Considering, as I write this it is the start of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would share (maybe over share, as I do) a little story of learning to love.
It didn’t come easy. At least not initially when I was preparing for the possibility that I couldn’t. I worried endlessly through pregnancy that I may not be able to breastfeed her. For me this hurt. I spent many, many years at war with these two things that Olive only sees as her means to mamas milk. But for me, they were much more. They were two pieces to a part of my body that I despised. A part of my body I blamed for everything that was wrong with me and my life sometimes. I was tormented by them and always wished them away. When you have big boobs and a small body, and a whole lot of shame, life isn’t that fun.
Sparing the details, over the years, there was harassment from men, many who were not even close to my age, even teachers. When I was 14, one teacher I had, complained to our principal that he was unable to concentrate in class while teaching me because of my chest. I was then assigned my own dress code. There was the teasing, even if it was not meant to hurt, the names, the advances. The time my principal told me if I were to be raped it would be seen as partly my fault because of how I was built especially if I didn’t cover up in layers to hide my body. She just wanted to protect me though, as she said. To ensure I would not be seen as “asking for it.”
I tried to tape them down, starve them away, hide them or myself from going out on bad days. Hating your body is a vicious thing. Many of us have or do. It is our means of traveling through life and traveling just isn’t very fun when it is in a vehicle we despise.
Finally at 19 instead of learning to love them or at least accept them, I removed them.
I didn’t remove all of them but enough to feel like I could go unnoticed. It was still years of wishing the doctor took out more from them. I wanted nothing! As time went on, I let go of needing this and learned more acceptance but never love.
Then I found out I was pregnant. It was an amazing and life changing surprise but then the fear set in. Will I be able to breastfeed? I worried so much about this. I felt so sad, imagining if I couldn’t breastfeed because I had this surgery long ago. So I started the healing. Talking to them and letting them know that they were going to get to feed a beautiful baby. They were going to finally be used for nourishment after being treated so poorly all those years ago from me and others. With help in a healing session, I faced all the pain that was still held inside them from years ago and watched it wash away with tons of tears. I watched as love was replaced with pain and I could feel the milk ducts sorting themselves out in there. I had much less fear about breastfeeding after that. Still a little but I was able to trust that it might be ok. With the help of my amazing midwife Natalie, I felt like I was ready to give it a good try and if it didn’t work, she gave me hope for lots of other options for nourishing Olive.
A few weeks later, the little Bee arrived. Olive was brought to my chest right away and when the fear set in again, our doula Michelle squeezed out some of my colostrum to show me everything was fine. Then she latched and started nursing. Just like that. She nursed and nursed a nursed and some how, even though there was years of hate and a surgery to overcome, milk flowed and fed this little baby. I know that this is not always the case for every mom and every babe, with or without a surgery. And for that I am even more grateful as feeding our little bubs is not always an easy road, as I have learned from the stories of countless other mothers. I cannot go another day without thanking my body for carrying this life and my breasts for feeding her for the last 12 months and many more to come. I cannot take the gift of feeding my baby this way for granted, when there were many odds stacked against it. Being fed is most important for sure, however it happens!
But deeply healing a long time wound through the love of breastfeeding…it has been something I will be forever grateful for. I can finally say that I love this part of my body.