can make progress. And it’s tiring. It’s always so tiring. I know. Because I’m married. And that’s all you do when you’re married. Have hard conversations and fight the urge to give up. Because giving up is so easy now and so fucking hard later. (And because I don’t want to die alone. So…)
We have to keep going.
And while I can’t make that easier or better, I can distract you for a while by talking about boobs. My boobs.
My boobs are terrible. My boobs were sacrificed on the alter of over-achieving parenting. After two merciless weeks (because pro-breastfeeding people can be BRUTAL; don’t argue) of attempting to get Aut to latch, it became abundantly clear that he wasn’t gonna. His mouth and my nipple were a failed arranged marriage. The kidney transplant that wasn’t going to take. He did not want my boob. (Which, merciless breastfeeding people were also cruel about. So fuck you, again.) Because organic, imported from Germany formula was going to poison my child, give him autism, stunt his mental development, and keep him from getting into college, I only had one choice. I had to pump. I had to hook my titties up to a pump four times a day for 9.5 months. I pumped first thing in the morning. I pumped in the only bathroom in my entire building (which happened to be unisex), while evil bitches knocked ceaselessly and told me it was “unfair” that I was using the bathroom to pump. I pumped when I got home from work and before bed. Sometimes I would accidentally oversleep and wake up in a soggy pile of bed linens. I pumped on airplanes and in shopping malls. I pumped in parks and in my car. I pumped and pumped and pumped.
And when you pump, you squeeze. You treat your breasts like misbehaving Plah Doh. You squish them and poke at them. You live in a constant state of fear about not getting all the milk out and ending up with clogged ducts. (Been there. Spent 5 days in the hospital. And kept pumping.) You manhandle them in ways that young boys dream about. You shake them and mash them to make sure every, single drop of that delicious, liquid gold makes its way out.
And while you’re breastfeeding, your tits look fantastic. If you’ve ever forgotten, go to a children’s swimming lesson. You can tell the infant moms from the toddler moms by tits alone. The infant moms have perky, swollen boobs that have a strange mix of utility and sex. The toddler moms look like they dropped their tits into their bathing suits and then lost them. Poof. Gone. While you’re breast feeding, there is all sorts of blood flow and tissue and milk working in glorious symphony to make you look like a porn star. It’s amazing.
What you don’t know is that they will deflate. You’ll wean your little angel, and for a few weeks you’ll be like “SWEET! No more milk, but my breasts are amazing still and everyone was wrong. I’m going to end up with incredible post-baby boobs!” And you’ll be naive and wrong. And premature.
Within about 6 months the sag appears. The “life” that your boobs had begins to die. They take on a new relationship with your belly. Rather than resting-on or grazing your belly occasionally, they flop upon it. With a harrumph. For me, the worst part was the stretch marks. The incredible 40 EE breasts that I developed while pregnant and breastfeeding (I am not fucking with you– 40 EE– A, B, C, D, E, EE) had stretched and pulled the skin of my boobs to the point of no return. All that squeezing and kneading and mashing while pumping only made it worse. I had ruined boobs. I had… sad sacks.
And body shaming doesn’t really affect me. What affects me is when people talk about celebrating my sad, wounded boobs. I do not want to celebrate them. I want to mourn them. And then have them lifted, tucked, pumped, and injected.
But for now, they just sort of sit there in my bra. Like little puddles of forgotten pudding in a flavor no one likes (except your husband, because he’d eat spoiled pudding in shit flavor if it meant he could have pudding whenever he wanted). Every now and then I take them out and look at them, give them a pep talk, and then watch them retreat. They’ve given up. Which I understand. I don’t blame them.