Friday, June 25, 2010

More on Boobs

In one fell swoop, that is to say, in one day, Atticus took his first steps and made the executive decision to be done nursing. He is Mr. Independent. He needs me not.

And I'm quite fine with this. For reals. I'm not one of those mothers who freaks out when their child moves on to the next thing, though I am admittedly a little melancholy about the walking. It signals a giant shift out of babyhood and into toddlerland, but for the time being, he is still a baby.

What this post is more concerned about is boobs and what happens to them when one is done nursing. Contrary to popular opinion, nursing does not make boobs droop or malform them in any way. Pregnancy does that. Quit blaming the nursing.

While there are a billion (to be exact) websites about the benefits of breastfeeding and the good counsel of slow weaning, there is almost nothing on the woman's health in this issue. Those who have nursed understand the discomfort, engorgement, and possible mastitis that is the frequent companion piece to nursing. And it only gets worse when the baby stops doing his part.

Atticus decided to quit nursing all by himself, a self-weaner, which is a fun phrase for all sorts of reasons. He weaned fairly slowly over a period of a couple of weeks and then he was decided about it - so much so that there were actually two mornings wherein he rejectedly crawled away from me in tears because I can only assume he thought I might force him to nurse, which I of course have never ever done.

And so he's done and while I thought I would be emotionally overwrought about it, I am not. Rather than my mind, it's my body that has not caught up with the new world order of independence. I naively thought within a week, all would be normal again - my body would return once again to its pre-baby state of decoration and not utility.

This is not the case. Be warned, future nursers. The body will not stop producing milk until weeks, months, or up to a year have passed by. A year!!! Until then, infrequent, judicious expressing will keep the engorgement and mastitis away.

Blurgh. I am reminded these past many days of Al Pacino in the Godfather II. You know the line: "Just when I think I'm out, they keep pulling me back in."

This is good training for motherhood. It is not a job that ends in any satisfactory way. Before one thing finishes, the next thing starts. While I am not naturally inclined toward this sort of continuous work, it is a job I cannot get out of and a job I would never abandon. Because Young 'Cus, as one of our friends call him, is pretty freaking cool. It's just, seriously, I had no idea how much I signed on for. None. Not really. But here we are 11 months later and all is, if not easy, pretty freaking awesome.


Nik said...

I hear you. It's so hard to let it go and then so also joyful that there's a new thing for everybody to learn.
I will miss being the boob lady when it happens. But then I'll be able to wear dresses again!
I can't remember how I dealt with the milk with Z. Did I wrassle my boobs into an ace bandage until they gave up production?

dan said...

Stick some cabbage leaves in your bra. Yes, really.